Induction Ceremony

Thursday, May 11th, 2017
Golden Valley Country Club
5:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Join us as we honor 8 women entrepreneurial leaders who will be inducted into the elite group of the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame.

Eventbrite - Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Ceremony

Carolyn Pool

Induction Emcee

Carolyn Pool

Carolyn Pool is an actor and writer in Minneapolis. She is a multiple Ivey Award winner for her work in the play Orson’s Shadow at Gremlin Theater in which she portrayed the actress Vivien Leigh, and for the play 2 Sugars, Room for Cream, which she co-wrote, produced and has performed with Shanan Custer all over the state of Minnesota, and most recently as part of the inaugural season of the Andy Boss Stage at Park Square Theater. Their second play, Sometimes There’s Wine premiered at the 2016 Minnesota Fringe Festival, receiving "encore" status and will be re-mounted at Daleko Arts in October 2017.

HEADSHOT - Jenny Verner-CROPPED smaller.jpg

Keynote Speaker

Jenny Verner of Cargill, Inc.
President, Specialty Seeds & Oils Business Unit

Jenny Verner is President of Cargill's Specialty Seeds & Oils Business Unit, one of Cargill's 70 business units. She is responsible for the development of healthy specialty seed and oil solutions to enhance Cargill's oils portfolio. She joined Cargill in 1981 as a merchant trainee in Saginaw, Texas. Over the years, Jenny has held a variety of key leadership positions with increasing levels of responsibility, including previously serving as Western Region General Manager, vice president of the Flour Milling Division, vice president of supply chain management for Cargill, and Sales Leader for Cargill's Food Ingredients & Systems North America. Jenny serves on the Board of Directors for Women Venture and Minnwest Corporation, a financial services enterprise. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Jenny received a BA in Economics and a BA in French from the University of Minnesota in 1981. She resides in Chaska with her husband and has four grown children.  

Special Guests

Marnie Ochs-Raleigh of Evolve Systems
President of NAWBO-Minnesota

John Taylor of Cargill, Inc.
Director, Supplier Diversity - Strategic Sourcing & Procurement

Film Crew

Grace Merchant

Grace Merchant is a director + video producer who exists to shine a light on life’s unexpected and imperfect heroes.

Her formal love for filmmaking started in a screenwriting class in college, which led to more media classes, countless hours experimenting in the studio, and a final project creating a music video for the LA band The Lonely Wild. After working for a local production company producing national television shows for ABC and History Channel, the education continues as she freelances with people from NBC, NFL Films, VICE Media, Netflix, Travel Channel, Stillmotion, and many others. From small scale local productions to national primetime shows, these experiences have shaped her into a creative swiss army knife able to find the solution regardless of the resources.

Whether the stories come from nonprofits, mom & pop small businesses, or larger commercial clients, Grace firmly believes that taking the time to find the heart and greater purpose in each story is the difference between video spots we skip and spots that compel us to stay.

Landon BrandsAn enthusiastic creator of film, video, motion design, and traditional animation, Landon’s purpose is to beautify the significant in everything he creates. At eight years old, he began experimenting with VHS camcorders and homemade news shows; since then, he’s continually pursued new and creative ways to communicate stories with heart. His persistence of vision fueled by a midwestern work ethic has produced an ambitious and diverse body of work, covering narrative, commercial, corporate, and music videos.

Having worked for 60+ clients including Paramount Pictures, Google Fiber, Sonic, Medtronic, and other national brands, Landon is excited to help people, nonprofits, and companies tell stories that matter.


Grace Merchant-Director, Landon Brands-Director of Photography, Ariel Donahue-1st Assistant Director, Ben Robertson-Production Manager, Jay Chase-Jacobus-First Assistant Camera, Tracy Mailloux-Gaffer, Zach Green-Key Grip, Connor Nelson-Swing, KaylaAnne(Kanga) Glick-Art Director, Christian Willner-Production Assistant, Chelsey Rondeau-Art Production-Assistant, Alicia Hathaway-Production Assistant, Jared Elkin-Sound Mixer, Amber Schindeldecker-Script Supervisor. Creative Team: Buffie Blesi, Joni Fletty and Carolyn Pool-Voice Over.

Kendra Alaura KENDRA ALAURA: Kendra Alaura is an actress and model in the Twin Cities area. Hailing from Wisconsin, she grew up participating in her community theatre and moved to Minneapolis to pursue her dream career in acting. Her background is mainly stage, but she has worked on commercials, music videos, television series, and has played leading roles in many local film productions. Kendra is currently signed with Agency Models and Talent, Meredith Models and Talent, and Wehmann Models and Talent. She plans to move to Los Angeles in the future.

Iris Seifert IRIS SEIFERT: Iris is currently nine years old. She has been an aspiring actor since she was a preschooler. After a handful of school musicals, some acting classes at Stages Theater and Children’s Theater Company, Iris’s acting career is starting to blossom. In addition to acting, Iris loves singing, dancing, and making her friends and family laugh. When Iris grows up, she wants to be an actor, nurse, teacher, and pet sitter.


Siya Singh

SIYA SINGH: Siya is currently eight years old and a 3rd grader at Providence Academy. She has been acting on stage since she was five years old. She has most recently performed with the Guthrie Theater in A Christmas Carol and has also performed in Disney’s Jungle Book, Disney’s Aristocats Jr., Pirates 2: The Hidden Treasure and American Voices with the Front Porch Musical Theater Company. Siya also enjoys singing and dancing.

Perry James Smith


Perry James Smith, Perry James Photography

Founder of: OneMonthtoGive.org

Farrah Dresen


Farrah Dresen, Farrah's Forte - Violin