We had a lot to be excited for this past Sunday, as we celebrated five classes of empowered women graduating from EWI programs!

Women in Grow My Business 2013, Entrepreneur Training for Success Fall 2013 Alexandria and Wheaton, and Entrepreneur Training for Success Spring 2014 Alexandria and Wheaton all walked on stage to accept their certificates and tell us a little about their journey with newly empowered entrepreneurs. Afterwards, they all presented their incredible micro-enterprises in a delightfully lively showcase.

Thank you to all who were there to support and celebrate all the empowered women entrepreneurs with their incredible stories and blossoming new businesses!

It was an incredible day.

All of the graduates on stage!


A thank you to Kristina Krawchuk, for a lovely Welcome & Introduction Speech


Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, President of Montgomery College reminded us of the value of men and women by sharing the story of two very important men in her life, her father and grandfather.


ETS Spring 2014 Graduate Rana Jaafar Yaseen tells us about the struggles and suffering she faced in Iraq, before coming to the US and starting her life all over again.


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Marga Fripp addresses the crowd to read her uplifting speech on courage, and how EWI has changed her life for the better.



by Marga Fripp, Executive Director and Chief Visionary of EWI

The way of the heart is always the way of courage…

I’ve came to realize after many years of acting on courage and passion, that finding the courage to be who you are is one of the greatest battles of our lifetime.

Courage, I think, is something we have in abundance.

As young children, we often act as superheroes.

We put a cape on and become invincible changing he world. Who doesn’t dream of being Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman?

But then later on, when life becomes more serious and we begin to make more mature decisions, something dramatic shifts in our thinking.

We silence the superhero inside our hearts.

We take the cape down and hide it in an old forgotten trunk in the attic, so we can act as responsible adults.

Taking risk becomes a bit precarious.

Starting something new feels suddenly frightening.

Learning a new skill becomes a burden.

Wearing too many hats feels really confusing.

So where have we lost our abundant courage?
And how do we take it back?

The women who we celebrate today have learned how to take their courage back.

They spent ENDLESS hours in EWIs program – with themselves and with their mentors, reflecting on their dreams and goals, on what makes them really special, and on their own power and gifts to inspire courage in others.

From these amazing women and their exceptional life experiences I’ve learned so much about courage.

Here are a few of the lessons you all taught me.

Lesson 1. Pursuing your passion and dreams is one way to reclaim your courage, your voice and your freedom.

If you fail working on your passion – you will feel responsible to get up and keep moving until you really find what you’re looking for.

Lesson 2. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is yet another act of courage.

To fail requires taking risk, trying something new, exploring an alternative path and possibly finding new directions.

There is no failure and no risk without trying a new way.

But there is no success, no freedom and no courage without failing. Failing is where learning begins…

Lessen 3. Make your imagination be your guide on the path to courage.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing something different is really brave. It gives you confidence in your abilities to create a world of your dreams.

Lessen 4. Give a chance to someone else to learn courage from your experience.

Courage comes from teaching others to be who they are – not by preventing them from making their own errors and mistakes, but by teaching them to innovate, to take risk and to follow their wild creative Muse.

Lessen 5. Courage is to hope a little more each day.

When we trust that tomorrow is a brand new day and its possibilities have not been written yet, we give rise to a new wave of courage.

We now believe that everything is possible, and that each act of love, care, joy and compassion we perform – becomes a source of more courage, hope, abundance and opportunity.

Thank you Empowered Women for teaching me and all of us that it’s never too late to put the superhero suit back on, follow your imagination and inspire a new generation of Wonder Women and Superman.

YOU ARE what the world needs today – Inspiring change-making entrepreneurs and FOREVER empowered women.



Lots of smiles as Rose Ahui (ETS Spring 2014 Graduate), Marga Fripp, and Rose Soloman (ETS Spring 2014 Graduate) pose at the business showcase!


I was riveted for the entire time on Sunday. I had a tear or two in my eyes listening to all the stories, and found it especially moving to see how far so many of our people have come. We must be doing something right, and EWI deserves tremendous credit for hanging in there and giving it your all, day after day. I don’t need much in the way of inspiration to keep me motivated to continue my involvement with EWI, because I get so much out of it. But yesterday sort of tied it all together for me. I am sure there will be many similar occasions to come.

-Howie Feinstein, EWI Board Member


Reading “The Empowered Woman Creed” aloud together!


At graduation I realized that EWI became a beautiful part of my new life and I truly feel sad that the days of training were ended. I was happy to be with lovely people and to have shared this passion with them.

-Rana Jaafar Yaseen, ETS Spring 2014 Graduate




Congratulations to you, the EWI Team and all the EWI graduates.  Your ceremony was a beautiful experience yesterday.  My husband and I were very touched by the stories of your graduates and the lovely showcase with the fruits of their labor.  The words of the young woman specializing in art, who was with her mother, brought tears to our eyes.  There was a lot of emotion in listening to each graduate’s struggles and victories in their new voices.  We are grateful to have been a part of this special event.

-Susan Gardiner


A shout out to our staff, interns, and volunteers, who put in countless hours for the success of this event.

Interns Alex Codrea, Idil Ismail, Farhana Ferdous, and Lauren Spengler


And very special thank you to our sponsors, without whom this event would not have been possible.


Event Sponsors

Montgomery College
Ernst & Young
Capital One Bank

In-Kind Contributors

Ernesto Rivera, Austral Lights Photography
Hanadi Karanda, Photographer
Charmelle Clark, Creatively Charming
Elizabeth Coker, MaLizzies Cakes & Catering

Entrepreneur Incubator Funding Partners


ACT for Alexandria
Community Foundation for Northern Virginia
Consumer Health Foundation
CTC Foundation
Dianne R. Lorenz Family Foundation
Ernst & Young
Fairfax County Government
Galston Family Giving Fund
Giving Circle of Hope
Herscot/Bartley Family Fund
Hess Collins Family Fund
Hughes United Methodist Women’s Group
Mason Hirst Foundation
Montgomery County Executive Office
Sally Rudney & Scott Hoekman Family Fund
Share Fund
Sharing Montgomery Fund
The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
The Palmer Foundation
Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation
The Jean and Bruce Wyman Fund
Washington Forrest Foundation
Westminster Presbyterian Church


Capital One
Ballston BID
Bank of America
BB&T Bank
C.T. Hellmuth & Associates, Inc.
Dalal & Company
Montgomery College
Maggio + Kattar, P.C.
Rock & Harding Tax Service
Sarfino and Rhoades, LLP

What a wonderful day!

Heartfelt Moments and Words of Courage at EWI’s Graduation
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