WINnovation 2016


photograph by Jill Knight

Women inspiring innovation

WALTER, Bank of America, and the Umstead Hotel & Spa will come together September 9 to present “WINnovation: Women Inspiring Innovation,” the second annual celebration of local women and entrepreneurism.

The event’s speakers – a diverse group representing the worlds of pharmaceuticals, design, technology, philanthropy, and academia – include Cindy Whitehead, founder of Sprout Pharmaceuticals and The Pink Ceiling; Tashni-Ann Dubroy, president of Shaw University; Maura Horton, founder of MagnaReady; Isa Watson, founder of Envested; and Jamie Meares, blogger and founder of Furbish Studio. Each will give a 5-minute TED-talk-style “WIN” talk about her own individual entrepreneurial journey. The setting will be an elegant lunch at the Umstead, followed by a Q&A with the audience and break-out discussion sessions.

Last year’s event was a sold-out success at the Angus Barn featuring Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, founder of MedPro Rx; Jackie Craig, founder of the Green Chair Project; Molly Paul, founder of Raleigh Aquatic Turtle Adoption; Lauren Whitehurst, founder of SoarTriangle; Guenevere Abernathy, founder of LoMo Market; and Brooks Bell, founder of Brooks Bell.

“The response was effusive,” says WALTER editor Liza Roberts. “All of our speakers and countless attendees told us how impactful the talks were, and how meaningful the event was to them.” Some attendees were entrepreneurs, she says, but “others came to be inspired, and because it’s such an interesting coversation.”

This year, that conversation will continue over post-lunch break-out sessions led by industry leaders like Gab Smith, executive director of CAM Raleigh; Jenny Hwa, executive director of Innovate Raleigh; and Teresa Monteiro, founder and CEO of Her Leap. These sessions will cover subjects including: Leveraging the Resources Around You; Working Entrepreneurially in Any Setting; How to Turn an Idea into Reality; and Returning to Work Following a Career Break.

Tickets for the event, which will take place from 12 noon to 4:15 p.m. at the Umstead Hotel & Spa, are $100 and available here:

Isa Watson

Isa Watson

Founder and CEO, Envested

Isa Watson is the founder and CEO of Durham-based Envested, a social network giving platform that fosters connectivity within local communities. Watson started the company when her father passed away and she returned to the area, realizing the potential for a Triangle-centric giving network specifically targeted toward millennials.

Her entrepreneurial success, she says, is a result of her family’s commitment to the local community as well as her long history of business expertise. Before founding Envested, Watson was a Vice President of Strategy in the Business Banking division of JPMorgan Chase & Co., as well as part of a management training initiative focused on the group’s business development in New York and Hong Kong. She also worked at Pfizer as a research chemist and clinical trial strategy analyst, helping to execute statistical analyses for top-selling drug Lyrica, which holds $3 billion in annual sales. She has a B.S. in Chemistry from Hampton University, a M.S. in Pharmacology from Cornell University, and an M.B.A. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Sloan School of Management.

Envested has been featured in Fast Company, ExitEvent, and The Triangle Business Journal. Watson was named top 40 under 40 leaders in the Triangle by The Triangle Business Journal in 2016 and top 40 under 40 in finance by the Toigo Foundation in 2015. She is also the youngest-serving member of the MIT Sloan Executive Alumni Board.

Cindy Whitehead

Cindy Whitehead

Co-Founder, Sprout Pharmaceuticals

Founder and CEO, The Pink Ceiling

When Raleigh-based Sprout Pharmaceuticals was sold for $1 billion to Valeant Pharmaceuticals last year, co-founder Cindy Whitehead found herself fielding phone calls from business news reporters around the globe – and from fellow female entrepreneurs, seeking funding and advice.     Her new venture, The Pink Ceiling, launched in April, taps into that very need. The all-female company headquarted in North Hills offers strategic consulting, seed investing, and commercial support for startups targeting women’s issues. First up: Undercover Colors, a Raleigh company started by four N.C. State grads to make nail polish that changes colors if it comes in contact with date rape drugs.

Whitehead was a speaker at Fortune’s Next Gen Most Powerful Women Summit, was recently featured on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2016 “Women to Watch” issue, and her work has been covered by The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNBC, CBS, and FOX.

Sprout may have brought her into the public eye, but it wasn’t her first success. Whitehead previously co-founded and led operations for Slate Pharmaceuticals, which produced the first FDA-approved long-lasting testosterone in sexual medicine.

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Maura Horton

Founder and CEO, MagnaReady

Maura Horton started MagnaReady when her late husband, Don Horton, an N.C. State assistant football coach diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at a young age, began to have trouble with mobility. “One day after a game he was trapped in the locker room unable to button his shirt,” she says. “His hands just were not working. Luckily, a player noticed his struggle and buttoned his shirt for him.”

Maura combined her previous experience designing children’s clothes with an entrepreneurial determination to solve the problem: “By magnetically infusing the buttons on his shirts,” she says, “I created a product that could restore freedom to his daily routine.” Today, the company makes dress shirts for both men and women, and is a champion for Parkinson’s awareness and research. It has been covered by People Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, FOX News Health, and ESPN, among others. MagnaReady has won the Today’s Caregiver Friendly Award twice, and Horton is also the recipient of a Gold Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

Recently, Horton partnered with PVH, the company that owns Tommy Hilfiger, Izod, and Calvin Klein to sell MagnaReady-equippped clothing for adults and children.

jamie meares full headshot

Jamie Meares

Founder and creative director, Furbish Studio

Jamie Meares, founder and creative director of Furbish Studio and author of the blog i suwannee, is known for her daring design mixtures. Hepplewhite serpentine sideboards meet Moroccan evil eye pillows on her site and in her flagship Raleigh store, a mecca for the design community that she recently moved to the Melrose Mill (see At the Table, pg. 70,  for more about that historic building). Her immense, social-media-driven popularity and unique blend of Southern style and bohemian eclecticism has garnered the attention of The New York Times, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, InStyle, ElleDecor, Real Simple, and House Beautiful. Jamie has also established brand collaborations with organizations like Walgreens, Target, Wedding Wire, Urban Outfitters, Ford, Madewell, and Yahoo!.

Meares updates her blog several times a week with home decorating, fashion, and travel advice. In the Melrose, her staff of seven offers consultations by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays, as well as walk-ins the rest of the week. The studio is chock-full of furniture, decor, and accessories with a colorful, playful flair.

“When I opened Furbish, I filled it with all of the things I had blogged about,” she says. “It was like a 3-D representation of the things I loved. You can walk into that environment, and the lifestyle I am writing about suddenly becomes much more accessible.”

Tashni-Ann Dubroy - Headshot 3 - Navy Blazer

Tashni-Ann Dubroy

President, Shaw University

Jamaican native TashniAnn Dubroy is the 17th and second-youngest president of Shaw University. A Shaw graduate with a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from N.C. State and an MBA from Rutgers University, Dubroy has also worked as a research scientist, global technology analyst, and procurement manager at BASF, the world’s leading chemical company.

Before becoming Shaw’s newest president, Dubroy worked at the university as an associate professor of chemistry, department chair of natural sciences and mathematics, and as the special assistant to the president for process optimization.

Leadership runs in her blood. So does entrepreneurism. Dubroy co-owns Tea and Honey Blends, a natural hair care company; owns the hair salon Element Beauty Bar; and founded the Brilliant and Beautiful Foundation, a nonprofit that mentors women in science. She has been recognized by N.C. State, the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, and UNCF for her accomplishments and has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Money magazine, and Bloomberg’s Businessweek.

WINnovation 2016

An afternoon of inspiration, education, and community.

Presented by Bank of America, The Umstead Hotel & Spa, and Walter

at The Umstead Hotel & Spa

100 Woodland Pond Drive, Cary

Tickets: $100, available at

12-noon  Welcome reception begins

12:30  Doors open for lunch

Three course luncheon with wine pairings

12:45  Program begins

WIN talk speakers

Tashni-Ann Dubroy, President, Shaw University

Maura Horton, Founder and CEO, MagnaReady

Jamie Meares, Founder, Furbish Studio

Isa Watson, Founder and CEO, Envested

Cindy Whitehead, Founder, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, The Pink Ceiling

2:30  Questions and answers with audience

3:15  Breakout sessions begin

led by Gab Smith of CAM Raleigh, Jenny Hwa of Innovate Raleigh, Teresa Monteiro of Her Leap, and others

Subjects to include:

From Idea to Execution

Leveraging the Resources Around You

Returning to Work After a Career Break

Working Entrepreneurially in Any Setting

4:15  WINnovation adjourns

Each speaker will give a 5-minute TED-talk-style “WIN” talk about her own individual entrepreneurial journey.