Class of 2006
The rags-to-riches success story of this Canadian entrepreneur has inspired thousands of women and men in North America. The founder and president of Nadja Foods, Inc., Nadja Piatka developed a home muffin-baking business into a multimillion dollar company. From a life-changing event that found her single with children and unemployable, in 1993 she took $100 and established Three Blondes and a Brownie. Making deliveries from the back seat of her car, she grew her firm into the leading supplier of healthy muffins for McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada. Her risk-taking venture resulted in over $2.6 million in sales. Today, she is the owner and driving force behind Nadja Foods, Inc., and her company supplies “healthy brownies” to Subway Restaurants throughout Canada and across 27 U.S. states, and Sodexho USA. She is as committed to nutrition and exercise as she is to healthy food, and works tirelessly for the American Heart Association and is on the Board of Directors for the Northeast region. As part of her advocacy for a balanced lifestyle, she is also the author of two best-selling cookbooks. For her drive and vision, she was the recipient of the regional award for the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 1997, and was also recognized as one of the ITV News Women of Vision. She is the mother of two daughters, who have been inspirational in her journey of success.
A woman who is a major player in one of the most traditional of America’s major sports, Wendy Lewis has hit a home run in her pioneering efforts to expand the influence of baseball. The Vice President of Strategic Planning for Recruitment and Diversity for Major League Baseball, Office of the Commissioner, she has been instrumental in directing the recruitment efforts of Major League Baseball’s Central Office and its 30 clubs to ensure diversity and opportunity so no one is shut out of the game. Through the Diverse Business Partners Program, an initiative that Ms. Lewis embraces with passion and commitment, she has broadened the opportunities for women-owned and minority-owned businesses to participate in the contract business that fuels the billion-dollar baseball industry. For her remarkable achievements in creating a model diverse vendor program for all professional sports, she has been honored with the Pioneer Award from National Association of Black Journalists, the MIB’s (the Minority In Business) annual award for outstanding effort in diversity in sports, and “The Effie Manley Sports Executive of the Year,” presented by the Rainbow/PUSH organization. She has worked for over two decades to change the face of baseball, and her dedication to that cause has earned her recognition as one of the “Most Influential Minorities in Sports” in 2004 from Sport’s Illustrated. With personal convictions rooted equally in faith and education, she unwaveringly shares her experience and knowledge with audiences of all ages throughout the country. Beyond her professional accomplishments, she cites her family—three daughters and two granddaughters—as her greatest achievements.
Approachable, warm and open: these characteristics aptly describe Marjorie Feldman, president and chief financial officer for Al’s Holding, Incorporated & Subsidiaries. Al’s Holding includes Al’s Beverage Company and the Jason Soda Company. Although not a household word, products from Al’s Beverage find their way onto tables and households throughout the region. Under her leadership, Al’s Beverage has become the largest independent fountain soft drink manufacturer in the United States for such nationally known products as 7-Up, RC Cola, Sunkist Orange, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Hawaiian Punch, Stewart’s Root Beer, as well as Al’s branded soft drinks and juices. Building on her financial experiences with Chase Enterprises of Hartford, and as director of finance for the World Cable Communications Company based in Poland, she has grown Al’s Beverage by strategic acquisitions and new growth opportunities further solidifying her in the ranks of notable women entrepreneurs. For her achievements she has been recognized twice by the Hartford Business Journal in their best “40 Under 40” business list. A graduate of the University of Hartford, she is a member of Bay Path’s Innovators’ Roundtable, a group of local entrepreneurs that serves as an advisory board for the College. A friend, mentor, and supporter of students, faculty and staff at Bay Path, she has without reservation offered her company as a resource for learning, and has shared her knowledge so that we are all infused with her infectious entrepreneurial spirit.