World Reimagined

Women to Watch on How the Challenges of this Year are Propelling Them Forward

The ancient stoic philosopher Epictetus once said, “It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Though these words were spoken nearly 2,000 years ago, they are still rooted in so much truth today. During recent years, society has navigated the Covid-19 pandemic, racial injustice, supply chain havoc, and so many more unseen challenges. Yet innovation and progress have continued to unfold.

With 2022 on the horizon, it’s important to take a critical look back at the past months in order to take inventory on how it has affected us all. For the following 33 trailblazing women, they’ve not only reflected on 2021 and the challenges it’s brought, but they’ve chosen to apply all they’ve overcome to ultimately propel them into the future. 

For many, life has been a seemingly endless uphill battle. However, the new year is a welcome symbol of hope for all that’s to come. 

Jill Goldenziel

Jill Goldenziel

Jill Goldenziel

Professor, speaker, and consultant at Jill Goldenziel, where she speaks and consults on law, leadership, and international affairs.

Public speaking opportunities declined during the pandemic. I used that time to invest in my geopolitical risk consulting business, to network in the field, and to work on my book about how politicization of refugee and migration crises harms national security. As a result, my geopolitical risk consulting business doubled in 2021 and I expect this growth to continue in 2022. And when the book comes out, the tour will bring me all of the speaking engagements and travel that I've been missing!

Nathalie Molina Niño

Nathalie Molina Niño

Nathalie Molina Niño

Managing director at Known Holdings, a financial services growth platform for the new majority and the multi-trillion dollar economy we power. 

Many companies I've invested in struggled to stay afloat in 2021. As we go into the new year, I'm more committed than ever to the idea of investing as a way to create justice in systems that are deeply unjust. As a result, I'm thrilled to be able to finally tell the world about the company my partners and I have been building since 2020, Known Holdings.

Dawn Scott

Dawn Scott

Dawn Scott

Founder of Gratiam Consulting, a CPA firm for passionate entrepreneurs. 

2021 was emotionally challenging in my profession. We came off of a stressful 2020 and rolled right into another hard year. New clients who missed out on many financial programs came to us holding onto either bad advice or lack of information. We kept discussing how we could fix this on a large scale and finally arrived at creating digital resources for tax and accounting issues that shared technically sound advice in an approachable, understandable way. 

Markea Dickinson-Frasier

Markea Dickinson-Frasier

Markea Dickinson-Frasier

Co-founder of Thermaband, a health and wellness company empowering menopausal women with personal comfort on-demand through a cooling/warming wearable.

I have been balancing between pouring from an empty cup and pushing outside of my comfort zone to grow. Through the mental and emotional exhaustion of launching a wearable, planning a wedding during Covid-19, and building a foundation with my husband in 2021, my health took a toll. I'm learning how to discern societal burnout versus sustainable growth through taking a sabbatical and prioritizing my health. Normalizing slowing down and taking time off will continue to propel me in 2022 and beyond.

Taylor-Ann Smith

Taylor Ann Smith

Taylor Ann Smith

Founder of Ride Force, filling a gap in the mountain bike apparel market by offering American-made, inclusively sized products that are gender-neutral and forward thinking.

Brand recognition has been the biggest hill to climb this year. Ride Force launched in May and is up against some very large, well-known companies in the mountain bike industry. However, the inclusivity of our products and honesty of the brand has helped it succeed. We have sold 200 units with no returns thus far. For the 2022 season, Ride Force will be launching new jersey designs in March with a more edgy approach to further inspire people to ride a bike while feeling confident in their gear. 

Monique Guevara

Monique Guevara

Monique Guevara

Co-founder and CEO of SoulWell, a digital wellness platform connecting next-gen communities of color to personalized practitioner-led holistic care online and in-person.

This year, I’ve had to overcome my own doubt and mental blocks about venturing down the road of entrepreneurship. When doubt and fear showed up on my path, it gave me an opportunity to face them head on and to start creating healthier mental models for myself. I learned to be more vulnerable, practice rest as a form of self-care, find community, and create better boundaries.

Carolyn Bothwell Peterson

Carolyn Bothwell Peterson

Carolyn Bothwell Peterson

Founder of Freelance Founders, a digital, members-only community and resource hub for the top creative freelancers from around the world.

With so many companies adopting a more flexible way of working, freelancers have had more work than ever before. Our members at Freelance Founders have worked independently and remotely long before the pandemic propelled this new hybrid workforce. To help the top freelance talent vet their opportunities and charge their worth, we're releasing a new hiring network in early 2022. We'll support brands looking to hire freelance talent by giving them access to our member directory and resources to support remote, asynchronous work.

Priyanka Murthy

Priyanka Murthy

Priyanka Murthy

CEO and founder of Access79, a tech-enabled marketplace and try-before-you-buy service that puts women at the center of the fine jewelry shopping experience. 

The biggest challenge my company had to overcome this year was trying to fulfill our orders in light of the supply chain issues the fine jewelry craftspeople we support faced. Their discerning and honorable methodology meant that they were limited to only certain materials. So we had the challenge of educating our clients about why the supply chain issues were affecting our craftspeople. It was challenging and we did lose some business. However, it also allowed us to lean into our values more publicly. Ultimately, we gained more clients and were able to attract mission-driven people for our startup team.

Anouck Gotlib

Anouck Gotlib

Anouck Gotlib

CEO of Belgian Boys, offering a delicious assortment of treats, breakfast, and desserts available in 5,000 stores and online.

Our team has grown dramatically during 2021, mostly with interviews conducted by video and without an office to gather in. As a leader, it has been a trying time to maintain our culture as we grow and are stress-tested daily. I'm really excited to share that we're taking our first team retreat to Iceland this December so that our whole team can meet in person for the first time, do some mission solidification work and enjoy time together.

Elisabeth Tuttass

Elisabeth Tuttass

Elisabeth Tuttass

Managing director of Girls in Tech Los Angeles, a nonprofit that supports women in technology and entrepreneurship.

The representation of women in technology is still relatively low. Girls in Tech is here to change the narrative and increase the number of women in tech. Our main challenge has been keeping our community engaged with being entirely virtual this year. We were used to hosting in-person events and workshops, but we had to change the meeting format with the pandemic. Whether connecting over a happy hour or hosting a workshop, we aim to create opportunities for our members to connect and continue learning from each other. As part of this goal, in 2022 we want to partner with local tech companies to begin shifting the ratio of women in tech and help them thrive in the industry.

Tara Counterman

Tara Couterman

Tara Couterman

Founder and CEO of CEO PWR LLC, helping CEOs leverage their podcast so they can build deep human connection, deliver a PWR-ful impact, and make money doing what they love.

As we continue to navigate the pandemic, social media platforms have been favoring micro-form content. As a result, business owners have less and less time in front of those they can impact and sell to. That trend inspired us to create an entirely new way to engage: podfunnels. It has allowed our company to refocus on the power of podcasting and how we can lean into deeper human connections to make sales in a world of 15-second clips. Through challenges comes innovation, and we are here for it.

Misasha Suzuki Graham

 

Misasha Graham

Misasha Graham

Co-Founder of Dear White Women LLC, helping White women use their privilege to uproot systemic racism.

This year, we launched a new consulting and speaking business, aimed to keep having uncomfortable conversations about racism, and to make those conversations more intentional and in spaces where they typically weren't being found. We did all of this while still parenting and teaching kids at home for part of this year due to Covid-19 shutdowns. It was these kids and their questions that kept pushing us to have these conversations. In October, we published our first book, Dear White Women: Let's Get (Un)comfortable Talking About Racism, as a practical guide on how to keep having these conversations or to start having them in the first place. We hope that this book provides momentum for us to bring these conversations to increasingly more spheres of influence throughout our everyday lives. 

Jessica Hershfield

Jessica Hershfield

Jessica Hershfield

Founder and CEO of Just Enough Wines, a premium, great-tasting wine in the convenience of a can.

As many other consumer goods companies have faced, we were challenged with supply chain issues. With all of our cannings, we had issues sourcing our materials and were required to source much farther in advance than anticipated. Going into 2022, we plan to operationalize our cannings with ample time, so that we can get ahead of any supply chain issues that remain unresolved. 

Chante Harris

Chante Harris

Chante Harris

Director of climate investment and partnerships at SecondMuse, an impact and innovation company building resilient economies by supporting entrepreneurs and their ecosystems.

At the start of 2021, annual global energy investment was set to rise to $1.9 trillion, the World Bank announced a target of $200 billion in support from 2021 to 2025, and we saw over $16 million committed midway through the year. A key challenge for the industry that the SecondMuse team is tackling is how to identify the best talent and solutions across the globe while there is an increased sense of urgency. Through our global early-stage venture studio model and growth-stage accelerator, we are continuously honing in on what technologies need to launch that prioritize people and planet as we work to solve the most pressing challenge of our time. 

Swarnali Mitra

Swarnali Mitra

Swarnali Mitra

Investor at Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis, a venture fund and studio dedicated to investing in female and non-binary founders at the earliest stage of their journey.

One of the biggest personal and professional challenges from this year was navigating burnout and using that to change the course of my career. I need my work to align with my value systems and for the first time in a really long time, I am excited for the new year to come.

Dr. Melissa Barker

Melissa Barker

Melissa Barker

Founder and CEO of The Phoenix Project, a caring digital community that supports mental health and wellness—anywhere, anytime. 

Much like many of the companies struggling to stay afloat, 2020 became a survivalist year and that energy carried over until June 2021 for me. Then, I hit a wall of burnout I was not prepared for. I was beyond exhausted, decision fatigued, and unsure how I was going to muster up the strength to keep going. 2021 humbled me into remembering that my body needs rest, that innovation comes from quiet moments, and that creativity is best accessed when I make space for my own healing. 2021 pushed me outside of my comfort zone when we launched our official app in March 2021. I cultivated true resiliency in 2021 and I now feel more prepared for the challenges to come. 

Liza Sakhaie

Liza Sahkaie

Liza Sahkaie

CEO and founder of The Reflective, a modest fashion platform and community for modern women.

In the past year, due to Covid-19, I was furloughed from my job. I was working on the experiential retail marketing team at Bloomingdale’s, conceiving of new ideas to capture customers in innovative ways. Yet, in my own modest shopping experience, it felt like no one was doing much to try to capture me. So when I lost my job, I took that time to launch a solution to my modest fashion struggles and The Reflective was born. I'm excited to announce the recent launch of our e-commerce marketplace!

Georgie-Ann Getton

Georgie-Ann Getton

Georgie-Ann Getton

CEO of GSD Solutions, a business development agency that specializes in virtual event production.

In 2021, both my professional and personal lives changed dramatically. In my professional life, I went from being a freelancer building an agency with a small team of contractors to having a fast-growing corporation with four full-time employees and five times our 2020 revenue. In my personal life I went from being married to getting divorced, and to a single mom of two. These experiences have taught me the importance of being resilient, being patient with myself, and how fast life can change. 

Monisha Bajaj

Monisha Bajaj

Monisha Bajaj

Founder at m times v consultancy, a strategy execution consultancy that guides founders through expanding their business capacity to give them room to breathe and keep growing. 

This year I felt the stress of living through a pandemic seriously impacting my energy levels and personal capacity. I decided to bring together my unique combination of skills in business strategy, operations, and trauma-informed care to restructure my workdays to protect mine and my team’s energy levels and mental health. At the same time, our business’ capacity increased. My clients and other founders sought out my help to do the same in their businesses. To meet the surge in demand, I’m launching my second business, m times v, a new consultancy firm focused on helping founders who are overflowing with work expand their business capacity in a way that prioritizes wealth and well-being equally in January 2022.

Allyson E. Cote

Allyson E. Cote

Allyson E. Cote

Co-founder and CEO of Ocean State Shields, LP, a pioneering public health solutions company launched in response to the pandemic.

OSS addresses three top concerns for our clients: outdoor living, interior spaces, and air quality. Our largest challenge has been pivoting our material’s supply chain, as well as manufacturing in order to meet the demands of the market. The pandemic impacted many skilled trades professions, causing a labor shortage and severely impacting delivery dates. By seeking out locally-owned small businesses, we have cobbled together a robust production line.

Xi Chen

Xi Chen

Xi Chen

Founder and Designer of Sonderlier®, a sustainable clothing brand offering women camera-ready clothing they could sleep in. 

Back in March 2021, I successfully launched Sonderlier's debut collection via Kickstarter. However, immediately following the launch, like many other businesses, we experienced supply, shipping, and production delays as a result of Covid-19. Determined to deliver products on time, I monitored the progress closely every day, traveled regularly to our small factory, negotiated terms, and looked for creative solutions. This eventually enabled me to ship all orders in the Fall without compromising quality. Since then we've received incredible feedback from our customers. They are propelling me to continue to design clothes that you'll want to reach out to over and over again. We're going to launch our first dress style in Jan 2022!

Colleen Johnson

Colleen Johnson

Colleen Johnson

Chief product officer at ScatterSpoke, an agile retrospective tool that leverages AI to connect and interpret retro feedback from teams.

When Covid-19 started, we thought we had a big advantage in the space of serving remote teams. Fast forward a few months and every major collaboration tool had a version of how to do a remote retro. We had to figure out a way to pivot and at the same time leverage what we already had—a ton of data directly from the mouth of software development teams about how they feel. This gave us the ability to connect direct feedback from teams to the data about what they are delivering and provide critical insights to leaders about what needs attention. 

Alice Kim

Alice Kim

Alice Kim

Founder and CEO of PerfectDD, a mission-driven sustainable clothing brand designed to fit and flatter DD+ cups, sizes 0-14. 

Pioneering a new category that the fashion industry has yet to tap into has been a challenge—from finding investors that understand our mission to factories that see why the details of each style are key. However, seeing the profound impact our solutions have on our customers and knowing that more than 20 million women fall into our target demographic propels us. Our 2022 goal is to remain hyper focused on empowering this underserved and misunderstood demographic by providing clothing options that marry comfort and fit without sacrificing style. We are excited to expand our line and continue to change the dialogue of over sexualizing and body shaming a woman's chest.

Jamie Ruden

Jamie Ruden

Jamie Ruden

Founder of Dog Spotted, the premier NYC dog community connecting dog parents with veterinarians and other experts for content and services. 

Starting a business is never easy. Breaking into a new industry without the right connections is even more challenging. Add to the equation a pandemic that precludes in-person meetings with your key demographics, namely veterinarians and dog parents, and you realize a pre-pandemic strategy for customer and business development is no longer a viable option. Understanding the power of LinkedIn, attending events online, and committing to networking every day helped my business expand in ways I could not have imagined. Utilizing the additional time I had to work from home allowed me to become known as a meaningful connector in the pet space, propelling my brand and reputation forward. Engaging online not only widened the breadth of opportunities for my business, but opened the door to new friendships and experiences.

Michele Heyward

Michele Heyward

Michele Heyward

Founder and CEO of PositiveHire, a two-sided SaaS solution and consultancy. 

PositiveHire faced pandemic impact by team members contracting Covid-19 and suffering lags in productivity, while also experiencing lags in hiring, lags in recruitment, loss of workforce, and employee ghosting. In response to human capital management gaps, PositiveHire focused on recruitment for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx talent. Despite these setbacks, PositiveHire’s history of four years has enabled us to continue our boutique event specifically targeted for Black, Indigenous and Latinx women in STEM. We are proud to be able to continue to offer services that address the needs of experienced Black, Indigenous and Latinx women scientists, engineers, and technology professionals

Amal Alhuwayshil

Amal Alhuwayshil

Amal Alhuwayshil

Founder of I'm All Courage, a school for women and vulva-bodied people to heal, untame, and reclaim their sexual power.

My challenges were of the personal kind, as my stand for women's rights and work with women to heal their sexual trauma and reclaim their power from religious, societal, and political oppression goes against every fiber of my culture and community back in Saudi Arabia. Early 2021, I decided to go a little more public on my website and blog, which I hoped would bring more success without another wave of challenges with my family and community. Yet, when I visited Saudi Arabia during the summer, not only did I face domestic violence for my work, but for days I lived with my brother's threats to call the police and report the content of my website and my TEDx talk. Surviving this has given me even more power and fuel to stand up taller, speak louder, finish the second draft of my memoir, and go even more public to trailblaze the way for all women and vulva-bodied people right to safety, sovereignty, and untamed self-expression.

Melinda Wang

Melinda Wang

Melinda Wang

Founder of MW Projects LLC, a cultural production and art advisory firm.

I co-curated a unique art exhibition, “UN/MUTE,” that brought together 28 artists from 10 countries via 15 cultural institutions to create collaborative artworks entirely remotely. It was challenging to navigate different communication styles, artistic practices, and the give and take of compromise and technical difficulties. However, it was also an incredibly rewarding experience to see thousands of hours of discussions manifest into physical artworks in a narrative-driven exhibition. Putting together this show also gave me an opportunity to examine what communication and collaboration truly mean, especially in a time of uncertainty and isolation. I’m looking forward to applying what I learned from this experience to my curatorial practice, corporate law practice, small business, and my portfolio companies.

Kate Lewis, M.Ed

Katharine Lewis

Katharine Lewis

Founder of College Search Guide LLC, providing private college consulting services to students and families.

Private college advising has completely changed in 2021. Covid-19, the evolving economy, and Gen Z have challenged the entire status quo of higher education. My expertise helping students and families apply to colleges is in cold, hard data and is designed to maximize student success and family budgets. In the next decade, families who use and understand institutional data about colleges and universities will be the most likely to have their students graduate and graduate with their finances intact.

Catarina Rivera

Catarina Rivera

Catarina Rivera

Founder of Blindish Latina, working with companies and organizations to advance workplace disability awareness, inclusion, and accessibility.

A challenge I had to overcome this year was pivoting my professional brand from public health to disability inclusion and establishing credibility in this new field. Throughout the year, I worked hard to be consistent on LinkedIn and Instagram to create a reputation as a thought leader for disability awareness, inclusion, and accessibility. When I launched my business as a public speaker and DEI consultant, the hard work paid off as I've had a consistent flow of corporate clients. In 2022, this experience will propel me to continue bringing my message to larger platforms because I now know there are no limits to where my voice can go.

Cecilia Chapiro

Cecilia Chapiro

Cecilia Chapiro

Scholar at the Obama Foundation, accelerating the work of humanitarian leaders.

During 2021 while I was the Lead of Investments at UNICEF, I was challenged by the immense humanitarian needs from the aftermath of a pandemic that was ongoing. I felt that progress was made but the social needs are too big for one organization alone. We need to strengthen the synergies across sectors, from international organizations to corporations and governments, to really address the current humanitarian needs. To this end, I'm honored to have been selected as an Obama Scholar for 2022 and have the chance to connect with global leaders across sectors to rebuild together. It's the only way we can leave the pandemic behind for all.

Marissa Pick

Marissa Pick

Marissa Pick

Founder of Marissa Pick Consulting LLC, providing strategic consulting focused on digital transformation, content marketing, social media strategy, personal branding and more.

In 2021 I spent a lot of time focused on networking without an agenda. These conversations allowed me to brainstorm problems and gain new insights that I may not have thought of. I'm looking forward to continuing to help my clients develop new content, expand my professional network, and hit the ground running in 2022. I'm most excited about spending some time with my children this winter on a digital detox and prioritizing what matters during the holiday season: family and friends. I'm so thankful for such a wonderful year and I'm looking forward to a great year ahead.

Jessica Young

Jessie Young

Jessie Young

Global lead of new verticals at Uber, a company reimagining the way the world moves for the better.

I grew a new line of business to 20 times over twelve months, leading teams in every major timezone across Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia Pacific. Hyper-growth at scale necessitates optimism—a nocturnal meeting schedule eats a pessimist for breakfast. The power of positive thinking is an innate and competitive advantage in growth businesses. I'll take this into 2022 as we launch new models, new categories, and my own brand and community.

Ashli Weiss

Ashli Weiss

Ashli Weiss

Attorney at Weiss Law LLP, helping businesses navigate the law.

My law firm started small and grew at a very fast pace in 2021. With growth, my workload increased. I quickly had to delegate responsibilities to new people or risk growth slowing down or outright stopping. Now that I’ve delegated, I am in a position to pay more attention to new opportunities and grabbing the valuable ones.

All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community and diverse ecosystem amplifying extraordinary entrepreneurial women through PR opportunities, authentic connection, and high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to its monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Gesche Haas

Gesche Haas is the Founder/CEO of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through visibility opportunities, resource exchange, and collective support.

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