Women take the lead in November's Entrepreneur Direct Lecture Series

Elizabeth Demas, founder and owner of the Kansas City Avon Stores, Alicia Herald, creator of myEDmatch, and Brittain Kovac, with Startup Village, Leap.it and Hostel KC, will be the featured presenters at Fort Hays State University's Entrepreneur Direct speaker series on Nov. 18.

The event, scheduled for 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. in the Memorial Union's Fort Hays Ballroom, is free to the public.

Demas has been an Avon representative since October 2003. In the first six months, she reached more than $10,000 in sales, built a team of more than 30 representatives and landed on the front cover of Avon's then magazine for representatives, Avon Dreams. Demas sells above Avon's top sales level and owns two licensed Avon Beauty Centers in the Kansas City metro area, one in Overland Park and one in Kansas City's Zona Rosa.

The Overland Park store holds the distinction of selling more Avon products than any other location in the nation. Her team now has nearly 100 members from several states.

Demas received the 2008 Existing Business of the Year award from the Johnson County Small Business Development Center and the 2010 national award of Woman of Enterprise from Avon Corporate. She has been highlighted in Beauty Magazine, twice in The Kansas City Star and featured on KMBC Channel 9. 

Herald, a former teacher, national recruiter, education executive and school board member, experienced first-hand the challenges for both teachers and schools when it came to K-12 educator recruitment, selection and hiring. Every year, 20 percent of teachers leave their classrooms, either switching schools or leaving the profession altogether. This multibillion-dollar-a-year problem has an impact on the lives of millions of kids.

Using concepts familiar to industries such as online dating, myEDmatch helps schools find and recruit best-fit talent and provides teachers with job opportunities and resources to help them thrive. Herald earned her undergraduate degree, a master's degree and an M.B.A. She is vice chair of the KIPP Endeavor School Board and recently was appointed to the Missouri State Commission on Charter Schools.

Kovac, after college, went on to spend seven years in experiential marketing before landing a position as the assistant manager at Google Fiber Space, where she was introduced to the Kansas City startup community. She is a co-leader at the Kansas City Startup Village, a community of startups operating out of homes in the first Google Fiberhood in the world, where she runs event programming, PR, community relations and ambassadorship.

Kovac also works for a startup, Leap.it, a collaborative, visual search engine taking on Google to give users a new way to search and discover. She is also the Chief Nomad at her startup, Hostel KC, which has as its tagline, "the place where sleep has a purpose." Hostel KC aims to build a purpose-driven community of travelers that, for every 300 paid beds, builds a home for a family in need in the Caribbean. Hostel KC was launched on Sept. 1, 2014.

Entrepreneur Direct is a speaker series that features a successful entrepreneur in an informal setting accessible to students, faculty, staff and the public. The program is intended to connect students with successful entrepreneurs who have stories and advice to share. A faculty-student panel asks questions about entrepreneurship and encourages questions and interaction with the audience.

For more information, contact Dr. Mark Bannister, 785-628-5339 or mcbannister@fhsu.edu.

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