Courageous Conversations with Fran Pastore

Fran Pastore

Through her work as the founder and CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council in Connecticut, Fran Pastore has had the privilege of knowing and working with remarkable and accomplished women.

In every episode, Fran will be speaking with influential women whose stories have had an impact on her and they will do the same for you. Their stories will excite and inspire you to conquer your fears, take a stand for yourself and break down the barriers that stand in your way.

Official Trailer: Courageous Conversations with Fran Pastore
Trailer 1 min 6 sec

All Episodes

Small Business Saturday, November 27, is right around the corner. Started to encourage people to bring more holiday shopping to small businesses, Small Business Saturday has become a critical component to the holiday shopping season for many of our local retailers. In this episode of Courageous Conversations Fran talks with four local business owners about their own entrepreneurial journeys and discusses the importance of shopping local, not just on Small Business Saturday, but everyday! Joining Fran are WBDC clients Lorenza Arnal (Alma Mexican Foods), Tori Brown (Breakfast Belle), Jodi Burns (Blazing Fresh Donuts), Lyndsay Dean (Glaze Handmade), Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts. Check us out on Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org. Thanks for listening! To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org. This episode of Courageous Conversations is brought to you Webster Bank Thanks for listening to Courageous Conversations, a podcast dedicated to inspiring women entrepreneurs through the stories of incredible leaders!  

Nov 18

23 min 40 sec

Until 1988 a woman could not access capital in her own name for commercial purposes. That year, legislation was enacted that finally allowed a woman to apply for a business loan without a male co-signor. A lot has changed in 33 years, but access to capital remains one of the most difficult challenges facing women entrepreneurs. In this episode, Fran talks with Jennifer Palmer, CEO of Gerber Finance, who has spent much of her career finding ways that financiers can better support female business owners. Fran and Jennifer explore Jennifer’s unique journey to the C-Suite of a major financial institution, the importance of surrounding yourself with the right support system, and methods for breaking down the barriers that stand between women entrepreneurs and access to capital. Listen to hear why Jennifer thinks it’s critically important to know what you don’t know. To learn more about Jennifer and her work at Gerber Finance, visit gerberfinance.com. Check us out on Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations  on your favorite podcast listening app so you won't miss an episode! Thanks for listening to Courageous Conversations, a podcast dedicated to inspiring women entrepreneurs through the stories of incredible leaders! This episode has been brought to you by Webster bank

Oct 14

18 min 20 sec

In the United States, approximately 11 MILLION WOMEN are either living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it. Almost TWO-THIRDS of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women. More than THREE IN FIVE unpaid Alzheimer's caregivers are women. To learn more about this devastating disease that so disproportionately impacts women, Fran talks with Kristen Cusato, Director of Communications at the Connecticut Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and Molly Devanney, Co-Owner and Vice President of Public Relations for Highland Park Market, who balances her professional responsibilities with serving as the primary caregiver for her aunt who has Alzheimer’s.   During this honest and open conversation, you’ll gain an understanding of the disease and learn about resources available for caregivers. You’ll also learn how you can help, including how to participate in one of the Walks to End Alzheimer’s taking place in Connecticut through the end of October.   To learn more about the resources available through the Alzheimer’s Association, or to get involved with one of the walks happening in Connecticut in October, visit www.alz.org/ct. To access the Alzheimer's 24/7 Helpline, call: 1(800) 272-3900 To find out where you can visit a Highland Park Market, visit www.highlandparkmarket.com.   Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts. Check us out on Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org. Thanks for listening!

Sep 30

28 min 23 sec

Molly Hirsch abandoned her budding marketing career to move to Vermont and help run a relative’s home goods boutique, unknowingly heading down the path to a successful future in interior design.   Shivonne Mathison cared for her aging grandmother. That experience, combined with her background in social work, paved the way for her to start a company to provide compassionate home care to the elderly.   Jane Moen watched as her autistic daughter struggled to find her way as a young adult, motivating her to create a safe place to help other disabled individuals transition to the working world.   These “accidental entrepreneurs” join Fran for this episode of Courageous Conversations as we celebrate Small Business Week. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or an established business owner, you’ll be inspired by the stories of these remarkable women. They’ve got some great advice and insight to share!   To learn more about today’s guests, visit Molly Hirsch Interiors, Cura Home Care Services, and The Nest Coffee House. Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts. Check us out on Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org. Thanks for listening!  

Sep 16

18 min 32 sec

The pandemic hasn’t been easy on any of us, but you could argue that it’s been tougher on restaurants than almost any other industry. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Fran sits down with Stephanie Webster, Editor-in-Chief and Founder of CTBites, an online community focused on the food scene in Connecticut. Listen to learn about how, during the state-wide pandemic shutdown, CTBites found a new way to support local restaurants while also helping to feed our exhausted healthcare workers. Stephanie also shares her thoughts on which trends born out of necessity – think outdoor dining and takeout cocktails – will continue post-pandemic. You’ll also find out which Connecticut restaurants are currently Stephanie’s favorites and learn one small thing we can all do to help Connecticut’s restaurants recover.   Visit ctbites.com to get the latest on what’s new with food in Connecticut. You can also follow CTBites on your favorite social media platform. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to the newsletter on their website HERE Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts. Check us out on Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org. Thanks for listening!

Aug 19

27 min 34 sec

Mental Illness, homelessness, food insecurity, domestic abuse, lack of childcare  . . . . These are just some of the issues for which Connecticut residents can turn to 211CT for help. Offered by the State of Connecticut through the United Way of CT,  211CT is a free, confidential information and referral service that connects people to essential health and human services 24 hours a day, seven days a week online and over the phone.   In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Fran talks with United Way of CT President and CEO Lisa Tepper Bates and Nadia, a Housing Supervisor with 211CT who speaks directly with residents seeking support. Nadia asked that we refer to her by first name only in order to protect her privacy. This enlightening conversation covers the types of resources available through 211CT, the trends that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic and the issues that Lisa and Nadia believe front and center as Connecticut moves forward.   If you or someone you know is in need of support for health and human services, you can dial 2-1-1 or visit 211ct.org, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information on United Way of CT and the work they’re doing to support residents and childcare businesses in the state, visit ctunitedway.org. Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts. Check us out on Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org. Thanks for listening!

Jul 22

34 min 50 sec

In this episode of Courageous Conversations we continue the conversation about racism and your small business that began with our previous episode. Originally part of a WBDC Roundtable discussion recorded in June 2020, this important conversation offers small business owners steps they can take to make a difference in the journey toward social, economic, and racial equity and justice.     Joining Fran in this discussion are Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson, Esq., Partner, Robinson + Cole LLP, Robin Imbrogno, President, The Human Resource Consulting Group, and Joelle A. Murchison, Founder & Principal, ExecMommyGroup LLC.      Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts. To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org or on Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect

Jul 1

39 min 52 sec

With Juneteenth just days away, and as we look back at the year since George Floyd’s murder, in this episode of Courageous Conversations and the one that will be launched on July 1, we are revisiting a conversation between Fran and a panel of prominent women that was originally recorded as a 3-part WBDC Roundtable discussion in June 2020.     While much has changed since George Floyd’s murder and the civic unrest that followed, there is still a long way to go in our journey toward social, economic, and racial equity and justice. This discussion, intended to start a conversation and explore steps we can all take to make a difference, remains as relevant today as it was a year ago. Joining Fran are Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson, Esq., Partner, Robinson + Cole LLP, Robin Imbrogno, President, The Human Resource Consulting Group, and Joelle A. Murchison, Founder & Principal, ExecMommyGroup LLC. Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts. To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org. Thanks for listening!

Jun 17

38 min 10 sec

Authenticity, empathy, strength, vulnerability . . . . These are just some of the virtues Kitt Shapiro gained as she soaked in the lessons handed down by her mother, legendary performer Eartha Kitt. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Fran and Kitt talk about what it was like to travel the world with Eartha and how those shared experiences shaped Kitt’s own journey as a mother and entrepreneur. Listen to learn some “Kitt-isms” – small but powerful nuggets of advice and perspective from Eartha – that we can all use in our everyday lives. You can read more about Kitt’s experiences with her famous mother in her recently published book, Eartha and Kitt: A Daughter’s Love Story in Black & White. Buy the book through all major booksellers.   For More information about Kitt & Eartha visit Simply Eartha Visit Kitt's retail shop West, in Westport CT or online at West2Westport.com Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts. To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org. Become a WBDC Connect Member Thanks for listening! 

Jun 3

37 min 10 sec

In this episode of Courageous Conversations, as we near the end of Mental Health Awareness month, Fran talks with Kevnesha Boyd, a trauma therapist and the owner of Quality Counseling, a mental health practice in Hamden, CT, that focuses on helping members of the Black community to heal from traumatic childhood experiences and break unhealthy generational patterns.    During this inspiring and informative conversation, Fran and Kevnesha address the chronic and pervasive nature of racial trauma, inequities in access to mental health care in black communities, the decreasing stigma associated with mental illness, and the importance of proactively nurturing our mental well-being.   Listen to learn why Kevnesha considers mental health care akin to brushing your teeth.   To learn more about Kevnesha and the work she is doing through Quality Counseling, visit qualitycounselingct.com.  Be sure to follow Courageous Conversations wherever you listen to podcasts. To learn more about the Women’s Business Development Council and the support we provide to help women thrive in business, visit us at www.ctwbdc.org, on Facebook and on  Instagram Become a member of WBDC Connect

May 20

20 min 12 sec

WBDC's podcast, Courageous Conversations with Fran Pastore, features candid discussions between WBDC CEO Fran Pastore and influential leaders in and around our community. Alisa Bowens-Mercado grew up with two grandmothers who would tell her to be sure to find her rhythm in life – to do what she loves – as they sipped from bottles of beer in the kitchen. Many years later, she has found her rhythm as the first black woman to own a brewery in Connecticut, aptly named Rhythm Brewing Company to honor the women who inspired her. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Fran talks about the importance of small businesses with Alisa and David Salinas, the founder of Digital Surgeons, a digital design consultancy, and District, a co-working space and comprehensive ecosystem for entrepreneurs in New Haven, CT. David is also a mentor to countless entrepreneurs and a steadfast advocate for small businesses. Listen to hear about the impact networks and mentors can have on the path of an entrepreneur and find out why Alisa insists, “It’s about more than just me and a can of beer.” To find out where you can buy Rhythm beer, visit rhythmbrewingco.com To learn more about District in New Haven, go to districtnhv.com To find out more about The Women's Business Development Council and the support we provide to women owned businesses, please visit us at www.ctwbdc.org   Join us on Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect  

May 6

29 min 48 sec

How do you feel when you make a wrong turn and your car’s GPS tells you it’s recalculating to find a new route to your destination? New York Times best-selling author, Lindsey Pollak, feels optimistic. “What I think is, ‘oh, it’s okay, because there’s another way to go. So, there are always multiple ways to get to whatever your goals are, even if you change your goals.’” In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Fran and Lindsey discuss the “recalculating” so many of us have had to do lately due to the changes brought about by the pandemic. Listen to hear about Lindsey’s recently released book, Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work, and how the ideas described in the book can be applied to entrepreneurship in our current landscape. To learn more about Lindsey Pollak or to order your own copy of Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work, visit www.lindseypollak.com. To find out more about The Women's Business Development Council and the support we provide to women owned businesses, please visit us at www.ctwbdc.org Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect

Apr 22

25 min 41 sec

Typical teenagers and recent college graduates are usually focused on landing their first job or summer internship, but Tory and Roscoe Brown are far from typical. Soon after Tory graduated from college and before Roscoe had even begun his undergraduate experience, this sibling duo founded The 203. What began as a passion project selling t-shirts that celebrated their beloved home state has quickly grown into a renowned lifestyle brand. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Fran sits down with Tory and Roscoe to discuss their young entrepreneurship, lessons they’ve learned along the way, the importance of building relationships with other small business owners . . . and, of course, the great state of Connecticut.   To learn more about The 203 or to purchase 203 products visit www.thetwoohthree.com.    To find out more about The Women's Business Development Council and the support we provide to women owned businesses, please visit us at www.ctwbdc.org Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect

Apr 8

22 min 9 sec

12 months after the beginning of an unimaginable year for small business owners, Fran looks back with entrepreneurs Corey Tolkin and Yvonne Oxley, who pivoted their businesses to survive the pandemic and are thriving as we look forward to better days ahead. Listen to hear why Corey, owner of Unbakeables Cookie Dough Treats, believes it’s sometimes important to take a fresh look as what’s right in front of you and why Yvonne, owner of luxury soap maker Komfort Zone, thinks it’s critical for entrepreneurs to step out of their own comfort zones. Visit the Unbakeables website and the Komfort Zone Website for more information Make sure to visit our website to find out more about the work we do for women and small businesses in Connecticut and across the country.

Mar 18

16 min 12 sec

“Never say no to yourself. Feel the fear and do it anyway.” -Andrea Barton Reeves What if the women who came before us felt the fear and let it get the best of them? As we begin Women’s History Month, Fran sits down with Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO of the CT Paid Leave Authority, to learn about her journey from her upbringing in New Jersey to law school and a position at a White Shoe firm to a career dedicated to serving others. Andrea discusses what motivates her, how being a woman of color has influenced her journey and why she thinks it is critically important for women to take a chance on themselves. Please visit CT Paid Leave Authority at www.ctpaidleave.org  on Facbook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube To find out more about The Women's Business Development Council and the support we provide to women owned businesses, please visit us at www.ctwbdc.org Instagram and Facebook Become a member of WBDC Connect  

Mar 4

24 min 59 sec

In honor of Black History month, Courageous Conversations decided to revisit a Town Hall meeting hosted by the Women’s Business Development Council last June, soon after the death of George Floyd. WBDC CEO Fran Pastore gathered a group of accomplished women in leadership positions to discuss the historic times we are living through. These women share their own experiences with racism and navigating stereotypes in their personal and professional lives. They also describe what they are doing personally and what we all can do to address sis temic racism in our society Joining Fran in this conversation are: -Shante Hanks, Deputy Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Housing -Carrie Spell-Hansson, CEO, The Folke Institute for Transformative Learning -Glendowlyn Thames, Deputy Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) -Diane Winston, Founder and CEO, Winston Strategic Partners -Vanessa Abrahams-John, Director, Global Diversity, Inclusion, Talent Acquisition at Linde, moderates the discussion. Please Visit the Minority-Owned Enterprises Resource Page on our Website

Feb 18

41 min 4 sec

Fran discusses the unsung heroes of our economic engine – the women, especially women of color, who own and operate the small businesses that populate our Main Streets. These entrepreneurs have received a disproportionately small amount of the pandemic relief state and federal funding. Fran details how WBDC is helping to address the needs of these businesses with grants and other support. She also shares feedback from two inspiring women who are benefitting from these opportunities. Listen to find out how some of our smallest businesses can not only survive the pandemic but thrive in its aftermath. Please visit our website for more information on the Opportunity Fund, Equity Match Grants & Childcare Grants. Become a WBDC Connect Member and follow us on Facebook & Instagram   Make sure to subscribe to Courageous Conversations with Fran Pastore, so you don’t miss a thing!

Feb 4

8 min 36 sec

Patricia Russo, Executive Director of The Campaign School at Yale University, and Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean, accomplished author, podcast host, public speaker, and tenured Associate Professor of Political Science at Quinnipiac University, join Fran to discuss the significance of the glass ceiling that is breaking in Washington, D.C. with the inauguration of Kamala Harris as the country’s first female vice president and the first woman of color to hold the office. While the current tense climate threatens to command much our political conversations in the coming days, Fran, Patti, and Khalilah take a few moments to recognize and celebrate this important moment in history for women, women of color, and our nation.  For more information on Dr. Khalilah Brown Dean and her book, Identity Politics in the United States, visit her website www.kbdphd.com. To listen to Dr. Brown Dean’s weekly podcast and  radio show, Disrupted, please visit https://ctpublic.org/shows/disrupted/.  To find out more about Patricia Russo and The Campaign School at Yale University, please visit https://tcsyale.org/about-us/board/patty-russo/ or to register for the one day free training offered by TCS on February 6, please visit https://tcsyale.org/wcs-yale-the-basics/  To learn more about the Women's Business Development Council and the investments we're making in women Visit us at www.ctwbdc.org 

Jan 19

33 min 23 sec

Katrina Adams shares her inspirational journey from the tennis court to the boardroom in this previously recorded WBDC Town Hall, hosted by Fran Pastore Katrina is the first African-American, the first former professional tennis player and the youngest person ever to serve as USTA president. Katrina is also an author. Her new book Own the Arena provides a behind the scenes look at the leadership skills involved in hosting the U S open; the largest and most lucrative sports event in the world.   Own the Arena will be published February, 2021 and is available for pre-order now from all major book retailers and through her publisher, Harper Collins To Learn more about Katrina, please visit her website  Follow her on Instagram Facebook     LinkedIn  Twitter  Make sure to visit our website to find out more about the work we do for women and small businesses in Connecticut and across the country. Become a WBDC Connect member  

Dec 2020

32 min 21 sec

In this first episode of Courageous Conversations with Fran Pastore, Fran is joined by her friend of 30 years, Dr. Karen Alter-Reid, a global expert on EMDR and the treatment of trauma-related symptoms. They discuss what EMDR is and why it is an effective treatment for trauma, not only for veterans and sexual assault victims, but for first responders and everyday people.   Dr. Alter-Reid gives several actionable tips for coping with the high stress that we’re living under these days, including a two minute mindfulness exercise.   To find out more about Dr. Alter-Reid and her work, please visit http://www.alter-reid.com Make sure to visit our website, https://ctwbdc.org to find out more about the work we do for women and small businesses in Connecticut and across the country.  

Nov 2020

35 min 9 sec

Through her work as the founder and CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council in Connecticut, Fran Pastore has had the privilege of knowing and working with remarkable and accomplished women. In every episode, Fran will be speaking with influential women whose stories have had an impact on her and they will do the same for you. Their stories will excite and inspire you to conquer your fears, take a stand for yourself and break down the barriers that stand in your way. We may cover timely topics like racial and gender inequality and the importance of advocacy and voting, but mostly we’ll be sharing the personal journeys of extraordinary women.

Nov 2020

1 min 6 sec