The Hivery 'We Rise' Scholarship Awardees 2018–2019

Inspired by Maya Angelou's poem, Still I Rise, and the powerful, brave work of women everywhere, The Hivery launched the 'We Rise' Scholarship Program in 2016 to empower, contribute and support passionate, bold beings who work tirelessly toward equality.

We are thrilled to tell you a little bit more about the amazing work of our 2018-2019 Scholarship Awardees!


Amy Gragnolati

Amy, what are you working on?

I am the co-founder and COO of a local non-profit, LONA. Our mission is to invest in women’s ability to create economic opportunity for themselves and others. Our programming is simple but impactful: through grants, pro-bono services and access to "social capital," we offer the support a woman may need to jumpstart her education or entrepreneurial dreams. We emphasize supporting women whose plans include impacting a broader population of women and girls. This emphasis is really important to us, and it’s how we view our work having a far-reaching impact on the Bay Area. If we can empower one woman, she can empower others around her and spark systemic change within the community.

Currently, we are working on growing our grantee portfolio, developing a list of supporters willing to offer pro-bono support to our grantees, and growing our presence in the local Bay Area community. The Bay Area is an amazing place to live and serve, and we feel lucky to grow LONA’s roots in this community.

How do you feel The Hivery will help you achieve your goals?

In addition to my work with LONA, I am a clinical pharmacist at Kaiser San Francisco where I specialize in internal medicine and addiction medicine. I love my job, but unfortunately my work as a pharmacist does not always translate into the skills I need to continue developing LONA. I am excited to join The Hivery community and learn from a network of women with backgrounds in marketing, consulting, finance, social media management, etc. I know I could learn a lot from women with diverse careers and skill sets, and I am excited to use this knowledge to grow LONA.

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Denise Blondo

Denise, what are you working on?

As the owner of Better Choices Training,  I develop and deliver professional workshops, coach individual speakers and provide Lead coaching.

And, as the founder of a grassroots donation program, I provide patients with free Chemo Cold Caps, to prevent hair loss due to chemotherapy treatments.  In 2014, I began collecting and providing chemo cold caps to patients in need.

How do you feel The Hivery will help you achieve your goals?

The Hivery has been the single best investment of my career! Now, I am connected to business women on the rise in Marin. And, I’m excited to collaborate with the Hivery to develop business workshops to meet the needs of our community.


Cristol O'Loughlin

Cristol, what are you working on?

There are 7000 rare genetic diseases in our country, affecting 1 in 25,000 births and 30 million Americans.   My company, ANGEL AID cares for the caregivers— in particular, mothers living with the difficult financial, physical and social realities of raising a child diagnosed with a rare genetic disease.   

I originally started ANGEL AID in 2000 as a passion project with a purpose -- to raise funds to cure children diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) or “Hunters Syndrome.”  MPS claimed the life of my three older brothers. Randy, David, and Jared passed away at 12, 18, and 19—and in many ways our family is still recovering from the difficult decisions and realities of caring for them.  Together with my UCLA Pi Phi Sorority Sisters, ANGEL AID has raised $125,000+ over 20 years through personal donations. It has become a clear calling that there is more we can do to support mothers during this journey.   

In November 2018, ANGEL AID was incorporated as A Nonprofit Group Enriching Lives, Inc. and I broadened our charter to offer research, relief and inspiration services to all rare disease families, with an emphasis on mothers.    

How do you feel The Hivery will help you achieve your goals?

Launching a company is a daunting endeavor—a journey with a thousand paths and ten thousand decisions.  I am thrilled to join The Hivery and tap the collective skills, experience, and inspired creative energy of this unique women’s collective.  It is truly an honor to be a ‘We Rise’ Scholarship recipient.

The goal for ANGEL AID is to source research, relief and inspiration for children and families living with chronic disease. ANGEL AID will uplift these families by caring for the caregivers, in particular mothers. We will achieve these goals through three measurable metrics (**Thank you Grace #womendoingcoolstuff & #selinatobaccowala for #TheHivery Entrepreneur’s Circle Jan 17th!)

  1. Grow our email database through regular communications

  2. Engage families in a connective online network

  3. Host 1-2 Sustainable SuperMom retreats in 2019 at historic Barrett Family Ranch.  

To create these offerings, I hope to collaborate with Hivery members and engage a myriad of skills: business operations, website design, social creative/posting/amplification, product design, technical development, user experience, retreat programming, grant-writing, storytelling, videography, etc. Working in an inspired space brings inspiration to your work. Grace’s Incubator program will no doubt help accelerate our relaunch.

I simply cannot wait to meet all of you!


Hayley Leibson

Hayley, what are you working on?

I am cofounder and COO of Lunchclub, a platform that makes mutually relevant in-real-life professional connections. Users sign up and indicate their home city, goals, and interests, and opt-in for meetings on a weekly basis. Our machine learning algorithms work the magic from there. We are now in SF Bay Area, NYC, LA, London, Seattle and Austin with many more cities around the world on the way in 2019! The results of connections made through Lunchclub are truly inspiring: cofounding relationships, startup and entertainment investments, hirings, new friendships, consulting and advising, our users getting into Village Global and YC, speaking engagements, and more.

I am also the founder of Lady in Tech, an award-winning tech and lifestyle platform for women, and co-founder of Female Founders Community—the largest online community of women entrepreneurs. I write a column for Forbes that inspires, motivates and moves millennial women to enter the tech industry and build impactful products at scale to improve the world. I speak around the world about diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

How do you feel The Hivery will help you achieve your goals?

I am extremely excited to join The Hivery’s incredible community and ideate, collaborate, create, and dream up ideas with members to forward women in the workplace and make the tech industry a place that is more inclusive and attractive to people of all ages, races, sexual orientations, and cultures. I am also really looking forward to attending all of The Hivery’s events and programming, as well as the opportunity to work from the gorgeous and inspirational space in Mill Valley.


Sarah Dihmes

Sarah, what are you working on?

I am creating a company that specializes in the science of beauty. Built to help women spend less time in front of mirror and more time in their lives, Beauty Bootcamp will revolutionize and transform women’s beauty routines.

My programs enhance women’s lives by helping them create and maintain their own unique identities. Through education of beauty options, professional trainings for at-home maintenance, full-service pop up salons, and personalized services I’m creating strategies for women to design and sustain their everyday appearance.

We opened for busy women who want beauty services, but do not know where to go or which procedure is right for them. Specializing in the most innovative devices and products we help clients achieve natural looks. Our programs were created to encourage women from all walks of life to embrace their inner and outer beauty.

My first workshop will be right here in Marin, March 30 & 31. I’m bringing the salon to the client. Celebrity hair stylists from LA, the best semi-permanent make-up artist from Romania, and some of the Bay Area’s top dermatologists and make-up artists. In addition, ladies will learn how to do their own lash extensions and quick fix make-up & hair in less than 30 minutes. We’re giving our clients back the power so they can spend less money and less time sitting in salons and more time doing what they love in life.

How do you feel The Hivery will help you achieve your goals?

As a psychologist, breaking into the business world is foreign. I’m excited to embrace my inner entrepreneur and become empowered to network, market, connect and help other women. I know I have many challenges ahead of me. From learning how to design a user-friendly website, embracing social media, creating logos, programs, workshops, and financing I’m ready and excited to start this adventure!

I’m so excited to be able to work on my company at The Hivery! I have been searching for a collaborative and supportive community that would encourage me to work on my passion project in a stigma-free, female friendly environment. I’m registered for Grace’s incubator and look forward to learning more about marketing, branding, and business development for my new beauty program. I feel blessed for the opportunity to learn from fierce female leaders about how to start and grow a company.