Siena announced the recipients of its annual entrepreneurial awards at the annual Civitella Entrepreneurial Awards Ceremony held April 12 in the Maloney Great Room.
Civitella Alumni/Trustee Entrepreneurs of the Year
Das Nobel '06 and Nipa Nobel, Siena Trustee, Co-founders, MTX Group
Civitella Community Impact Award
Ed Mitzen and Lisa Mitzen, Co-Founders of Business For Good
The Nobels are co-founders of the MTX Group, one of the country’s top technology consulting firms that has been credited with serving as a pioneer in digital transformation and artificial intelligence. Last December, Siena announced the donation of $35 million from the Nobels, which will fully fund the expansion of Siena’s science complex. It was the largest one-time gift in Siena’s history and one of the most substantial private donations ever made to a college or university in New York state.
Business for Good is a non-profit engaged in venture philanthropy, entrepreneur support and impact giving. It was founded in 2021 by Ed Mitzen, a healthcare marketing entrepreneur who is the CEO of the Saratoga Springs-based Fingerpaint agency, and Lisa Mitzen, who spent the majority of her career in banking and mortgage lending.
Siena also announced its annual Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Meghan Brewer ’22, whose Pawket Vet app lets pet owners check in virtually with a vet to see if an in-office visit is needed, or if the necessary treatment can be provided at home. Brewer won the Capital District regional semifinals of the New York Business Plan Competition on March 25 in Albany, and has already advanced in the statewide competition.
“Siena’s Stack Center has always been there to support me with my business, Pawket Vet, and I can’t thank them enough,” said Brewer. “Everything I've learned from the School of Business here at Siena has shaped me into the person I am and how I look at things in the world. Siena faculty and staff have always been so supportive and encouraging through it all and pushed me to do my best.”
This year, the student award was renamed in honor of Yumi Kageyama Refino ’21, founder of the startup EmpowerU Virtual Reality, who died in August 2021.
Mike Hickey ‘85, executive director of Siena’s Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, recognized this year’s recipients:
“Through their experience with the Stack Center, students at Siena learn how to put ethics at the core of their enterprise and truly start something that matters. Our husband-and-wife team awardees this evening exemplify that in practice,” said Hickey. “Besides piloting successful ventures, they apply their entrepreneurial skills towards making a difference in our communities. That is why I am so excited to have the opportunity to recognize them this evening for the impact they have had.”
“Following your passion, dreaming big, and having a solid support system are the most important keys to success,” Das Nobel '06 said in remarks shared from his company’s base in Texas. "I'm lucky to have the support of the Siena community, which helped me become the leader I am today and inspires me to grow further. There's no limit to what you can achieve with people who share your vision for the future."
“Surround yourself with people who want to help your business thrive and create a positive environment to nurture their growth,” Nipa Nobel said. “Empowering the people you work with, letting them know they are valued, goes a long way when starting an organization from the ground up.”
“We are so incredibly honored to receive this award from Siena College and to be in such amazing company with the Nobel family. It is our hope that our work will inspire others to do more to elevate the lives of those in underserved communities,” said the Mitzens.
The Community Impact Award is new to the ceremony this year.
The annual awards are endowed by Antonio Civitella ’91, president and CEO of Transfinder. Civitella was Siena’s first Entrepreneur of the Year honoree in 2014.
“I am excited about this year’s class of Entrepreneur of the Year winners and pleased that we are expanding the number of awards to recognize those who have contributed to our community as well,” said Antonio Civitella, a sponsor of the awards and the first recipient of Siena’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, given in 2014. “These are two dynamic couples, Das and Nipa Nobel, and Ed and Lisa Mitzen. Their stories are compelling, and their contributions are significant. Siena College has once again selected individuals for these awards who are worthy to be emulated by its students and by the community at large.”