Turner Center client named “Women in Business Champion of the Year”
August 9, 2011
By Ivy Hillman '12
Doris Symonds has been a client of the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship since 2003. She is the most well known women’s business advocate in the Peoria metro area, and to prove it, she has just been named the Small Business Administration’s “Women in Business Champion of the Year” for SBA Region Five.
Symonds worked in secondary and higher education for 30 years then decided to devote the rest of her life to helping women run their own businesses. She held her first “Women in Business Expo” in 1995 and has kept the event growing year after year with help from the Turner Center.
“Doris started the Expo in the basement of a very small church. Recently they have been held at the Peoria Civic Center and now at the Embassy Suites. She has really made her business grow,” said Ken Klotz, Turner Center Director of Programs.
Symonds also provides individualized help to women entrepreneurs. She has invited many women to what she calls “spend a day with Doris, an opportunity to accompany her as she mentors other women entrepreneurs, attends events and meetings and performs the many tasks required to organize her Expo. Many women, particularly those just starting out in business, have reported sales, contracts and long-lasting business relationships as a direct result of their day with Doris.
“I put people in touch with each other and advise them on who they should meet,” Symonds said.
With all of this success, Symonds created a monthly networking program in 2008 called “Ladies Who Lunch Their Business to Success.” Ten women are chosen to attend the event and discuss their challenges while trying to grow a successful business. Symonds then holds a brainstorming session to find solutions to all of the problems. With this program, Symonds has helped more than 300 women business owners.
And her programs don’t stop there.
In order to help with any networking problems, Symonds has created a program called “Who to Call for What.” With this, she seeks to connect many business owners so they can help each other. She also distributes printed lists of “Who to Call for What” at all of her events.
The Turner Center for Entrepreneurship has helped Symonds grow to what she is today, but she has also helped Bradley. “She has utilized Bradley students, putting them to work on her administration staffs for various events,” Klotz said.