InnovateHER 2017: Innovating for Women

CONGRATULATIONS to the 2017 Hofstra local winner of the InnovateHER Competition, Felicia Fleitman, CEO of Savvy Hires, a workforce development firm that fulfills the short-term needs of women and autistic individuals. 

More about InnovateHer:

The Hofstra University Center for Entrepreneurship is a local host of the national InnovateHER Competition sponsored by the Small Business Administration, a business plan competition for entrepreneurs to showcase products and services that:

  • Have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families
  • Have the potential for commercialization
  • Fill a need in the marketplace

The Hofstra University local competition is a virtual competition.  Entrepreneurs must submit their business plans to Stacey.Sikes[at] by June 1, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.  A panel of judges will select one local winner who will be considered by the Small Business Administration for the final round in Washington D.C., which will be held in mid-2017 with a total of $70,000 in prize money.  For information on the competition and full rules, visit the InnovateHer site.

Applicants to the Hofstra University local competition must submit the following by June 1 (please review the full rules before applying): 

  • A cover page that contains: The team leader; the company name (if applicable); product/service name; company address, city, state, and place of incorporation (if applicable); product/service website (if applicable); telephone number of team leader; his/her e-mail address; and a concise, two-sentence description of the product or service (note: this description may also be used in promotional or informational materials)
  • A business plan not to exceed 20 pages including attachments.

If you have any questions please email Stacey Sikes, Senior Assistant Dean for Administration at the Center for Entrepreneurship, at Stacey.Sikes[at]

Competition Summary Challenge Rules SBA

Cosponsorship Authorization #17-6050-38. SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products, or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact: Simona Duffin, telephone: (202) 205-4401.


Gioia Bales, Senior Associate Dean at the Frank G. Zarb School of Business

Gioia BalesMs. Bales holds a B.S. magna cum laude from Syracuse University and an M.B.A. in finance (with distinction) from Hofstra University, where she was elected to Beta Gamma Sigma.  Before joining the Hofstra University faculty, Ms. Bales was a senior research analyst in the bond market research department of Salomon Brothers, Inc. For more than eight years she authored extensive research reports on the domestic and international bond, money and foreign exchange markets that were distributed to institutional investors worldwide. Her areas of expertise include floating-rate instruments, interest rate swaps, Eurodollar bonds and medium-term notes. Ms. Bales has also contributed articles to the following books published on the financial markets: The Handbook of International Investing, Inside the Swap Market, The Library of Investment Banking and Interest Rate Swaps.  While at Salomon Brothers she also completed its sales and trading training program, a comprehensive six-month program on all aspects of the securities industry, and became a licensed securities representative.  Currently Ms. Bales is a consultant in the global fixed-income research department at Merrill Lynch in Manhattan. She has been a regular contributor to its biweekly publication Currency & Bond Market Trends, focusing on credit spreads throughout the global bond market. Other research projects at Merrill Lynch include an analysis of the global interest rate swap market, the size and structure of the world bond market, and global debt holdings.  Presently Ms. Bales serves as the faculty adviser for the Financial Management Association and as internship coordinator for the Finance Department. In December 1994 she was the recipient of the Golden Key Award, a national recognition for excellence in teaching.

Patricia Ciavarello, Assistant Dean of Outreach and Undergraduate Programs, Frank G. Zarb School of Business

Patricia CiavarelloPatricia Ciavarello is a double Zarb School alum, earning both her bachelors and master’s degree in Marketing. Professor Ciavarello’s over 10 years of industry experience varies in the fields of health care, education, and not-for-profit industries. In addition to her administrative role as Director of Outreach at the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, she also serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor within the Department of Marketing and International Business. Professor Ciavarello is a member of the National Association of Professional Women, Beta Gamma Sigma and the Golden Key Honor Society.

Barbara Roberts, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Center for Entrepreneurship

Barbara RobertsPreviously a Wall Street executive and then serial entrepreneur, Barbara Roberts is now an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Hofstra University, the Columbia Business School and Group Chair at Tiger 21, the peer learning group for very high net worth people and entrepreneurs who have sold businesses for $10 million or more. She is a well-known speaker and writer on all stages of entrepreneurship, and the economic and leadership progress of women. Roberts develops and leads programs and workshops for entrepreneurs at all stages for institutions and government agencies, including Columbia Business School and University, the Women’s Presidents Organization, WBENC, the New York City Economic Development Corp., Brookhaven Labs, Suffolk County, NY and the New York Science, Industry and Business Library. She is a member of New York Angels and serves on the boards of a number of privately held companies. She is certified as a master coach by the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara and trained in facilitation and mediation. Ms. Roberts has an Economics and Philosophy degree from Goucher College.