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Greenville & Hockessin Life

Empowering Great Dames and their remarkable ideas

Dec 03, 2018 10:35AM ● By J. Chambless

Dr. Kimberly Nalda was the winner of the Great Dames Remarkable Ideas Competition in 2016.

By Steven Hoffman
Staff Writer

What does it take to make a woman a great dame?

Other great dames.

According to Hockessin resident Dr. Kimberly Nalda, one of the most important aspects of the Great Dames group is how it brings together women of all ages to empower each other.

“Great Dames is a unique group of dynamic women who come together to educate, inspire, challenge and support each other,” explained Nalda, a family medicine doctor. “It's more than just your typical networking group. Women in Great Dames are part of the group to authentically connect in friendship rather than get leads.”

One of the more innovative initiatives that Great Dames has brought to the community is the Remarkable Ideas Competition, which finds, funds, and supports women who have ideas that improve the quality of life and help people connect and collaborate with each other. Three years ago, Nalda first became involved with Great Dames through this competition, which draws women innovators from across the country.

For the 2016 competition, Nalda pitched the concept of Rekindle Family Medicine. She explained the concept:

“We can all agree that the practice of medicine has changed for the worse in the last 20 to 30 years, and many would blame the third party involvement of payers and insurers, and the increase in the administrative burden,” she explained. “This results in a patient experience of rarely seeing their actual doctor and when they do, they get 8 to 12 minutes of their time. For every hour seeing patients, doctors spend two hours doing paperwork. Many doctors are leaving Delaware or the practice of medicine altogether. We have lost the personal connection with patients and lost the humanity of medicine.”

What Rekindle Family Medicine does is it takes the third parties out of equation so that the physician has a direct relationship with patients.

Nalda explained, “Our membership model allows doctors and patients to rekindle an authentic relationship. We focus on wellness, which means looking at the whole person including stress, sleep, nutrition, exercise and social connection. We spend the time on actual patient care instead of paperwork so we can know our patients well and provide higher quality, lower priced care. We also have the goal of saving money by directly contracting with imaging facilities and labs to provide services at a discount. We purchase medications wholesale and pass those savings along to patients, often saving them the cost of their membership or more. In short, direct primary care and Rekindle family medicine is better for patients, and better for doctors, as well as being a great option for insured and uninsured patients alike.”

Nalda was the winner of the Great Dames Remarkable Ideas Competition in 2016, and received over $25,000 in resources, mentorship, and leadership and business training. It made a huge difference as she worked to build Rekindle Family Medicine.

“I was a fledgling business owner and the business and marketing training and mentorship was some of the most valuable information I have received in my life,” Nalda explained. “More generally, I find some of the benefits of being a member of Great Dames to be expanding my worldview with inspirational talks, and deepening friendships with the influential women of Delaware and the surrounding area.”

That's precisely the kind of impact that Sharon Kelly Hake hoped for when she was one of the co-founders of Great Dames. Today, Hake is the CEO of Great Dames—and an inspiration to many of the people in the group.

Nalda said, “I always walk away from meetings inspired and optimistic after encouragement from Sharon Kelly Hake that we all can change the world if we put our minds to it.”

The organization kicked off the third Great Dames Remarkable Ideas Competition on Oct. 15 of this year with an event that was headlined by media sensation Jen Groover and Delaware Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long—themselves two great dames. Groover is the creator of the Butler Bag, and was named by Success magazine as a “one-woman brand.” She has dedicated her career to inspiring others to realize their potential, so the message that she was delivering was right in line with the mission of Great Dames.

Hall-Long, the keynote speaker, has worked to ensure a stronger, healthier Delaware by supporting legislation aimed at combating addiction, building a stronger mental health system, fighting cancer and battling health inequities.

After the Remarkable Ideas Competition pitches were made on Oct. 15, the winners were then announced on Nov. 5. Erica Marshall, president and founder of Defendant Data Solutions, LLC, was named the winner of the 2018 Great Dames Remarkable Ideas Competition. Marshall, an attorney, scored high in the competition for her work with Defendant Data Solutions, which aims to reduce disparities in federal sentencing, one case at a time, by providing expert reports containing data and analysis to defense attorneys as an advocacy tool at sentencing. These expert reports are designed to flag the discrepancies at play in each case and highlight for the judge the sentence that was received by other defendants nationwide who had the same criminal history and committed a similar crime.

“In other words,” said Hake, “Erica is leveling the playing field. Imagine how impactful her work will be in the criminal justice system. She is fighting for fairness, sometimes against seemingly impossible odds, and we are privileged to support her cause.”

In addition to Nalda and Marshall, the other recipient of the Remarkable Ideas Competition is Tanya Whye, the founder and CEO of Delaware Green Mattress Disassembling & Recycling, LLC. She won the first competition in 2014.

Being able to reward and support innovators like these women is important. In addition to the Remarkable Ideas Competitions, Great Dames offers a number of different programs that aim to transform the lives of women, including the powerful conversations speaker series, peer advisory mentoring groups, and other initiatives that build awareness and financial support for causes that are vital to women.

Nalda explained why it's so important for there to be a group that empowers women and girls.

“My mother consistently gave me the positive message that I could achieve anything — and taking that to heart, I have succeeded in my goal to become a physician,” she explained. “However, not all women have a positive, powerful female role model in their lives. Women need to hear the message that they can do anything, and be anything they want to be. They need the community of other women who are successful, pulling and pushing them to higher levels. Those of us who have been recipients of mentorship and guidance should be eager to pay it forwards with involvement in organizations that further the empowerment of women and girls. When women are given education, connection, inspiration and the tools for success there will be a ripple effect leading to workplace equality, earning potential, leadership opportunities for all women locally and worldwide.”

For more information about Great Dames or the Remarkable Ideas Competition, visit

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected].

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