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3 CTSBDC Clients Honored at 2018 Women of Innovation Awards


The Women of Innovation award ceremony by Connecticut Technology Council is an annual event that “recognizes women innovators, role models, and leaders in science and technology professions, including outstanding young women at the high school and collegiate level pursuing technology studies.”

This year’s award ceremony was hosted at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington on Wednesday, March 28. Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC) client, Wendy Davis, Founder and CEO of GestVision, was a panelist on the discussion “Women in STEP” Leading Connecticut Through Innovation.” Additionally, three CTSBDC clients were finalists. (Biographies adapted from the Women of Innovation award program.)

Candace Freedenberg, Founder and President of Untapped Potential, Inc., nominated for Entrepreneurial Innovation & Leadership and Small Business Innovation & Leadership awards.

Candace is a technologist and business leader with experience at Laboratory for Laser Energetics, IBM, and Kodak. Her work has yielded more than a dozen patents. Now, as the Founder of Untapped Potential Inc., she is engineering social change for women impacting gender equity, diversity, and work-life balance. She was a finalist for the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER award, a finalist for the CT Entrepreneur Award, and she received the reSET Incubator Award.

Ashley Kalinauskas, Founder and CEO of Torigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. nominated in the Entrepreneurial Innovation & Leadership category.

Ashley leads Torigen Pharmaceuticals, a startup that resulted from her graduate thesis project at the University of Notre Dame. Ashley graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2012 with an undergraduate degree in Pathobiology and then chose to continue her education at Notre Dame. Torigen and its first product, VetiVax, are based upon the research of former University of Notre Dame professor Dr. Mark Suckow.

Stefanie C.F. Toise, PhD, President and Founder, At One, LLC, nominated in the Research Innovation & Leadership category.

Stefanie C.F. Toise, PhD, MPH, C-IAYT is a pioneer in integrative behavioral medicine, specializing in yoga therapy, and a leading researcher in patient-medical device interface. As president and founder of At One LLC, she designs and implements adapted yoga therapy for device patients, clinicians, hospitals, and healthcare organizations. Dr. Toise helps clients manage chronic and acute conditions such as pain, stress, reduced mobility, sleep disorders, and addiction recovery, both individually and in groups. Her published research helped establish the clinical efficacy of yoga therapy in improving clinical outcomes and long-term health behaviors. Dr. Toise has been the recipient of several grants and awards, including grants from NIH and AAUW and, most recently, honors from SBA as the 2018 CT Microenterprise of the Year, and from Connecticut Technology Council as a finalist in the Women of Innovation, Research Innovation and Leadership category.

Candace Freedenberg and Ashley Kalinauskas both won the category for Entrepreneurial Innovation & Leadership.

“The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Connecticut is thriving and strong. Support from programs like CTSBDC, Connecticut Innovations, UConn, and The Refinery’s program for Women CEOs have helped my company, Torigen, blossom. This award is so important because women do face a significantly harder time securing early-stage venture funding. I am so thankful for the programs in Connecticut that are pushing those barriers and allowing women to succeed. I am also thankful to be considered a part of a group of women in Connecticut breaking barriers,” says Ashley.

A group of CTSBDC staff members attended the event to support CTSBDC clients and to celebrate the women being celebrated at the event. “The Women of Innovation awards highlights the great work being done in the state by women. We’re so proud of our clients to be recognized for their hard work,” says Emily Carter, State Director of CTSBDC.

Congratulations to Candace, Ashley, Stefanie, and the rest of the finalist for being honored!