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(front row from left to right) PeopleFund CEO, Gary Lindner; PeopleBiz Inc. Managing Director, Alicia Marie; Senior Director of Community Development at Capital One, Daniel Delehanty; Count Me In VP of Program and Education, Isisara Bey and PeopleBiz Inc. Coach, Paula Fracasso.

Capital One and Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education, and community support for women entrepreneurs, is pleased to name 26 business owners, the majority from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, as Pitch Finalists of its Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC) small business competition for women.

WVEC, made possible with generous support from Capital One, is an exciting new business growth initiative for women veteran entrepreneurs currently at $50,000 to $150,000 in annual revenues and designed to help them grow their businesses quickly and sustainably to spur local economies and job growth in their communities.

WVEC aims to help women-owned businesses across the country grow to $250,000+ in revenue with support through the Count Me In Business Accelerator Program. That goal translates into $75 million in new economic activity and 600-900 much-needed new jobs. 

The 26 Pitch Finalists each presented a two-minute pitch on their business at the WVEC conference and competition at the Capital One Conference Center in Plano, Texas, Nov. 19. During the conference, attendees took part in business-building workshops, heard inspiring keynotes from other successful women veterans who have started their own business, and networked in a community of peers and role models. The Pitch Finalists will now be invited to apply to participate in Count Me In’s renowned nine-month Business Accelerator program, which provides intensive business coaching and education designed to help participating businesses grow their revenues by at least 30 percent and create new jobs within 18-36 months.

If selected as an Awardee, the program will commence in January 2014. Named Awardees also receive a one-year legislative membership with Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP). In addition, three Awardees will each receive Jump Start Prizes, a $1,000 cash award to use in their businesses.

The 26 WVEC Pitch Finalists are:

  • Michelle Adams of Recovery Inn
  • Cassondra G. Armstrong of Chef Cassondra Culinary Concepts
  • Lisa Artman of The Skin Clinic, Inc.
  • Tamiko W. Bailey of Bailey’s Premier Services LLC
  • Lisa Belcastro of LR General Solutions
  • Cary Broussard of Broussard Global
  • Kesha Dirkson of KDE Public Relations
  • MaryEllen Dorey of Dorey AromaTherapy
  • Becky Feeley of Texas Carpet Baggers
  • Peggy Foster of Raven Transportation
  • Jennifer Hassin of Wings of Courage
  • Beverly Johnson of Aim
  • Susan Jones of KLS Group
  • Melissa Kelley of Backwise Massage
  • Carole Lucio of Done! Fast & Fabulous Hair Color
  • Elizabeth Naylor of Ebenezer Wellness
  • Pam Parker of Born Again Bodies
  • Amy Power of Power Public Relations
  • Laura Renner of Hiring Coach
  • Jenny Siede of InStyle Exchange
  • Vernita Sneed of Lone Star Janitorial LLC
  • Kaylin Song of Kaylin Song Chiropractic
  • Artura Taylor of Taylor Distribution Group
  • Terri Tomlinson of Makeup Training Academy
  • Deborah Toodle of Elevated Evolution LLC
  • Lameka Weeks of Height Goddess

“Our Women Veteran Finalists represent yet another group of women business owners who have the potential to truly make an impact on economic growth in our country,” said Nell Merlino, Founder and President of Count Me In. “We look forward to working with this promising group of motivated military affiliated entrepreneurs as they grow their micro-businesses into thriving enterprises.”

As part of its $800,000 commitment to support the WVEC program, Capital One has brought women veterans and business growth experts from across the country together to participate in two WVEC conferences this year. The inaugural WVEC Conference took place in April 2013 at Capital One’s headquarters in McLean, Va.

“Capital One is excited to partner with Count Me In to host the second WVEC Conference,” said Sanjiv Yajnik, President of Financial Services, Capital One. “The breadth of information presented at this event can empower women business owners and entrepreneurs to take their businesses and ideas to the next level. At Capital One, we understand the value small businesses bring to local economies and through our partnership with Count Me In, we are combining our expertise in small business development with our commitment to help entrepreneurial women veterans grow their businesses –– a step that not only benefits them personally but also supports local economies and job growth.”

An additional WVEC event is currently being planned for the spring of 2014.

About Capital One:

Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with more than 900 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. Capital One applies the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. Capital One recognizes that helping to build strong and healthy communities – good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families – benefits us all and Capital One is proud to support this and other community initiatives.

About Count Me In:

Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education, and community support for women entrepreneurs seeking to grow their businesses to million dollar enterprises.  Count Me In launched the Make Mine a Million $ Business Competition to inspire one million women entrepreneurs scale their businesses to a million dollars in business revenues in the next decade by providing tools, skills, and the support of a nation-wide community of peers.

For more information about Count Me In and WVEC, visit