The University of North Georgia Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation honored two women for their entrepreneurship efforts Oct. 22. Jacqueline Daniel received the UNG Alumna Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award, and Jenna Libman took home the UNG Student Woman Entrepreneur of the Year honor.
They received their awards at the Women Entrepreneur Panel held on UNG's Dahlonega Campus as part of Women Entrepreneurship Week. The panelists at the Oct. 22 event were Laine Hoke, a UNG alumna and founder of her own marketing agency; Jessyca Holland, co-founder and executive director of C4 Atlanta; Jan Rooney, founder of a State Farm Agency that serves the Cumming and Forsyth County areas; Viviane Souza, co-founder of Found Professionals; and Pauli Wade, co-founder of Wade Works Creative.
Dr. Ruben Boling, director of UNG's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, was excited to honor Daniel and Libman.
"It is a great honor to recognize these outstanding entrepreneurs for their accomplishments," Boling said. "They are examples of the outstanding UNG students and alumnae who are making a difference in our region and beyond."
Daniel, a 2004 UNG alumna with a degree in elementary and special education, considers herself a "reluctant entrepreneur" who took innovative approaches for years before realizing the business mindset helped her succeed as a nonprofit leader.
"It makes it much more of an honor to be recognized by UNG," Daniel said. "I did not have a traditional trajectory into the world of entrepreneurship."
Daniel founded ConnectAbility in 2010. The Dahlonega-based nonprofit seeks to bring people of all abilities into the community to experience and share the unique gifts they have to offer. To accomplish that, ConnectAbility through its Race for a Reason program provides adaptive equipment so athletes with and without disabilities can train and compete together in local races.
In 2018, ConnectAbility served more than 3,000 people with and without disabilities. All of this happened through Daniel's realization of a need and mobilizing to meet it. Her experiences have reinforced the importance of shared experiences.
"Everybody can teach and everybody can learn in any situation," Daniel said. "If you do that, you'll never stop learning."
Libman started Driven to Style, her Instagram-based, secondhand online clothing business, in 2015 while in high school. She also sells the gently used and new clothing on Poshmark, eBay, Mercari, and Facebook. Libman, a senior from Roswell, Georgia, pursuing a marketing degree with a digital marketing concentration, collects her inventory through shopping at thrift stores and secondhand shops.
"I never imagined winning an award and doing this in college," Libman said.
Social media is at the center of Libman's efforts.
"The amount of effort and tireless hours she has put into her dream amazes me. She took that risk and has been successful within just four years," fellow student Stephanie Thobe wrote in her nomination of Libman. "She will continue to grow her business and herself in the future because of her passion and driven personality."