The Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship awarded Mrs. Doris Symonds the 2020 Women in Business Leadership Award on September 1, 2020.
This award was given in recognition of the outstanding dedication to her mission and for making a positive impact on new entrepreneurs and established women business owners in the community. Doris has always encouraged women to create and build their own businesses. She is known for stating to women, as she chuckles, “If you work that hard for a corporation, demonstrating on-going commitment and yet are frustrated, unable to claim a seat at the table, then step out and become the president of your own dog-gone company.”
Doris has the ability to bring people together and connect them with the required resources for building their business toolbox. Upon her retirement after 26 years at Illinois Central College, she wanted to share her business knowledge and make a difference in the community. She is excited when small business owners and particularly women and minority individuals, step out into the marketplace to positively impact the economy in the central Illinois region. Her personal passion for helping women to create and sustain small businesses, coupled with her ability to bring people together, led her to open her own business, T.A.L.K. (Teaching and Learning for Knowledge) in 2004. Doris saw an opportunity to connect established women business owners with new entrepreneurs to communicate face-to-face, gain insights, and learn from business seminars, display and market their products, procure potential customers and build meaningful relationships.
T.A.L.K. has produced an annual women’s conference in central Illinois, with a curated lineup of speakers focused on topics significant to women-owned businesses. Her speakers are well trained or certified to speak on topics such as marketing, branding, technology, finance, government contracting, networking strategies, and much more. T.A.L.K. fills a need in the business community by providing curated content, excellent local speakers, and multiple opportunities to both enhance the business fundamentals of local companies and develop for the future.
Doris continues to drive change as an advocate for women-owned businesses. She seems to have endless energy and is currently serving on the Minority Business Development Center Board, the Illinois Small Business Development Center/Bradley University Advisory Board, consulting with new entrepreneurs, performing speaking engagements, mentoring professional women employed in educational or corporate organizations, and keeping up with an energetic, lovable two-year-old toddler as Grandma.
Receiving numerous honors during her service to the community, Doris’ boundless energy and devotion to women makes her a household name in the area of business mentorship. She has received honorable recognition from the local community, city and state of Illinois. Among her many awards include: the Bridge Builder award by the National Association of Women Business Owners of central Illinois (NAWBO), Outstanding New Leadership Award by the Women in Leadership of central Illinois (WIL), Business Pioneer Award by the Black Business Alliance, Women Making Modern History Award by the AfraVictoria magazine, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award for Education, African American Hall of Fame Inductee for Education Award, Illinois Central College Business Development Award, Community Difference Maker Award by I’ve Decided, National Organization for Women Award (NOW), Women of Influence Award by Peoria Magazine, Women in Business Champion of the Year Award by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Illinois DCEO and SCORE, and the 25 Women in Leadership Award by the WEEK-25, Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and The Marketeer magazine.
Doris continues to help women whose entrepreneurial drive personifies the American Dream yet face challenges in the areas of entrepreneurship. She is passionate about women becoming business owners, innovators, community leaders, mentors, and stepping up “to claim their seat at the table” as a company president, CEO, or owner! Women are innovators, job creators, and risk-takers. Mrs. Doris Symonds has been and continues to be an outstanding leader in the Peoria community. She believes everyone should contribute something big or small by becoming an active participant in the community in which they live to make it a better place for all!