The Women’s Entrepreneurship Day  Pioneer Award recognizes and honors distinguished women who are leaders and innovators across multiple categories with inspiring accomplishments. We consider pioneers in fields including Health, Education, Music, Business, Sports, Art, Fashion, Philanthropy, Beauty, Social Responsibility, Space/Science, Finance, Technology, and Environment/Animals. We seek to recognize women who have used their positions to connect and raise up other women, both locally and globally. The women we honor join a sisterhood of women honored around the world and at the United Nations every November. 

WED 2023 Pioneer Award Winner:

With a rich background as a serial entrepreneur, influencer, and Creative Director hailing from Toronto, Canada, Aimon Ali has now found her home base in Cleveland, Ohio. Her 10+ years of experience in the Canadian Fashion Industry have taken her to various cities like Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver, leaving a trail of successful events in her wake. Upon her arrival in Cleveland, Aimon embarked on a mission to explore and invigorate the city’s creative industry with the fashion she deeply adored and understood. She quickly recognized the abundance of incredible creatives with stunning work, yet a lack of outlets for elevated fashion experiences.

Determined to make a transformative impact, Aimon set her sights on bringing elevated and diverse fashion events not only to Cleveland but also to the bustling fashion scene in New York City. She has created events and services through Fashion Talks and FT Foundation that resonate on a national scale, events that embody diversity, quality, high fashion, and unwavering support for the community. She also helps women-owned businesses strengthen their relationship with money through Accounting Babes. Through her passion for inclusivity and diversity, Aimon is dedicated to curating a community that transcends boundaries, celebrating the unique perspectives of creatives from all backgrounds. With a focus on elevating the creative industry in both the Cleveland and New York communities, she aspires to build bridges that empower and elevate the fashion landscape, fostering connections that enrich the industry on a national level.

WED 2022 Pioneer Award Winner:

Scott Simon is a happiness entrepreneur, speaker, and founder of Scare Your Soul, a movement inspiring individual and global change through small acts of courage. He has spoken around the world, motivated people at schools and companies, given a TEDx Talk, co-founded a happiness incubator, and studied and worked with international thought leaders in the areas of courage and happiness. He is a high-performance coach, focusing primarily on creating flourishing lives post-divorce, leads mindfulness meditations, and has served as an officiant of numerous weddings. Scott earned his BA from Skidmore College, his MA from Case Western Reserve University, and Certificates in Positive Psychology and Coaching from The Wholebeing Institute. Scott is the proud father of two children, and when not out fulfilling his sense of wanderlust, he lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

WED 2020 Pioneer Award Winner:

Jeni Britton Bauer is an American ice cream explorer. A pioneer of the artisan ice cream movement, Jeni opened her first Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in 2002, since growing the company to more than 45 scoop shops nationwide. She won the coveted James Beard Award in 2012 for her first cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home—a New York Times best-seller. She has been recognized by Fast Company as one of the most creative people in business today. Jeni is also a 2017 Henry Crown Fellow. As Founder and Chief Brand Officer, Jeni remains the beating heart of the company and is in charge of all creative output.

WED 2019 Pioneer Award Winners:

Anne Hartnett is the founder and owner of the Harness Cycle. The wellness entrepreneur and community event planner opened Harness Cycle in Ohio City in 2013 and has since become one of the faces of Cleveland’s small business community, helping to promote the city’s resurgence. Growing up, Hartnett saw the importance of developing businesses in neighborhoods with potential for new life through Great Lakes Brewing Co. — a company that put Cleveland on the beer-drinking map founded by her relatives. Since Harness Cycle first opened its doors, Hartnett has opened up a second location in the heart of Downtown Cleveland and has been named one of Crain’s Cleveland Business’ 40 Under 40, Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People of 2018 and more. She is also a mom to 3 little boys and the proud wife to a Cleveland firefighter. Professionally, Anne is most proud of the team she’s built at Harness Cycle.

Liz Ferro was born in Rochester, NY and lived in four foster homes before her adoption at the age of two. As a child, she was sexually abused by a neighbor and found solace in fitness and running. To date, Liz has crossed many finish lines. She has completed 70 marathons, 2 50K Ultras, 5 Ironman Triathlons and countless other road races and triathlons. The empowerment gained from sports led her to found the non-profit organization Girls With Sole, which has received extensive national attention for its innovative and successful programming. Liz’s story evokes positive energy and inspiration. She has been featured on the “NBC TODAY Show”, and in SELF, Runner’s World, Town & Country, Traditional Home and Family Circle Magazines. She is the recipient of the 2016 Medical Mutual Pillar Award; 2015 Women Who Excel Entrepreneur Award; 2014 SELF Women Doing Good Award; 2012 Longines Women Who Make a Difference Award; 2011 Classic Woman Award; and the 2011 American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland Hero Award. Liz is a mother of two, wife, athlete, speaker, author of “Finish Line Feeling”, and the Founder and CEO of Girls With Sole.

Susie Frazier is an expert in designing for wellness, applying a sixth sense for types of interior elements that are soothing to the soul and calming to the mind. As a pioneer in the modern-day maker movement and one of Cleveland’s original reclamation artists who began in 1997, her passion is for turning distressed materials into objects of beauty. But, her true gift is designing them in a way that embodies a feeling of serenity. Living most of her life with undiagnosed ADHD and generalized anxiety, Susie developed a methodology for calming herself through design choices influenced by nature. With over 41 million people in the United States living with these same conditions, Susie now openly shares how she manages her condition through various decorative elements she creates for built environments.  She is also a 2018 Emmy award-winning producer and on-air personality, earning accolades for her locally-aired TV pilot “Movers & Makers with Susie Frazier” and has proudly created design solutions for some of the most prominent organizations in the world including the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and more.


Renée Deluca Dolan started Contempo Communications in 1996 because she wanted to share her creativity and passion for design. More than 20 years later, Renee still gets tremendous satisfaction helping clients discover how strategic branding and design can help them reach marketing objectives. Renee is the founder of Cleveland Business Connects, a female-focused magazine she published for 10 years, and also founded the CBC Magazine Connectors Choice Awards to honor Clevelanders in the special events profession. Renée’s entrepreneurial spirit and heart for helping women succeed in business prompted her to create the Female Entrepreneur Summit, an annual day of learning for Northeast Ohio businesswomen, now in its 7th year.  She’s a distinguished alumna of Kent State University, where she serves on the Business Advisory Board.

Melanie GiaMaria started her own legal practice devoted to family law in 2003. While Melanie was a graduate student at CWRU, earning degrees in both law and social work, she interned at Women’s Re-Entry Network, a program of Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) that helps participants re-enter society, enhance self-sufficiency and reduce the risk of recidivism. Melanie worked for LMM as a licensed social worker, and later, as their staff attorney until she left in 2014 to devote more time and energy to her growing practice. Melanie is a Top Attorney in North America and an adjunct professor and lecturer for CWRU, School of Law in the Human Trafficking Law Clinic. She values her work as a Guardian ad Litem and provides legal services to primarily juvenile victims of sex trafficking, many of which are participating in the Safe Harbor docket of Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court. Melanie has also contracted with the Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland to represent their clients in the Strengthening Families Program for over 15 years.

Renee Jones has devoted her career to serving others. In 1998, she started Mastermind Alliance, a weekly empowerment program at the Bishop Cosgrove Center. The program was designed to get homeless individuals off the street, off of public assistance, and back onto a path of dignity and self-sufficiency. By the following year, 78 people had moved through the program from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Seeing the transformative change that came from the investment of a single day a week, Ms. Jones soon envisioned and created a new community center to address the needs of the vulnerable and to empower their restoration and in 2002 the Renee Jones Empowerment Center (RJEC) and The Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Law Clinic opened its doors. The Center provides holistic restorative services for minor and adult human trafficking and sexual assault victims. She also founded Project Red Cord, a human trafficking awareness program for teens.