Business development / Entrepreneurs / Women in tech

Women leadership org Great Dames is scaling up

The group is launching a chapter in Rochester, N.Y., and further expansion is in the works.

Second Lady of the United States Jill Biden, left, speaking at a Great Dames event. (Photo by Paul Pruitt)

Sharon Hake has been a popular figure in Delaware for supporting women entrepreneurs. I remember meeting her back in the summer of 2014 at the coIN Loft at a Start It Up Delaware meetup, where she was recruiting applicants for Great Dames’ Remarkable Ideas Competition. The organization even held workshops to help applicants succeed. Now Hake is making plans to expand the reach of the Great Dames mission regionally, nationally and even globally. But Delaware still remain its home.
“Because of the generosity and reception we received in Delaware, I’m going to continue to support the men and women that continue try to make things happen in Delaware,” Hake said.
Great Dames is testing its model in Rochester, N.Y., where Kathy Palokoff, founder of goFirestarter, has been named as the head of the newest expansion. Though they are more distant goals, Hake has also been eying Spain and Singapore for future international expansion sites. The Rochester site will serve as a pilot study for the rest of the expansions.
After seven years, the organization made the transition last year from social venture to nonprofit with a board. The strategic plan has honed in on prioritizing three areas: Remarkable Ideas Competition, Powerful Conversations Series and a mentoring program.

“We’ve made a lot of progress on expanding since May, we’ve now launched our first chapter,” Hake said. “This is basically a five-year plan. I would say we’re going to focus first on expanding regionally, then we’ll look at some chapters nationally, then internationally.”

After 6,000 event attendees, 125 women mentored and 75 contest entrants, Great Dames has proven its hold on the First State. If you’ve yet to meet Hake, here’s a video of her 2015 TEDxWilmington talk:

Companies: Great Dames

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