See What Our 2023 Awards Are All About—Then Nominate Yourself or Another Deserving WBO!

May 17, 2023 | Advocacy, Uncategorized

NAWBO National’s awards program is more streamlined and accessible than ever to Premier and Supporting members. The program features three distinct awards that celebrate excellence, legacy and advocacy. Let us tell you about each as well as the incredible women behind them.

Meanwhile, just a reminder that nominations for the Woman Business Owner of the Year Award close this Friday, May 19th. The Susan Hager and Gillian Rudd Awards nominations will open shortly after, on Thursday, June 1st.



The Woman Business Owner of the Year Award recognizes a NAWBO entrepreneur who excels at strategy, operations, finances, problem solving, innovating, overcoming adversity and giving back to her community. This honor is not based on the size of her business, but rather on her overall business and community excellence. Open to Premier members.

Three Finalists Receive
  • Profiles in September NAWBO ONE e-publication
  • Customized local press release announcing selection as a nominee
  • Complimentary WBC registration
  • Seat on a WBC panel discussion hosted by Bank of America
  • National exposure on NAWBO social media and communication channels
  • Recognition as a finalist during the Awards Gala and a headshot and bio in the WBC program book
Winner Receives
  • Honored on stage at the Awards Gala
  • Announced as WBO of the Year in NAWBO communications and social media
  • Customized local press release announcing award selection

NOMINATE HERE by Friday, May 19th

When making your nomination, please be prepared to answer the following:

1) Briefly describe the nominee’s business and its history.
2) Please describe the company’s growth and how nominee affected/participated in that growth. (Please indicate growth by % or $)
3) Please describe how the nominee participates in the day-to-day operations of the business.
4) What community organizations has the nominee supported and/or participated in?
5) Why did the nominee become an entrepreneur?





The Susan Hager Award recognizes a “champion” NAWBO member who, like Susan, has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to propelling women’s economic empowerment and NAWBO’s mission locally and nationally. By giving her time, talent and resources, she has helped to further the legacy of women’s entrepreneurship now and for generations to come. Open to Premier members.

Who Is Susan Hager?

Susan was one of NAWBO’s founding mothers and visionary leaders and our first national president. She was a fearless champion of women’s economic empowerment and a steady voice leading this organization beyond what it was—to what it could be. In fact, Susan once said (and we continue to celebrate her words today): “Get a seat at the table or build your own table and make sure to include other women at that table.”

In addition to leading the way at NAWBO, Susan was a guiding force at the Center for Women’s Business Research and played an integral role in the Gillian Rudd Leadership Institute. Over many years, she helped the Center to craft and hone research-based messages that highlighted the growing strength of women business owners and their enterprises. Her visionary leadership and work ultimately put the women-owned business community on the radar screen with decision makers of all kinds.

Susan’s entrepreneurial story began when she and Marcia Sharp founded Hager Sharp in 1973. The firm is dedicated to creating communications campaigns for organizations committed to improving health, advancing education, transforming communities and making meaningful change in the world. Susan continued to lead the firm until she passed away in 2008, but still today, Hager Sharp’s employee owners continue to be driven by Susan’s passion: to use their professional skills to craft, create and cultivate ideas that make a difference.

Click here to learn more about Susan from the memorial tribute book that was created after her passing.






The Gillian Rudd Award honors a NAWBO woman business owner who, like Gillian, has made a significant contribution to the status and visibility of women-owned firms. She advocates for the advancement of the woman business owner community in a bipartisan spirit. She is also a voice of collaboration in effectively presenting or moving forward legislation, regulatory reforms or new initiatives. Open to Premier and Supporting members.

Who Is Gillian Rudd?

Gillian was NAWBO’s national president who, together with other early NAWBO advocates, led the charge to educate and influence elected officials about the undeniable impact women-owned businesses played in the U.S. economy. Their efforts led to the authoring of landmark legislation—The Women’s Business Ownership Act, or HR5050—and shaped our #NAWBOVOICE that’s so widely respected today.

NAWBO and other groups had long been advocating for better policy. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 1988 report demonstrated how little was known about the complexity and diversity of female-owned businesses. This became the catalyst for a more concerted effort. Gillian, who owned a PR firm and was a magazine co-founder, knew how to get elected officials and agency staffers to take notice and provide more policy support of female entrepreneurs.

Joined by NAWBO members at a news conference on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in early 1988, Gillian called out the SBA on its misguided report. She said that we need data and research on women business owners, banks need to stop demanding that men sign for loans for women and we need more education and business counseling across the country to help women to grow their businesses. Ultimately, Rep. John LaFalce was convinced to author HR5050, and President Reagan signed it into law on October 25, 1988. Gillian passed away in 1992, but her advocacy work continues to have impact today.




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