Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

CIE News


CIE Director Diane Durance wins Wilma Women to Watch Award

Diane Durance

by Nikki Kroushl on October 27, 2017

On October 13th, our very own Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Diane Durance, won a 2017 Wilma Women to Watch award in the Nonprofits category. With a reported attendance of over 450, the Women to Watch reception took place at the Hilton in downtown Wilmington.

Durance was a finalist alongside Kasey Galvin of Misfits & Monsters Family Club, Alexandra Lysik of Cavik Insurance (who does an extraordinary amount of volunteer work), Janna Siegel Robertson of the Watson College of Education (who coordinated the Forest of DREAMS Mural), and Joy Wade of Going Beyond the Pink (a CIE affiliate and client of our Nonprofit Adviser in Residence!). (Read more about the nonprofit finalists here.)

Nonprofit/Volunteer Finalists

Photo via Wilma magazine.

“It was really exciting and I did not expect to win,” Durance said. Though she was originally nominated as a W2W candidate in the Business category, the judges shifted her to Nonprofits. “When I think of nonprofits, I think of the Red Cross or the Cancer Society, things that are curing diseases or feeding starving children.” She added, “I think it says a lot about our organization, here at the CIE, that we were recognized for our work as a nonprofit. It underscores our community’s support for entrepreneurship and the opportunities it offers for economic growth, financial security, and new job creation. That’s not the way most people would think of a nonprofit as having impact.”

By the time the winner for the nonprofit category was announced, Wilma had already named Drs. Jennifer McCall and Donna DeGennaro as Women to Watch in the business and education categories, respectively. Durance didn’t expect Wilma to name a third UNCW staff member.

“It’s a very gratifying award to receive,” Durance said, “in part because I am new and I’ve only been here a year. When combined with the other women from UNCW who have been recognized, I think it puts the university in the limelight for its women leaders.”

Women to Watch banquet

The downtown awards banquet. Photo via Wilma magazine.

As a Woman to Watch in 2017, Diane Durance received a bracelet custom designed for the award by Kristin Wood of Kopious Designs. She was chosen as a winner not only for her work directing the CIE, but for her work with organizations including the Coalition, InnovateSENC, and the UNCW Entrepreneurship and Business Development Advisory Board; for bringing international seafood industry competition Fish 2.0 to Wilmington; and for serving on the Cucalorus CONNECT advisory board. (CONNECT is just two weeks away, and Durance will be speaking on a panel discussion of Fish 2.0 and the seafood industry there!)

She added, “The community in Wilmington is very supportive, and the fact that they even have this program is amazing. We’ll continue to be very involved with the Wilma initiatives, and we’ll be continuing to nominate other women. I think it’s really terrific that they do put so much focus on the women here—that’s really unique for a town this size.”

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