Another Entrepreneurship Project of the  Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University

Ann Michel Award

About Ann Michel

Ann founded Knowledge Systems & Research with four business partners, and led the company as president for 21 years, transitioning the company from a start-up with six employees to an international consulting firm with over 200 employees. She was the inaugural winner of the Distinguished Entrepreneur Award for High Growth Venture in 2004. She passed away on November 21, 2004. Because she epitomized the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit, and because she subscribed to the philosophy of giving back to the community, the Board of Directors of WISE determined that henceforth the award would bear her name. For more information on the business she founded, visit the KS&R website.

About the Ann Michel Award & Nomination Details

Entrepreneur Ann Michel was the recipient of the inaugural WISE Distinguished Entrepreneur Award for High Growth Business in 2004. Her inspiration to many lead to the naming of this award in her honor after her unexpected death later that year.

The awards are given annually to two women who have started Central New York businesses with proven success in entrepreneurship and have been in business for at least three years and have demonstrated economic impact and growth. The winners will be selected by the committee of the WISE Advisory Board and will be announced at the 2014 WISE Symposium to be held on April 8th at the Oncenter in Syracuse, NY.

Nominees for this award should have founded and grown a company that has successfully generated jobs and economic growth, made an impact in a particular market or industry, and exhibited innovation. Key criteria for the award will be demonstration of strong entrepreneurial spirit and outstanding leadership, balanced with a proven commitment to the community. Self-nomination is welcomed. Nominees should be present at the WISE Symposium to accept their awards.

Women who have received this honor:

  • 2017 – Deborah J. Cabral, DC Efficiency Consulting and The DeClutter Coach
  • 2016 – Amy Isca, GRIT Brands
  • 2015 – Laura Serway and Cindy Seymour, Laci’s Tapas Bar
  • 2014 – Ann Marie Stonecypher, AMS Models & Talent and Lynn Steenberg, Sports Physical Therapy of New York, PC
  • 2013 – Ellen Griffin, Fleet Feet Sports and Lois Ross, New Dimensions and Dazzle
  • 2012 – Laurie Liechty, Contemporary Personnel Staffing, Inc. (CPS) & Professionals Incorporated and Wendy Meyerson, Natur-Tyme
  • 2011 – Eileen Brophy, Brophy Services Inc. and Karyn Korteling, Pastabilities
  • 2010 – Susan Beebe, Lighthouse Marketing and Brenda Palmer Michaels, Fly Creek Cider Mill
  • 2009 – Nicole Samolis, The Events Company and Rita Reicher, KS&R
  • 2008 – Theresa Slater, Empire Interpreting Service and Michelle Bellso, Make and Take Gourmet
  • 2007 – Carol Fletcher, CR Fletcher Associates Inc. and Doreen Garrett, Otis Technologies
  • 2006 – Suzanne Kondra-DeFuria, Potter Heating & Air Conditioning and April Stone, CNY Infusion Services
  • 2005 – Anne Messenger, Messenger Associates, Inc. and Aminy Audi, Stickley, Audi & Co.
  • 2004 – Julie Briggs, Syracuse Gift Basket Company, Inc. and Ann Michel, Knowledge Systems & Research

Nominate an Amazing Woman Entrepreneur

You may click the link to nominate someone online or manually download the Nomination Form.

Nominations can be submitted by mail to Lindsay Wickham at the Whitman School of Management, Suite 116, 721 University Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13244), by email to or via fax to 315-443-2654.

Deborah J. Cabral, The DeClutter Coach

Deborah J. Cabral

Deborah J. Cabral is a Certified Professional Organizer & Productivity & Efficiency Consultant & Trainer. She is President & Founder of Cabral Enterprises, LLC D/B/A The DeClutter Coach & DC Efficiency Consulting, a NYS WBE, National WBENC & Federal WOSB & EDWOSB certified Women Owned Business. Deb’s more than 20 years of corporate experience combined with her natural fervor for organization give her a keen sense for helping individuals and companies get motivated, break the cycle of disorganization, change bad habits, & regain control of their lives and businesses.

In 2002, Deb was seriously injured in an automobile accident. During a difficult series of surgeries and years of rehab, Deb began to think about pursuing her dream. Once she began to feel healthier, she found herself motivated to realize that dream by combining her two passions: organizing & helping people. In 2010, The DeClutter Coach was born!

A member of the National Association of Professional Organizers & the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, Deb offers her organization, time management and efficiency expertise by speaking regularly at corporate events and to many groups and associations. In addition, Deb added Television Host to her resume and launched her own show, Organization Motivation! in October of 2011 in the Utica, NY area. In January of 2012 she launched “Organized in 60 Seconds” news/lifestyle segments. In 2015 Deb’s TV Show & News/lifestyle Segments went national, now airing on Nexstar affiliates in 19 states as of early 2017 and the viewership continues to expand.

Deb is a regular segment contributor to Bridge Street, a live talk show in Syracuse, NY, writes regularly for Women of Upstate NY Magazine and was on the cover for the March 2017 issue. She has been published in several issues of Better Homes & Garden’s Specialty Publications, Secrets of Getting Organized and Storage. Since January 2015 Deb writes a weekly column in the Utica Observer Dispatch newspaper.

Amy Isca, GRIT Brands

Amy Isca

Amy Isca is the founder and creative mind behind GRIT Brands. She began her career as a graphic designer over 15 years ago and in 2004, started Isca Design Studio as a one-woman-show. Popularity quickly grew for her design services. Over the next 10+ years her studio had the pleasure of working with clients such as UnitedHealthcare, Syracuse University, SUNY Cobleskill, Cindy Solomon & Associates, and many more.

In 2016, Amy launched her new venture, GRIT Brands, a female-focused brand design agency bringing high-level brand design to organizations with “GRIT” who are ready to move to the next level. As a woman-owned company, Amy is passionate about championing female talent through all stages of their careers. She also believes female design sensibilities are a huge benefit to her clients in world where women make 85% of purchasing decisions and use social media at a rate of 600% more than men.

Amy’s most recent achievements include completing the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program and being selected as a 40 Under 40 and Successful Women in Business award recipient.

Laura Serway and Cindy Seymour, Laci's Tapas Bar

Laura Serway & Cindy Seymour

Laura Serway was born and raised in Central New York. Her work brought her to various cities throughout the country, until 2003 when she decided to move back to her home – Central New York.  Highly respected for her work in the media industry and known for her event planning and sales skills training, Laura retired in late 2012 and now dedicates all of her time to current projects.  Once a media expert – always a media expert, Laura still works with various companies in Central New York, assisting them with their media relations and event marketing concepts.

Laura co-owns Laci’s Tapas Bar, Laci’s Real Estate Ventures, Laci’s Lunchbox and Laci’s Luscious Sauce with her life partner Cindy Seymour. Laci’s Luscious Sauce, a favorite sauce that Cindy created and is used in various recipes and has been selling at the local Wegmans since November 2015.

She has a passion for life and shares her many talents by giving of her time and energy to various community organizations such as Safe Kids of Central New York, New York State Brain Injury Association, Syracuse Chapter, NEHDA, Priscilla Mahar Animal Welfare Foundation, American Heart Association Executive Leadership Committee and many other organizations.  Being a successful female entrepreneur sanctioned her a seat on WISE Women’s Business Center Advisory Board and as an active member of the Women’s Presidents Organization.

In 2013, Laura was asked by CenterState CEO to be on the annual panel of 7 Habits of 7 Highly Successful People, sharing her habits that have abetted her as a successful, highly regarded business woman.

In 2014, Laura and Cindy were awarded the first ever Community Visionary Award, from Center State CEO, sponsored by Wegmans. The vision and the energy that they both brought to the Hawley Green Historic District has helped re-energize an otherwise deteriorating neighborhood.

Laura credits much of her success to her father, who taught her to always be disciplined, to embrace and practice ethical business principles, while always being kind at a very young age. Every Tuesday thru Saturday evening, you will find her greeting their guests, telling jokes, and embracing each moment at various tables with amazing hospitality at Laci’s Tapas Bar.

Cindy Seymour is what is known as a “reverse transplant” here in Central New York in 2003.  She moved from Florida to Syracuse with a few challenges at first, but has now come to call Syracuse home.

Cindy co-owns Laci’s Tapas Bar, Laci’s Real Estate Ventures, Laci’s Lunchbox and Laci’s Luscious Sauce with her life partner Laura Serway.  Laci’s Luscious Sauce, a favorite sauce that Cindy created and is used in various recipes and has been selling at the local Wegmans since November 2015. She is a strong advocate of women’s rights and fights hard to have them heard.  In 2012 she was appointed to the Syracuse Women’s Commission by Mayor Stephanie Miner.

In 2001 she retired from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s department after 15 years in law enforcement.  During her law enforcement career, she also served in Kosovo as the Commander in Chief with the United Nations for over 180 police officers from various countries around the world.

In 2009 she was the Co-Director for the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure and also continues to be a strong advocate/volunteer for Vera House.

In 2014, Laura and Cindy were awarded the first ever Community Visionary Award, from Center State CEO, sponsored by Wegmans. The vision and the energy that they both brought to the Hawley Green Historic District has helped re-energize an otherwise deteriorating neighborhood.

Each of these experiences in her career has helped her achieve her entrepreneurial wishes and dreams, the first of which is never to work for anyone again.

Ann Marie Stonecypher, AMS Models & Talent and Your Better Style

Ann Marie Stonecypher

Ann Marie is an entrepreneur and writer with more than a decade of business experience that includes creation of four successful ventures – Her primary business is AMS Model and Talent is celebrating 15 years in business and is one of the first and largest online talent agency in Upstate New York; an interior design business that has been featured in area newspapers and TV; and a wholesale hair accessories business servicing 60 sites throughout Central New York. Her most recent and fourth venture is “Your Better Style” an image consulting business where she helps individuals and businesses improve their image and their brand.

As a pioneer in online talent management she has been an innovator in her field. Not only was AMS Models one of the first on line talent agencies but they were the first to create on line casting searches and casting “rooms” (like a shopping cart for models) which further revolutionized the way clients booked talent. Through AMS Models, Ann Marie has guided the careers of thousands of models over the past 15 years. She is sought after by area print and television media for her expertise in fashion, interior design and business.

Ann Marie is equally dedicated to the community in which she lives and is raising her two children. She is especially devoted to providing a helping hand to fellow entrepreneurs through her roles as an inaugural member and first vice chair of the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurism (WISE) Board of Directors,; former vice president and current director at large of the Women Business Owners Connection (WBOC); and as a mentor to college students and those pursuing new career paths. Notably, with WBOC, Ann Marie was instrumental in helping the organization double its membership, increase its fundraising potential through improved event management, as well as create a mission statement, benefit package, discount program, and an updated membership directory. She is also a former business writer for the Post Standard. Ann Marie also served on the board of The Syracuse Ad club and Ophelia’s Place, an organization that helps people suffering from eating disorders. Ann Marie helped raise money for Ophelia’s Place through the creation and implementation of their “Revolutionizing the Runway” fashion shows featuring not only models but real people struggling with eating disorders.

As a breast cancer survivor, Ann Marie launched a monthly Pink Ribbon Circle e-newsletter (2004-2013) to remind women to conduct their monthly self exams. She is also the founder of Model Citizens, an organization comprised of models and actors who volunteer their time with local charity events in the Syracuse area.

She has garnered many awards for her business and community leadership.

Lynn Steenberg, Sports Physical Therapy of New York, PC (Sports PT)

Lynn Steenberg

Lynn Steenberg is President & CEO of Sports Physical Therapy of New York, PC (Sports PT). Sports PT is the largest, independently-owned physical therapy provider in New York State with 20 locations from Buffalo to Brooklyn. The 150 employees of Sports PT are comprised of over 60 licensed physical therapists, and a dedicated support team that rounds out the overall patient experience from scheduling to billing. Sports PT provides comprehensive rehabilitation programs for people of all ages addressing individuals needs following surgery or for chronic conditions. Using evidence-based treatment, Sports PT’s clinical team help people improve motion, reduce pain, reduce swelling, increase muscle strength, improve endurance, restore function and prevent disability.

Lynn earned a degree in Physical Therapy from Ithaca College in 1978 and has been working in the healthcare field since. She became nationally certified in athletic training in 1979 and began her sports medicine management career at Cornell in 1981, where she was the supervisor of the Physical Therapy Department. In 1986 Lynn returned to Syracuse to open Onondaga Sports Medicine Center where she started the first sports medicine outreach program for local athletes. In 2005 she founded Sports Physical Therapy of New York, PC.

In 2012, Sports PT received the Excellence in Healthcare Award from Columbia University and was ranked the 15th best small company in New York in 2011. In 2013, Sports PT was named one of the Best Small Companies in Central New York.

Lynn is a member of the Women Presidents Organization and the National Association of Professional Women. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Hospice Foundation of CNY service six years as secretary. Additionally, Lynn is an active member of the Regional Board of the American Red Cross and served as the secretary of the Board of Directors of the local chapter for six years, receiving the Clara Barton Award for Exceptional Volunteer Leadership.

In addition to her Sports PT success, in 2010, Lynn, along with her son Ryan, started FORE Performance, Rochester’s premier golf fitness and personal performance facility. This unique sport-specific training experience is designed to promote athletic ability and personal fitness by focusing on the development of human movement.