Our Founders

Doyenne was founded in 2012 by Heather Wentler and Amy Gannon. They met while Heather was launching her first venture and Amy was teaching entrepreneurship at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. Together they created Doyenne to fill the space that’s missing for so many women entrepreneurs — an organization that understands what it’s like for women who are building a business while wearing many hats each and every day. Doyenne gets it. We celebrate you, your business, and your many hats.

The Doyenne Team Members, Board of Directors, Members, and Volunteers all believe it's past time to create truly diverse and gender-equal entrepreneurial ecosystems across the United States of America.

Heather Wentler, Executive Director and Co-Founder

Heather had also founded Fractal (STEAM enrichment programming for K-12) and Madison SOUP (community micro-granting program) before she co-founded Doyenne. Heather has always encouraged others to reach for what they want to become. Through teaching early-childhood through middle school in disadvantaged schools, her role was more than just teacher for the students and co-workers she spent her days with. She became a parent figure, role model, coach and educator all rolled into one to make sure the lives she was touching were creating impact on their futures.

Heather's 10+ years of being an entrepreneur, as well as married to an entrepreneur and working daily within the Wisconsin entrepreneur ecosystem, gives her first-hand knowledge, experience, and understanding of what founders go through and the various mountains they climb every day in order to keep their ventures open and viable. Her strategic approach of identifying entrepreneur's personal connections to their life and venture develops a stronger sense of identity and professional growth for the entrepreneurs she works with; and her connective thinking approach helps take high level ideas down into manageable paths of actions and introductions to others within the Doyenne network to provide additional guidance and mentorship.

Heather’s passion for entrepreneurship and supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs in business became more prevalent in her career as she was founding Fractal and transitioning out of teaching in a traditional classroom. Heather is an active leader and organizer of entrepreneurial efforts across Wisconsin.

Heather has provided leadership & organizational level support as a board member and/or organizing partner for Forward Fest, Startup Madison Week, Launch Wisconsin conference, has judged various business plan competitions across the U.S.A., mentored entrepreneurs for SXSW, sits on the StartingBlock Madison Board of Directors & Executive Committee; and has previously served on the Boards for WEDWisconsin and Early Stage Symposium Advisory Board, as well as the B Corp Wisconsin Movement committee and various committees supporting entrepreneurship & STEM teaching for K-12 curriculum development.

Heather serves as the Executive Director for Doyenne and President of the Doyenne Board of Directors.

Amy Gannon, Co-founder


{In Memoriam} Dr. Amy Gannon was a change agent dedicated to identifying and unleashing entrepreneurial talent, particularly in places where others weren’t looking for it. Her work focused on building pathways to entrepreneurship for those traditionally ignored by existing entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Dr. Gannon was a Co-founder for Doyenne. With more than 10 years experience working with startup businesses, Dr. Gannon had expertise in moving entrepreneurs through the idea validation, launch and growth stages. She designed, planned and facilitated developmental opportunities for entrepreneurs, within Doyenne and with other organizations in the Madison area including the Social Good Accelerator, Madison Urban Ministry (MUM), and others.

Dr. Gannon's passion for supporting all women and lifting them up to reach new hights and beliefs in themselves and the ventures they run is truly missed within our community, but never forgotten as she lives on through all of the work she did while here and the impact she's made on all she touched.  

Dr. Gannon and her daughter were tragically killed in a helicopter accident while on a family vacation in Hawaii on December 26, 2019. While she is no longer physically with us, she is felt within every aspect of Doyenne and continues to influence the work we do and how we create impact in communities.

OUr Interns

Colleen McBride, administrative Coordinator

Supports administrative and operations systems.

Colleen is a junior at Boston College in Newton, MA majoring in Political Science & Government.

Doyenne 2022 board

The Doyenne Board of Directors is comprised of diverse women from varying backgrounds

who share a passion for advancing women and marginalized gender(s) individuals

JESSICA BOLING
(SECRETARY)

Jessica Boling is the Director of Community Engagement, AAPI at the Milwaukee 2020 Host committee. She has served as the Asian American Pacific Islander Outreach Director for Biden for President, Director of Operations for Silicon Pastures angel investment network based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Director of Community Engagement for the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin. Jessica also volunteers with numerous organizations within her community in areas she's passionate about advancing.

POOJA SHAH (VICE PRESIDENT)

Pooja Shah has served in various professional settings within corporate innovation and venture capital. Her professional mission is to build more partnerships between startups and corporations and to identify and capitalize on opportunities to grow business. As a strong startup advocate and professionally trained engineer, Pooja coaches and supports ventures from the seed stage to the Series A funding stage.

JILLANA PETERSON

Jillana Peterson is a Principal Operations Manager at Zendesk, and has been a part of the startup’s growth since the early days of working remotely with four friends before the opening of the Madison, WI office in 2013. There are over 600 employees in Madison today and +6000 globally as the customer service software company reached 'unicorn' status ($1 billion valuation) after a successful IPO in 2014. Managing the growth of Advocacy, Customer Success, and Social Impact teams provided a wealth of experience in marketing and communications strategies for operations and business continuity. Jillana also serves on Madison Public Library Foundation Board and Chairs committees for several organizations all missions focused on civil and human rights, economic empowerment, and advancing diversity in STEAM fields and entrepreneurship.


ALICIA ARMSTRONG

Alicia Armstrong is an immigration attorney, advocate for social justice, and activist for civil rights. She believes that community well-being depends on how we support our most vulnerable. As an entrepreneur herself, Alicia founded ACA Law Office and donates her time as a pro bono attorney as part of Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc. 



SAGASHUS LEVINGSTON

Dr. Sagashus Levingston is the Founder & CEO of Infamous Mothers. Dr. Levingston's work is committed to supporting unseen mothers through honoring their entire journey towards their path to personal success. She is a powerful mother of six children, an advocate within the community, and a professional speaker.


ALLIE HUBER (TREASURER, NON-VOTING BOARD MEMBER)

Allie Huber is a Controller for Fine Point Consulting, LLC. Allie manages the financial accounts and books for Doyenne as a paid contractor for the organization.