Empowering People
& Revitalizing the Community

LAEDA Celebrates Its Graduates with Annual Ceremony at the Kroc Center

Posted on 10/31/2018 by Ray Lamboy in LAEDA News

A favorite tradition among staff, every October LAEDA takes the time to acknowledge its community of entrepreneurs and small business owners with an annual graduation ceremony for its cornerstone nine-week trainings, the Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) and the Women’s Business Academy. Held on October 25 at Camden’s Salvation Army Kroc Center, the event featured 24 newly-minted graduates from the Spring 2018, Winter 2018, and Fall 2017 cohorts.

In the welcoming remarks, Ray Lamboy, President & CEO of LAEDA stated, “Our alumni are an important part of our family and we grow together. Congratulations to all of our graduates, our sponsors, partners, team and alumni who make our growth and success possible.” 
Krista Bey, owner and operator of Elegant Lotus, board member of LAEDA, and an EDTP alumni, took some time to impart her wisdom: “Each one of you has the potential to live the life you want. LAEDA provided you the building blocks and it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, but how many times you rise.” 
Each of the graduating classes elects a leader to represent them and keep communication strong as the entrepreneurs begin taking the action steps they detail in their business plans to grow their businesses. Among the student representatives of these groups were Stevie Franklin of A String Thing, Kenise Hunter of Ke’Couture, and Odette Toppin. Each of these students took their opportunity to blow the crowd away with their speeches about the inspiration, tools, and expertise provided to them through the nine-week program. The gratitude they expressed for their instructors, the staff, and the classroom at large was met with resounding applause, and their emphasis on the community of entrepreneurs they were joining – and the importance of supporting one another – was moving.
President Ray Lamboy took a moment to recognize Jamila Powell as the new Program Manager of the Women’s Business Center. Ms. Powell then recognized Marketing instructor Mark Newell, who concluded 10 years of service with four classes this current Fall session, 82. Mark has spent 10 years sharing his expertise with LAEDA, but will no longer be able to teach as he is moving out of the area.
Lamboy also took the time to recognize Genevieve Porter as Volunteer of the Year. Ms. Porter, mother to WBC Program Manager Jamila Powell, has spent countless hours assisting Jamila with outreach events and seminar programming. Her efforts were not unnoticed by the staff, and it was a heartfelt moment when she was called to the stage and presented a certificate of recognition. 
The graduation concluded with a celebratory networking reception. The event was catered and photographed by LAEDA alumni. Families, friends, and former members of LAEDA joined in the staff and board’s recognition of all the hard work the students put into writing their business plans and bringing their business dreams to fruition. LAEDA begins its training of the burgeoning entrepreneurs with a rigorous attendance policy, emphasizing the old business adage that “if you’re early, you’re on time.” 
Now that these three groups have been formally inducted into the LAEDA community of alumni, they are eligible to participate in the SmartStart Capital Fund microlending program, attend alumni-only events, and have their requests for specific seminar topics. They are also invited to stay in touch and attend as many of our advanced seminars as they can benefit from, in addition to continued counseling with their business counselors. 
The Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP), which started in 1990, is an intensive nine-week program that takes place three times a year. The EDTP has graduated 76 classes, helping to make a significant impact in developing South Jersey communities, but most important in the lives of hundreds of entrepreneurs to help them to start their business. As of to date, there are 1060 graduates, who have started 605 businesses and created 1,301 jobs.
LAEDA’s next graduation will take place in October 2019, starting with Session 82, the cohort currently concluding their training. If you or someone you know is interested in applying for the  Women’s Business Academy, to begin in January, please visit this site to apply!