DWEN Woman On The Rise

DWEN - Dell Womens Entrepreneur Network Logo

Woman on the Rise

Find inspiration and make new connections among other DWEN members who scale

It’s your moment to own it.

Meet our women on the rise and discover connections that inspire

DWEN Woman On The Rise

Woman on the Rise is a program highlighting DWEN members and the impact they are making in their communities. Be sure to explore the women who have been featured to read about their entrepreneurial journeys and best advice for navigating the entrepreneurial life.

September 2023

Maria Jose Palacio, a visionary fifth-generation Colombian coffee farmer with an unwavering passion for empowering her community. Born and raised in a celebrated coffee region of Colombia, Maria spent several years working in design in New York City before her heart led her back to her roots in 2016. Witnessing the struggles of her loved ones in Colombia to make a living through coffee farming, Maria knew she had to take action by co-founding Progeny Coffee. With a fierce commitment to uplifting others, Maria overcame numerous small business obstacles to co-create a thriving distribution platform that empowers coffee farmers and helps lift them out of poverty. At the heart of Maria’s mission is the belief that education and entrepreneurship are vital to the success of these communities.
Her innovative approach and dedication have not gone unnoticed, as she has been recognized on numerous esteemed lists, including Forbes Next 1000, Inc Magazine’s 100 Female Founders of 2020, Mujeres Imparables by Telemundo, and SFA’s 12 under 35 Breakout Talent to Watch. Maria’s inspiring story is also featured in the latest book, “The New Latina – 100 Millennials Shaping the World.” and awarded the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award by the USHCC in 2022, among many others.
Through her dedication to education and entrepreneurship, Maria has built a remarkable legacy that continues to inspire and uplift communities around the world.

Here's a little bit about Danielle

Danielle Boyer is a 22-year-old Indigenous (Ojibwe) robotics inventor and advocate for youth who has been teaching kids since she was ten. Driven by her family's own inability to afford science and technology education, she is passionate about making education accessible and representative for her community so that no child is left behind. Danielle creates equitable and innovative learning solutions for Indigenous youths with robots that she designs, manufactures, and gives away for free. In 2019, she created The STEAM Connection, a minority and youth-led charity that has reached 800k+ children with technical education with an emphasis on language revitalization. The STEAM Connection focuses on the future: ushering in a new age of education via personal and wearable robotics, artificial intelligence systems, and augmented reality. Danielle has been named one of PEOPLE Magazine's Girls Changing the World, a MIT Solve Indigenous Communities Fellow, a L'oreal Paris Woman of Worth, a Teen Vogue Indigenous Youth Changemaker, and a Verizon Forward for Good Winner. She is a two-time invitee of the White House with MTV and is a featured story in The Big Idea by MIT Solve x HP, an award-winning docu-series on three women innovators. "Indigenous Robotics" followed her life for a year and premiered at the MIT Museum. It is currently showing at film festivals. Danielle resides between both Southern California and Michigan.

Here's a little bit about Monica

Monica Sunny is the CEO and founder of The Chai Box, a small-batch tea company specializing in loose-leaf chai blends inspired by different regions in India and chai concentrate, using ethical and sustainable practices. Growing up in an Indian household, Chai has always been a part of Monica’s culture and heritage and her passion for chai only grew when she wanted to share her love for it with her three boys, leading to the creation of The Chai Box in 2016. What started as a passion project in her kitchen, has now grown into one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2021. The Chai Box's goal is to implement an ethical business process from start to finish. They source their spices from small-scale farmers in Kerala, India, who practice sustainable farming. These farmers, particularly women, play a significant role in their community's development. They also prioritize sustainability by composting leftover mulch from chai production and by using minimal and biodegradable packaging. The Chai Box's mission is to spread the love of authentic chai to everyone's home!

Here's a little bit about Amy

Amy Rowland is a leader who has devoted the last 31 years of her career to environmental consulting, focusing on energy and infrastructure projects for major utilities across the United States. As CEO and President of Pangea Biological, she drives the company to provide comprehensive services such as environmental compliance, constructability reviews, stormwater management, natural resources, cultural resources, training, planning, sustainability, GIS mapping and analysis, and permitting. Amy's passion for conservation was inspired by her grandmother's love of birding and under her innovative leadership, Pangea has been recognized as a Top 100 Supplier for San Diego Gas & Electric, Women's Business Enterprise Council-West’s WBE of the Year and Small Business Enterprise/Women-Owned Business Enterprise Contractor of the Year from Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. With her strong construction background and expertise in regulatory strategy on challenging energy and infrastructure projects, she ensures successful project delivery while protecting environmental resources

Here's a little bit about Gayathri

Gayathri Thakoor is co-founder and CEO of the Learn Through Stories (LeTS) Foundation. A published author, manager, and entrepreneur over a career graph of 25 years, her role as a news journalist sharing stories formed the base of it all. She then co-founded a business enterprise to develop literature for children, and create animated characters that were copyrighted to feature in illustrated picture books and in digital media. She later led the Tata Centre for Technology and Design, at IIT Bombay, which brought her close to the Learn English Through Stories research project – the genesis that led to the incorporation of the not-for-profit enterprise that she now leads. Gayathri continues to keep in touch with readers through diary entries and letters in her blog – Affectionately G. With two postgraduate degrees – in Education and in Business Administration, and a graduate degree in Economics, Gayathri is also a certified Library Educator. The Learn Through Stories (LeTS) Foundation is disseminating an education model that has been developed and validated (2014-2021) in the research confines of IIT Bombay. The aim is to share this model with every student and teacher, and transform learning across the country. The team collects contextual stories created by students in their local language through art and storytelling workshops, and designs books based on them. These books are translated and published to reach the students and teachers along with an interactive mobile app, which reads the stories yet allows the readers to interact with the analog book. These become available as alternative language learning tools to students and teachers in remote geographies. The Foundation has also been reaching the same books based on stories that have been created collaboratively to rural libraries across India.

Here's a little bit about Catherine

Catherine grew up playing seven different sports, multiple positions at the collegiate level, and reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 as an All-American. This experience as a utility player influenced her career building and leading teams as well as operating as multi-dimensional strategist across Global Risk & Compliance, R&D Programs, B2B2C Sales, and Benefits Consulting. Her zone of genius is thinking cross-functionally, connecting people, process, and technology to deliver innovation. Right now Catherine is hyper-focused on solving the inequities in the health care system and unlocking the benefits of the human factor of care.

Here's a little bit about Rutuja

Rutuja has 17+ years of Data Science expertise with a track record of working with various cross-functional and technical teams to implement advanced data science projects.She started her career with TATA Motors, India in Automotive Warranty Data Analytics. Rutuja then moved on to projects in various domains with the vision of gaining experience to start her own venture. A disruptive innovator with a distinct clarity of mind, she chose to pursue her Masters in Applied Statistics in the USA and then worked with Ford Credit, USA in Marketing Analytics and Credit Risk Modelling. She has demonstrated strong leadership in driving transformational initiatives across multiple industries and delivering successful Analytics Projects, where she had end-to-end accountability.Under her leadership, Optimum Data Analytics (ODA), a new age technology start-up, is set to be at the forefront of technology innovation in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Industry 4.0 and Business Analytics. Bindu, flagship product of ODA, is wearable assistive device for visually impaired people is getting recognition at national as well as at global level. At ODA, Rutuja drives and oversees the continuous renewal of key innovations, processes and systems across the company in client relationship management, delivery excellence, quality, talent management, and leadership development. Zealous about next-generation technologies and harnessing them for competitive advantage and enterprise, Rutuja drives ODA's emerging technology agenda.

Here's a little bit about Michele

Michele Heyward is the founder of PositiveHire, a tech company which helps recruit and retain experienced Latina, Black and Indigenous women STEM professionals into management positions. Her software assists these women in finding the best fit employer for them to advance their careers. This in turn helps employers retain diverse STEM talent longer. With a BS degree in Civil Engineering and MS degree in Industrial Management from Clemson University, as well as experience as a construction project manager in the energy sector, Michele brings a wealth of technical knowledge and experience to her role as CEO of PositiveHire. Her passion for creating a more equitable and inclusive workforce is evident in everything she does, and she is dedicated to making a positive impact in the world of STEM.

Here's a little bit about Aishat

Aishat Adeniji is CEO/Co-Founder of HealthPort, a company disrupting medical oxygen distribution in Sub-saharan Africa. She is a Clinician with over 15 years of direct patient care in Fortune 100 companies and experience working with Early to Mid Stage US/Global Health Tech startups. In addition, Aisha is a 2022 MIT Solver who has consulted with multiple global health companies implementing solutions in Nigeria, including the UNICEF Innovation lab. Growing up in Nigeria and working as a clinician in the US and in Nigeria highlights a unique dynamic in implementing locally suited solutions informed by evidence and best practices.​ Being a part of the DWEN Female entrepreneurial ecosystem has been incredibly rewarding; it has allowed me to meet many passionate and inspiring women who are creating change all around. ​

Here's a little bit about Ifey

I love nature and passionate about engineering solutions to address sustainability challenges with a focus on the food system. ​ IntelliDigest is a purpose driven business on a mission to empower global food sustainability through technology innovation and capacity building. Our solutions are focused on addressing the sustainability challenges faced by stakeholders in the food system from production, distribution and consumption. ​ The World Food Tracker support individuals to plan their meal and reduce the impact of the food we eat on our health and environment while enabling farmers to plan food production and adopt more sustainable farming practices.

Here's a little bit about Fatima

Fatima Mukhtar is the founder of Chammeli, a retailer offering a range of modest styles, giving women more control over what we choose to wear. Chammeli means jasmine in Urdu. The name Chammeli is symbolic of many things: beauty, a fusion of cultures, and confidence in one’s unique identity. Chammeli’s curated assortment of sophisticated and stylish pieces instills confidence in the women who wear them. For many women in the world, fashion is not frivolous but a means to balance style in a manner consistent with personal values. Frustrated with the lack of modest options at traditional retailers, Fatima launched Chammel as an e-commerce site. With understanding and empathy, she is creating a community for females of all ages to take ownership of their style so they can focus on their abilities and gifts to share with the world.

Here's a little bit about Sandra

Sandra Estok's mission is to empower women to take charge of their cyber safety and protect against hackers, scammers, and Cybermonsters®. She reveals a fresh, inspiring, and empowering way to relate to technology. Sharing her nightmare story and becoming a cybersecurity expert, she teaches us about cyber-crime, Cybermonsters, and much more. Sandra is the founder and CEO of Way2Protect®. She is a Speaker and Corporate Trainer with over 20 years of experience in IT, Cybersecurity, and Data Privacy. She is also the author of the international bestseller and award-winning book series Happily Ever Cyber! and the Cyber Literacy coloring series for children in both English and Spanish.

Here's a little bit about Kahliah

The creative mind behind Nap Bar™ is Certified Sleep Expert, Khaliah O. Guillory. As a previous C level executive, she knows a thing or two about handling stress and being sleep deprived.  Nap Bar™, the first white-glove, artificial intelligence wellness experience in the world, offers communities and companies onsite and en-suite rest sanctuary to help reduce sleep deprivation and increase productivity.

Nap Bar’sTM mission is to turn sustainable rest into sustainable productivity for not only health-conscious professionals, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home parents and travelers but sport venues, airports and corporations. Khaliah has been featured in a plethora of national publications not limited to Forbes and Essence. She is also a recipient of the prestigious Houston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” award. Based on her philanthropic work in the community, Mayor Sylvester Turner declared October 29 as Khaliah O. Guillory Day.

Here's a little bit about Jaisheila

Dr Jaisheila Rajput is a Green Economy leader bringing a global perspective to the development of solutions for companies doing business in Africa. As Founder and CEO of Tomorrow Matters Now (TOMA-Now), she is passionate about empowering others to develop economic models for sustainability and inspiring change in the way we do business. TOMA-Now are value chain specialists leading the green economy in Cape Town, South Africa. Their client base is spread across Africa, Asia and Europe, focussing on global collaboration and input towards a sustainable future for all.

Here's a little bit about Karen

Karen Joyce considers herself a biographer for Mother Earth, using satellites and drones as her scientific illustrators. She shares her experiences drawn from more than 20 years as a geospatial scientist in academia, military, industry, and small business to help people discover science beyond lab coats and test tubes. But she has an ulterior motive. Joyce is passionate about how we can use drones and geospatial technology to watch over our environment and its changes. So the more people she can inspire to join her, the faster we can put plans in place to help keep the environment healthy into the future.

Here's a little bit about Souniya

Founder of WYN Studio, WYN Studio is a new age media company which has produced chart-topping and award-winning Original Podcasts and Branded audio shows. With an organic listenership of 3M+ across 211 Indian cities and 166 countries, WYN Studio is where Power of Audio meets Brand Stories. With over 10+ years of combined audio show production expertise, WYN has worked with brands and creators like Binance, Prime Venture Partners, HP, Nikesh Murali, Gurpreet Singh Tikku, Prakash Iyer and many more. Dive into the sound experience of some WYN Originals with shows like: 1) Kya Swaad Hai 2) Crypto Ki Duniya 3) Heirs Of the Pandavas 4) Practically Gita

Here's a little bit about Monica

Monica Peraza O’Quigley Born and raised in Mexico City, Monica Peraza-O’Quigley is a serial social entrepreneur, founding six companies and two non-profits to date. She founded and managed two successful businesses in Mexico City before moving to New York City in 1997 where she founded her third company. In 2005, Monica moved to Austin, Texas, where she founded two non-profits while envisioning her fourth company, alegreea.com, whose mission was to become the largest marketplace of women designers and artisans from Mexico. As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic Monica created a Just in order to provide access to markets to Women Creators through choosejust.com and developed The Teresa App that was specifically designed for Women Artisans. As the founding President of MexNet Alliance and co-founder of the Hispanic Alliance for the Performing Arts, Monica has actively shaped Austin’s nonprofit community through her passion for education and mentorship. She is a graduate of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneur Leaders Program and a member of the Aspen Institute Latinos & Society Program. In 2015, she received a resolution from The Senate of The State of Texas for her work on The Hispanic Alliance, and in 2016 she participated in The White House Initiative for Excellence in Education for Hispanics Forum. She is co-founder of the Dell’s Women Entrepreneurship Network in Austin. For more than a decade, the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) has brought women entrepreneurs together from around the world to help them connect with each other, scale their businesses, and ultimately succeed. She is on of the stories of Strength, Teamwork and Brand Purpose on Inc. Magazine, May/June 2020

Here's a little bit about Tash

I’m a tech entrepreneur focused on developing innovative retail solutions. After studying Business Management at University, I pursued a career in management consulting, working closely with FTSE 100 clients on their digital and business transformation at KPMG and Gate One. I founded Slip in 2021 to address the problems associated with in-store data capture. I was interested in how data can be captured at the point-of-sale to create a better and more informed omnichannel and frictionless experiences for retailers and their customers. Since launching the business, I have been named in TechRound’s 29 Under 29, and winner of Retail Week Live’s Data & Insight prize. I have succeeded in raising venture capital for Slip and am passionate about Women in Technology and mentoring young entrepreneurs.

Here's a little bit about Jana

Breathing new life into old things, looking at things from a different perspective, producing and managing sustainably. In this throwaway society, we want to work with the awareness of protecting our environment and helping old products get back on their feet. Whether in the original or in a modified form. We buy old wine-barrels from Spanish and French wineries to up-cycle them to wonderful furniture. Our Fass Schmiede was born from in August 2012 and the first wine barrels were converted into a wine barrel coffee table. Since then, this simple and plain form of recycling has become our goal and a lot has happened. In the meantime, several thousand wine barrels have passed through our hands and many people have been conjured up a new piece of furniture. So it was only a matter of time before we were able to turn this original hobby into a full-time job. In the future we will continue to dedicate ourselves to sustainability with full energy and motivation and implement new ideas with a lot of creativity.

Here's a little bit about Venus

Venus Quates is the President & CEO of LaunchTech, a minority, woman, and service-disabled veteran-owned company that provides technology and mission support solutions to customers in the Space, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Public sectors. In November, LaunchTech announced the relocation of its Headquarters to Huntsville. Venus founded the company in 2016, which was recently recognized as a 2021 Inc. 5000 Awardee, placing #66 Overall and #3 in IT Management. Inc. also recognized LaunchTech as one of the top 10 fastest growing Woman-owned companies in the country. In addition to her visionary leadership, Venus is an accomplished professional with over 20 years of domestic and international experience as a technologist and consultant. She has led several enterprise technology transformation and strategic planning projects and initiatives with major Fortune 100/500 companies, global banking giants, and leaders in the Aerospace and Defense industries ranging from $1M to $5B. Venus currently serves on advisory boards for various non-profits and STEM and veteran-focused initiatives across the country. She is also a member of the Forbes Business Council and Inc. Masters and looks forward to actively serving in the Huntsville community.

Be featured as the DWEN Woman On The Rise.

Woman of the Week is a program highlighting DWEN members and the impact they are making in their communities. Be sure to explore the women who have been featured to read about their entrepreneurial journeys her best advice for navigating the entrepreneurial life.

2021 Featured Women

2020 Featured Women