The Annual WEDO Awards Recognize Outstanding Area Business Women

Ambrea Mikolajczyk, Jera Stewart and Tina Butts

By Angie Hayes
The Truth Reporter

The Northwest Ohio Women’s Business Council held an event to encourage, celebrate and support women entreprenuers who have achieved successful outcomes and have contributed to the economic atmosphere in our community.

The event was scheduled to award selected women business owners for their contributions to the community. The Women’s Entrepreneurial Distinction Ovation Award (WEDO Awards) was arranged to establish impactful results in the community. The WEDO Awards are provided to support the success of the women who were nominated and selected for the win and also provided to share the inspirational stories of each woman entrepreneur who achieved success, despite struggles or obstacles.

Northwest Ohio Women’s Business Council is an active member and contributor to the Women of Toledo’s Economic Development Initiative.  A non-profit established in 2014, ‘Inclusive For Women Inc.’ is currently dba Women of Toledo: a local 501c3 nonprofit that supports the women of the community, by providing programs and services that address any barriers to women’s growth and economic successful progress.

All of the women from The Women’s Business Council, committed to the cause of supporting the community women, are acknowledged by The Women of Toledo program! All participants of both The Women’s Business Council and The Women of Toledo have provided support to  women everywhere in the community.

Many women were nominated and judges created a process to select the honorees for the 2023 award ceremony. The WEDO Award event was set up to share the inspiring stories of the five selected award winners: local women who have followed their dreams, established jobs and contributed to the community.

The beginning of the event consisted of networking: time to communicate with all attendees present in the facility and celebrate the success of women. The hosts established a networking room offering food, drinks, and a band providing musical entertainment.  The communication/networking session was an opportunity to speak with the women who are committed to the community. The networking also provided motivation to others to activate community contribution!

“Nominations are now open for 2024, so push for successful entrepreneurs who have a successful impact in our community,” said Sena Friedman, co-chair of the Women’s Business Council. “It’s important that their stories get told to help the women in our community.  Celebrating these five incredible women, who have had an economic impact on our community, is truly an honor! This year’s winners represent the entrepreneurial spirit that creates change and growth. These five women are truly a blessing to our economic development. Than you to ALL who have contributed to make today happen.”

The reception ended after the networking time and the Award presentation began. The reception period was created by numerous volunteers and various sponsors. Sponsor recognition was provided throughout the atmosphere to acknowledge all who contributed to the event; appreciation was acknowledged to all volunteers as well as all sponsors.

The beginning of the award ceremony began with introductions and knowledge provided for understanding of the successful women involved.

“Here to celebrate great women. We have such excellent judges,” said Olivia Holden, committee chair for WEDO Judges.

The WEDO judges included Dr. Soon-Young Yoon, Athena Golianis, Crystal Harris Darnell, Pamela J. Moore and Deborah Barnett.

“The judges are very active in our community. The co-chair, Sandy Spang, brings experience and her passion for small business owners. Especially women! Co-chair Sena Mourad-Friedman, is a motivation!” said Kathy Tucker, vice president Women of Toledo.

This year’s honorees are: Noor Alexandria Abukaram; Erin Curley; Ambrea Mikolajczyk; Jeraldine Stewart and Tina Butts.

Abukaram, the founder of Let Noor Run, is the year’s Rising Star awardee – a woman who is 25 or younger who has founded a successful business with promises for the future.

“I am grateful for the recognition and humbled to be amongst such incredible women entrepreneurs,” said Abukaram. “This award not only celebrates our achievements but also ignites a flame of hope in aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Curley, the owner and inspiration of Engage Studio Architects, is this year’s recipient of the Second Act Award – a woman who draws inspiration from previous life and work experiences to find success as an entrepreneur.

“Giving back, volunteering your time, not being paid: gives back,” said Curley. “Thanks you to those who nominated me. I have three quick words to share: Be Feisty, Be Fierce, Be Fearless.”

Mikolajczyk, owner of ARK Restoration and Construction, is the Trailblazer Awardee – an innovator, creator and leader who has broken new ground as a woman entrepreneur

“I feel so incredibly honored to receive this inaugural award, to be recognized for the hard work I do in the community restoring forgotten architecture and contributing to many causes in order to move the needle forward in my hometown is something I will always treasure,” said Mikolajczyk. “A trailblazer to me is someone who presses forward! Thank you to The Women of Toledo. I know that God has me here.”


Stewart, owner of Jera’s Heavenly Sweet Bakery, is the Thriver awardeee – a woman whose entrepreneurial leadership has grown and sustained a business meeting increasingly higher levels of achievement in revenue, job creation and market share.

“Winning this award just solidifies the fact for me that, with God, ALL things are possible,” said Stewart. “For anyone interested in a business, make sure it’s your passion!”

Butts, owner of Tina Butts Bail Bonds Service and founder of The Movement, is the Legend awardee – a woman we celebrate for a lifetime of entrepreneurial achievement, community impact and support of the success of others.

Award winner Tina Butts: “ I transform every passion that I have into a business. That’s why I love what I do and I hope to inspire you!”

The Women’s Business Council strives to promote, support and celebrate entrepreneurship in the community.  The 2023 WEDO Awards are the beginning of a new tradition. Nominations for 2024 WEDO Awards are open now! All are invited to nominate a woman entrepreneur or yourself for the future 2024 WEDO Awards. Nominations are possible at The future plans will continue to recognize and acknowledge the excellence of women entrepreneurs in our community, to support improvement and growth in the atmosphere.