We are introducing a new format for Woman Entrepreneur's Exchange which includes WBE-to-WBE speed mentoring sessions, a corporate supplier diversity spotlight, and open networking. The event provides an opportunity for prospective WBEs and currently certified members to learn how to utilize certification to elevate their businesses. Each mentor will also be able to share knowledge about her specific industry and areas of expertise. 

Date: Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 2:30pm 

Location: Austin Community College- Highland Business Center 

Click to register.

Learn about each of our mentors her areas of expertise below.


Vera Fischer,  President, 97 Degrees West 
  • The visionary of 97 Degrees West for more than fifteen years, Vera has served as the CEO and President since 2004. During Vera’s tenure, the agency has been recognized as a leader in strategy, creative, digital and traditional media. Garnering multiple industry awards in emerging technologies has made Vera a sought-after expert in the field of digital marketing and technology as well as various business/marketing/brand strategies. Vera also hosts a podcast entitled, “System Execution”, with notable guests like Ari Weinzweig, Jeff Smith, Gary Bizzo, Dr. Alan Pitt, and other business and thought leaders. Vera is a member of the Austin University Area Rotary Club, an advisory board member for the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Texas State University and a Mentor at Capital Factory. Vera is completing her Master’s in Strategic Communications at Texas State University in May 2019.

Areas of expertise: Marketing/Brand Strategy, Digital Marketing, Creative, Traditional Marketing, Podcasting

Marie McGrath,  CEO, Demand Lighting
  • Marie’s experience from multiple aspects of business allow her to set strategic vision and inspire her team leaders to drive an organization to scalable success. McGrath had experience at Fortune 500 companies working directly with Executive Management. McGrath earned her JD from the University of Houston, MBA Finance from Pace University and BS Marketing from SUNY Buffalo. She currently serves on the Women's Business Council- Southwest's Austin Committee and Board of Directors. She is also a National Forum representative for the Women's Business Enterprise National Council.

Areas of Expertise: Operations Management, Strategic Planning & Partnerships, P&L Management and Budgeting


Michelle Ray,  CEO, Absolute Facility Solutions
  • Michelle Ray has spent over 20 years in industries that engage extensively in the RFP process for leads. She also worked in a government agency where she was responsible for putting projects out to bid, reviewing responses and working closely with purchasing and the legal team to assure a successful process. Then she spent multiple years working in business development for a consulting business, where she spent a majority of her time responding to solicitations and managing teaming partner relationships as the prime vendor. Since starting Absolute Facility Solutions, she has continued to respond to solicitations.

Areas of Expertise: Project/Program/Portfolio Management, Software Evaluation & Recommendation, RFPs and Bidding, Managing Diverse Teams

Holly St. John Peck,  President, Peck Training Group
  • Holly St. John Peck is passionate about working with High Potential Leaders by coaching them one-on-one to quickly improve their professional presence, executive image and bottom-line results through learning the 3 Ps of Leadership: Presentation, People, and Political Savvy Skills. One of her unique qualities as a coach is that many of the principles and skills taught privately in coaching come from the sought after, certified training programs that Holly delivers around the globe. She has developed astute cultural awareness from working with business people in their home offices in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America. This awareness helps tremendously not only in her own understanding in working with those of different cultures, but in helping her clients to do the same. As a female leader herself coming from a management role in telecommunications and running her own professional development firm for 20 years, she’s often asked to be a part of helping female leaders to succeed, especially in male dominated businesses. Holly is known to be personable, authentic, professional, and politically savvy. She is a sought out speaker within Fortune 500 organizations around the globe, from Coca-Cola in Africa, Citigroup in Argentina, Cisco in Amsterdam and Alcatel-Lucent in Mexico City.

Areas of expertise: Political Savvy, Presentation Delivery/Design, Interpersonal & Management Communication

Darlene Templeton,  CEO, Templeton & Associates
  • Darlene is the CEO and founder of Templeton & Associates. She is a professional speaker, certified executive coach, business strategist consultant, trainer and author. Darlene specializes in leadership and transformation for corporations and professionals, specifically for those who want to make a greater impact personally and professionally.She held multiple management and leadership positions during her career at IBM.She brings her 36 years of experience at IBM, to her work and her clients, and provides a level of mastery that is extraordinary. Darlene’s unique combination of extensive corporate experience, her own personal career journey, and her successful coaching and speaking business have given her the ability to work with individuals, small businesses and Fortune 100 companies to help them define their goals, enhance their performance and put an action plan in place to achieve the results they desire. Darlene is the founder and Chief Leader of the AMAZING Women Alliance, a group of high achieving women who meet monthly to inspire, motivate and support each other to achieve their goals.The AMAZING Women Leaders program is asix-month results drivenleadership development and coaching program designed for professional women who are committed to accelerate, accomplish and achieve their goals bothpersonally and professionally.You can build more confidence, develop business and leadership strategies and implement your action plans to achieve your goals and get the results that you desire. Darlene is the Co-VP of Career Development and established the Mentoring Program for the Austin Human Resource Managers Association (AHRMA), Texas Women in Business (TWIB) and several other associations.She also volunteers for Dress for Success and other local charities.She has co-authored three books, The Unstoppable Women’s Guide to Emotional Well Being, “The Success Guide for The Unstoppable Entrepreneur”, and “Behind Her Brand”.

Areas of expertise: Women's Leadership/Professional Development, Executive Leadership, Public Speaking, Business Consulting

Andrea Tsakanikas,  President, Crewfacilities.com
  • For over three decades Andrea has been involved in the property and facility management industry. In the group travel industry, most companies have a fiduciary duty to the owners of the hotels and facilities. Andrea’s vision was to launch an organization that would focus on the customer side of lodging, which include governmental and commercial clients from a variety of industries. Over the four years in business, CrewFacilities.com has served 1000’s of client rooms per night, launched a sourcing platform called ECrewTravel, which to date has over 200,000 out of network facilities. Additionally, the organization has developed a crew travel and logistics software and mobile application which is available for licensing by travel management firms and clients with their in- house travel departments. Memberships & Community Service: Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)- National Forum Representative, WBCS– Austin Committee & Board Member, Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance - Member, Florida Transportation Builder’s Association, Career Source – Start Up Now Mentor.

Areas of expertise: Strategic Planning, Team Building, Project Management, Start Ups