A couple of years ago, a Great Dames event often meant an evening in a local ballroom and networking over hors d’ouvres as local women presented their thoughts and ideas.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed that. The organization, focused on empowering professional women through networking and mentorship, was, like everything else, forced to go virtual. It’s a move that almost immediately quadrupled the size of Great Dames events, altering its Delaware-based model as its president, Sharon Kelly Hake, sought to build on the momentum.
Like the many of the women in the organization themselves, Great Dames “reimagined” itself.
The organization now has eight chapters: a virtual global chapter, a virtual national chapter, and chapters in Delaware, Philadelphia, New York’s Rochester and North Country, and South Jersey, with a DC chapter launching soon. Last month, it launched the Great Dames Hub and directory, allowing members to network from all corners of the world at any time. It also added a Great Dames Marketplace where entrepreneurial members can sell products and services.
One of Great Dames’ signature events is its Remarkable Ideas pitch competition, whose past winners include Giftie Umo, founder of Girls Leading Africa, Dr. Kimberly Nalda, founder of Rekindle Family Medicine and Erica Marshall, founder of Defendant Data Solutions.
This year, the event returns for the second time as a virtual event, with the winner receiving a prize package that will include $1,000 in cash, a business mentor and a portfolio of business services.
The competition is open to women and teen girls, and the idea can be in any stage. Applicants must complete the online application and upload a two-minute video pitch by Friday, November 19 at noon. Great Dames judges will select five finalists whose videos will be shown at the Great Dames Remarkable Ideas Pitch Event on Tuesday, Nov 30. The winner will be formally announced at the Great Dames Celebration Event on December 13.