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 “Without help of the NYWCC I would never have won my first big contract"

Rud Morales is a woman of strong entrepreneurial convictions who always moves forward despite the problems she faces. Nevertheless, she recognizes that in this journey as an entrepreneur she has not been alone; she has had the help of the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce. "For every entrepreneur, no matter how good you are, there comes a time when you get tired and that's when people like Quenia Abreu and the staff at the Chamber are there to support you one hundred percent. Anyone can do an application, fill out a form or get advice, but the help that Quenia and the Chamber of Commerce provide is different.”

 

Rud tells us that there were times when she did not know how to continue with her construction company and that is where Quenia advised her to specialize and study. "When I wanted to study, it was too late because there were no more places, and that is when Quenia helped me to get a place to study in a construction program". 

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Photo of Rud Morales. credit by John Caballero

The secret to growing her business, she tells us, is continuing education, being informed, studying and being a responsible professional, because growing your business in an environment that has been traditionally controlled by men has been a challenge for her. "I have always believed that women have the same capacity to do the same type of work as a man and I think it is important for women to create their own opportunities". She started her company, Fortis Contractors LLC in 2017. After that, she worked with the NY Women’s Chamber team on applying for her New York City and State M/WBE certification, which she obtained in 2018. But the benefits did not come immediately. She continued to train, taking different courses, such as ContractHER, all of which helped her grow her networks. "Sometimes people think that with certification they will get rich right away, but that's not always the case. I have no doubt that M/WBE Certification is a very useful program for minority and women-owned businesses and that sooner or later it will reap its benefits," she tells us. According to the latest New York State of the State report on M/WBE firms, one of the fastest growing categories has been Hispanic-owned construction firms. This is a good reason to think about getting your firm certified as an M/WBE.

Construction is undoubtedly one of Rud Morales' greatest passions. And it is easy to notice because as we talk to her in her office in Washington Heights (which years ago was her restaurant), she proudly showed us the tools, explained how they work, talked about measurements, plans, technical equipment, the types of wood uses for construction (it is her favorite material to work with). Her face transforms into an expression of explosive joy when she talks about her work.

 

There is no doubt that Rud is an exceptional woman. As a general contractor, her company Fortis Contractor has done work for the Port Authority of New York, the New York State Parks Department and the New York Department of Homeless Services. Some of her most recent private sector projects were performed in New Jersey and Philadelphia. As a M/WBE contractor, this year she just won her first major subcontract for $1.3 million to work on the construction of the new Brooklyn County Courthouse.  Now other new projects are following, but she knows she can achieve whatever she sets her mind to because she trusts her work and her team. "I believe that NYWCC is vital to the entrepreneurial community - especially for women entrepreneurs - because it is a real organization that is always present. NYWCC has supported and continues to support me throughout the process of growing my business”, said Rud.  We at the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce, feel very proud of the achievements of this woman entrepreneur and we know she is going to go very far.  It is story like this one that motivates us at NYWCC to work daily to help create the next women entrepreneur’ success story!

"Sin la ayuda del NYWCC nunca habría conseguido mi primer gran contrato"

                                                                                                                       

Rud Morales, es una mujer de fuertes convicciones empresariales que siempre sigue adelante a pesar de los problemas/retos que enfrente. Pero reconoce que en este camino como empresaria no ha estado sola ya que ha contado con la ayuda de la Cámara de Comercio de Mujeres de Nueva York. “Todo empresario por muy bueno que sea, llega un momento en que se cansa y es ahí donde hacen falta personas como Quenia Abreu y el equipo de la Cámara, que estén ahí para apoyarte cien por ciento. Una aplicación, llenar un formulario una asesoría la puede hacer cualquiera, pero la ayuda que Quenia y la Cámara de Comercio te ofrecen es diferente”.  Rud nos cuenta que hubo momentos en que no supo como seguir con su empresa de construcción y es ahí donde Quenia le aconsejo especializarse y estudiar, “Cuando quise estudiar, ya era tarde porque no quedaba cupos, y Quenia me ayudo a conseguir un cupo para estudiar en un programa de construcción”. 

 

El secreto para hacer crecer su negocio, según nos cuenta, ha estado en la educación continua, estar informada, estudiar y ser profesional responsable, porque crecer su negocio en una industria tradicionalmente controlada por los hombres ha sido un desafío para ella. "siempre he creído que las mujeres tienen la misma capacidad para hacer el mismo tipo de trabajo que un hombre y creo que es importante que las mujeres creen sus propias oportunidades". En el año 2017 inicio su empresa Fortis Contractors LLC., luego de eso trabajó junto al equipo de la cámara el proceso de certificación como empresa de minorías M/WBE de la ciudad de New York y del Estado las cuales obtuvo en el año 2018. Pero los beneficios no llegaron en forma inmediata. Ella siguió capacitándose, tomando diferentes cursos, como ContractHer, todo lo cual le ayudó a hacer crecer sus redes de contactos. "A veces la gente piensa que con la certificación se hará rica inmediatamente, pero no siempre es así; pero no me cabe duda de que M/WBE es un programa muy útil para las empresas de minorías y de mujeres y que tarde o temprano cosechará sus beneficios", nos cuenta. Según el ultimo informe del Estado de Nueva York “State of State” respecto de las empresas M/WBE, una de las que ha mostrador mayor crecimiento han sido las empresas de construcción de hispanos. Es una buena razón para pensar en certificarse.

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Sin duda la construcción es una de las mayores pasiones de Rud Morales. Y es fácil darse cuenta de ello porque a medida que conversamos en su oficina en Washington Heigths (que años atrás era su restaurante), ella muestra con orgullo las herramientas, nos explica como funcionan, habla de medidas, de planos, de equipos técnicos, de los tipos de madera que se usan para construcción y de paso, nos cuenta que es su material favorito para trabajar. Su mirada se transforma en una explosiva alegría de las personas que disfrutan de su trabajo. No cabe duda, Rud es una mujer excepcional.

Como contratista general, Fortis Contractors LLC, ha realizado trabajos para la Autoridad Portuaria de Nueva York, el Departamento de Parques del Estado de Nueva York y el Departamento de Servicios para Personas sin Hogar de Nueva York. Algunos de sus proyectos más recientes en el sector privado se realizaron en Nueva Jersey y Filadelfia. Como contratista MWBE, este año acaba de ganar su primer gran subcontrato como empresa M/WBE de 1,3 millones de dólares para la construcción del nuevo edificio del Tribunal del Condado de Brooklyn. Ahora siguen otros nuevos proyectos, pero sabe que puede lograr lo que se proponga porque confía en su trabajo y en su equipo. 
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“Yo creo que NYWCC es una necesidad para la comunidad emprendedora, especialmente para las mujeres empresarias porque es una organización de verdad, que está siempre presente. NYWCC me ha acompañado en todo el proceso de crecimiento de mi empresa.” En la Cámara de Comercio nos sentimos muy orgullosos de los logros de esta mujer emprendedora y sabemos que llegara mucho más lejos. Son historias como estas que nos motivan a seguir trabajando día a día para crear las próximas historias de éxito de mujeres emprendedoras como ella.

CERTIFICATION OF MINORITIES AND WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS: A WAY TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS

After reading this article you will understand why obtaining Minority and Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Certification is a strategic decision your company should make. Created with the purpose of providing minority and women's groups the same business opportunity in the application of government contracts, this certification program has benefited more than 6,000 companies from the most varied sectors of the local economy. The great advantage of the M/WBE certification is that the companies become part of a publicly accessible online directory of certified companies, achieving greater visibility, not only with the different city agencies, but also with the different contractors and private companies.

What is a minority-owned business?

M/WBE firms are those that have a Hispanic, African American, Asian-Indian, Native American or woman as a majority partner (51% or more ownership) and whose legal structure is a Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, Corporation, among others. After fifteen years, the city and state's goal has been increasing as it is expected that 30% of the contracts awarded to various suppliers will be awarded to minority and women-owned businesses totaling $25 billion by 2025.

Quenia Abreu, President of the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce, was one of the driving forces behind the law that gave life to the M/WBE and in her more than 15 years of experience, assisting hundreds of companies she is convinced that: "This certification helps companies to have access to contracts with New York City agencies, and subcontracts with companies contracted by the city; be part of an important directory of certified companies that is an excellent marketing platform for your company; obtain credit with preferential rates, among other benefits"

Many entrepreneurs think that because they have little capital they have no opportunity to participate in projects, but what they don't know is that they can participate indirectly through subcontractors that have directly obtained contracts with the city. Such is the case of the cab company New Heaven Radio Dispatch, which just a few days ago signed a three-year contract for a total of $30 million with the company ARRO, which was awarded the concession for the Access a Ride ridesharing program, administered by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCTA).

 

According to Rafaelina Rodriguez, vice president of New Heaven Radio Dispatch, obtaining M/WBE certification from the city and state, in addition to helping us obtain this subcontract, was a powerful negotiating tool. The trucking company obtained its M/WBE certification from the city in 2021 and from the state in March 2022, with both processes being conducted entirely by professionals from the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce, who, "helped us through this entire process making this all very easy and expeditious, thanks to the help of Robin, and other Chamber members. Without your help I would be up in the air".

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Our NY State of the Women in Business event was a big success!

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Thank you to our great partner & sponsor of the event, Ponce De Leon Bank. We greatly appreciate all the support and amazing service you provide for small business owners, and especially to women and entrepreneurs of color
 

We also want to thank Congressman Adriano Espaillat, NYS Superintendent Harris and Region II Administrator Marlene Cintron for the remarks, as well as our special panelists which included NY State Senator Robert Jackson and NY State Assemblyman Al Taylor. It's truly remarkable to have some of our City & State leaders present to answer the tough questions and inform the people of what opportunities and benefits are available to those deserving of it.

 

Lastly, we want to thank all the women business owners for attending and sharing with us their challenges as well as their recommendations for a fair and more inclusive Women Entrepreneurs Agenda. The conversation does not stop here, we will continue the dialogue to move our Women Entrepreneurs Agenda forward.

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Apply now for the Pandemic Small Business Grant!

New York State's $800 million COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program was launched in June to provide grant assistance to small businesses in the State of New York who experienced economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York Women's Chamber of Commerce has been working with the State to assist applicants submitting their applications. 

Applications will only be accepted for as long as funds are available, and now the program has been running for several months. Funds are still available but if you have not applied for the Small Business Recovery Grant yet and you are interested in applying, we strongly recommend that you do so soon. Contact us for assistance before funds run out!

Please contact Business Specialist, Steve Paguay at spaguay@nywcc.org for more information and how to apply.

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Financial education is vital for the progress of any modern economy and necessary for the economic empowerment of our society. Financial education is understood as the possession of knowledge and skills that allow a person to make wise and effective decisions regarding the management of their money. It is precisely these decisions that make it possible to achieve the economic stability that every company and citizen requires to be successful.

Unfortunately, financial literacy is not taught in the classroom and the majority of the population has very basic or no knowledge of money management strategies. This makes a strong case for celebrating Financial Literacy Month.  At the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce (NYWCC), we have launched a new version of our financial training courses for businesswomen. They will be held every week throughout May.

Olivia Martinez, owner of “Belleza Cegura” in Brooklyn, says that participating in these workshops has helped her understand how to report her taxes and realizes that it’s simpler to achieve than she previously thought. The courses have also helped her understand that, as a businesswoman, she has rights and has found it empowering to learn, for example, what to look for when signing a lease. "For me, NYWCC has been of great help in giving me the tools to grow my business. The entire team is always willing to help," she concludes.

The Month of May was Financial Literacy Month! NYWCC Offers Financial Literacy to Entrepreneurs in Financial Literacy Month and Year-Round!

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The closing ceremony was in charge of the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Quenia Abreu and the course instructor, Wendy Martinez. Congratulations to all the new graduates!

For more information about our next "Money Matters" Financial Course, please contact our office at (212) 491-9640.

The closing event this past Tuesday night of the Money Matters program (business and finance course), where more than 30 business women were trained for six weeks in different financial, tax and administrative topics, necessary to better manage their businesses, was a great success!

Congratulations to our 2022 Money Matters Graduates!

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A new version of the Spanish-language financial education course for small businesses "Money Matters", organized by the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce (NYWCC) with the support of the Ponce De Leon Foundation, The Coca-Cola Foundation and the Small Business Administration, is being held this month. This program, conducted virtually, aims to provide small business owners with the tools and personalized support to successfully take financial control of their business. According to Maria Quetell, Business & Program Specialist at NYWCC, in this new version more than 36 entrepreneurs from different counties of New York are being trained, who will become part of the more than two hundred that the Women's Chamber of Commerce has trained since its inception in April of last year.

Why did you decide to take the Money Matters course?

I am a nail technician, but I also have to efficiently manage my business, being a small company I do everything, and these courses have helped me to have a better vision on how to improve the administrative aspects.

Of the topics included in the course, which was the one that interested you the most?

Stories of Our Women Entrepreneurs:
 Katherine Soto: "I wish I would have known about Money Matters when I started my business".

The course that was most useful to me was the legal aspects of companies, because thanks to that I understood the types of companies that exist, their legal differences and the effects on taxes, and thanks to that I made the good decision to change my company from Sole Proprietorship to an LLC. But I was interested in all the topics, they were all of a high level. The teacher who taught the course always explained the tax, business and accounting aspects in a very simple and pleasant way.

How did you hear about the Money Matters course held by our Chamber?

I have been a member of the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce for years, so I receive information directly to my e-mail about all the courses, workshops and seminars that you offer.

Would you recommend other business owners to take the Money Matters course?

I started my business in 2007 and I wish I had this kind of educational support at that time because it is invaluable. I recommend the Money Matters course to all women who, like me, have or are thinking of starting their own business. It is very complete and deals with different administrative, financial, accounting and legal aspects that we need to know in order to conduct our business efficiently. I thank the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce for the excellent work they do and the help they give us every day.

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During the informative workshop on Beauty Salons regulations organized by the Women's Chamber of Commerce of New York, we spoke with Yomaris Casilla, owner of Tiffany's Beauty Spa in Brooklyn, who shared her experience with the Women's Chamber of Commerce of New York, and invited more women to approach us for help in growing their businesses.

How has the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce, helped you during the pandemic?

The chamber of Commerce has been a great help in keeping my business open during the pandemic, especially during the reopening of salons in 2020. I have felt very supported by Chamber of Commerce was looking out for small businesses, defending our rights at a time of many changes, restrictions and protocols to follow. If it were not for the Women's Chamber of Commerce, it is very likely that we small businesses would not know about the existence of these loans and other types of assistance that are available to us. And not only that, Chamber of Commerce guided us with virtual meetings, support material, telephone and in person, about all the different regulations that were necessary to keep a business open during the 2020 reopening.

Do you think organizations like ours are important to support our business community?

Yes, they are really important and essential for the business network. Chamber of Commerce give us the security of having a representative in front of government authorities to defend our rights as small businesses and at the same time they are a bridge of communication between legislators and entrepreneurs.

What do you like most about the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce?

Their vigor to encourage and educate small business owners, offering virtual classes, financial guidance, legal assistance and an extensive list of free services. I encourage the different owners to take advantage of all your service offerings, to join the meetings and classes offered by the Chamber of Commerce in the different counties of the city. What I also like is that you continue to support us with the same rigor and dedication.

Stories of Our Women Entrepreneurs:
YOMARIS CASILLA, "WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN MY BUSINESS”

President of the NYWCC, Quenia Abreu speaks on how small business can apply for the PPP Forgiveness Loan on Univision

The Small Business Administration (SBA) reminds business owners who have applied for loans from the Payment Protection Program, or PPP, that they can apply for a forgiveness of this debt.

“People believe that it is automatic and it is not like that. They have to fill out an application,” stressed the president of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce in New York, Quenia Abreu.


 

The forgiveness covers the entire loan as long as the owner can justify that he used 60% of the money for payroll for employee payments.

If borrowers do not apply for forgiveness within 10 months of the last day of the covered period, borrowers will have to start making loan payments to their lender, as PPP loan payments are no longer deferred.

If you do not pay the loan, “this will affect your credit history,” Abreu points out.

“It is a very easy application to fill out. Right here in the Chamber we can help you, or you can call your bank,” Abreu explains.

How to apply to PPP forgiveness

 

1. Determine if your lender or bank participates in direct forgiveness through the SBA and fill out the correct form.
2. Gather your documentation:

  • Payroll (provide documentation of all payroll periods that overlap with the covered period).

  • Non-payroll related (for expenses that were incurred or paid during the Covered Period and that demonstrate that the obligations or services existed prior to February 15, 2020, for the first three obligations / services listed).

3. Submit the discharge form and documentation to the SBA or your lender. 4. Continue to follow up on your request for your pardon.
 

For more information, visit the SBA website here.

 

The New York Women's Chamber of Commerce can assist you with preparing the documentation you need and the application process. Please contact our office at (212) 491-9640.

Those who wish to request this forgiveness can go to the financial institution that made the loan or access the SBA website to fill out the application.

 

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President of the New York Women's Chamber, Quenia Abreu Honored FOUR Times in under SIX months!

On October 11, Quenia was named to Crain’s New York Business’ Notable Hispanic Leaders and Executives. In September she made City & State’s The Power of Diversity: Latino 100. In July, she was voted the Civic Diversity Hero by Crain’s New York Business after City & State’s included her in the MWBE Power 50 in May. FELICIDADES QUENIA!

 

In 2002, Abreu, a native of the Dominican Republic, founded the first women’s chamber of commerce in the city and state. Today the NYWCC represents over 7,000 women and minority owned businesses and has helped create over 10,000 businesses and enabled entrepreneurs to access $45 million in capital and $65 million in procurement contracts. The NYWCC has helped over 650 small businesses survive including over 225 construction-related or real estate firms.

Crain’s told it like it is in the October listing, pointing out that there is a long way to go as Hispanic leaders total just 4.5% of executives Citywide and 4% nationwide.

City & State credited Latinos as “a rising force in U.S. politics” and celebrated Hispanic leaders in public service, business, advocacy and nonprofits.

Crain’s New York Business named Abreu its Civic Diversity Hero, making her one out of just eight individuals and three companies selected among 37 finalists to win Crain’s inaugural Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Award.
 
The May City & State’s first ever MWBE Power 50 honored the contractors, public officials, industry leaders and advocates aiding the participation rates for New York’s MWBEs.
 
To read more about these prestigious awards, please click here https://bit.ly/crains_notablehispanic_leaders for Crain's NY Business 2021 Notable Hispanic Leaders & Executives and https://bit.ly/cityandstate_latino_power100 for City & State's The Power of Diversity: Latino 100.

Minority Owned and Women Entrepreneurs (M/WBE) Certification Program Begins

With the firm objective of helping minority or women-owned businesses obtain the New York City “Minority / Women Businees Enterprise (M / WBE)” certification, the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce (NYWCC ), has begun its process of accompaniment and advice in the process of this important certification. In the opinion of our Director, Quenia Abreu, “This certification helps companies to have access to contracts with agencies of the city of New York, and subcontracts with companies contracted by the city; Be part of an important directory of certified companies that is an excellent marketing platform for your company; obtain credits with preferential rates, among other benefits ”. Since the beginning of this successful program, NYWCC has helped more than 4,000 women and minority businesses obtain this important New York City certification. “We know that you are busy growing your business, and that is why we help you in this process with trained professionals who will accompany you throughout the certification process, from analyzing if you meet the requirements, seeing each required document, to completing everything. the application process ”, concludes Quenia Abreu, who has a deep knowledge of this process since she was one of the promoters of the M / WBE certification legislation and is also a member of the mayor's advisory council on certification matters.

What is the M/WBE Certification

Due to the low participation of women and minority businesses in the contracting process with city agencies, in 2005 Mayor Mike Bloomberg enacted M / WBE certification legislation. M / WBE companies are those with a Hispanic, Black, Asian Indian, Native American, or female majority partner (51% or more owned). When they obtain this certification, they can opt for larger contracts with city or private companies, which can be a great boost for their business. City contracts can be opportunities for builders, suppliers of furniture, office supplies, recruiting companies, accounting, marketing or landscaping, food, among other various services or sales. After fifteen years, this regulation has gone further, as the city's goal is for 30% of contracts to be awarded to minorities for a total of $ 25 billion by 2025. Ms. Gloria Pérez, president of MIT Clean Corp, for two years tried to obtain this certification without achieving positive results. However, at the end of 2020 she contacted us to seek help: “in January of this year I finally managed to obtain my M / WBE certification and it was all thanks to the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce, and its team that always She was attentive in helping me, mainly Mrs. Greene, who guided me, guided me and did not give up until I got my certification. I am very grateful to the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce, because they are also the only ones that continue to accompany us with other programs such as “ContractHer” that help us obtain more opportunities and continue to grow in knowledge and business experiences. The M / WBE certification has helped me to obtain financing that is destined to certified companies among other financial benefits ”.

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The New York Women's Chamber of Commerce Hosts Holiday Networking Event

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The New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce held its end of the year M/WBE holiday networking celebration on Wednesday, December 1, 2019 at Club 101, 101 Park Ave, from 5:30 to 8:30pm. 

 

The event featured a guest speaker, Valerie White, the Executive Vice President of the Division of Minority & Women’s Business Development at Empire State Development. White spoke on the ways in which the female minority entrepreneur space is rapidly growing and changing, as well as the increasing amount of funding that is available for MWBE’s (Minority and/or Women Owned Business Enterprise). 

A wide range of companies attended the event from city and state agencies, to prime and subcontractors, to minority and women business enterprises. Attendees had the chance to network with companies such as Turner, Skanska, Cushman & Wakefield, SCA (School Construction Authority) and McKissack & McKissack, just to name a few.  

The main purpose of the event was to expose individuals (members and non-members) to new connections within the business world. 

On November 24, 2019 President Quenia was presented on InFocus to discuss the daily challenges small business face. She’ll talk about those services, how they help, and what more needs to be done to help budding entrepreneurs and existing businesses.

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President Quenia on Spectrum News InFocus

President Quenia on InFocus

On November 24, 2019 President Quenia went on News NY1 InFocus to discuss "The Battle to Keep Small Business Going."

New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce honors Women of Excellence at Fundraising Breakfast

The New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce hosted its 2019 NY Women of Excellence & ContractHer Fundraising Breakfast, on September 20, 2019 in Manhattan.

NYWCC honors Women of Excellence on September 20th

New York Women's Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Women of Excellence 2019

NYWCC Honors a Dozen Leaders at Annual Women of Excellence Awards

The New York Women's of Chamber celebrates & acknowledge 2019 honorees their hardworking 

WED SEPTEMBER 19, 2018 - NATIONAL EDITION

New York Women's Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Women of Excellence 2018

NY Women’s Chamber Honors Trailblazers

The New York Women's Chamber of Commerce Honored the Accomplishments of Ten Remarkable Women And Commemorated NYWCC’S ‘SWEET 16’ Anniversary During The Annual Women Of Excellence Awards Ceremony On FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

Honoring Connie

2018 New York Women of Excellence Awards Ceremony