Women’s History Month: Nine Women Who Are Making Waves In 2023
This Women’s History Month (March), and International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re sharing the stories of some of the most accomplished women of our time. Some have broken records, some have broken glass ceilings, and some have broken both. From Tennessee to Bermuda, these nine women are making waves, big and small, in their own backyards.
Fawn Weaver, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey (Shelbyville, Tennessee)
A woman of many talents, Fawn Weaver is an entrepreneur, a New York Times-bestselling author, a TED speaker and CEO/founder of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey. Uncle Nearest in Tennessee is the fastest-growing American whiskey brand in the U.S., the best-selling African American founded spirit brand of all time, and was the most award-winning American whiskey (including bourbon) of 2019, 2020, and 2021, among many other accolades. Weaver also launched the Black Business Booster program, with a mission to help more than a dozen Black-owned spirits companies with branding, distribution and capital, and the $50-million Uncle Nearest Venture Fund to invest in minority-owned spirits companies.
Shelly Henley, No Label At The Table (Hamilton County, Indiana)
Shelly Henley was determined to make sure her autistic son, Jacob, was able to make all of his dreams come true. Jacob wanted to become a restaurant chef, so the mother-son team began baking out of their home kitchen and bringing his baked goods to local farmer’s markets. Their delicious products became so popular that they were able to create their own storefront in Hamilton County, Indiana — No Label At The Table, an all-vegan bakery staffed by individuals on the autistic spectrum.
Laurie Hood, Alaqua Animal Refuge (Walton County, Florida)
Laurie Hood founded Alaqua Animal Refuge, a non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to providing shelter, safety, and second chances for animals in Florida’s Walton County. She first opened the refuge in 2007 on 10 acres of her personal property, and in the first three years of operation, found homes for more than 4,000 animals. Today, Alaqua houses 450 animals at a time and facilitates 100 adoptions each month. In addition to her work at the refuge, she hosts the podcast, “Laurie Hood’s Difference Makers,” celebrating the work of animal advocates across the globe.
Chauntel McKenzie, America’s Black Holocaust Museum (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
As if her role as Chief Operating Officer at Milwaukee’s acclaimed America’s Black Holocaust Museum isn’t enough, Chauntel McKenzie’s career stretches over 20 years as a strategist (including having Oprah Winfrey as a client) and thought leader. Chauntel is passionate about having a positive impact on the Milwaukee community by partnering with corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits to help take their businesses to the next level. She’s all for women empowerment through her organization The PowHER Network.
Kristin White, Long Story Short (Bermuda)
A Bermuda triple threat, Kristin White is a community activist, an entrepreneur and a writer. She is a founding member of Social Justice Bermuda, an advocacy group with no political affiliation that aims to dismantle oppressive systems of injustice and racism. She also owns Long Story Short boutique, a shop that features a collection of gifts and books that highlight female authors, artisans, and entrepreneurs – especially women of color. And finally, through her Untold Stories tour business, she curates Bermuda holidays for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the charming local culture.
Robin Staten, Tiny Urban Escapes (Indianapolis, Indiana)
As the founder of an innovative boutique hotel concept, Robin Staten brings a tranquil and thoroughly sustainable setting to Indianapolis with Tiny Urban Escapes. Located in the heart of the historically Black community Haughville, the fascinating boutique resort is comprised of four semi-glass private luxury suites and private event space — all converted from up-cycled shipping containers.
Jeri Carter, Queen’s Reward Meadery (Tupelo, Mississippi)
While teaching kindergarten and first grade, Tupelo resident Jeri Carter and her husband started experimenting with DIY wine kits, using honey instead of grapes. To gauge if her flavors held up against more established brands, Jeri entered two of her meads in a national competition and both blends won awards – it’s been a skyrocket uphill ever since! Queen’s Reward Meadery, Mississippi’s first and only meadery, produces their offerings with locally sourced Mississippi honey. For locals and visitors alike, it is a must-visit spot for a delicious glass of honey wine, specialty cocktail, or the popular mead slushie sampler.
Taylor Lindsay-Noel, Cup of Té (Toronto, Canada)
An award-winning Toronto entrepreneur, Taylor Lindsay-Noel is the founder of Cup of Té, a luxury loose leaf organic tea and teaware shop, blending her passion for teas while bringing awareness to mental health. It’s a cause dear and near to her heart. Taylor was an aspiring Olympic gymnast, but in 2008, a devastating accident left her paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Since then, Taylor has overcome many challenges and redefined her situation into something meaningful; with each purchase of a Cup of Té Starter Kit, she donates $1 to mental health awareness.
Dawn Burrell, Lucille’s Hospitality Group (Houston, Texas)
Dawn Burrell has redefined the culinary scene in the city of Houston. From being a part of the critically acclaimed competition series Top Chef to being a James Beard “Best Chef in Texas” finalist, Dawn Burrell has made her mark throughout the city. Houston is also home to her iconic restaurant, Lucille’s, which specializes in refined Southern cuisine with infusions of international techniques and flavors. As if that’s not enough, Dawn is also a retired gold-medal-winning Olympic track & field athlete.