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

Faces of Success

WISE Faces of Success, presented by iHeartMedia's Y94

The WISE Faces of Success Awards will be given to six women entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in the Central New York region who are clients of the WISE Women’s Business Center. The award recognizes those who have recently started a business and who exhibit true entrepreneurial spirit. The winners will be featured on Y94’s website and on air, as well as honored at the WISE Symposium on April 18, 2018 at SKY Armory in Syracuse, NY.

The following criteria will be considered in selecting the winners:

  • Creation of a sustainable Central NY business within the past several years OR an intrapreneur* within a company taking risks and using innovation to promote growth
  • Economic Impact – adding employees, percentage of growth, relocation, jobs created
  • Overcoming challenges and obstacles
  • Innovation (methods, procedures, in industry, products, etc.)
  • Contributions beyond company (professional, personal, educational, etc.)
  • Must be a client or supporter of the WISE Women’s Business Center

Visit the Y94 page for details!



Meet last years WISE Faces of Success Honorees: 2017!

Gabriela Escalante

Gabriela Escalante is an award-winner, entrepreneur and business consultant. Since starting her first business in high school, Gabriela has been extremely passionate about business growth and development. This led her to Syracuse University where she studied Entrepreneurship, furthering her knowledge and practice.

She is the CEO and founder of EB Active, an activewear company that works towards runners and cyclists’ safety. She has been featured in the Business Journal, U.S News, Livable CNY and Whitman Voices.

Briana K. Fundalinski

Briana K. Fundalinski is an associate in the Banking & Finance, Corporate, Startup & Emerging Business, and Tax Practices. She assists clients with a wide range of financing, corporate formation and governance, mergers and acquisitions, contract review and negotiations, commercial transactions, and general corporate matters. Ms. Fundalinski also assists clients with not-for-profit formation, tax-exempt status and internal compliance under the Revitalization Act.

Ms. Fundalinski assists startups and small businesses by providing counsel on formation, IP assignments and the preparation of various agreements, including shareholder agreements, operating agreements, employment agreements, and confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.

Ms. Fundalinski also assists women and minority-owned businesses with the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Participation Program certification process.

Tracy Hogarth

Tracy Hogarth is an educator, with 25 years’ experience teaching and organizing girls’ STEM activities who often refers to herself as the accidental entrepreneur. Tracy, a passionate traveler with an incurable wanderlust experienced a devastating loss, and travel helped her process her grief.  Wanting women to take time to nurture their souls, celebrate their essence and inspire their spirit, Tracy co-founded Blue Zaria. Blue Zaria, provides travel experiences for women to renew, replenish and connect with other women. Her travels explores the culture and girls’ movement of the countries she visits. These experiences challenge her ideas about the world and shape her views of her place in the global society.

Through her passion for travel, culture and girls’ education, she hopes to inspire Black girls and women to travel, to dare to be different, to live life unconventionally, and to be totally indulgent in their self -care. When not working as a mathematician she can be found designing the next fabulous adventure for Zarianistas. Grab your passport or get one, and join Blue Zaria on our next journey!

Tina Jacobs

Tina Jacobs loves gardening, working the soil, tending plants, harvesting the vegetables straight from her garden, and preparing them to enjoy with family and friends. While her children were growing up, her main focus was nurturing them so that they would grow into healthy, happy, well-adjusted adults.

After they were grown, she bought a farm and started her business, Devine Gardens, to help other gardeners. Gardeners want products that are effective, but also safe for the environment and loved ones. Their efforts should go into growing plants not wondering about the harmful chemicals that they are putting into their soil. The compost and vermicompost (worm compost) I make at my farm are excellent, contaminant free soil amendments that enable gardeners to grow bigger, healthier plants that thrive, naturally. Vermicompost is the end result of earthworms thoroughly transforming farm waste into an amazing material filled with diverse, beneficial microorgnaisms, low levels of plant available micro and macro nutrients, plant growth hormones, humic acids and enzymes.

Though her life is much different than when her children were young, in a lot of ways it’s still the same. Instead of nurturing her children, Tina helps customers nurture their plants.

Devine Gardens is located in the Town of Nelson between Cazenovia and Morrisville along beautiful Route 20.

Sarita Ruiz

Sarita Ruiz is owner and CEO of Sarita’s Food, an independent specialty food producer. In 2010, Sarita earned her Associate Degree in Business Administration at USC Business College with honors and a very active participant in all areas of academia, including the student body government. After graduating, Sarita was still not satisfied and knew that as a young, Hispanic woman she would have to do more to prove herself in the corporate world. She decided to further her education, and graduated May 2015 from SUNY Polytechnic Institute, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She was presented the 2015 Al Mario Business Strategy Prize, as well as a Provost Student Showcase award for first place. Last year Sarita participated in the New York Business Plan competition, placing third in regionals.

In early 2013, Sarita began researching one of the fastest growing industries to date- the food truck business. At the same time while waitressing at a Spanish restaurant, she noticed the most popular selling menu item was the empanada and it was loved by everyone- no matter what their culture or background. After drafting her plan, she calculated a positive and fairly quick ROI, and decided to take what little money she had and built a food cart.  Sarita wanted to be make her empanadas unique, so she took the traditional empanada and filled it with familiar American flavors, creating a fusion of food and culture, spreading diversity, encouraging conversation and bringing people closer together. Through consistency, a focus on fresh ingredients, and impeccable customer service, Sarita’s Food has proven to be a sustainable business in the market. 3 years and 2 trucks later, Sarita’s goal is to have her empanadas available for sale online, in bars and restaurants, at sports arenas, specialty stores, and of course, another food truck! She realized quickly that business and self-employment fits her unique personality as well as her parental responsibility as a mom. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, live music, and photography.

Karis Wiggins

Karis Wiggins has worked as a designer and fine artist for nearly three decades. She is the owner of Karis Wiggins Designs which she started in 2005 and specializes in interior design and project management.  Recent projects include renovations of the Sheldon Ballroom and President’s suite at SUNY Oswego, a residential kitchen, several corporate tenant suites, and the conversion of a former food warehouse into loft apartments at 538 Erie Boulevard West.

She was the designer on the Community Bank Bridge Street Branch project which received the Parratt Schick Award of Excellence from the Town of Dewitt. She is most proud of the long term relationships she develops with her clients and the opportunities to be part of their growth through the design work that she provides. She is an active member of the community theater scene and has received several Syracuse Area Live Theater (SALT) awards. She lives in Jamesville, NY with her husband, the world’s smartest dog and two needy cats.