Aspiring businesswomen inspired at Women in Business Awards


Joseph Dicklin

Connie Wimer pictured during her speech at the Ivy Women in Business Awards.

The 2022 Ivy Women in Business Awards honored three women who excelled in their careers, led and inspired other women.

The 5th annual Ivy Women in Business Awards began at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday with a reception, followed by the awards ceremony which started at 6 p.m. in the Iowa State Alumni Center’s Reiman Ballroom.

Dean of Ivy College of Business, David Spalding, welcomed everyone to the Ivy Women in Business Awards and highlighted the three award recipients. Spalding also called attention to the Ivy College of Business’ efforts to educate and empower women.

“The Ivy Women in Business Award celebrates women for their inspiration, their leadership and ability to serve as champions for women in business,” Spalding said.

Ashley Gassmann, the recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumna Award, was introduced first. Gassmann, an Iowa State Alumna, is the owner of Elowen Events, a wedding planning, design and rental business, and more recently, Mariglow Neon, a custom and rental LED neon sign business.

“Don’t get me wrong—I did not win every competition I took place in, but every time, I gained more confidence and experience which is priceless to me,” Gassmann said.

Young Ivy alumnae who have made a significant impact on their career early on are recognized with this award. During her time at Iowa State Gassmann was the co-founder and marketing director of the student organization, Cardinal Eats, and now encourages other young women as a small business owners.

“It has been such a fun journey but also a challenging one at times,” Gassmann said. “Long days, late nights, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Grace Hoak, the president of Collegiate Women in Business, went into detail about the inspiration she drew from Gassmann’s journey of founding three businesses in the span of three years, Cardinal Eats, Elowen Events, and Mariglow Neon.

“The biggest piece of advice I would give new small business owners is to know your worth,” Gassmann said. “It is easy to underprice yourself starting out. Your product is worth it; you are worth it.”

Miriam De Dios Woodward was the recipient of the Inspiration Award for her inspiration for other women and her efforts to diversify and increase the voices of women in the fields of business and technology.

“When I think of inspiration, I think of someone who encourages and leads by example. Miriam exemplifies these qualities,” said Marissa Robinson, the vice president of Collegiate Women in Business.

Currently the Global CEO of ViClarity, Woodward is also an active community member, serving on the board of directors for the Food Bank of Iowa and Iowa State University’s Women in Business Advisory Board.

“As a young woman in business, Miriam inspires me to use my voice and advocate change for others,” Robinson said. “She motivates me to be confident in my work while encouraging those I work with.”

Woodward is also a member of the World Council of Credit Union’s Global Leadership Network and is working to diversify the technology community.

“When reflecting on my journey, I often wonder what my journey would look like if my parents had not moved to the U.S. many years ago,” Woodward said. “I like to think I still would have found my way to Iowa State.”

Dean Spalding and other spectators of the Ivy Women in Business Awards happily watched the presentation of the awards. (Joseph Dicklin)

Woodward said her childhood experiences, which she often dreaded and complained about, led her to be more prepared for future professional experiences, even if that meant discomfort along the way. Woodward said she was ready to say yes to new experiences such as leading her company, ViClarity, into its technological phase of growth.

“There is nothing more fulfilling, though than when you can help others through the opportunities you’ve been given,” Woodward said.

She encourages young women to welcome discomfort, lead with their authentic selves and decide what difference they want to make in the world.

“Sometimes it is simply just being you and being there that can make a difference,” Woodward said.

Sydney Pantini, professional relations chair of Collegiate Women in Business, introduced Connie Wimer, recipient of the Champion Award.

“As women, we would not be able to achieve the things we do without people like Connie who have worked hard to ensure women have opportunity,” Pantini said.

Pantini highlighted one of Wimer’s most admirable qualities as her ability to empower women through mentorship and encouragement.

“I remember thinking in grade school that it would be different in high school and girls would support girls, but I still saw problems with it,” Wimer said. “Then I thought it would change in college, and then I thought it would change in business.”

When Wimer entered the business world, she saw a lack of women’s support for other women. Now after her many years of encouraging others, she sees significant positive change in this area.

“I came up with five traits that I think are important for you to be successful in your independent personal life and business life,” Wimer said.

Her traits for success include having integrity, learning to be a risk taker, perseverance, instigating positive change and surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you.

“Every single day, make sure you do something positive, helpful and supportive to another woman,” Wimer said.

She concluded her statements by encouraging the young collegiate women in business in the room to encourage other women and promote female empowerment.