Nearly 300 women and men attended nonprofit Women’s Economic Ventures’ annual Empowerment Is Priceless event last Friday at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.
The breakfast fundraiser recognized WEV’s 2013 Trailblazer Award honoree, Business of the Year and Volunteers of the Year. WEV clients also shared stories of their personal experience with WEV’s continuum of programs and discussed where their businesses are today.
The Trailblazer Award is typically presented to someone who is a pioneer in their industry, one who exemplifies courage, vision and the tenacity to tear down barriers. This year, WEV founding board member Kate Silsbury of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. was named the 2013 Trailblazer Award honoree. A financial planner since 1985, Silsbury was given the award for her work in empowering thousands of women to become financially literate.
“WEV is honoring Kate today not just because she was one of the first women in our area to become a financial planner, but because of her commitment to helping women understand money and take control of their financial future,” said Gail Zannon, award presenter and WEV 2011 Trailblazer Award recipient.
Each year, WEV honors a business owner who represents the diverse clients the organization serves. The award is not necessarily for the biggest or the fastest-growing business, rather, WEV recognizes the unique and inspiring nature of a business and the contributions it and its owner make to the community.
The 2013 WEV Business of the Year award went to Julia Crookston, owner of Goodland Kitchen and Market in Old Town Goleta. Crookston was honored for bringing vibrancy and a sense of community back to Old Town Goleta and for growing her own business and supporting the growth of other businesses through renting commercial kitchen space at Goodland Kitchen.
“All of us are empowered when we master concepts we didn’t think we could master; when we face our fears and do it anyway. We are empowered when we take a leap of faith, not knowing where we’ll land,” said Marsha Bailey, founder and CEO of WEV. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s easier to take that leap when you have a safety net beneath you — a safety net that includes a caring network of support, opportunities to learn and grow, and the financial resources to keep going. For thousands of women, that safety net is WEV.”
Karim Kaderali, founder and president of Santa Barbara Axxess, and Kim Maxwell, owner of Kim Maxwell Studio, spoke on behalf of WEV clients like themselves.
“As a result from a $20,000 loan from WEV, we are able to employ nine people and this year we’ll top $1 million in giving back to local schools through the sale of Santa Barbara Axxess books,” Kaderali said.
WEV also honored two Volunteers of the Year for their work and dedication: Santa Barbara County Volunteer of the Year Lisa Braithwaite, public speaking coach and trainer, and Ventura County Volunteer of the Year Harriet Cohen, founder of Training Solutions consulting firm.
Major sponsors of the 2013 Empowerment is Priceless event were Union Bank, Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, Montecito Bank & Trust, Broadview Mortgage and Boone Graphics.
All proceeds from the Empowerment Is Priceless event will directly benefit client programs in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, including Self-Employment Training (SET), Business Plan Intensive (BPI), SET to Launch, Thrive in Five™ and the Small Business Loan Fund.
WEV is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women. Since 1991, WEV has been providing self-employment training, technical assistance and microloans to primarily low-income women. WEV offers a continuum of programs to help both women and men start, stabilize and grow small businesses. WEV’s service area includes Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, with offices in Santa Barbara and Ventura. WEV’s Small Business Loan Fund provides start-up and expansion loans of up to $50,000 to pre-bankable microenterprises. Click here for more information.
— Danielle Deltorchio is a publicist representing Women’s Economic Ventures.