Ombrella Inc. Creates Opportunities for Women in Technology

Laurie Simon is the founder and CEO of Ombrella Inc. and a nationally recognized advocate for women-owned businesses. She is passionate about issues at the intersection of technology, policy and economic opportunity. Simon is committed to advancing the state of women in business, particularly in the technology arena.

Simon started her business in 2004 and has grown it into a thriving multi-million dollar company, providing professional project management services to Fortune 500 companies and government clients. The company currently has 25 employees, and is projected to double in size to 50 employees by year-end. Ombrella prides itself on having created opportunities for dozens of women to build careers in technology outside the constraints of a traditional corporate setting. It competes with the IT consulting practices of the Big 5 firms.

Prior to moving to Kirkland in 2009, the company was located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. The primary reason for moving out of Seattle was a desire to avoid paying the city’s gross receipts based B&O taxes. Simon believes that the City of Kirkland’s revenue generating regulatory license fee of $100 per employee is a fairer way to generate revenue from businesses, and that it does not serve to punish business owners for growth the way that B&O taxes do.

Simon finds that Kirkland’s smaller size and welcoming business community are benefits too.  She is a member of the Kirkland Business Roundtable and the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce. Having both her business and residence in Kirkland provides her with many opportunities to give back to the community. She is a strong supporter of the buy local movement, and makes a point to spend money with Kirkland-based businesses whenever possible. She finds that Kirkland’s walkability, safety, and lakefront location help in the recruitment and retention of employees.

The most recent addition to Simon’s trophy case is the Small Business Administration’s 2011 National Woman in Business Champion of the Year Award. She will be honored for her achievement in Seattle on April 21 and in Washington, D.C. on May 18-20. She is heavily involved in numerous organizations that support women in business and technology, including Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Women’s Presidents Organization (WPO), Women in Technology International (WITI), and Win With Washington.

Her company is a certified women business enterprise through CPUC Supplier Clearinghouse, NWBOC, OMBE/State of WA and WBENC. She is especially proud of her work with Give Me 5, a program that has increased by over 30% the number of women-owned businesses registered for federal contracts.

Simon also serves on two Executive Advisory Boards. For Women Impacting Public Policy, her focus is communications and instant impact teams for Washington. The other alliance is the Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance (GWATA), where she is working to promote a vibrant, technology-based economy in a largely rural area.

Off the clock, Simon can be found boating, riding her motorcycle, or surfing in remote areas of Mexico. She and her husband Chris have two college-age girls.

Ombrella Inc. 25 Central Way, Suite 330 Kirkland, WA 98033 425.202.4888