Success Stories — Class of 2014

MEGThe 2014 Empowerment Grant recipients were:


Michelle Lodge
Audrey Pass
Tekla Szymanski

Michelle LodgeMichelle Lodge is a freelance print and online journalist and editor whose work has appeared in TIME, British Medical Journal, Barron’s, Woman’s Day, Health, Shape, Miami Herald, NY Daily News, Latina, Victoria, PR Week, Publishers Weekly, Information Week, Diversion and on, and Wanting to become a triple-threat journalist, Michelle will use her MEG to learn the basics of video production at the Downtown Community TV Center so she can add visual story-telling to her toolkit and embed her online writing with video links, conducting video interviews and so much more.

Audrey Pass

Audrey Pass is senior director of Public Affairs & Communications at WNYW/WWOR and has recently seen her role at work expand to now include content development for online, social media and mobile devices. Aware she lacked the technical and social media know-how to succeed, Audrey will use her MEG to study social media marketing at Hunter College.

Tekla Szymanski

Tekla Szymanski is a multi-lingual content strategist, editor and writer and the managing editor of Tekla will use her MEG to study Java coding at New York University, adding to the three languages she already knows the language of 1s and 0s, and use her traditional journalism skills and technical know-how as a coder to create the tools for content-driven innovative web development. Tekla hopes to join the ranks of a growing number of women in tech to become a mid-career geek in front-end application development, information architecture and data strategy.



Marcia Cole
Janet Warren Dugo
Patricia Maloney
Melissa Weisstuch

Marcia ColeMarcia Cole is the CEO & Chief Creative Officer of Ivy Digital, a boutique agency that helps brands define their digital DNA. Marcia started her media career as a fashion illustrator and went on to become a magazine and digital writer/editor with expertise in beauty, fashion, entertainment and lifestyle. Marcia was a founding editor of Suede, former executive editor of Heart & Soul and founder of Marcia will use her MEG to take a 16-week web coding course at the New York Code + Design Academy so she can become fluent in a language that today shapes every area of communications to become even more conversant in all things digital. 

Janet DugoJanet Warren Dugo is the publisher of Staten Island Business Trends, a monthly newspaper covering issues affecting Staten Island’s economic health, quality of life and community leadership. In 2012, Janet founded Warren Dugo Media, Inc., a communications and media consultancy. In order to grow her new business and adequately serve her clients, Janet will use her MEG to undertake a Mini MBA in Digital Marketing at Rutgers University. The concentrated curriculum will quickly provide Janet the digital marketing expertise her role requires, and the academic certification will serve as a “seal of approval” for her developing business.   

Patricia Maloney

Patricia Maloney is a senior account manager at McVicker & Higginbotham, a marketing services agency for arts, cultural and healthcare organizations. Prior to that, Patricia was an editor at BabyTalk, deputy editor at and, as programming manager at Hachette Filipacchi New Media, she re-launched four online sites. Patricia will use her MEG to pursue a Certificate in Integrated Communications at New York University’s School of Continuing & Professional Studies. The coursework will help Patricia to polish her communication skills so she can stay ahead of the curve as well as better serve current clients. 

Melissa WeisstuchMelissa Weisstuch is the director, strategy & communications at Affiliates Risk Management Services, Inc. and has an extensive background in healthcare, having served as associate director, Marketing Communications, Somnia Anesthesia; vice president, Community Relations & Marketing, White Plains Hospital and increasingly responsible marketing and communications positions over nine years at Lenox Hill Hospital. Melissa desires to enhance her value by expanding her ability to operate from a digitally strategic vantage point. Melissa will use her MEG to take digital strategy and search engine optimization classes at New York University’s School of Continuing & Professional Studies.