Len Green, Vanilla Beane Inducted into Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs

President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA'92, PhD and longtime Babson College faculty member Len Green

In a ceremony ripe with emotional moments and themes of entrepreneurial leadership, beloved and longtime faculty member Leonard Green (ADE 2021) and Bené Millinery & Bridal Supply hat shop owner Vanilla Beane (ADE 2021) were officially inducted into Babson College’s Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs®.

Since its inception in 1978, just shy of when Beane opened her hat shop that still exists today in Washington, D.C., the ADE has inducted more than 100 internationally renowned entrepreneurial leaders who have contributed significantly to the development of free enterprise worldwide.

Green is a CPA, MBA, and entrepreneur-chairman and founder of The Green Group, a tax and financial services consulting firm. As a Babson College professor, he has taught more than 1,500 students, many of whom have taken his popular course The Ultimate Entrepreneurial Challenge, where budding entrepreneurial leaders go head to head with real-world experiences.

“To me, to be entrepreneurial, you have to be hard working, and have pride and passion in what you’re doing,” Green said. “I consider this one of the greatest honors. … Hopefully, my story will inspire others to strive for greatness, just as the previous honorees have inspired me.”

Bené Millinery & Bridal Supply hat owner Vanilla Beane (ADE 2021)
Bené Millinery & Bridal Supply hat shop owner Vanilla Beane (ADE 2021)

Beane’s hats have adorned the heads of such luminaries as the late Dorothy Height, former president of the National Council for Negro Women, and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser. Though Bené Millinery sells hats made by other designers, each custom-made hat is designed by Beane herself. No two are exactly the same.

“I’m blessed. You’ve got to keep pushing, it takes hard work to get where you’re going, nothing comes easy,” Beane said in a prerecorded video before her granddaughter, Jeni Hansen, accepted the honor on her behalf. “The best advice my teacher ever gave me was, ‘love many, trust few, learn to paddle your own canoe.'”

President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD described Green and Beane as trailblazers we seek to emulate.

“Both have not only made a lasting impact on their industries,” he said, “but they have also influenced and inspired others who have followed in their footsteps.”

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