Seven Underrepresented Business Owners Complete OED’s New EmPOWER Mentorship Program

“A Program for Underrepresented Businesses, by Underrepresented Businesses.”

Seven Business owners have successfully completed the Frederick County Office of Economic Development’s (OED) new EmPOWER Mentorship Program. The pilot program included eight consecutive weeks of gathering together on Friday mornings for a productive discussion around important business topics such as marketing, legal matters, human resources, finance, real estate matters, goal-setting, strategic planning, negotiations and more.

OED partnered with Platinum PR for the development of the mentorship program. Each class was led by two program facilitators, Sandy Dubay and Jay Mason of Platinum PR and two peer mentors, Ashleigh Kiggans of MacRO Ltd. and Jose Bueso of Dynamic Automotive.   A total of 16 guest local business experts provided valuable information on the particular topic of the week to the class.

In addition to picking the brains of the guest business experts, organically, the mentees participated in a generous amount of peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and showing support for one another.

“This is truly a program for underrepresented businesses by underrepresented businesses. Each of the sessions had structure, but was organically shaped to the needs of the participants,” says Sandy Dubay, owner of Platinum PR.

“What I liked most about the EmPOWER program was the combination of getting to meet a diverse group of likeminded entrepreneurs while gaining invaluable expertise that I can implement in my business immediately. It was an awesome experience,” says Tara Flippen, a program mentee and owner of Clark First Consulting.

The EmPOWER program is a new and improved model built upon framework created by the OED to support minority businesses, offering outreach, education and support. The Mentorship program was designed as part of the education strategy.

“This mentorship program felt like the culmination of the work we’ve done over the course of the EmPOWER program. Taking many cues from the business support initiatives created in the past, this iteration was an intensive, two-month long program featuring additional subject matter experts,” says Sandy.

“Promoting economic inclusion in Frederick County has been a goal of OED’s for over seven years. Mentorship has always been a key resource for businesses and our EmPOWER Mentoring Program is second to none.  Through this program, we provide the necessary resources for underrepresented businesses as they move forward and become more successful,” says Helen Propheter, Executive Director of the Frederick County Office of Economic Development.


The seven participating business owners included:

  • Aje Hill, I Believe in Me Inc.
  • Bryan Beiglarbeigi, Frederick Daily Meals
  • Elizabeth Chung, Asian American Center of Frederick
  • Jacqueline Douge, What is Black
  • Janece Lee, H E I S I S
  • Taral Flippen, Clark First Consulting
  • Wendy Campbell, COAST Designs


The Frederick County OED is looking forward to continuing the EmPOWER Mentorship program along with networking events for underrepresented businesses in the spring of 2022. For more information on the EmPOWER program, please visit or Shana Knight at