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November 3, 2015

Women Veterans & Military Spouses are Coming to Kansas City; Kauffman Foundation Supports V-WISE Business Conference

Women Veterans & Military Spouses are Coming to Kansas City; Kauffman Foundation Supports V-WISE Business Conference

V-WISE, a leading national entrepreneurship training program for women veterans and active duty military spouses, touches down in KC, during National Veterans Small Business Week


18711325840_c697c3404a_zVeteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), the nation’s leading entrepreneurship training program for women veterans, active duty service women, and female partners and spouses of service members, is hosting a national entrepreneurship training conference in Kansas City, November 6-8, 2015.

During the three-day conference—to be held at The Sheraton Overland Park, 6100 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kansas—close to 200 innovative women veterans and military spouses will learn business best practices, build networks, and develop their entrepreneurial skills as they seek to launch or grow sustainable business ventures.  Learn more about V-WISE; watch V-WISE Video.

V-WISE has impacted more than 1,800 women veterans and military spouses from all service branches and eras in over 46 states. More than 65% of VWISE graduates have started or expanded a business.  More than $41 million in revenue has been generated by V-WISE graduates, and 93% of those businesses are still in operation today!

Proudly supporting V-WISE-KC is the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the United States, whose mission is to help individuals attain economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success, consistent with the aspirations of its founder, Ewing Marion Kauffman.

V-WISE was one of eight entities awarded Kauffman Foundation grants totaling $3.8 million.  Announced on Oct. 28, 2015, the grants range from $330,000 to $500,000 each over two years as part of the Kauffman Foundation’s initiative to identify and invest in organizations that have distinguished themselves in helping entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses.

V-WISE was created by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  Attendees of the conference will receive in-depth instruction from prominent business owners, leadership consultants, educators, veterans and other experts who will help shape their development as entrepreneurs. Sessions will focus on business planning, marketing, accounting/finance, business law, technology for business, human resources and work-life balance.

A sampling of instructors and presenters, who will be engaging with women veterans and military spouses at V-WISE-KC, include:

  • Larry Broughton, Co-Founder & CEO, BROUGHTONadvisory; Founder & CEO, broughtonHOTELS
  • Jessica Eaves Mathews, J.D., Co-Founder Hautepreneurs, Founder & CEO, Leverage Legal Group, Untoxicating Beauty and Grace & Game
  • Lizanne Falsetto, Founder, thinkThin; CEO/Founder, Think Like a Woman, LLC
  • Neale S. Godfrey, Founder & CEO, Children’s Financial Network, Inc.
  • Michael Meath, Principal, Fallingbrook Associates, LLC; Adjunct Professor of Public Relations, Newhouse School, Syracuse University
  • Amanda Nicholson, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs; Professor of Retail Practice; Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University

“V-WISE empowers two of America’s best sources of entrepreneurs – women and veterans,” said Barb Carson, Associate Administrator for the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) and Colonel, U.S. Air Force Reserve. “Investing in this powerful combination is a great way to incubate new small businesses – the pillars of job creation and our economy.”

According to the SBA, Veteran Women-Owned Business increased 297% from 2007 to 2012. Carson added that it is especially fitting during this week (National Veterans Small Business Week), when we celebrate all veteran and military entrepreneurs, to specifically “recognize women veterans and military spouses, who possess the skills and commitment needed to succeed as small business owners.”

IVMF’s Meghan Conroy Florkowski, V-WISE Program Manager and Army Veteran, points out, “With over 1,800 graduates to its four-year history, V-WISE graduate stories of budding and blossoming success span the nation. The program is lauded for its innovative model, a three-phase approach of online learning, on-site education, and post-program support tailored to the development of educated and well-supported women veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs who are ‘Bold Enough to Make it Happen.’

Who’s participating in V-WISE?

V-WISE-KC participants come from 28 states with 14% from the state of Kansas, and 12% from the state of Missouri.   Below is a sampling of the budding women veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs who are coming to Kansas City!  You should know their stories …

Kimberly Barron, Saint Joseph, MO
A Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves Nurse Corps, Kimberly Barron has been a nurse since 1998 and has been in the military since 2011.  She recently ended a 19-month tour as a Nurse Case Manager first at a Community Based Warrior Transition Unit in Massachusetts, and then in a Warrior Transition Brigade in Maryland at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

She wants to start her own business as a Nurse Coach and is excited to learn how to make her dream a reality at V-WISE.

Michele Bradfield, Manhattan, KS

Michele Bradfield has been an Army spouse for over six years.  Her family is currently stationed at Fort Riley, KS.  Bradfield’s background is in marketing, communications and business.  In October 2013, she co-founded a military spouse wellness campaign called InDependent (, where she is now Executive Director.  Sponsored by Public Health Foundation Enterprises (PHFE), InDependent’s mission is to create a thriving community of military spouses that supports preventative wellness by inspiring each other to make health and fitness a priority.  Recently, Bradfield and her team co-hosted the first-ever online Military Spouse Wellness Summit that attracted more than 2,000 participants.

Bradfield hopes her V-WISE experience will help her take InDependent to the next level.

Denise Townsend, Oklahoma City, OK

While in the Army, Denise Townsend specialized in Automated Logistics.  After her military service, she moved to Oklahoma City and worked for many years as a local real estate agent.  Today, she is working full-time for herself as owner of Spectra Property Management LLC.

Townsend plans for the company to become one of the largest management companies in the region in both federal contracting and the private sector.  At V-WISE, Townsend looks forward to connecting with other businesses as well as mentors with knowledge in real estate, asset management and property preservation

Kelly Wright, Parkville, MO

Kelly Wright started her writing business 12 years ago while finishing her MBA at North Carolina State University. She currently performs freelance writing, editing, marketing, social media administration, and other projects for small business owners.

The spouse of an active duty Army service member, Wright has moved five times, including once overseas, so having a virtual business has been key to staying employed. With several ideas for expansion in the next few years, Wright hopes V-WISE will provide her with the focused time, new ideas, and contacts needed to make her future path a clear one.

In January 2016, V-WISE will head to Charlotte, N.C.  To learn more about V-WISE and to apply online for future conferences, visit



The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families. Learn more about IVMF at



Since its founding on July 30, 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses. SBA provides assistance primarily through its four programmatic functions: Access to Capital (Business Financing); Entrepreneurial Development (Education, Information, and Technical Assistance & Training); Government Contracting (Federal Procurement); and Advocacy (Voice for Small Business). The SBA’s Office of Veteran Business Development formulates, executes and promotes policies and programs to empower veteran small business ownership and serves as an ombudsman for Veterans to ensure all SBA programs are accessible to servicemembers, veterans, and their families. For more information visit and


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