Kudos: Great Dames pitch winner; Prosperity Partnership awards; Wilmington University professor, local lawyer honored


UP Cycle Design Founder Sierra RyanWallick won the 2021 Great Dames Remarkable Ideas Pitch Competition, a fiercely competitive contest narrowed down to five finalists who presented ideas to reimagine the future. Besides a $1,000 cash award, RyanWallick received a business mentor for an entire year and a portfolio of business services. 

UP Cycle Design, RyanWallick’s green startup, is a zero-waste sustainable fashion brand that upcycles materials fated for landfills into new products, a concept designed to reutilize excessive amounts of clothing donated to thrift stores. The startup supports community causes by donating 15% of the proceeds from each unit sold.  In partnership with The Warehouse, a project serving teenagers in Northeast Wilmington’s underserved Riverside area, RyanWallick also mentors teens about entrepreneurship, design and sustainability.

A University of Delaware entrepreneurship major, RyanWallick began her social entrepreneurial career at 11 by launching AutumnLeaf Fundraisers, which has raised over $100,000 for nonprofit causes. UP Cycle Design also shows promise, having expanded to a team with five interns and plans to develop additional partnerships.


“Sierra is a passionate and fearless young woman with a proven track record of creating robust solutions to address social issues,” says Great Dames CEO and President Sharon Kelly Hake. “She’s also giving a voice to other aspiring entrepreneurs who have not had opportunities elsewhere.”

Prosperity Partnership wins three awards

Delaware Prosperity Partnership took top honors in three categories of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Brandywine Chapter’s 2021 Fundraising and Communications Excellence (FACE) Awards.

The categories were Annual Report, Electronic, and Special Publications. Delaware Prosperity Partnership is an economic development organization that receives state money and contributions from businesses.

Sager honored by civil rights law group

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law honored  Ballard Spahr Senior Counsel Tom Sager with the Whitney North Seymour Award, presented to a member of the organization’s Board of Directors who demonstrates exemplary service and integrity.

Sager, a member of the board’s executive committee and former Board co-Chair, was recognized during the Committee’s virtual Annual Awards Celebration.

The award recognizes a Board member who exemplifies the legacy of service and integrity that characterized the life of Whitney North Seymour Sr., who served as president of the American Bar Association and was known for his dedication to civil liberties for underrepresented groups and individuals.

Sager is the former General Counsel and Senior Vice President of the DuPont Company. As an early and strong proponent of diversity in the legal profession, He is a recipient of The American Lawyer’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award and the namesake of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s Thomas L. Sager Award.

Wells, Youmans honored

Dr. Denise Wells, dean of the College of Health Professions at Wilmington University, earned the 2021 DAWN Leadership Award. DAWN is an acronym for the Delaware American Council on Education Women’s Network. The award goes to a woman in higher education who has excelled in the industry and serves as a role model to its rising stars.

Before joining the university, Wells served as the director of nursing of a free-standing, ambulatory surgery center and a clinical faculty member at the Beebe School of Nursing.

The event also honored Wilmington University Rising Star Award winner and academic advisor Ashlee Youmans, who holds two master’s degrees and is working toward her doctorate. Youmans was selected for her strong work ethic and student service. She also has served in the Army National Guard.