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Imagine a community of people, more than 10 million strong and counting, in which each individual is a pioneer — a trailblazer — an innovator — a visionary. These are today’s women entrepreneurs, who account for nearly half of all small business owners in America, and who continue to start businesses in record numbers.
Women are creating, building, and leading some of the most dynamic enterprises in America. Along the way, often at great risk and against the odds, they have shattered glass ceilings and entrenched stereotypes, and have redefined the meaning of leadership and success.
Not long ago, women business owners were virtually invisible and toiled in relative obscurity. Today, their numbers speak of an emerging, powerful constituency with increasing political and economic muscle that is integral in shaping an even brighter future for America.
It is this community to which Enterprising Women is devoted. The mission of Enterprising Women magazine is to reflect and amplify the voices of entrepreneurial women — to share their stories of risk and success — to chronicle their growing political, economic, and social influence and power — to celebrate their triumphs — to provide solutions to their problems — to identify and promote a new generation of leaders, along with role models and mentors for tomorrow’s leaders.
As the editor and publisher of Enterprising Women, Monica Smiley has spent the last decade-plus building the national — and now global — magazine she leads into a strong voice for women entrepreneurs. As the only national magazine published exclusively for women business owners, Monica and her team have crafted a magazine that is like a reunion with an old friend. Under her leadership, Enterprising Women has become a friendly meeting place, a public forum, and a national stage for the critical issues confronting women’s businesses and daily lives. She leads a team of writers who share the unique perspectives and experiences of entrepreneurial women — women who dare to think big, make the leap, and follow their dreams. The print and digital editions of the magazine now reach more than 200,000 women entrepreneurs in 50 countries around the globe.
While Enterprising Women began its 12th year in May 2011 serving the women business owner community, Monica has been the president of a magazine publishing and marketing communication business for nearly 30 years, publishing both consumer and trade magazine titles. Prior to co-founding a magazine publishing and consulting business with her husband, John W. Dancer, in the early 1980s, she spent seven years publishing a trade magazine for the photography industry. She established Enterprising Women Inc. as its president and CEO in 1999, and her team published the first issue of Enterprising Women together in May 2000.
Considered a national thought leader on women’s entrepreneurship, Monica is a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and leads Enterprising Women as a founding coalition partner of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a national advocacy organization that represents women business owners before Congress, the White House, and in all 50 state capitols. Enterprising Women magazine is a media partner of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and Monica serves on the NAWBO National Advisory Council.
She has represented the United States five times (in Marrakesh, Morocco; Berlin, Germany; Santiago, Chile; Beijing, China; and Istanbul, Turkey) as a delegate to the Global Summit of Women, a gathering of nearly a thousand women entrepreneurs, women business leaders, and women Cabinet- or Ministerial-level government leaders from more than 90 countries.
In 2009, Monica was the first recipient of the Adrienne Hall Award, presented to her by the Women Presidents’ Organization in recognition of her work to support the WPO’s mission and build bridges and alliances to strengthen the women’s business community.
The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) presented her with the TIAW World of Difference 100 Award in 2010 in recognition of her outstanding contribution in making "all the difference in the world" to the economic empowerment of women. She received the President’s Award in 2011 from Women Impacting Public Policy to recognize her leadership role and the significant impact that Enterprising Women has had on the growth of the women’s business community.
Actively involved in the Peace Through Business program, sponsored by the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women, Monica served as a mentor in the 2009 program, hosting three Rwandan women entrepreneurs in North Carolina for five days. In June 2010, she hosted two Afghan women entrepreneurs in North Carolina as part of the Peace Through Business mentorship program. In July 2011, she hosted Astrida Uwera, a Rwandan journalist and publisher of Agasaro Women's Magazine, the only online magazine for Rwandan women. Monica currently mentors women from Afghanistan, Rwanda and China on an ongoing basis.
With the establishment of the Enterprising Women Advisory Board in 2002, Monica has brought together the leaders of every major U.S. organization that supports women’s entrepreneurship, Fortune 500 leaders from companies with strong women’s business initiatives, and outstanding women entrepreneurs from across the United States, Canada, and beyond. (One of her Advisory Board members hails from Lima, Peru and another from Seoul, South Korea.) Increasingly, the magazine is spearheading an effort to share the best practices of U.S. women entrepreneurs with women entrepreneurs around the world while bringing the most inspiring stories and best international ideas back to its North American readers.
Monica established the Enterprising Women of the Year Awards program in 2002 to recognize outstanding women entrepreneurs from North America based on solid business growth, mentorship and support of other women and girls, and community leadership. She also founded the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame to recognize accomplished women entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders with a lifetime of achievements. The annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards Celebration is hosted each spring and attracts top women business owners and members of the magazine’s Advisory Board for a multiple-day event that shines the spotlight on outstanding women entrepreneurs.
In March 2011, Monica and her team launched the Enterprising Women Foundation, a nonprofit that encourages philanthropic giving among women business owners and will support projects to grow women’s entrepreneurship in the United States and around the world.
Closer to home in North Carolina, Monica has been actively involved in her children’s schools, serving as president of the Moore Square Museums Magnet Middle School Parent Teacher Association (PTA), where she launched a Young Entrepreneurs Club, mentored middle school-aged youth, and served on the school’s Business Alliance.
A native of Bay City, MI, Monica and her husband John Dancer have lived in Cary, NC, for a decade and a half with their two sons, Austin and Alex. Monica has three grown step-children, three grandsons, and a granddaughter. After earning her degree in journalism from Bradley University (Peoria, IL), she began her career as an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor.
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