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Women Entrepreneurship Week

Hear the stories of successful female entrepreneurs.

Women Entrepreneurship Week (WEW) is celebrated on October 19 and 26 this year. There are 150+ universities/colleges in more than 23 countries and 38 states in the U.S. planning WEW events. You can view the full list here. Salem State proudly joins this event in 2019.

We at the Bertolon School of Business and Salem State University believe we’re in a unique position to be a part of a growing entrepreneurial spirit on the North Shore. We invited some of the most successful female entrepreneurs with different industry backgrounds to Salem State to share their stories and challenges. They will speak at the following time and location:

  • When: Wednesday, October 23 | 1:30-3 pm
  • Where: Viking Hall 123 (Multipurpose Room Inside Starbucks)

We hope you can join us and gain inspiration toward your journey of becoming the next generation of entrepreneurs. No registration is required to attend this event, and refreshments will be provided thanks to support from Salem State Alumni Affairs

SSU Women Entrepreneurship Speakers:

Nancy L. Gerardi, Northeast Regional Director, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center

An expert advisor in law across disciplines, Nancy L. Gerardi recently successfully sold her practice Gerardi & Associates, LLC to become the regional director at the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center. Her law firm focused on complex real estate transactions as well as litigation in land courts, non-profits, and employment. Gerardi graduated with a law degree from the New England School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree in business administration concentrated in accounting at Salem State University, and studied at Northern Essex Community College, where she was part of the first graduating class of paralegals.

Gerardi is many things: a licensed attorney in Massachusetts, a Notary Public, a Commissioner of Deeds in New Hampshire, a Maine insurance producer license-holder, a license-holder as a School Superintendent and School Business Manager by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. But, she says, her greatest accomplishment is achieving her academic and career goals while being a single parent raising three dynamic and independent daughters.

Her favorite quote is: “The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan” and now, as the northeast regional director at the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, she helps others formulate their plans to make their dreams a reality.

Phyllis LeBlanc, Owner and Chief Executive Officer, Harbor Sweets

Phyllis Leblanc has worked more than 40 years for Harbor Sweets – first as the distinctive and reputable New England gift chocolate company’s president, and later its owner and chief executive officer. The thriving Salem business has gained national and international popularity throughout its history, shipping nearly one-quarter million packages of Harbor Sweets’ handmade chocolates to gift and gourmet stores across the U.S. and as far away as Switzerland and Japan.

LeBlanc received a degree in business administration from Salem State University, and later a master's degree in business administration from the Questrom School of Business at Boston University. Outside of Harbor Sweets, LeBlanc is an active community member in Salem, Massachusetts and the Dressage Rider Association, where she serves as president. She is also an executive board member for NEADS, the National Education for Assistance Dog Services, and an advisory boarder member for the House of the Seven Gables.  

At home, LeBlanc enjoys gardening, photography, and spending time at her Bradford home with her husband and two dogs.

Kathleen A. Murphy, Senior Advisor, Chi Solutions, Inc.

With more than 30 years of experience in diagnostic services management and consulting, Kathleen Murphy has combined her expertise in the life and medical science fields with industry experience in laboratory strategy, turnarounds and outreach. Murphy is the former owner and CEO of Accumen company Chi Solutions, Inc., where she now works as a senior advisor. She is also a noted speaker and author of “The Profit Machine in the Hospital Basement: Turning Your Lab into an Economic Engine.”

Before joining Chi, Murphy directed lab and radiology operations at two of the top academic medical centers in Boston. Before going on to obtain her PhD in microbiology and immunology for the University of North Dakota, Murphy received a degree in biology at Salem State. Throughout her professional career, she also completed executive education courses at Dartmouth and Harvard Business School.  

Outside of work, Murphy volunteers at the Merrimack Valley Hospice House and the foundation board at Salem State.

Linda Saris, Executive Director, LEAP for Education, Inc.

Since 2002 Linda Saris has been the founder and executive director of LEAP for Education, Inc., the Salem-based non-profit organization provides free programs to low-income and first-generation college students to support them in their academic careers. Saris started LEAP with 25 years of experience in the management and technology sectors – including lessons from her role as senior vice president at RSA Security, Inc., a $250 million software company.

In 2015, Saris received an honorary doctorate from Salem State University. She earned her masters in business administration in finance and accounting from the University of Chicago, and her BA in economics and urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

At LEAP for Education Inc., Saris leads the organization on many fronts, including staffing, fundraising, budgeting, operations, and business and program development.


This event is organized by Mohammad Jahanbakht and Parvathi Jayamohan. If you have any questions, email


Mohammad Jahanbakht
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