Thursday, May 24 , 2018, 2:51 pm | Overcast 61º



Entrepreneur in Her 90s, Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree Is a Rock Star

Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree Click to view larger
Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree

Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, CEO of Pacific Air Industries, is the 2018 Rock Star: Life Achievement Award recipient, the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (SOE) Foundation has announced.

The SOE Foundation Board unanimously chose Lady Ridley-Tree, who is not only a successful businesswoman but also a leading philanthropist in Santa Barbara.

She will be honored at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards gala on May 4 at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.

The Rock Star: Life Achievement Award is presented to a successful woman entrepreneur who has made an indelible impact on the local community.

“Not enough people know that Lady Ridley-Tree is the CEO Pacific Air Industries + Air-Cert, Inc., a company founded by her late husband Paul in 1959,” said Cathy Feldman, board chair/CEO of the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation.

“She commutes to their headquarters in Chatsworth every week to supervise the business,” Feldman said.

PAI is a successful airplane-parts distributor as well as a FAA-certified repair shop that refurbishes and maintains an up-to-date inventory for airline companies and delivery services like FedEx around the world.

“We all know Lady Ridley-Tree for her countless contributions to the community, with the state-of-the-art Ridley-Tree Cancer Center being the most recent," Feldman said.

"This amazing woman, now in her nineties, is still actively running her business. Our board was enthusiastic about recognizing her because she is such an incredible role model for all of us,” she said.

Lady Ridley-Tree is never one to shy away from challenges. Years ago, when she lived in New York, she ran a shelter on the West Side helping get kids off the street, particularly girls.

She started what would become the first HeadStart program in the United States.

That’s why when it came time to move PAI’s facilities from Santa Monica where it had begun, to a state-of-the-art facility in Chatsworth two years ago, she didn’t think twice. The move was a success.

She has a similar philosophy about her philanthropy, which has benefitted UCSB, Santa Barbara City College, Cottage Hospital, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and other organizations.

Along with Lady Ridley-Tree, SOE Awards will be honoring 11 outstanding women entrepreneurs from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, selected by an independent panel of judges.

Proceeds from the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards benefit the winners of the SBCC Scheinfeld Center’s New Venture Challenge, a business plan competition for Santa Barbara County high school and college students.

The winners of both tiers of the New Venture Challenge are given financial support in the form of seed capital and scholarships, and receive their prizes at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards dinner on May 4.

For more about the SOE Foundation or Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards, visit, email [email protected], or call 682-8380.

— Joni Kelly for Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards.


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