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Eloise Vitelli

Eloise VitelliEloise Vitelli is an innovator and an advocate for women's economic empowerment. She has been active in the field of entrepreneurship training since 1983, when she coordinated the Women's Business Survival Skills Project, one of seven pilot projects funded nationally by the Small Business Administration. She then went on to develop the New Ventures training program for the Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community, and was a founder of the Women's Business Development Corporation.

She is the author of Venturing Forth, a three step guide to starting a business. She was instrumental in establishing the Maine Enterprise Option program, which allows eligible unemployment recipients to start small businesses, and in bringing self-employment resources to the Job Training System. In 1986, she was co-recipient of the Maine Small Business Administrations' Women's Business Advocate of the Year Award.

Eloise has worked with the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community (formerly the Displaced Homemakers Program) since 1981, first as a trainer/coordinator and then as Associate Director. In her statewide role, she has focused on employment and training and economic development opportunities for mid-life and older women. She has been a Head Start teacher and Education Coordinator and has served as a VISTA volunteer Community Organizer for the Maine Women's Lobby. She received her Masters in Education Counseling from the University of Southern Maine and a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh. As a child, she lived with her family in Italy and in India, and has studied and traveled throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. She spent most of her early years in Pennsylvania, moving to Maine in the early 70's.

In addition to her work in entrepreneurship, Eloise has been a catalyst for promoting workforce development policies and strategies which combine the best uses of modern technologies with demonstrated methods of empowering individuals to meet the challenges of a changing economy. She designed a computerized management information system for her organization that is marketed nationally by Women Work! The National Network for Women's Employment. She has designed and co-produced workforce development and entrepreneurship training over interactive television statewide. She recently co-chaired the Education and Training Goal Committee of the Economic Growth Council, is a participant in Leadership Maine, and is a member of the Human Resource Development Council. She also serves on her local school board.

Eloise's vision, creativity, and inclusive leadership in microenterprise and workforce development have inspired and expanded opportunities for countless numbers of Maine women entering or re-entering the paid workforce or starting small businesses. She has openly and courageously shared her family's experience of divorce, co-parenting and blended families with other Maine families in transition. Eloise brings a rare blend of insight, wit, clarity, entrepreneurial spirit and energy to her work. She lives her life fully and in a spirit of hope and optimism for the possibilities that lie ahead.

1994 Photograph

Inducted March, 1995