Sharlene Schmidt Vichness ’66 was selected as a Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur by the Leading Women Entrepreneur and Business Owners’ (LWE) organization. Vichness is the founder and CEO of Language Directions, LLC, a cultural awareness training and customized language support company she formed in 2005.
LWE is an organization led by female senior-level industry leaders aimed at recognizing and mentoring female entrepreneurs and business owners across the nation. According to LWE, “less than 3 percent of women owned companies get investment funds” and consequently only “16 percent of total U.S. jobs” are women-owned businesses. Vichness is one of the few women who has broken these barriers.
Language Directions is a full service language training company specializing in customized short- and long-term instructional programs, offering all levels of training support, including American English as a Second Language (ESL), Accent Reduction, Basic Skills, Cultural Competence, Spanish for Management, Food Safety (ServSafe®) and other industry compliance issues that require effective communication.
The business is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) and Women Business Enterprise (WBE) by the state of New Jersey. Language Directions has been featured in NJBIZ Magazine, New Jersey Business Magazine, WIPP’s myContracting Magazine, and TomorrowsTrends.com.
As a student at the Colleges, Vichness was a dual French and Spanish language major and president of Phi Sigma Lota and the National Romance Language Honor Society. She was a member of the Herald, WEOS, student government, and the tennis and volleyball teams. Vichness is an active alumna, serving as Reunion Volunteer and part of the Career Service Network.
Vichness is also an active member of her local community, dedicating her time as a trustee of Ramapo College of New Jersey, ambassador of the Newark Regional Business Partnership, vice president of the board of trustees of the Roseland Free Public Library and as a member of the Workforce Investment Board-Essex County.
Along with her husband, Paul J. Vichness ’65, she recently endowed a fund that supports entrepreneurial studies summer internships. The couple met on campus more than 50 years ago, and have maintained an active part of their lives around the Colleges, participating in many capital initiatives including the William Smith Centennial project and the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts.