The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship changes leadership

By Leah Berman-Kress

Rebecca Harris stepped down as the Executive Director of Chatham’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at the end of September.

Rebecca Harris, MBA, former executive director of Center for Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship

According to their website, Harris was the second person to hold the executive director position since its opening. Anne Schlicht filled this position after Ms. Harris’s departure.

The center was founded in 2005 by former Chatham president Dr. Esther Barazzone with the goal of creating economic opportunities for female entrepreneurs through entrepreneurial education and training, mentoring and networking.

An entrepreneur in her own right, Harris brought great knowledge to the center from her 20 plus years of business experience.

“I’m an entrepreneur,” she said. “That is in my DNA.”

Before working at Chatham, Harris had five businesses of her own, each one different from the next. Her past ventures range from no cholesterol brownies and cookies, to patenting and selling nets used by divers to avoid jellyfish.

“My strong suit is coming up with ideas,” Harris stated, “developing new concepts and being innovative.”

Harris and her family moved to Pittsburgh for her husband’s work. She tried to think of an idea for a new business, but struggled because she did not know the area very well. What initially attracted her to the position was that she could act like an entrepreneur.

In this job, Harrris was an intrapreneur, which gave her the opportunity to act and think like an entrepreneur within an existing organization.

She came into the job thinking of it as her own “little mini-business.”

When she first started, Harris wasn’t sure how to meet the needs and operate under a business unit.

Harris is proud of the programs she helped develop during her time at the center. One program she oversaw, Roadmap to $1MM +, helps women-run businesses achieve the milestone of making $1 million.

“Only about 1.2% of all women-owned companies get to the $1 million mark,” Harris said. “But close to 6% of all male-owned companies get to the $1 million mark.”

Additionally, in 2016, the center was accredited by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and then named the National 2018 Women’s Business Center.

“We were awarded [this honor] over other very prestigious institutions.”

These accomplishments serve as a great source of pride for Harris.

She enjoyed seeing the success of the program’s participants. Harris’ main goal was to help the women in the program grow, even if their businesses didn’t flourish.

“There are a couple women who have taken our programs who I’ve seen gain incredible confidence. That’s a win.”

Ms. Harris’s successor, Anne Schlicht, is the former Director of Chatham’s Women’s Business Center. The transition was finalized on October 1, when Schlicht officially became Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship after being with the center for 13 years.

“I have total confidence in her abilities,” Harris said.

Now, Harris is re-starting her consulting business that provides services to nonprofit and corporate clientele. She will also continue her work at Chatham in an advisory capacity to the University.

“Chatham is a wonderful place to work. People have been incredibly supportive,” Harris noted. “I couldn’t have done any of this work without the team that I had. This is not about me, it’s really about the people I work with. You can have great ideas, but if you don’t have a great team surrounding you doing the work it doesn’t happen.”

In the center’s future, Chatham will merge the Women’s Business Center and Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship into one organization. The organization will operate under the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship name.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Communiqué Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *