Grace Payne

Grace Payne

Recent Posts

Mission Partners Is a Women-Led Company Prioritizing Equitable Practices For Clients

Posted by Grace Payne on Wed, Jun 29, 2022 @ 12:23 PM


Mission Partners is a social impact communications firm and Certified B Corporation that uses the power of communication to advance social justice. Based in Maryland, their team is made up of passionate women that guide organizations to be more authentic in their words, equitable in their strategies, and intentional about their impact. Through their work, Mission Partners use communications to bridge differences, address injustice, and act in the spirit of service with communities for more just and equitable outcomes. They specialize in offering their services to companies in critical moments of organizational change to help them maintain or improve their levels of success. 

mission partners logo

Since its founding in 2017, Mission Partners have counseled hundreds of foundations, nonprofit organizations, and social impact organizations as well as the partners who fund and support their work. Additionally, they have helped organizations refine their strategies, increase their impact and amplify their stories in order to inspire other entrepreneurs. And we regularly invest our own dollars and time back into the clients we represent. They regularly invest their own revenue and time back into the clients they represent, as their goal is to share and strengthen powerful ideas that will improve our world. 

Since receiving their Silver Stevie Award for Women-Run Workplace of the Year - 10 or Less Employees, their commitment to service has been demonstrated in several ways. Mission Partners have participated in community volunteering and monthly learning labs, given paid time off to vote and participate in elections, and had a collective commitment to skills-based volunteering. Recently, they met their goal of delivering $100,000 in skills-based pro bono services to Black-led organizations in 2021, doubling their originally intended amount.

Additionally, after the onset of the pandemic, they focused on creating simple and authentic ways to support their team. Mission Partners rolled out new employee benefits, including paycheck advances, a stipend to support home office expenses, and an allotment of additional time off to support staff through the year. They also instituted a COVID response strategy for client projects, which included significantly discounted rates and granted pro-bono work to existing clients and community partners. The support of their clients and team maintained Mission Partners goal of providing equitable and intentional care in the business world.

Mission Partners won the Silver Stevie Award for Women-Run Workplace of the Year - 10 or Less Employees in the 2021 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business

Viola Palescandolo is Making the Luxury Travel Industry Accessible to All

Posted by Grace Payne on Wed, Jun 22, 2022 @ 09:19 PM


Viola Palescandolo is a former naval engineer, and luxury market expert, who founded Black Platinum Gold B.V. in 2017. Viola always had a passion to become an entrepreneur, and after gaining international expertise in the luxury industry, she decided to give a deeper meaning  to the word “luxury.” She founded Black Platinum Gold with no associates or investors, to empower dreamers to go after their goals, and created the first travel auctions platform that makes luxury more accessible without markdowns. Her vision revolved around the difference between price and value, for travelers that want to bring home new values from their journeys.

Black Platinum Gold

viola headshot

Her business model is based on a virtuous cycle, which generates value for all the involved parties, including travelers, hotels, and destinations, going beyond simple services in exchange of a fee. Hotels benefit from this agreement because it’s based on barter agreements and they receive, while travelers are able to add significant value within their budget.

Despite the pandemic, Black Platinum Gold has seen over 1,000,000 unique website visitors, partnering with over 100 high-end destinations and hospitality brands and offering auctions in more than 20 countries. Additionally, Black Platinum Gold launched its first official app available worldwide. With this success, Viola’s next goal is to start giving back, with a project that revolves around supporting local initiatives, focusing on environmental sustainability and animal rights as beneficiaries of part of the auctions’ revenue.

Since receiving her Bronze Stevie Award for Female Solo Entrepreneur of the Year, Viola has partnered with major hospitality brands including The Ritz Carlton, Nobu, Kempinski, among others. Black Platinum Gold has expanded to a global platform that is accessible to all travelers, and with this she has received international press coverage by the most influential luxury travel magazines and portals. Viola was invited by David Meltzer to his show for an interview on "how to reinvent the luxury travel business during the pandemic."

bpg travel

Additionally, Black Platinum Gold is about to launch a first-of-its-kind Luxury Travel Auction NFT. Along with the usual benefits of this digital collectible, the winner of the auction for this product will also receive an exclusive travel experience on Lake Como. Together with 15 other guests, the winner will spend New Years in luxury accommodation with other perks including a live music performance on New Year’s Eve, a professional photographer, and all-inclusive food and beverage. Viola's goal with this new project is to combine the tourism and crypto industry together and bring out the best in both. 

Viola Palescandolo won the Bronze Stevie Award for Female Solo Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2021 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business

Greenville Developments Creates Innovative Spaces That Encourage STEM Research

Posted by Grace Payne on Wed, Jun 15, 2022 @ 12:47 PM

Greenville Developments is a women-owned business headed by Australian business woman, Beverley Honig. The company repurposes unused shipping containers into remarkable spaces including pop-up shops, offices, student accommodations, and most importantly homes for victims of bushfires. In addition to providing sometimes critical living spaces for Australians, Greenville is committed to sustainability in their work.

greenville logo

Beginning with the very foundation of its company, Greenville works to reduce waste by recycling abandoned shipping containers to create shelters and workspaces that do not compromise on safety and longevity. Additionally, the building process for these structures produces a carbon reduction factor of 78% compared to traditional build. This statistic is encouraging given that materials and construction processes throughout the whole building life cycle is responsible for 11% of all carbon emissions in the world. Greenville's goal is to encourage others to decarbonize the sector by eliminating carbon emissions associated with the construction process. 

greenville containerGreenville is also able to maintain a rapid building process, due to the repurposed shipping containers. Compared to a traditional build, the shipping container structures reduce the time to build by 70% and cost of build by 50% due to the rapid build offsite process and the use of smart materials. 

Since earning the Bronze Stevie Award for Startup of the Year - Business Products Industries, Greenville Developments has partnered with one of the largest global oil and gas companies in Australia to build hi-tech mobile FutureLabs for collaborative STEM research. The FutureLab concept sprang from the desire to create mobile eco-pods to enable inspiration for innovators, universities, and STEM graduates. The growing demand for fast affordable homes has caused them to produce these eco-friendly pods in a way that is more efficient than ever before. 

Through this partnership, Greenville has secured a global presence and has set up partnerships with global channels in Asia and Europe. Its products have been used by universities and communities to develop world leading research and development. Greenville continues to focus on innovation, raising standards in sustainable building, striving to achieve carbon neutrality with eco-friendly building material and practices, and producing innovative and resilient structures. Ultimately, the company hopes to help organizations and people innovate and grow, and help save our planet through the use of carbon neutral materials.

greenville build


Greenville Developments won the Bronze Stevie Award for Startup of the Year - Business Products Industries.

Interested in submitting a nomination for the 2022 (19th Annual) Stevie Awards for Women in Business?

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business

Nooshin Yazhari Leads an Entirely Women-Owned Company in the Software Consulting Industry

Posted by Grace Payne on Wed, Jun 08, 2022 @ 10:54 PM


Nooshin Yazhari is the President and Managing Director of Optimum, a 100% women-owned, modern Software Consulting firm. She currently manages the operations, offering a full suite of software services and solutions, including custom application development, project management solutions, blockchain solutions, and SharePoint and Office 365 consulting.

Optimum works to transform businesses through the power of its people, innovative technologies, and automated processes. Even during the pandemic, Optimum has significantly grown its client base, team size, and revenue without financial assistance from a male-dominated industry. Optimum strives to help companies modernize their business systems by utilizing their optimized processes, modern technologies, and exceptional customer experiences. 

Nooshin has been recognized for her exceptional leadership in energy, working closely with other CEOs, senior consultants, visionaries, business leaders, and former entrepreneurs who provide mentoring and consulting to businesses of all sizes in the greater Houston area. In addition to her work in the business sector, Nooshin is a panel speaker at Girls in STEM, a program that encourages young women to learn more about STEM careers and pursue them from an early age. 

Since earning her Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Business Products, Nooshin continues to lead Optimum which started with minimal capital investment during the difficult economy and market of 2014 in a male-dominated industry, but gained rapid momentum and growth as every single person working at Optimum, from the executive leadership to junior staff, believes in integrity, transparency, quality, great customer experience, and smart work.

Crowd Machine and Optimum Team Up to Offer Accelerated Application  Development | Business Wire

Optimum's growth since 2019 has been 87% growth in number of employees and 117% growth in revenue. Additionally, the company now helps many more private, public, and government organizations develop new ways to make their business processes more efficient and "humancentric." Nooshin’s goal at Optimum is to put their people first. As the workforce takes care of clients, she strives to find new organizations that share the same vision and work style as Optimum.

Nooshin Yazhari won the Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Business Products.

Interested in submitting a nomination for the 2022 (19th Annual) Stevie Awards for Women in Business?

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business

Alexi Paxinos Continues to Improve Australian Tourism Following the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted by Grace Payne on Fri, May 27, 2022 @ 03:32 PM

Alexi Paxinos is a hardworking and dedicated tourism marketer. Her competitive and ambitious attitude has catapulted her career forward as she works on building her confidence, brand, and advocacy. This dedication to her work has caused her to be promoted many times over during her first five years at the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC). Her work at the SATC has been particularly impactful as she created a tourism campaign that aimed to support the South Australian tourism sector which had been impacted by the decrease in visitation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and South Australian bushfires that occurred one year prior.

The tourism campaign, which rolled out in less than 90 days from inception, saw nearly 45,500 people make bookings with more than 220 South Australian tour and experience providers, providing an immediate cash injection to these businesses during the traditionally quieter winter months. The end result of this project saw a $12 million increase in economic impact for the state of South Australia and a difference in the lives of many local small tourism business owners.Her work on this project helped her earn her the Gold Stevie Award for Female Employee of the Year. Since then, several iterations of Alexi’s campaigns have been launched by the SATC, and continue to help the South Australian tourism industry recover from the challenges of COVID-19. Focused on the implementation of the SATC’s Wellness Tourism Sector Plan across the state, Alexi is working with various stakeholders to enable South Australia to be positioned and recognized as a leading global wellness destination. So far, she has worked with a number of operators to create new and enhance existing tourism offerings in this sector. She's also working to enact organizational change by influencing decision-makers to encourage the switch to electronic, paperless, COVID-friendly, and eco-friendly business cards and creating better efficiencies across work processes by utilizing software and other technologies.

In addition to her work at the SATC, Alexi became Deputy Chair of Spence Club Inc. in May 2021. Through this, Alexi and her team have led the delivery of a record number of events and achieved the highest event attendance since the Club’s inception in 2015, contributed to the Club’s abolishment of the membership age limit, facilitated closer collaboration with charity partners, and provided increased benefits and scholarship opportunities to professional women in South Australia. 

In the tourism space, Alexi took on the role of Chair of the Young Australian Tourism Export Council of South Australia in June 2021, where she helped build a committee of five, compared to other Australian states with only one committee member. Through this, Alexi and the team have continued to support young tourism professionals through the impact of COVID by continuing to provide professional development opportunities and ongoing events. 

In March 2021, Alexi joined the She Creates committee, a female-led initiative of the Adelaide Advertising and Design Club aimed at developing, promoting, and inspiring women in creative communications in Adelaide. Four months in, Alexi sourced sponsorship that impacted the bottom line of She Creates, creating the ability to deliver longer, higher-quality, and more frequent development opportunities for women in the industry. Alexi is also in the early stages of launching an international education agency to encourage overseas students to study in Australia. Impacted by the COVID pandemic and Australian border closures, Alexi and the team have been using the time to re-evaluate the business goals and identify ways to increase accessibility to Australian education for more people, including those from lower-income family backgrounds.

Alexi Paxinos won the Gold for Female Employee of the Year - Government or Non-Profit in the 2021 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Interested in submitting a nomination for the 2022 (19th Annual) Stevie Awards for Women in Business?

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business

Kelli Thompson Helps Female Leaders Build Confidence in the Workplace

Posted by Grace Payne on Mon, May 23, 2022 @ 09:15 AM

Kelli Thompson is a leadership coach, speaker, and writer with over 15 years of experience in corporate America and over 10 years in leadership for financial services and technology organizations. Based in Omaha, Nebraska, she founded the Clarity & Confidence Women's Leadership Program, a nationwide, online leadership development program for women leaders. Through this program, she has coached and trained hundreds of women to trust themselves, lead with more confidence, and create a career they love. Her work has since been featured in HuffPost, Next Avenue, Working Mother, Thrive Global, Introvert Dear, HR Daily Advisor, LinkedIn, and via her blog and social media channels. 

In November 2018, Kelli left corporate America to start her leadership coaching practice, but by July 2020, Kelli had lost over 80% of her income due to pandemic-related canceled contracts and events. Kelli used the gap in her schedule as an opportunity to pivot her business to focus exclusively on coaching women leaders. Through her years of corporate experience, Kelli recognized that there was a lack of training programs that focused specifically on women’s strengths and addressed the unique challenges they face in the workplace.

Even so, she was not aware at the time of how important this work would be in the upcoming months as women were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Kelli’s coaching work focused on issues that include how to speak up at work, manage the extra workload that women frequently carry, set boundaries, and navigate career changes to find better pay and work-life balance.

The reinvention of Kelli’s business strategy additionally included offering a unique 8-week leadership program that focuses exclusively on the needs of women. Topics include discovering your leadership strengths, learning to trust your intuition, reducing workloads through delegation, and imposter syndrome. Unlike many traditional leadership programs, Kelli doesn’t help women conform to who their organizations want them to be. Instead, she helps them cultivate their unique gifts and talents so that they can show up as who they are meant to be. 

Kelli asked two clients about what made her work different…

Client 1 said that Kelli’s program is the first she’s done that is based on intuition. “It's rooted in things that no one talks about in the business world,” she explained. This client went on to say that listening to her body helped her find the reason behind her lack of confidence and overcome imposter syndrome in the workplace. “This has allowed me to stand in my power and contribute my unique gifts at work. I am so much more confident,” she added.

Client 2 spoke about how Kelli’s program is the first to address important soft skills. “The [other] programs are just dry and nobody wants to talk about conflict and authenticity,” she explained. She added that Kelli’s leadership program relies on data to identify things that are proven to be problems for women. “That you [Kelli] build programs around and tackle,” she explained.

Kelli continues to teach women that trusting their intuition is the new competitive advantage in business. She has empowered her clients to speak up, make a career change, collectively negotiate over $30,000 worth of higher salaries, and do so without sacrificing their desired work-life balance.

Kelli Thompson won the Bronze Stevie for Mentor or Coach of the Year – Business in the 2021 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Interested in submitting a nomination for the 2022 (19th Annual) Stevie Awards for Women in Business?

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business, Women in Business