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Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Dinner
Honoring immigrant entrepreneurs in Massachusetts

The 2015 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Winners

From left Damaris Pimentel, Neighborhood Business Award Winner; Dries Buytaert. High-Tech Business Award Winner; Diane Portnoy, ILC Founder and CEO; Gov. Charlie Baker; Laxman Desai, Life Science Business Award Winner; Helene and Thomas Stohr, Business Growth Award Winners.


2015 Awards Dinner Sponsors
The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) held its fourth annual Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Dinner on May 7, 2015, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, MA. Special guests Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Master of Ceremonies Dr. J. Keith Motley, University of Massachusetts Boston chancellor, and nearly 250 business and community leaders celebrated the achievements of 33 nominees and five award winners.

Do you know an immigrant entrepreneur? Tell us about it here.

The 2015 Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winners:

Helene and Thomas Stohr, Business Growth

Helene and Thomas Stohr In just nine years, the Stohrs have expanded their business from a home kitchen providing authentic, Swiss baked goods to a train depot outlet in Reading, to a 14,000-square-foot café and commercial bakery in Allston. In the past three years alone, revenue increased by 340 percent. Their business practices demonstrate a commitment to community service and environmental sustainability, or what they call “grandchild sustainable.”


Damaris Pimentel, Neighborhood Business 

Damaris PimentelDamaris Pimentel came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic with her parents and seven siblings without knowing any English. For the last 33 years, she has made Ultra Beauty Salon an integral part of her neighborhood in Jamaica Plain. She gives back to the neighborhood in many ways including mentoring other entrepreneurs and serving on the Board of Directors of Hyde Square Task Force and the Mount Pleasant Home.


Dries Buytaert, High-Tech Business

Dries BuytaertDries Buytaert created Drupal, a free, open-source, website-building platform, at age 19 in a dorm room in his native Belgium. In 2007, he relocated to Massachusetts to create a company, Acquia, to help companies, not-for-profit organizations and governments create engaging digital experiences using Drupal. Today, the company serves more than 4,000 customers, and Drupal powers roughly one in 40 websites worldwide.


Laxman Desai, Life Science Business

Laxman DesaiLaxman Desai was born in India, studied in Belgium and came to the United States to pursue cancer research. After the death of his mentor, Dr. Sidney Farber, he launched his own company in 1977, Toxikon Corporation. Toxikon is a pre-clinical contract research firm that provides testing for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.

Photos from The 2015 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Dinner

Slide Show from Flickr


The 2015 Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Award Nominees:


Business Growth



Neighborhood Business



High-Tech Business



Life Science Business


The Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards selection committee reviewed nominations and selected one winner in each category. The 2015 selection committee members are:



Business Growth

  • Rafael Guzman, RM Technologies
  • Denzil Mohammed, Public Education Institute at The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.
  • David Parker, Entrepreneurship for All
  • Andre Porter, Executive Director, MA Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Jose Luis Rojas Villarreal, Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation
  • Janet Strimaitis, Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, Babson College



Neighborhood Business

  • Juan-Carlos Ferrufino, Ferrufino Consulting & Associates
  • Leandro Freire, Accion
  • Denzil Mohammed, Public Education Institute at The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.
  • Theresa Park, City of Lawrence



High-Tech Business

  • Doug Banks, Boston Business Journal
  • Abi Barrow, Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center
  • Kathleen Hagan, Hagan and Company
  • Denzil Mohammed, Public Education Institute at The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.
  • Julianne Zimmerman, MIT Venture Mentoring Service



Life Science Business

  • Lauren Celano, Propel Careers
  • Bonnie Fendrock, Cyta Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Alison Farquhar, GTL Coaching & Consulting, LLC
  • Frank Hoy, Collaborative for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Denzil Mohammed, Public Education Institute at The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.

Previous Nominees and Winners

Growth Nominees for The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

Business Growth

  • Fitzroy Alexander, Traditional Breads Inc., Lynn (2014 WINNER)
  • Jose De La Rosa, Guardian Healthcare, Jamaica Plain (2014)
  • Rafael Guzman, RM Technologies, Inc., Lawrence (2013 WINNER)
  • Christine Lin, The Cambridge Institute of International Education, Waltham (2014)
  • Charbel Najem, Capstone General Contracting, Worcester (2014)
  • Lisandra Mones, Glitterati Style, Salem (2013)
  • Dmitriy Peregudov,, Arlington (2014)
  • Ashish Sangani, GIRI Hotels, Quincy (2012)
  • Julia Silverio, Silverio Insurance, Lawrence (2012, WINNER)
  • Sushil Tuli, Leader Bank, N.A, Arlington (2012)
  • Paolo Volpati-Kedra, Sauces ‘n Love, Inc., Lynn (2013)


Neighborhood nominees for The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year AwardNeighborhood Business

  • Rosemary Agbede, Unique You Salon, Lowell (2013)
  • Denise and Sambath Ban, Simply Khmer Restaurant, Lowell  (2014)
  • Victor Barros, Systemize Networks, Stoughton  (2014)
  • Arturo Barroso, Boston Shoe Service, Boston  (2014)
  • Edan Barshan, Universal Dental Plan, Boston  (2014)
  • Umesh Bhuju, Zumi’s Espresso and Ice Cream, Ipswich (2012, 2013)
  • Alberto Calvo, Stop & Compare Supermarkets, Chelsea (2014)
  • Henry Chung, Pho Saigon, Lee (2012)
  • Tom Dang, Pho Da Lat Restaurant, Lowell (2013)
  • Javier Diaz, Rincon Caribeno Restaurant, Hyde Park (2014)
  • Larry Dossantos, 912 Auto, Dorchester (2012 WINNER)
  • Calvin Duong, New Century Auto Collision and Service Center, Lowell (2013)
  • Jose Antonio Guerrero, Cafe Azteca, Lawrence (2104)

Neighborhood Business nominees for The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Eli Hsu, Tepthida Khmer, Lowell (2012)
  • Janet Hung and Delia Vildoso, Tiny World Child Care Inc., Brookline (2014)
  • Juan Ingles, Imigrante Latino America Services, Chelsea (2013)
  • Muhmud Jafri, Dover Rug & Home, Natick (2013 WINNER)
  • Marie Claire Jean-Guillaume, La Ronde de Marie Claire Early Learning Center, Hyde Park (2013)
  • Nai Nan Ko, Ko Automotive Group, Wellesley (2014)
  • Francisco Lora, Tropicana Market, Salem (2103)
  • Roger Magalhaes, Shades in Place, Franklin (2012)
  • Ricardo Miranda, Miranda Auto Body, Springfield  (2014)
  • Tarun & Simi Narula, Spice Root Indian Restaurant, Williamstown (2012)
  • Phong Nguyen, Yoki Restaurant, Medford (2014)
  • Mayur Patel, Little Market, Acton (2014)

Neighborhood Business nominees for The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Award

  • Damaris Pimentel, ULTRA Beauty Salon, Jamaica Plain (2013)
  • Roger Samkhon Pin and Soben Pin, KhmerPost USA, Lowell  (2014)
  • Maria Rosa, Yeska Cakes, Lawrence (2013)
  • Nabil and Joseph Sater, The Middle East & ZuZu, Cambridge (2014)
  • Manuel Silva, Silva’s Mini-Market, Lowell (2013)
  • Marc Silva, Somerville Sustainable Cleaning, Cambridge (2014)
  • Neily Soto, Soto Real Estate Services, Lawrence (2012)
  • Helene and Thomas Stohr, swissbakers, Reading (2013)
  • Abrar Ali Syed, Pine Banks Animal Hospital, Malden (2012)
  • Sabrina Tan and Chin Lee, Flavours of Malaysia, Pittsfield (2014)
  • Rosa and Nisaury Tejeda and Victoria Amador, Tremendous Maid LLC, Jamaica Plain (2014 WINNER)
  • Malee Thai, Pailin Market, Lowell (2012)

The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Neighborhood Nominees

  • Tran Family, My Xuyen Corporation (2012)
  • Douglas Tran, All Seasons Table, LLC, Malden (2013)
  • Long Tran, Viet Thai Restaurant, Lowell (2012)
  • Angel Valdivia, Angel’s Painting, Inc., Framingham (2013)
  • Patria Veras Valenzuela, Sonia’s Bridal, Jamaica Plain (2013)
  • Weidong Wang, Baba Sushi and Chuan Sushi Restaurants, Worcester (2014)
  • Angela Westen, Angela Westen Insurance Agency, Lowell (2013)


Science and Technology

  • Vikram Aggarwal, EnergySage, Cambridge (2014 High Tech)
  • Ash Ashutosh, Actifio, Inc., Waltham (2013)
  • Bela Asztalos, PhD, Boston Heart Diagnostics Corporation, Framingham (2014 Life Science)
  • Himanshu Bhatnagar, HB Software Solutions, Lowell (2013)

Science and High-Tech nominees for The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards

  • Kris Canekeratne, Virtusa Coroporation, Westborough (2012)
  • Pravin Chaturvedi, PhD, IndUS Pharmaceuticals, Woburn (2014 Life Science)
  • Vincent W. Coljee, Excelimmune, Inc., Woburn (2012)
  • Ashifi Gogo, Sproxil, Inc., Cambridge (2013, 2014 High Tech)
  • Bettina Hein, Pixability, Boston (2014 High Tech)
  • Fauzia Khan, and Mansoor Khan, Alere Analytics, Lowell (2014 High Tech WINNER)
  • Chiang J. Li, Boston Biomedical, Inc., Cambridge (2013 WINNER)
  • Vincent Linder, Claros Diagnostics, Woburn (2012)
  • Davide Marini, Firefly BioWorks, Inc., Cambridge (2014 Life Science)
  • Gaugarin Oliver, RedEgg Solutions, Waltham (2012)
  • Josef von Rickenbach, PAREXEL International Corp., Waltham (2014 Life Science WINNER)
  • Pedro Santos, OsComp Systems, Somerville (2014 High Tech)

Science and High-Tech nominees for The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Award

  • Amarpreet Singh Sawhney, Ocular Therapeutix, Inc., Bedford (2012 WINNER)
  • Swapnil Shah, FirstFuel Software, Lexington (2014 High Tech)
  • Marin Solja?i?, WiTricity Corporation, Watertown (2013)
  • Xavier Xicay, Tuatara Corp., Boston (2014 High Tech)
  • Andrey Zarur, Greenlight Biosciences, Medford (2014 Life Science)
  • Yang Zhao, Memsic, Inc., Andover (2012, 2013)


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