2021 NAWBO Columbus Business Champion, Eric Seabrook

NAWBO Columbus is thrilled to announce the 2021 NAWBO Columbus Business Champion honoree is Eric Seabrook,  Deputy Director, Minority Business Development Division. The NAWBO Columbus Business Champion of the Year Award recognizes one outstanding person who advocates for the growth and success of women in business. Honorees must support legislative/regulatory efforts, work to increase business and financial opportunities, improve the business climate and be an advocate for women business owners. Overall, honorees help enable women business owners to achieve their potential.

In his position as Deputy Director of Administration of the Equal Opportunity Division, DAS, Eric has been critical in making the Ohio WBE certification program a reality. The WBE certification was passed by the Ohio General Assembly in December 2018. Eric’s efforts were critical in developing the WBE rules that govern the program as quickly as possible. Eric worked extensively and collaboratively with NAWBO Columbus and actively solicited our input in developing the rules, and he incorporated our recommendations. The rules were adopted and went into effect in October 2020 and then women-owned businesses could begin to get certified. Since then, Eric has continued to assist in strengthening the WBE certification by working with other states to establish WBE reciprocity. Separately, Eric is interested in strengthening the support that the EOD provides to diverse businesses in obtaining state contracts and has engaged numerous NAWBO members to ask our input about our needs and how EOD can assist us. Eric absolutely has been a Business Champion for NAWBO and women-owned businesses, and is most deserving of this award.


Meet Rachel Winder- Executive Director Ohio Women’s Coalition with Benesch

With more than 25 years of experience working in and around Ohio government, Rachel understands how public policy shapes the lives of every Ohioan. Rachel is passionate about educating policy makers about the impact women-owned businesses have in communities. She worked on legislation to pass the first Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification program in Ohio and continues to work with Ohio’s government officials to create the rules for the program. Rachel currently manages government relations for Benesch and successfully represents clients ranging from those in the healthcare field, to business, to education and criminal justice.  Her clients have won government contracts with state and local government entities and multiple laws and rules have passed, been removed or amended to improve the regulatory climate for her clients.


Ohio Women’s Coalition

The Ohio Women’s Coalition is a diverse, non-partisan alliance of women in business, women leaders, women business owners, and men that support the mission across Ohio who are coming together to improve the economic position for all women in our state. The OWC was created to amplify the voice of women in Ohio and to help draw attention to the unique challenges that women encounter, especially underserved women of color and women who live in underserved areas of the state, to gain access to economic opportunities in order to achieve financial stability and prosperity. https://ohiowomenscoalition.org

Learn More & Get Involved

Join the public policy committee here. 

To become a Public Policy Sponsor or for additional partnership opportunities click here. 

Check out NAWBO National Advocacy efforts and opportunities to get involved here.

Advocacy Platform

Our advocacy platform advances these beliefs and addresses the gender-specific disadvantages women face on their road to empowerment:

  • wage and wealth gap – that makes self-investment and external borrowing harder for women business owners
  • lack of access to capitalthat makes it difficult for women to launch, invest in and grow their businesses
  • representation gap – which makes it harder for society and aspiring women to recognize and celebrate role models
  • persistent deep-seated biases and stereotypes about women’s interests, abilities, and competencies (including our own limiting beliefs as women) that create unseen barriers, dampen the entrepreneurial spirit and hold us back

NAWBO Columbus Public Policy Agenda:

Based on our Advocacy Platform, the Public Policy committee has determined the following Advocacy Agenda priorities for 2021-23

  • Monitor legislation and examine policies that have an impact on women-business owners.
  • Introduce legislation that will have a positive impact on WBOs.
  • Educate and train on how to gain access to corporate and government contracts through certification.
  • Connect to corporate leaders, elected officials and policy makers
  • Provide information and resources from your local and state government.

See our one-sheet below for more on the NAWBO Columbus Public Policy Platform, Focus & Impact

NAWBO Public Policy Updates: 

SB 105

NAWBO Columbus was proud to advocate for and witness the signing of SB 105 into law by Governor Mike DeWine. This bipartisan legislation removes needless red tape and unnecessary paperwork when minority, women, and veteran entrepreneurs seek certification in Ohio. Click HERE to watch proponent testimony.

Advocacy Updates

NAWBO members are diverse in many ways, including the size of their business, the sectors and communities they serve, the stage of business development, race, ethnicity, geographic business areas and political leanings that determine policy views. The NAWBO Advocacy Agenda embodies the ever-present need to represent all of our members while creating both the avenue and environment to build sustainable women-owned businesses. NAWBO recently rolled out its agenda for 2022 with a focus on microbusiness, the hiring squeeze and more. View it HERE.

For Monthly Advocacy Updates from NAWBO go to: https://www.nawbo.org/advocacy/advocacy-updates

WBE Certification

On October 9, 2020 the state of Ohio launched a first-of-its kind certification program to support women business owners by creating more government contracting opportunities. Spearheaded by NAWBO Columbus, the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification is the result of two years of work by public and private advocates for women in business.

To read the full press release click HERE

For more information on WBE Certification benefits and eligibility go to WBE.OHIO.GOV

“Entrepreneurs make Ohio and the United States a better place! My hope is that this certification is a continuum of access and opportunity…Certification is a seal of credibility!
Eric Seabrook, Deputy Director State of Ohio EEO Coordinator




“Government contracts, set asides for women can make the impossible dreams come true for a WBO. It allows us to think BIG and compete in a world that DOES make room for women!”
Merry Korn, Pearl Interactive

The Impact of COVID-19 on Women-Business Owners

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), there were more than 306,000 women-owned businesses generating approximately $29 billion in revenues and contributing $9.5 billion in payroll annually, and creating 330,000 jobs in Ohio. To better understand the needs and impact of COVID-19 for this sector of Ohio’s economy, women business owners (WBOs) were invited to complete a survey sponsored by NAWBO Columbus and conducted by Measurement Resources Company during the first two weeks of May 2020. The purpose of the survey was to understand the impacts and the current needs of women-owned business as a result of COVID-19. The following report highlights the survey findings, which is representative of 78 WBOs.

NAWBO Cbus COVID-19 Survey Report


WBE Bill 494 Signed Into Law

NAWBO Columbus Leads Effort to Create First WBE Program for Ohio

On Thursday, December 13, 2018, the persistent efforts of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Columbus for the creation of a Women’s Enterprise Certification (WBE) paid off.

House Bill 494 was passed by the Ohio Legislature and signed into law by Governor Kasich on December 19, 2018. The bill contains language that will create the first-of-its-kind certification program for women business owners in Ohio.

Read full Press Release HERE.


2019 Wealth Gap Study for NAWBO

Click HERE to read the full report.



NAWBO Columbus Public Policy Celebration after the passing of HB 494