Two women who are visionaries in the fields of advertising, marketing and communications have been named co-recipients of the 2020 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award, presented by Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business.
Sue Butler, retired board chair and co-founder and former co-CEO of Butler/Till, and Tracy Till, president of T4 Verge Inc. and board chair and former co-CEO of Butler/Till, are the first joint female recipients in the award’s 35-year history. Due to COVID-19, Butler and Till will be formally recognized for their entrepreneurial and community achievements and impact at a ceremony next year.
Founded in 1998, Butler/Till, a media and communications agency headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., with an additional office in New York City, was created in a living room, with three employees. Under the leadership of Butler and Till, the company quickly grew into a world renowned marketing agency and, today, has more than 170 employees and $180 million in annual billing. Sixty-five percent of the workforce is female.
Before co-founding the company, Butler worked in advertising, media buying and media sales. She also operated Butler Marketing and Media. After leaving her role as Butler/Till CEO in 2015, she served for five years as chairperson of the Board of Directors and served on the Board of Directors and Board of Governors for The ESOP Association. She was on the Board of Directors of Synergy Global Solutions. She also completed RIT’s Executive Education Program in Strategic Planning.
Till serves as chairperson of Butler/Till’s Board of Directors and is president of T4 Verge Inc., a boutique business and leadership consultancy geared toward women-owned businesses and Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) companies. She speaks nationally on the topics of business growth, creating “true and real” organizational cultures, how to execute the ESOP model at the corporate level, and leadership transitions. She has served on the board and as chair of the marketing committee of the Bivona Child Advocacy Center, is a donor to Lollypop Farm’s Building Campaign, and is a longtime W.B. Potter Society member of Causewave Community Partners.
Butler and Till have said that they are most proud of their dedication and commitment to their hometown of Rochester. Butler/Till, which is 100% employee owned, will soon move to downtown Rochester in the heart of the Downtown Innovation Zone.
The Herbert W. Vanden Brul Student Entrepreneurial awards were established last year to recognize outstanding RIT undergraduate or graduate students who have demonstrated the potential to become successful entrepreneurs.
This year’s student recipients are:
Hansel Leal, a computing and information technologies major from Miami Gardens, Fla., who was named the 2020 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Student Entrepreneurial Award winner. Leal is founder of Local Sports, a web application that allows users to organize and play their favorite sports with one other. The goal is to help create exciting moments, capture those moments, and share them with others. Leal hopes to launch a prototype within the next year.
Elise King, a 2020 graduate of RIT’s mechanical engineering program from Pittsburgh, was presented with the second place award. King is chief technology officer of Niche Industries Corp, whose mission is to serve the United States Armed Forces by creating software that enables military fuel logistics.
Andrea Gonzalez Esteche, a 2020 graduate of RIT’s industrial design master’s degree program from Paraguay, was presented with the third place award. She has been building her graphic and industrial design career in her home country, and her work incorporates transformation and utilization of products and materials, a focus on eco-design and sustainability, and developing products based on the needs of society. She is also a Fulbright Scholar.
“The Vanden Brul award is one of Rochester’s best annual traditions of celebrating top business successes with more than 30 distinguished recipients who are examples of entrepreneurial vision and success,” said Saunders College Dean Jacqueline Mozrall. “This year we are pleased to honor Sue Butler and Tracy Till, two tremendous female leaders who demonstrate the ideals of successful entrepreneurship, employee-focused practices and a commitment to the Rochester community. In addition, our student winners are shining examples of what the future holds for the world’s newest entrepreneurs. Although we were unable to gather in person to celebrate all of these successes, we look forward to coming together next year to recognize these exceptional entrepreneurs.”
The Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award was created in 1984 and is annually given to a successful individual or individuals who developed a business that improved the Rochester economy or whose innovative management skills have changed the course of an existing business.
Past Vanden Brul recipients include Dutch Sommers, CEO of Graywood Companies, Jasco Heat Treating and Jasco Pharmaceuticals LLC; Joseph Lobozzo, former CEO of JML Optical; John Smith, IT serial entrepreneur; Ronald Ricotta and Michael Nuccitelli, co-owners of Century Mold Inc. and Parlec Inc.; the late Ernest J. Del Monte Sr., E. J. Del Monte Corp.; Douglas Brush and Jim Brush, Sentry Group; William K. Pollock, Optimation Technology; Kitty Van Bortel, Van Bortel Group; and E. Philip Saunders, Griffith Energy.
More information about the Vanden Brul award is available on the Saunders College website.