Hearst Magazines’ Cosmopolitan and nonprofit group Digitalundivided are today launching The New C-Suite, an annual program that recognizes women of color entrepreneurs. EleVen founder and seven-time Grand Slam singles champion—and October Cosmo cover star—Venus Williams was among the judges who helped whittle down the list of 12 women (at 10 companies) from hundreds of submissions.
The honorees include Jonelie Vélez-Román, CEO/co-founder, and Ailed González-Quintana, chief operating officer/co-founder of Tasty Smart, a Vega Baja, Puerto Rico-based maker of gluten-free, plant-based snacks; and Veena Somareddy, co-founder and chief technology officer at Fort Worth, Texas-based NeuroRehabVR, which creates FDA-approved virtual reality therapy exercise programs for neurological rehab. (See the full list here.)
“Both Cosmo and Digitialundivided serve to empower and uplift young women,” Nancy Berger, senior VP, publishing director and chief revenue officer of the Hearst Youth & Wellness Group, tells Ad Age, “so we knew there was an opportunity to create something really meaningful if we joined forces.”
In a statement shared with Ad Age, Venus Williams said that The New C-Suite is meant to “inspire women and girls across the globe to celebrate what makes them unique, use those qualities to defy expectations and forge their own narrative.”
Digitalundivided, which launched in 2012, calls itself “a social startup” that focuses on “catalyzing economic growth in Black and Latinx communities.” Lauren Maillian, CEO of Digitalundivided, tells Ad Age that the point of The New C-Suite is to “spotlight women of color entrepreneurs who shatter ceilings and defy the odds.”
Ad Age interviewed Berger, Maillian and Jessica Pels, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, about The New C-Suite. Their thoughts about the program (lightly edited for space and clarity):