The NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College will be holding our sixth annual Women Entrepreneurs Rock on October 21st from 6pm – 10pm at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park.  Given the success of our previous WER events, this is a can’t-miss experience for current or aspiring women business owners.

Scheduled during international Women Entrepreneurship Week, the goal of “Women Entrepreneurs Rock” (also known as WeRock) is to facilitate a real dialog about topics relevant to women in business. Last year over 500 women business owners from our area came to share knowledge and inspiration.

According to the March 2019 edition of Success magazine, “the new arena for business is being built from recycled shards of the glass ceiling.” Today, four out of every 10 businesses (40%) in the United States are women-owned.  In fact, women are starting businesses in droves! Women started 1,821 net new businesses every day last year.

This rise in female entrepreneurship is attributed to both opportunity and necessity according to the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express.  Women surveyed mention four major motivations: having the experience to start a successful enterprise, financial readiness, following a passion and desiring flexibility in their lives.

“This growing reality propels Women Entrepreneurs Rock to be better every year,” says Jackeline Mejias-Fuertes, Director of the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College. “The venue alone immediately signals this is, by far, not your standard business function. No formalities and no canned responses…just real information from those who have successfully navigated the process of launching and growing a business.”

The focus this year will be on women entrepreneurs leading the way in philanthropy and their commitment to giving back.  Women have always been integral volunteers, but as female philanthropists gain in wealth and influence, they are reinventing philanthropy prioritizing business solutions to social problems.  As Melinda Gates said, “They know their community.  They know what needs to get done.” Even better news is that according to Forbes, “most of the wealth that will change hands in the coming decades is likely to go to women!”

The panelists will discuss their backgrounds, successes and challenges along the way, and offer advice to fellow business owners. There will also be a live Q&A exchange followed by an opportunity for networking.

The amazing women participating this year include:

Our keynote speaker Tracy Abby-White, Sr. Director of Sales Enablement at IronNet Cybersecurity

As a curious and creative leader, she encourages different perspectives and active engagement. She has learned that a safe environment and the opportunity to “fail safely” will deliver fresh ideas making us collectively better. As much as education is her foundation, so is public service. For seven years she served on the Henry Hudson Regional Board of Education holding all offices including President. Tracey is a former Councilwoman for Atlantic Highlands where she served on multiple committees and founded the AH Youth Commission. Appointed in 2013, she is the current Chair of the Brookdale Board of Trustees.

She began her career as a middle school teacher in Middletown, NJ. Making the ambitious shift into the corporate arena, she became a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch Private Client Group and later Charles Schwab. A twist of life events led her to the software industry, where she earned leadership roles in Silicon Valley cybersecurity start-ups. Enterprise sales leader, Director of Federal Account Development, Director of North America Channel Sales and Director of North America Field Marketing titles dot her resume. An acquisition landed her at IBM, where she became the Worldwide Mobility and Endpoint Management Enablement Leader. Here she trained sales professionals on how to help their customers solve business challenges with technology solutions.

True to her nature of curious learning, when a former colleague recruited her with the opportunity to “build a program from nothing,” she jumped to Tenable. Recently she was lured from Tenable to IronNet, the cybersecurity organization founded by former NSA GEN. Keith Alexander, where she is the Sr. Director of Sales Enablement.

Tracey and her husband Richard A. White Sr., retired Chief of Police of Monmouth Beach, enjoy a blended family of nine children, seven grandchildren and a grandson on the way.

DonnaLyn Giegerich, President of DLG Consulting will be honored with the 2019 Woman Who Rocks Award.

DonnaLyn Giegerich is an integrated leader,  motivational speaker and skills coach, passionate about helping intentional leaders succeed. As president of DLG Consulting, she travels the globe as a business conference keynoter, corporate trainer/business development consultant and impact/speech coach for those interested in developing influence and talent agility. The intersection of her sales career at IBM, then analyst job on Wall St, led her to entrepreneurship for decades locally. She has addressed thousands at conferences from California to Cornell in business forums for over a decade. Corporate speaking roster includes client names like Campbells, Daiichi-Sankyo, Novo-Nordisk, Balfour Beatty and Verisk, to name a few. She has also worked as an international brand ambassador, resilient cover model search winner for the renowned Kripalu Yoga and Health brand and has taught yoga as a registered teacher to stressed executive leaders around the Caribbean for over a decade.

She maintains business interests in two insurance agencies, has taught college economics and business courses at Brookdale Community College, Kean and Monmouth University and is currently an entrepreneurial consultant for America’s Small Business Development Center in Lincroft. She is the co-founder of KickCancerOverboard, creator of YogaOnTheLakeSummerSeries, and emcee/creator of sold out Power Panelist networking events for women. Her work has been featured in five books, awarded by over twenty organizations including the Rothman Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, NJ Assoc of Women Businessowners, several local chambers of commerce and The Fresh Air Fund in NYC. Locally, DonnaLyn has quietly funded scholarships for non traditional business students and emerging talent at Brookdale Community College.

Her family has hosted over ten foreign exchange college students from Beijing to Brazil while managing a decade of life threatening cancer complications including a complex 8 hour abdominal surgery, two stem cell transplants, years of chemotherapy, too many hospital stays and multiple radiation protocols. She and her husband of 28 years have been beating back aggressive cancers together since age 42. She won numerous awards at the 2009 Mrs New Jersey Pageant for rare  cancer awareness at age 45 in a red bikini with an 18 inch torso scar(and a badass spray tan!) as Mrs Red Bank to showcase what’s possible thru adversity. Learn more about resilience, reinvention and how she helps leaders succeed at

This years moderator will be Carol Gabel, President of Seven Pearls LLC.

With over 20 years of executive management with two State Chambers of Commerce, Carol has worked with five Government Administrations and hundreds of legislators and elected officials.  She has counseled thousands of businesses on attracting new clients, mitigating their risks, and maximizing their growth potential. As President, Seven Pearls, LLC she counsels clients in the areas of: Human Resources, Regulatory Compliance, Legal, Accounting, Insurance, Disaster Planning and Security.

As an Associate with Management and Government Resources 2, LLC, Carol has assisted numerous clients in navigating the complicated waters on the emerging Cannabis industry. She has presented in town forums throughout the state, hosted and appeared on a number of radio and television programs on the topic, and has been engaged in the medical cannabis industry on many different levels.

Carol currently serves on the Board of the G.I. Go Fund, which assists veterans, active-duty personnel, their family members, veteran supporters, and all members of the military community with finding employment, connecting to their benefits, and accessing housing opportunities. She has received numerous awards for her work as a Domestic Violence Crisis Counselor and also for her work with the Juvenile Conference Committee.

Our panel of dynamic entrepreneurs will include:

Alexis Castellano, Co-Founder, FASTEN (now WOWEASE)

Alexis is an entrepreneur with a strong marketing and creative background. She co-founded and co-invented FASTEN, a patented swimsuit design that has revolutionized the swimwear industry. Alexis oversaw all aspects of the business, including production, supply chain, and customer service, with her strongest focus in marketing and product development. After four years Alexis and her co-founder successfully sold FASTEN to the largest swimwear manufacturer in North America. Prior to FASTEN, Alexis and an event planning company for ten years, where she focused on marketing, finance, graphic design, and event coordination. Alexis is also a freelance writer and has published pieces in the Huffington Post and Parent & Child Magazine. She graduated from Lehigh University magna cum laude with a BA in journalism.

Claribel Cortez, Co-Founder, The Setroc Group, Inc.

Claribel Cortes is a driven executive leader with more than 18 years of experience in digital media and video content distribution. Experienced with a wide range of publications and channels, Claribel has achieved exceptional success in forging relationships with key leaders in the entertainment industry to expand digital media operations around the globe. A visionary, forward- thinking leader, Claribel has a career history of developing intercontinental teams, growing new and existing business, and executing strategic plans to achieve business goals.

Early in her career, Claribel established herself as an innovative media specialist while working for Fox News, delivering coverage of historical events, including 9/11 and the Iraq War. She developed long-term industry relationships in this role, and carried her talent into her next position as an Account Executive with ABC News. In this function, Claribel was recognized as the first Account Executive in company history to exceed the sales goal within the first year. She continued to manage key accounts including A&E, National Geographic, MTV, and VH1, as well as secure 400+ accounts overtime through savvy marketing tactics.

Renowned for her innovative methods, Claribel was recruited by Independent Television News (ITN Source) to expand North and Latin American operations, and successfully increased the portfolio by 60% in one year. Soon after, the Associated Press (AP) selected Claribel to lead the newly established Video Archive Operations department as a Senior Business Development Manager, where she oversaw high-profile accounts including Discovery, Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Disney. Using her strengths in project management, sales presentations, and social media marketing, Claribel successfully accelerated revenue growth and traffic.

Claribel lead AP as the Director of Digital Media & Entertainment. She has played an instrumental role in cultivating positive company culture for her team, as well as spearheaded strategic planning for the department. Since 2015, Claribel has negotiated deals with 200+ key accounts, including Warner Brothers, Sony, and Disney. She’s pioneered initiatives to create original programming with industry leaders such as A&E and The History Channel, and partnered with the Head of Marketing to launch international campaigns.

Additionally, Claribel has served as a panelist and thought leader for several professional conferences and festivals, including the Realscreen Summit and DOC NYC. In her spare time, she enjoys long distance running, refining her leadership skills, and serving on her local Board of Education. Claribel received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies from Mercy College, and is a proud member of the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE), and National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP).

Today, she is the co-founder of The Setroc Group, an award-winning media strategy firm.  She also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ. Claribel received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies from Mercy College.

Lara Nikola, President, Smart Sips Coffee 

Lara Nikola is founder and president of Smart Sips Coffee, an exciting brand of fun and unique flavored coffees, decafs, cappuccinos, lattes and hot chocolates.

Lara created a niche in the coffee industry, building a company based on creativity and products that insert excitement into the daily coffee drinking routine. Diverse marketing expertise helped her level the digital playing field and compete in the highly competitive coffee space.

Smart Sips Coffee is an ecommerce company that Lara started out of her house six years ago and since then has become a successful national brand. Lara creates products that allow you to drink your dessert guilt-free. Her flavored coffees like Chocolate Peanut Butter, Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble and Banana Cream are sugar-free, carb-free and two calories per cup.

Lara has been on Good Morning America where she pitched the sharks from Shark Tank, featured by Money Magazine and interviewed on Fox & Friends. She has also won the Leading Women Entrepreneur Top 25 Brand Builder award, was a guest on an iHeart Radio show and was on the cover of NJBiz.

Marcy Ragan, Owner, Relish Your Chef

Chef Marcy Ragan is the owner of Relish Your Chef, a Monmouth County bespoke personal chef and catering company. She has spent a lifetime thinking about, cooking, and enjoying her next best meal. Marcy comes from a long line of great home cooks and truly believes that real food shared together brings joy.  Trained in kitchens of Perugia, Italy and then at the French Culinary Institute, her cuisine is well grounded in classic European technique.  Her approach to cuisine is fresh, delicious, and elevated – without being fussy.  Her clients benefit from nutritious and appetizing food that is tailor cooked to their specifications, delivered.

Chef Marcy is zealous about teaching families how to eat healthfully with her program, “Picky No More, Easy ABCs to Feed the Whole Family”. She also donates her resources to charities that are near and dear to her, the JBJ Soul Kitchen and Expect Miracles. Chef Marcy’s recent foray into on-camera chef work is a new passion, and can’t wait to do more. When she is not cooking, she enjoys downtime with her two hungry sons, husband, dog, and cat. 

Roseanne Tobey, Founder, Calm and Sense™ Therapy

Rosanne Tobey has worked as a dedicated Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) for more than 17 years, caring deeply about her clients and their wellbeing. She specializes in individual, adolescent and family therapy.

As Rosanne’s business grew she found that there were only so many hours in the day to help people. Rather than turn people in need of help away, Rosanne decided in 2008 to surround herself with other like-minded and passionate therapists who are committed to putting the patient’s needs first. Since then, the Calm and Sense team has grown to 14 dedicated employees and two locations that serve those in need of support. Calm and Sense takes pride in ensuring every individual that walks through their door is treated with respect and dignity and is never treated like a number in the system.

Rosanne also has acted as a family counseling and parenting consultant for the websites and A graduate of Kean University, she has served as an Officer of the Board of the New Jersey Association of Gifted Children (NJAGC) and as a Trustee.