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From the Editor and Publisher: Inspiring Leaders Keep Us Strong

Nothing is impossible. The word itself says “I’m possible!”
— Audrey Hepburn

It’s always a thrill to let nominees know they’ve been chosen for one of our Women’s Inspired Leadership Awards. My predecessors at i4 Business started this program seven years ago to recognize women who are helping make Central Florida such a great place to live.

This year was no different. But I found it fascinating that every single recipient, each of the nine women, used the word “honored” to describe how she felt about the news. I wanted to tell them we are honored to have them here in Central Florida. Each of these leaders has contributed in her own way toward making our community stronger.

We received 69 nominations from the community this year, and it was really tough to choose just nine because the stories people shared were so compelling. I want to thank the selection committee for helping us name the women we’ve profiled in this latest issue starting on Page 12.

It’s been a crazy two years since COVID-19 showed up in Central Florida. Last year, we honored our Women’s Inspired Leadership Awards recipients in a program on Zoom. It was actually great fun, but not the same as meeting everyone in a ballroom, exchanging hugs and getting to hear their stories in person.

That made this year’s awards luncheon even more special. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the COVID-19 omicron variant pushed our awards ceremony from the second week of March to May 10. So we have changed this issue from the March-April edition to the Spring 2022 issue. We will all look back someday on how the pandemic turned everything upside down, and yet we persevered.

I hope you enjoy reading the stories about our honorees as much as we enjoyed creating them. Managing Editor Meaghan Branham and I want to thank our photographer, Julie Fletcher, and our Creative Director, Bruce Bicknell, for making everyone look good. We also thank our photographer friend Jason Hook for helping us out with portraits for the cover story on Carol Craig. The founder and CEO of Craig Technologies, which she started in 1999, made history in December 2021 when another of her enterprises, Sidus Space, became the first female-founded space company to go public, trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol SIDU.

In our interview, Carol shared with me her thoughts on serving in the U.S. Navy, growing from entrepreneur to “astropreneur,” becoming the mom of a child with special needs, surviving the Space Coast recession after the space shuttle program was shuttered, navigating the skies with a “space-as-a-service” satellite company, and so much more.

Carol also touched on the theme of this Spring 2022 issue — Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)— with this thought: “Every bit of data we gather on Earth can be gathered from space faster, cheaper and more accurately. If we do that, we’re helping preserve our planet. The more we can move off of our planet, the better.”

ESG topics have become front and center for many organizations across industries, with national and even global emphasis on issues like climate change and diversity, equity and inclusion. That’s why we’ve created a special section in this issue featuring some of our Central Florida neighbors who are tackling ESG matters head-on.

The articles start on Page 32 with a Spotlight on Dr. Deborah Crown, dean of the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business, who coincidentally was the subject of our Women’s Inspired Leadership Awards cover story in March 2020. She shares this insight:

“The pandemic, the rapid evolution of racial justice perspectives, world crises and economic challenges have had colossal impacts on the future of business over the last two years.”

I couldn’t agree more, and that’s why I’m so pleased to share stories in this issue about local leaders who are helping us deal with those impacts. We are in good hands.

Have a great month!

Diane Sears

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About the author

Diane Sears

A career journalist, author and advocate for business growth, Diane Sears is the CEO, editor and publisher of i4 Business. She is also the founder and president of DiVerse Media LLC, which has handled content marketing projects including nonfiction books, white papers, executive speeches and scripts since 2000. She is co-founder of the nonprofit Go for the Greens Foundation, which helps connect women-owned and minority-owned business owners with growth opportunities internationally.

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