What to Know About Denise Woodard, Urban One Honors Community Hero Honoree

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Denise Woodard Partake

Source: C/O: Partake Foods

Brought To You By Walmart

It’s a fantastic thing to have a vision and make it a reality. It’s even more impressive when that vision allows you to make a difference in your community.

Such is the case for the 2024 Urban One Honors Best in Black Community Hero, Denise Woodard, Founder and CEO of Partake Foods. She’s created a successful business and, in the process, gave the next generation of young Black entrepreneurs the tools to achieve in a space where they are underrepresented.

Woodard started her business in 2016 after her daughter, Vivienne, had been diagnosed with several food allergies. As she shopped for snacks that were safe for Vivienne, she realized that much of what was available in stores wasn’t appetizing. That frustration led Woodard to start Partake Foods, a brand offering delicious snacks free of the top nine food allergens: peanuts, milk, eggs, tree nuts, wheat, shellfish, soy, fish, and sesame. 

Woodard’s goal was to make delicious snacks, whether or not you have food allergies. The brand includes an assortment of cookies, grahams, and pancake + waffle mixes. Woodard didn’t venture into this world mindlessly—she had a decade’s experience working in consumer packaged goods, so if anyone was qualified to do it, it was her. Woodard took a risk, quit her job, and built her company.

Her dedication and grind have since paid off tremendously. Woodard became the first Black woman to publicly raise over $1 million for a consumer packaged goods startup. The success didn’t stop there—she raised over $25 million for her brand, now on the shelves in more than 14,000 retailers, including Walmart.

But there was more Woodard wanted to accomplish. Her continued success in consumer packaged goods inspired her to pay it forward and help other underrepresented Black people in the space. As Woodard notes, the industry isn’t particularly robust in diversity—she was often the only woman in the room before she started her brand. Her Black and Asian heritage made the disparity even more glaring.

From its inception, Partake was built with deeper intentions in mind. Woodard has made it her goal to be the change she wanted to see, ensuring her staff reflects the diversity of the community Partake serves. To lift future generations of minorities moving into consumer packaged goods, she founded the Black Futures Fellowship. Every year, the 501c3 program invites active HBCU students to apply and helps them land paid internships in the consumer packaged goods industry. 

It’s one more step toward making the world more equitable for budding Black entrepreneurs or any HBCU student with their eyes on thriving in consumer packaged goods. Urban One Honors is proud to award Woodard with this well-deserved prize. Partake Foods is a testament to the greatness that can be achieved when Black entrepreneurs are well supported, thriving, and able to pay it forward to their community. Walmart is proud to sponsor this honor as part of its ongoing commitment to uplifting Black entrepreneurs.

You can watch Woodward and other honorees receive their flowers at Urban One Honors: Best in Black, Premiering Feb 25th at 8/7C on TV One.