Startup Week panel to highlight successful Penn State women in entrepreneurship

Virtually attend 'The Future is Female' panel session from 7:15-8:15 p.m. March 22

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In the United States today, there are 12.3 million women-owned businesses. This accounts for 40% of businesses nationwide, truly exemplifying how women-led organizations are a driving force for the nation’s economy.

From 7:15-8:15 p.m. on Monday, March 22, during Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC, successful Penn State alumnae will detail their paths to success and challenges they have faced and conquered along the way during an expert plenary panel titled “The Future is Female.” Registration is not required for this virtual event, which will occur via Zoom, and it is open to all Penn State students.

Featured panel members include:

  • Jess Weiner (class of 1995), CEO of Talk To Jess: Weiner leads a consultancy, Talk To Jess, that works with Fortune 500 companies to help them better reflect people in their media, marketing and advertising, and workforce. She is an acclaimed author and was named by Fast Company as one of the most creative people in business in the areas of diversity and education.
  • Melissa Schipke Marzano (class of 2009), founder and CEO of Tassl: Schipke runs a Philadelphia company dedicated to building technologies that strengthen alumni networks and recognize graduates for contributions to their alma mater. In 2016, she was named to Southern New Jersey Business People’s 40 under 40 list, Rowan University's 40 under 40, and also received the $60,000 grand prize at the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition.
  • Kathryn Dougherty (class of 2009), founder of Spritz Beverages Co.: As the founder of Spritz Beverages Co., Dougherty develops and markets a line of sparkling, boldly flavored craft tea infusions. She developed the company after recognizing a gap in the market for nonalcoholic drink alternatives, especially those that appeal to women and female athletes.

Lee Erickson, chief amplifier of Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, will moderate the event. At Happy Valley LaunchBox, Erickson provides business advice and connects startups to the resources, experts and support they need to de-risk their business and accelerate entry to market. Previously a serial entrepreneur, she has worked with hundreds of new tech startups and some of the largest venture capital firms in the world.

For more information on this virtual event, visit

Last Updated April 15, 2021