Each year, TeamWomen recognizes trailblazers at our annual WaveMaker Awards. The Under 40 Phenom Award recognizes women under 40 who are making waves through demonstrating outstanding achievement, entrepreneurial spirit and initiative, or leadership within their profession and/or the community in this early phase of their career. Get to know this year’s Under 40 Phenom Honorees below, and join us on October 12th at Metropolitan Ballroom & Club to celebrate this exceptional group of women at our 2023 WaveMaker Awards!
In 2021, Versique welcomed Paige Batcha, CPA, MBA, with the challenge to pioneer a brand-new consulting business line. The results have been nothing short of astonishing! Within less than two years, Paige has built a team of eight internal staff supporting the interim practice and a revenue stream from $0 to an impressive $2.5 million in its first full year of business. Further testament to her impact, she’s successfully connected over 50 professionals and businesses with new consulting projects in the past year alone.
With an extensive background of more than 15 years in professional and leadership roles, Paige has held prominent financial leadership positions at Datatrend Technologies, Sleep Number and most recently served as the CFO at a Minneapolis-based family-owned manufacturing company. There, she oversaw a diverse portfolio of corporate departments, including IT, legal, and HR. Paige’s unrelenting drive and vibrant energy make her a standout, consistently motivating her team and perpetually forging new relationships to bolster her business.
Beyond her corporate accolades, Paige’s footprint in the community is expansive. She’s held leadership roles such as CFO for a non-profit youth football passing league and My7on7 Finance Consultant for the startup Road Map Technologies. She was a board member for the Young Artists Initiative from January 2021 to January 2022. She’s an active member of several organizations, including the Junior League, TeamWomen, Ready. Set. Pivot., and MNCPA. Additionally, Paige volunteers her CPA expertise at Heritage Christian Academy, Plymouth Covenant Church, Habitat for Humanity, and Ruff Start Rescue on an international level.
Chris Dardis, who nominated Paige, shared these sentiments: “I’ve honestly never seen a leader work so hard to build the business and simultaneously build a team. She is meticulous about how she is growing her division. Her hustle and energy allow her to stand out.”
Courtney Ernston is a seasoned litigation attorney deeply embedded in Minnesota’s construction trade organizations. For nearly a decade, her advocacy for small business owners and her innate ability to connect have driven her to remarkable success. She is a staunch supporter of the Women in Construction (MN) group and is a regular voice at construction-related events where she provides both legal and business insights. Additionally, her Wednesday Working Group sessions offer a vital platform for women construction owners to discuss challenges and share insights.
In September 2022, Courtney made a significant shift, departing from her previous law firm to embark on a new venture. Her first major step was merging with an established firm, and shortly after that, she incorporated several solo practitioners into her growing team. Driven and purposeful, the outcome of her endeavors led to the formation of a thriving team of 16 dedicated professionals, and the momentum shows no signs of waning. Courtney’s exceptional leadership and foresight are central to this accelerated growth.
Before the merger, many might not have known the depth of Courtney’s capabilities. However, once the firms united, her prowess became undeniably apparent. Integrating firms, assimilating new team members, and forging a shared ethos can be tumultuous tasks. Yet, under Courtney’s unwavering leadership, potential pitfalls were transformed into growth opportunities.
Courtney’s style of leadership exemplifies her genuine character. She doesn’t merely lead from the front but immerses herself, understanding every facet, tackling every challenge, and guiding her team consistently. Her influence has been pivotal in the firm’s expansion and the introduction of innovative systems essential for its growth.
Beyond her firm, Courtney’s contributions to the legal realm are widely recognized. Recently, Finance and Commerce acknowledged her as a Top Woman in Construction, an honor she was also associated with in 2021. For four consecutive years, she’s been labeled a “Super Lawyer-Rising Star.” The accolades continue: She’s been heralded as a Rising Star by Benchmark Litigation, featured in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Lawyers Ones to Watch, and celebrated as an Up and Coming Attorney by Minnesota Lawyer magazine.
However, Courtney’s impact is not solely defined by her awards. She commits herself to the broader community, generously sharing her expertise through webinars, speaking events, and blogs. Business owners, both veterans and newcomers, have reaped the benefits of her knowledge, often without incurring any cost.
James Gempeler, who nominated Courtney, shares, “Courtney embodies what true leadership looks like – not merely issuing directives but being willing to delve deep into the trenches alongside her team.”
Samantha Hernandez is more than just a name in the plus-size fashion industry. She’s a beacon of hope, an advocate, and a relentless fighter for the rights of plus-size humans. Through her brand, FITSO, she has illuminated the discrepancies within the fashion industry, driving the message that every individual, regardless of size, deserves to be seen, heard, valued, and have access to necessities like clothing at the same rate as their smaller counterparts.
For Samantha, the mission is personal. It’s rooted in her own painful experiences of feeling ‘unwanted’ by mainstream fashion. Unable to find her size in most stores, she grappled with body image trauma, which unfortunately spiraled into an eating disorder, anxiety, and severe depression. Rather than letting these experiences define her, Samantha channeled her pain into establishing FITSO (an acronym for “Fit In To Stand Out”). Her brand is a testament to her unwavering belief that plus-size individuals should not just fit in, but stand out on their own terms.
The statistics are staggering. While 80% of women are plus-sized, a mere 30% of clothing caters to them. Samantha’s FITSO is here to change that. But for her, it’s not just about clothing; it’s about restoring dignity and breaking stereotypes. Every piece of apparel from FITSO is designed with utmost care, keeping in mind the intricacies of larger bodies, and each design reinforces the message that size doesn’t dictate one’s worth. This vision has been met with overwhelming support. In just a few days following her latest collection launch, FITSO’s social media following skyrocketed by 70%. People are drawn not just to the clothes but to the powerful message of body acceptance and neutrality that Samantha champions.
Samantha’s engagement doesn’t end with selling clothes. She’s often found attending conferences like Philly FatCon and FatCon in Seattle. For her, these platforms are avenues to connect directly with her customers, listening to their stories, and establishing trust.
She’s been a guest on multiple podcasts, spreading the gospel of inclusion. Her voice has been heard on platforms like the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD) and media outlets like El Minnesota de Hoy. While FITSO is undoubtedly making waves, Samantha knows the journey toward inclusivity is a collective effort. She networks with other plus-size clothing businesses, generously sharing industry knowledge. She is always on the move, ensuring that no one feels ‘less than’ because of their size!
FITSO, provides clothing for normal humans who fit sizes 12-40 which positively affects the mental health of her consumers, saves them time, and allows them to focus on things that matter to them.
Stacey Jensen, who nominated Samantha, shares, “People are eager to hear from Samantha and FITSO. Their social media followers increased by 70% in the first 5 days following her latest collection launch as she posted and promoted body acceptance and body neutrality.”driving
Graduating college in 2012, Hailey Margetta dove headfirst into an industry that constantly reminded her of her “differences”: a first-generation college student from Milwaukee’s south side, devoid of a high-profile degree or MBA, and absent from the elite social circles. However, these very distinctions propelled Hailey to shatter the glass ceilings that often confined her peers. Setting a fierce goal, she clinched the SVP title before turning 30, a feat she achieved ahead of schedule. Yet, amidst this achievement, Hailey recognized a deeper calling. Her most fulfilling moments came from empowering those who shared her experience as an underdog.
Reflecting on her early career aspirations, Hailey chose to be the mentor she wished she had in her 20s. Passionately advocating for women’s visibility in the predominantly male banking arena, she has committed herself to mentorship, sales coaching, robust networking, and assuring women of their esteemed place in the financial sector.
With her family’s entrepreneurial roots, Hailey leveraged her banking acumen to guide budding business minds. She pioneered an initiative funneling capital to Twin Cities’ underserved entrepreneurs, leaving an indelible mark on the community. Her active participation in the angel investor community and her engagements at local summits and universities underscores her commitment to fostering business growth.
Navigating the intersection of women, banking, and entrepreneurship, Hailey revels in the unique challenges and joys it presents. For her, this journey is more than a career; it’s a service. It’s a connection to a larger purpose, an ode to never conforming. As she continues to carve her niche, Hailey’s legacy promises to be one that paves the way for countless others to tread confidently.
Jon Aase, who nominated Hailey, shares, “Hailey also leads by example. She has brought many new customers to the bank who are ‘raving fans’ of Hailey Margetta. We’re proud to have her as a team member here at Bell Bank, and we look forward to seeing her continued impact in the community.”
Sara Stamschror-Lott, a trailblazer in the realm of mental health, co-founded Creative Kuponya in 2017 with her husband, Jamil, stemming from her personal experience with misdiagnosis. Motivated by her encounters with traditional mental health models that disproportionately affect marginalized communities, Sara’s mission with Creative Kuponya has always been clear: provide therapy devoid of forced diagnosis and move towards a genuine decolonization of mental health.
Driven by her creative spirit, Sara sought to reintroduce the “art of healing” into therapy. She has been at the forefront, challenging the traditional norms of a white, capitalist, male-dominated mental health framework. To bridge gaps in the system, especially for the BIPOC and LGBTQIA communities, Creative Kuponya operates at the intersection of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and mental healthcare. It offers various services ranging from therapy, psycho-education, clinical supervision, consultation, and keynotes to communities and corporations throughout Minnesota.
The 2020 civil unrest led to the unfortunate loss of Creative Kuponya’s offices. However, this setback birthed the innovative BIPOC Therapy Fund, providing complimentary therapy to Black and Brown individuals. Moreover, Sara played an instrumental role in conceptualizing the “Transformative Community Healing Sessions,” free communal healing endeavors that have touched over a thousand lives in the Twin Cities.
An avid educator, Sara is an EMDR therapist specializing in Oppressive Trauma Informed Care. Her influential roles extend to being a Minnesota Board Approved Supervisor for the Boards of Marriage and Family Therapy and Clinical Counseling and a faculty member at Saint Mary’s University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program. Under her stewardship, Creative Kuponya initiated “Kuponya Conversations,” monthly CEU-driven professional sessions that resonated widely with healthcare providers and the general public.
Her work has been featured in renowned outlets like The New York Times, USAToday, and BBC Worldwide. As the Chief Creative Officer of Creative Kuponya, she has personally catered to over 500 clients and supervised 40 budding therapists. Beyond her primary endeavors, Sara’s compassion radiates through her involvement with Achieve Twin Cities, where she aids in career and college readiness programs.
Jamil Stamschror-Lott, who nominated Sara, shares, “Sara works around the clock to bring love and healing to the community. She deserves to experience recognition for her innovative ideas and desire to bring equity into mental health.”
The TeamWomen annual WaveMaker Awards celebrates and recognizes women nominated by their peers across five categories: Under 40 Phenom, Uncharted Territory, Community Impact, Outstanding Mentor, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Empower Rising Star. Learn more about this event and our 2023 honorees here.