NAWBO – MN to induct nine businesswomen into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame

An April 19 event at the Golden Valley Country Club will honor the new inductees

By Brian Martucci
Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nine prominent Minnesota businesswomen are finally about to get the recognition they’ve worked lifetimes to earn. They’re this year’s crop of Minnesota Women Business Owners (NAWBO – MN) Hall of Fame inductees. They’ll officially receive their Hall of Fame stripes on April 19 at the Golden Valley Country Club.

“These are pioneers and trailblazers whose business and philanthropic accomplishments are worthy of historic acknowledgment,” says Marnie Ochs-Raleigh, chairman of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners and a volunteer with the hall of fame’s Selection Committee.

This is the fourth year NAWBO – MN has added new inductees to its hall of fame, and it probably won’t be the last. “We’re working hard to create an institution with this Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame, not simply to hold an event,” says Ochs-Raleigh.

Each inductee made (or continues to make) an indelible mark on Minnesota’s economy and culture. This year’s living honorees include:  

M. Marie Bak, Service, Dependability, Quality Ltd. (SDQ Janitorial). Ms. Bak grew up behind the Iron Curtain, in Soviet-era Poland. Her family lacked many basic freedoms we take for granted here in the U.S. When she arrived here, she resolved to do what she’d never be able to do in Eastern Europe: run her own business. With more than 500 employees, the vast majority of whom are immigrants, SDQ Janitorial is now the state’s largest non-union janitorial company.



Judy Austin Figge, Prairie Home Care. Ms. Figge’s home health care experience dates back to the early 1980s, when she founded Home Health with a partner. With her husband as CEO, Figge grew Home Health into a $130 million business. She sold out in 1996, but retained control of Prairie Home Care, which today has more than $30 million in annual sales.




Elise Hernandez, Ideal System Solutions. Ms. Hernandez is tops among a relative handful of women business owners in the male-dominated IT field. Her story is the raw embodiment of the up-from-nothing American dream — with no family money to cover college tuition costs, she worked her way through undergrad and business school, and then grew the only Hispanic-owned Minnesota business (out of 65 total) to earn a government contract last year.


To see the rest of the inductees, for more information about the April 19 event and to purchase tickets through April 12, visit the event page.