Ladies First is the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s commitment to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD.
The Dingman Center launched the Ladies First initiative in 2016 to increase the number of women involved in entrepreneurship at UMD. We are tackling the barriers that prevent our female students from pursuing entrepreneurship, such as the absence of a peer community, less familiarity with startup terms and concepts, and lack of access to mentors and funding.
Read about the research and methodology behind Ladies First here.
Join the Ladies First movement today. If you would like to serve as a speaker or mentor, please complete our Volunteer Interest Form. If you’d like to support the Ladies First initiative as a sponsor or donor, email Sara Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ladies First Founders (BMGT 369D)
Ladies First Founders (BMGT 369D) is the Dingman Center’s class for female entrepreneurs at the University of Maryland. Taught by Sara Herald, our Ladies First champion, this one-credit course is open to undergraduate women working on businesses. The inaugural cohort and future cohorts will learn about entrepreneurship, grow their own business ideas, and support each other’s entrepreneurial journeys. The course is a blend of skill-building workshops and networking events. Topics include the how to’s of networking and mentorship, finding balance as a founder/student/human, startup pitching and body language, funding and how to get it, and more.
The course is open to any female undergraduate at the University of Maryland who is working on a business or social venture. Due to high demand for the course, participants are selected through an application process. If you’re interested in participating in a future semester of Ladies First Founders, fill out this interest form.
Audrey Awasom '18: Noble Uprising
Noble Uprising is a non-profit organization that empowers women experiencing homelessness through career readiness seminars, workforce development programs, and sustainable job opportunities. Learn more at
Maria Chen '19: Symbiont Health (Grand Prize Winner – Pitch Dingman Competition)
Symbiont Health is developing both wearable and non-wearable automated fall detection devices to combat the high rate of senior citizen morbidity resulting from syncope.
Megha Guggari '20: Synapto
Synapto is an early stage biotech venture revolutionizing the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease through portable Electroencephalogram (EEG) and artificial intelligence.
Breonna Massey '18: Slay Naturals
Being healthy and taking care of skin shouldn’t cost you your wallet or your style. SLAY Naturals infuses style and nature so you can Stay Lovely And Young (SLAY)
Sydney Parker '18: Emprology (Finalist- Pitch Dingman Competition)
Emprology LLC is an empowering influencer marketing consultancy that seeks to educate minority female bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters on how to monetize off of their content.
Jess Rosenthal '20: Good Stuff Good Works
Good Stuff Good Works facilitates the sales of indigenous artisanal goods from the mountainous region of Ecuador to the University of Maryland community and beyond.
Jasmine Snead '18: Aurora Tights
Aurora Tights is an athletic brand that designs figure skating gear for an array of tones, complexions, and sizes.
Natalie Urban '18 and Yinyin Liao '18: Project Girl
PRJ GRL is a coffee venture dedicated to empowering people through coffee. Revenue from our company’s sales goes towards sponsoring impoverished girls’ education in Cambodia. All of our coffee is high-quality, and ethically-sourced from female farmers in Latin America.
Fiona Whitefield '20: Continuum
Continuum assists the growing elderly population to “age in place” by connecting those who are physically unable to maintain their home with skilled retirees who provide home maintenance services, ultimately building a network of social support and empowering those experiencing physical decline to maintain independence.
The Dingman Center regularly features female founders, investors, and ecosystem builders on our podcast, Bootstrapped. We recommend the following episodes to the Ladies First community:
Jennifer Lee-Harrison MBA ’12, founder of Perfect Hair International - Building Your Own Luck as an Entrepreneur
Dale Pfeifer, founder of GoodWorld - Getting Social Media Users to Give Back
Kanchan Singh ’12, founder of Crumbs & Whiskers - Crowdfunding a Cat Café
Ali von Paris ’12, founder of Route One Apparel - Put Your Social Media Skills to Work
Elise Whang, founder of SnobSwap - Making Customer Acquisition an Easy Sell
Ann Yang & Phil Wong, founders of MISFIT Juicery - Leveraging Your Social Capital