Grimes, Lyons honorees at Women in Business awards

Date Published: 
December 13, 2013

Look out, world. These women mean business.

Delaware Today magazine recently honored 33 of Delaware’s most powerful businesswomen in its annual Women in Business issue. Ocean View was well-represented by Patti Grimes, executive director of Carl M. Freeman Foundation and Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, and Susan Lyons, publisher, co-founder and an owner of the Coastal Point newspaper.

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Coastal Point's Susan Lyons with Mark Nardone and her Women in Business Award.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Coastal Point's Susan Lyons with Mark Nardone and her Women in Business Award.The award aims to “acknowledge your success and celebrate you. You’ve worked your way up. … You’ve jumped hurdles, … and you’ve always defended your ideals. And tried to make the lives of the people you (work with) better,” said Maria Hess, Delaware Today editor-in-chief.

After featuring the winners in the December issue of the magazine, Hess honored some of the ladies Dec. 5, before a room of their peers, at the annual Women in Business downstate luncheon — only in its second year, after the original statewide event held upstate grew too large.

“You are the most fantastic women, and we are thrilled to spend this time with you,” said Hess, calling the women “fabulous — and fabulousness is everything.”

“Everybody in this room is an inspiration to me,” said guest speaker Deborah Brenner. “You helped break the glass ceiling for every young woman and daughter. Because of you, they will be able to make incredible strides in their careers.”

Working primarily in male-dominated industries, Brenner was a pioneer among businesswomen but without any female executive role models of her own. Having found success, but not happiness, Brenner quit her job to write about — then become one of — the women making a name for themselves in another male-dominated industry: California’s vineyards.

That community of women was important because they could talk about business, life, family or anything “and still be respected,” Brenner said. “We love men. We just happen to be women making great wine.

“A vine cannot bear wine by itself. It takes a team,” she added.

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Carl M. Freeman Foundation's Patti Grimes with Mark Nardone and her Women in Business Award.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Carl M. Freeman Foundation's Patti Grimes with Mark Nardone and her Women in Business Award.“I’m always humbled to be amongst … this sisterhood of empowerment and support. I think it creates a unique and special connection,” said Grimes, who had familiar faces at her table. “I’m thrilled that my whole team is here. I’m the icon for a team that pulls together. I couldn’t be more proud of the staff and board of directors.”

Grimes’ work aims to enhance the Southern Delaware arts community through the Freeman Stage at Bayside, as well as providing financial grants and guidance to local and Washington, D.C.-area non-profits.

When Lyons got into newspapers 31 years ago, she said, “The only women that were in this business were single. I was the only person in my office married with kids.”

Like many, Lyons learned to balance her roles as businessperson, mother and wife.

“I was very touched to be honored and humbled to be put in a group like Patti Grimes and Tonda Parks,” she said of the Delaware State News’ vice president of advertising development, “women who I have looked up to for many years.”

Honoree Alisha Broughton of Milton recalled her own challenges, from health problems to being African-American with no cash flow.

“People only see the end of business,” she said, not the years spent wringing a profit from her own business, Unlimited Expectations Training & Consulting Group.

But she has faith.

“No matter what it looks like, if you can see it, you can achieve it,” said Broughton, who now helps businesses and churches build infrastructure, managing her own flock of 30 volunteers, three employees and big goals to help educate more people.

Other honorees from the area included Sheila Bravo, executive director of the Rehoboth Art League; Mary Dupont of Lewes, director of financial empowerment for the State of Delaware; Heather Kenton of Rehoboth Beach, tourism development leader of the Delaware Economic Development Office; Claudia Peña Porretti, executive director of La Esperanza in Georgetown; Sher Valenzuela, vice president of First State Manufacturing in Milford; and Annmarie Westerfield, executive director of Rehoboth Beach Main Street Inc.