Meet the Founding Fempreneurs

These ambitious and driven women are talented, knowledgeable, and dedicated experts in their field.  As Founding Members, they are committed to help grow and support the local fempreneur community and are ready to take their business to the next level.
Only 20  total Founding Memberships available!


Lisa Shapiro


Lisa holds a BA in Psychology and Master’s in Educational Psychology with a heavy concentration in research methods from George Mason University. She has taught in both Fairfax County Public Schools and as an Adjunct Instructor at ITT Technical Institute. Professionally, she has decades experience in writing, blogging, research, digital marketing, and social media. She is a natural community organizer with a passion for connecting others. In addition to DCfempreneur, she is the founder of several other local groups, including NoVa Entrepreneur & Small Business Networking, The NoVa Planner Society, and PowerSheets Accountability.

Lisa Shapiro
(703) 945-0058

Sandy Bishop Headshot_resize

Sandy Bishop

Founding Member

Sandy dabbled in real estate for 14 years before taking a leap to become a full-time REALTOR(r), leaving the corporate finance world to focus on her passion for helping people achieve the American Dream to become homeowners. She is an advocate of building wealth through home ownership. In her first year as a full time agent, she sold more than $6 mill in homes. She maintains her CPA designation. In her free time she enjoys playing with her standard poodles and travelling as much as possible.

Sandy Bishop, Realtor
TTR  |  Sotheby's International Realty

(703) 216-6296

Robyn E

Robyn Engelson

Founding Member

Robyn is on a mission to help people improve their mindset, nutrition, and fitness so they can be the best version of themselves and make their unique impact. Through her healing journey of a thyroid, autoimmune disease, she stopped at nothing to find a healthy solution. Now, she helps hundreds of people retrain their mindset as a model of positive change and live a healthy, active lifestyle. She inspires people around the globe to take their health and happiness into their own hands with her group fitness, personal training, and dedicated coaching.

Robyn Engelson, ImpactYOU 
Fitness & Healthy, Active Lifestyle Coach
(571) 239-2233


Melissa Maillett

Founding Member

Melissa is a personal branding photographer who specializes in helping creative entrepreneurs and businesses elevate their brand and marketing presence. As your "visual storytelling partner" Melissa helps business owners uplevel their brand and connect with their audience to grow their business. She helps to capture your brand story to showcase your business. Melissa left the corporate world after many years in PR & Marketing to become a creative entrepreneur. She has found her passion is in helping others build businesses with her camera and strategic insight.

Melissa Maillett Photography
(703) 850-7212

LAIVA Connections

Linda Aivalotis

Founding Member

In 1994, Linda left the security of bank branch management and the comfort of a steady salary and leaped into the world of 100% commission sales. She never looked back.
Since that time she has started four businesses of her own, and is now coaching others to their own successes, by sharing the tools she uses to create her own accomplishments. As Founder of LAIVA Connections, she works with clients who have to make a sale in order to earn a pay check. She helps her clients blow the socks off of their sales goals!
In her spare time, she pet sits and designs her own wardrobe.

Linda Aivalotis, Sales and Business Coach
LAIVA Connections

(513) 633-0910


Chesha Manfra

Founding Member

Chesha, Owner & Travel Agent of A Well Traveled Life focuses on providing concierge level service to clients. With more than 18 years of industry experiences, she specializes in Mexico, the Caribbean, all things Disney, Cruises, and worldwide guided tours. She believes that traveling shouldn't just be for bucket lists. Travel and exploring new places, customs, and cuisines enriches your life and helps bring the world into perspective. She looks forward to welcoming other fellow fempreneurs to her travel family and is excited to help you Live A Well Traveled Life!

Chesha Manfra, Owner & Travel Agent
A Well Traveled Life
(571) 722-4894


Mona Harb

Founding Member

Mona Harb, aka The Curlyologist (curly hair expert) possesses the expertise to transform the most challenging set of tresses. She has the uncanny ability to diagnose the very personality type of curls (lovely, mellow, mad, angry, or chaotic) and sets about coaxing them into shape in just the right way. Having perfected what Mona calls “the diamond technique” for cutting curly hair. 

Mona has been in business nearly 14 years in Vienna, VA and sincerely enjoys sharing her lifetime of sensible secrets with others.

Mona Harb, Salon Owner
(703) 242-0609


Mary Sue Dahill

Founding Member

Mary Sue is passionate about creating kick-ass systems that enable Fempreneurs to enjoy the independence and freedom of business ownership. She believes that business owners are often great at what they do, but many don’t have the time, interest, or skill to make technology work for them. Mary Sue combines her love of tech and organizational creativity and teaches others how to make technology work for them. Whether her clients want more time to make more money, impact more lives, or have more free time, she’s got your back!

Mary Sue Dahill, Technology Guru for Small Businesses
MSD Advisors
(703) 310-9515

DeDee Cai

DeDee Cai

Founding Member

DeDee Cai is the founder and holistic business strategist of FIT TO PROFIT, a company that utilizes her expertise in psychology, cognitive science, holistic wellness, physical training, and business to help executive leaders and entrepreneurs attain peak performance.

She has owned and operated several brick and mortar businesses as she has been working in the health and wellness industry for over a decade, learning how to get herself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit. She married her love for living an optimal lifestyle, and business, to create FIT TO PROFIT. Her vision is to empower everyone to realize his or her true potential by making mentorship and coaching accessible to everyone, worldwide.

DeDee Cai, Founder Fit to Profit, LLC
(571) 214-5625

Kelly Ryan

Kelly Ryan

Founding Member

Born & raised in Panama, Kelly resides in Fairfax with her husband, two high-schoolers and their lab-mix rescue. Kelly is a breast cancer slayer since her treatments in 2011-2012. She is a civil servant with more than 30+ years of service. Kelly’s been an entrepreneur for 5+ years and is a Founding Director with Bellame Luxury Skincare and a Founding Ambassador with Piper Noble Bags. Kelly enjoys spending time with friends and sharing laughs.

Kelly Ryan, Founding Director with Bellame & a Founding Ambassador with Piper Noble
(703) 629-3594

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Farah Broom

Founding Member

Farah Broom is a Regional Vice President and Registered Principal with Primerica Financial Services. She has an MBA in Finance from Johns Hopkins University as well as her Financial Planning Certificate from Georgetown University. She is a licensed investment professional in VA, MD, and DC. She is passionate about financial literacy and her mission is to help families become properly protected, debt free and financially independent.

Farah Broom, Primerica Financial Services
(703) 898-7828

Digital Citizenship Consultant

Denise DeRosa

Founding Member

Denise Lisi DeRosa is an online safety and digital citizenship expert, blogger and speaker. Denise founded Cyber Sensible, LLC to provide Digital Wellness Workshops to families, parents, youth and schools. She is an experienced media professional with a Master's Degree in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University. Cyber Sensible events focus on establishing healthy tech habits and finding digital balance. 

Denise DeRosa, Digital Citizenship Consultant
Cyber Sensible, LLC
(301) 351-2286

Vienna Tax and Accounting LLC, Manisha Elhance Vienna, VA

Manisha Elhance

Founding Member

Manisha Elhance is a CPA and the Founder of Vienna Tax & Accounting. She provides wide-range of accounting, tax and advisory services to a diverse client base comprising corporations, partnerships as well as individuals. She helps her clients improve their cash flow position and profitability. 
She is passionate about educating entrepreneurs and individuals about finance. 
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and traveling.

Manisha Elhance, CPA
Vienna Tax and Accounting, LLC
(703) 272-7894


Catherine Van Wert Marriage Counseling Women Meta SKills Help

Catherine Van Wert

Founding Member

Catherine Van Wert is a certified life and weight loss coach with The Life Coach School. She has successfully led a weight loss group in Burke, VA, where she resides, as well as coach her clients on how crucial meta skills are in order to develop and maintain strong, productive relationships for personal and business success. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.

Catherine Van Wert, Life Coach
Catherine Van Wert Coaching LLC
(571) 732-8205



Vinita Sahajwala

Founding Member

Vinita has more than 20 years of experience helping clients transform their image and build exceptional persuasive and influential skills. She’s a certified image consultant who works with executives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and elected officials to boost their executive presence and personal brand. She also helps growth-driven companies transform their managers into leaders who confidently and consistently deliver value to their customers.

Vinita Sahajwala, Win Styles
(310) 245-3669


Founding Members Benefits:

  • Founding Members, for $259 annually have the unique opportunity to co-host a meetup in a location, date and time of their choosing, in conjunction with Founder’s schedule.
  • Featured in Members Gallery with Bio, Headshot and Contact info.
  • Listing in Member Directory.
  • Discounted or waived attendance fees to meetups and workshops.
  • Opportunity to be featured or interviewed on the DCfempreneur Podcast.
  • Referral bonuses for membership referrals for new annual members.
  • Founding members have the unique opportunity to co-Host a workshop or serve as a featured speaker at a meetup.
  • Founding members are featured on the Blog as a guest contributor with backlinks to website for increased outreach.
  • Founding members will be able to be featured on social media or collaborate for a special LIVE (IG or Facebook) interview in the group.
  • Founding members will be invited to add a resource on a topic of which they offer expertise to the resources website page.
  • Attend Founding Member Only Events to discuss planning & collaboration opportunities.

Membership also includes:

  • Mention of events, offers or promotions in e-newsletter or website.
  • Engage on the DCfempreneur facebook and community pages  network, outreach, and grow your business and social media following.
  • Receive and share advice, expertise, strategies, guidance, education, encouragement, and enjoy a sense of community with other fempreneurs.
  • Share resources to help each other with the challenges we face, problem solve, and learn new skills both online and in-person at events.
  • Collaborate and build strategic partnerships to grow and expand.
  • Build rapport with other women and share referrals.
  • Connect with like-minded women with similar business & life goals for accountability, to action plan, and help you succeed in your business.
  • Network in new venues and locations all across the DC & NoVa areas that fits into your busy schedule.
  • Enjoy a unique calendar of events and activities.

Become a DCfempreneur Member

Ready to Join us? There are only a few remaining Founding Memberships available!