Owning It (Part II): 8 Red Hot Entrepreneurs

Dawn Ackerman
COO, CandidateFive & CEO, EcoToner

Business executive Dawn Ackerman was troubled by the fact that 31 U.S. states still do not have laws protecting LGBT employees from job discrimination. But, she says, “We can cry and say, ‘We should not be able to get fired in 31 states because there is still no law to protect us from discriminatory employment,’” says Ackerman. “Or we can ask, ‘How can we change this? How can we move the community forward?” In June, Ackerman joined web-based LGBT employment recruitment service, CandidateFive, as its COO. CandidateFive connects Fortune 500 companies (Bank of America, Dell, Ernst & Young) LGBT job seekers, and sponsors career forums around the country for LGBT professionals. “Members of the community want to be in a company where they know they have protection for their sexual orientation, gender identity, and domestic partnerships,” says Ackerman, an award-winning business leader. “Let’s show that being gay at a company isn’t a bad thing.” Ackerman’s leadership abilities are what brought her to the history-making CandidateFive. The Ohio-bred founder of industry-leading EcoToner, an ink cartridge recycling company she started ten years ago, also serves as presidenet of the Los Angeles GLBT Chamber of Commerce. Her early managerial sense took root as a youngster growing up in Barnesville, where Ackerman ran operations at her local furniture shop, bar, and a nearby pizzeria. She went on to found EcoToner, a company on the forefront of electronics recycling, after studying at Ohio Northern University. This year, EcoToner joined with OutSmart Office Solutions, Inc. to become the nation’s leading provider of office solutions to LGBT-owned companies. Her success, Ackerman knows, was predestined. “I thought that if I wanted to be able to decide my own destiny and not be controlled by any individual that starting a business would make the most sense for me,” she says. Now splitting her time between three demanding jobs, Ackerman detects no signs of slowing down. She hopes to explore a master’s degree in LGBT psychology. n