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NAWBO Charlotte’s Business Owner award winners represent two of the successful 42,000 women-owned businesses in the Charlotte area.  Winners will be announced at the May 5 Gala.  Join Us!
The NAWBO Charlotte Rising Star Award is presented to a member who has demonstrated entrepreneurial creativity and determination in successfully managing a business that is less than five years old.

The finalists for the NAWBO Charlotte Rising Star Award are:

  • Jennifer Buzek, Agency Owner, CoSaint Insurance – Jennifer Buzek has spent more than 18 years as an insurance industry professional. She started her career as a claims adjuster, focusing mainly on adjusting home and property claims. From there Jennifer moved into claims management and then eventually into leadership development and training of claims professionals. About 10 years ago, Jennifer made the moved into marketing and sales within the insurance industry. Three years ago, Jennifer followed the dream of owning her own business and started CoSaint Insurance, focusing on property and casualty insurance for individuals and businesses.
  • Juanita Tackett, Owner, LED Source – Juanita Tackett is a native of North Carolina and a Charlotte resident for over 25 years. An alumni of UNC Chapel Hill and Bauder College graduate, Juanita has spent her career in consultative sales in a number of business verticals, most recently in the multi-family housing industry. As the top performing regional sales manager for Appliance Warehouse of America, she helped that company quadruple in size in 7 years. After marrying her husband, Ken, and taking a break from corporate America, she felt the need to strikeout and launch her own company. Juanita became the first woman owned and operated franchise for LED Source, an industry leader in the design and sales of LED lighting solutions. Juanita is already one of the highest producing franchises for LED Source and looks forward to helping more and more companies save on their operating costs.
  • Lisa Woodie, Owner & Chef, Homemade Fresh Chef Service – Lisa’s career as a Personal Chef is a “second act” for her. Armed with a Journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Lisa spent the first have of her career as a marketing professional. During that time she worked in the non-profit world, climbed the ladder in corporate America, and followed her entrepreneurial dream. As a result of a loss in her family, Lisa became interested in the concept of wellness and how what we put on and in our bodies can affect how we feel and our overall health. She realized that she could combine her passion for cooking, entrepreneurial drive and experience, and newfound passion for helping people experience better overall wellness into a business venture. At the end of 2011, she founded Homemade Fresh Chef Service. Homemade Fresh is a personal chef service that provides personalized meal planning and preparation in client homes. Homemade Fresh also provides event catering, cooking classes and paired food and wine tastings.


The NAWBO-Charlotte Women Business Owner of the Year Award is given to a member who has demonstrated strong leadership skills in growing and managing a successful business that is more than five years old.

  • Julie Ayers, Principal Member, LBA Haynes Strand, PLLC – Julie wears many hats at the firm as she serves on the Executive Group (making strategic decisions for the firm), the head of the tax department, the head of the charter school accounting division, and the head of the outsourced accounting department. Julie’s passion for helping clients actually began when she worked at a prominent property management company who oversaw the management of prestigious condominiums in Washington, DC. Faced with unsold condominiums and a down turn in the market, condominium associations turned to her to find ways to reduce their overwhelming financial burden. Julie realized that by helping the association she was able to also help the individual owners save their homes. Armed with this knowledge and passion, she left the company and became a CPA to work in public practice.
  • Ellen Linares, Financial Services Professional & Special Care Planner, HF Financial – After beginning her career in the financial industry in New York City, Ellen moved to Charlotte and launched her own practice in financial planning. Here she achieved the designations of Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and became one of only a few planners to complete the Chartered Special Needs Consultants (ChSNC) designation.   In her broad based practice, she has the opportunity to work with special needs families, following her family’s example in service to the Special Needs Community.  This practice allows Ellen to blend her 25 years of financial planning experience with her compassion and understanding.
  • Christine Roper, President & Owner, Roper Physical Therapy, Inc. – Christine Roper, a native of Pennsylvania graduated from Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA with a B.S. in Sports Medicine, Athletic training in 1989.   She went on to Graduate School at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Florida obtaining her Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. Christine began pursing training in John Barne’s Myofascial Release in 1999.   She completed MFR courses under his mentoring and is an Expert Practioner of Myofascial Release. Currently, in Charlotte she is the only Physical Therapist with this level of training. Prior to entering private practice in 2003, Christine worked for Carolinas Healthcare System for 10 years.   On the main campus, she spent several years managing the Outpatient Department. Christine has an interest in treating from young to aged of all types of patients’ diagnoses. She began her personal practice of Yoga in 2005.   After taking many classes she finally found the right program under the direction of Ginger Garner, PT, ATC, ERYT500.   She began training in spring 2010 and completed her education in Therapeutic Yoga at Professional Yoga Therapy in 2013.