Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 8:20 am | Overcast 61º

 
 
 
 

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria Celebrates Inspirational Women at Annual Luncheon

Alumna and keynote speaker Karina Jougla credits the organization with giving her a skill set that has helped her succeed in life

 

Boasting the largest attendance to date, 310 community members celebrated empowering women and girls at Girls Inc. of Carpinteria’s annual Women of Inspiration luncheon at the Girls Inc. gymnasium.

The gym, at 5315 Foothill Road, was cleverly transformed into a colorful patio venue that was packed with guests, many of whom were dressed in “Girls Inc. red” for the occasion.

Event co-chairwomen Susan Caine and Theresa Huerta kicked off the April 16 festivities and thanked everyone for supporting the nonprofit organization’s research-based curricula for girls ages 5 to 18.

Girls Inc. members Alitza Gonzalez and Laura Flores emceed the luncheon and shared their personal stories about how Girls Inc. has been a driving force in their lives.

The luncheon was totally underwritten so that all proceeds would benefit scholarships for girls. Important sponsors included AGIA Affinity, Kasia and Barry Brand, Susan Caine, Griffith & Thornburgh LLP, Theresa and Juan Huerta, the Hutton Parker Foundation, Insight Strategies, Victoria Juarez and Matthew Mooney, Ericka Loza-Lopez and Jaime Lopez, Montecito Bank & Trust, Lori Pearce, Nini and Peter Seaman, Sandra and Sam Tyler, Union Bank, and Ed and Nadia Van Wingerden.

Supportive board members included president Stefanie Herrington, vice president Theresa Huerta, treasurer Diane Wondolowski, secretary Dr. Patricia Madrigal, Terri Allison, Kevin Baird, John Cerda, John Franklin, Orlando Hernandez, Micheline Miglis, Sharon Organista, Jacquelyn Pawela-Crew, Lori Pearce and Gail Persoon.

New to the program was the presentation of the inaugural Patti and Terry Bliss Scholarship, which was awarded by the Jacobsen family to Girls Inc. member Anna Artagia, who is part of Girls Inc.’s Eureka! college-bound program. Artagia attended with her mother, Claudia, and 2-year-old brother, Noah.

Gonzalez and Flores announced the 2018 Women of Inspiration Award honoree, the late Nancy Walker Koppelman, a global activist, local visionary and advocate for women’s rights. Koppelman’s daughter, Renee Koppelman, accepted the award in her mother’s memory.

Koppelman’s passion for social equality began when she was a college student working in the women’s health-care movement. A Montecito resident, Koppelman served as co-chairwoman of the Women of Inspiration luncheon for several years and was a longtime supporter of the organization.

She also served as an ambassador for UCSB Arts & Lectures, was a key board member of Direct Relief, co-founded the Global Neighborhood Fund, and served on the advisory boards of the Aspen Brain Lab, The Aspen Institute and One Heart World-Wide.

Renee Koppelman accepted the 2018 Woman of Inspiration Award in memory of her mother, the late Nancy Walker Koppelman. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)
Renee Koppelman accepted the 2018 Woman of Inspiration Award in memory of her mother, the late Nancy Walker Koppelman. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

“Nancy was a fearless champion and crusader for women and girls locally and globally,” said Victoria Juarez, executive director of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria. “She was an inspirational force whose passion for life and enthusiastic spirit had no borders.

“We are endlessly grateful for her support of our mission, and for showing everyone what it means to be a strong, smart and bold woman.”

Karina Jougla, an alumna and 2011 Girls Inc. National Scholar, served as the event’s keynote speaker. Jougla credits her time at Girls Inc. of Carpinteria with providing her the inspiration, confidence and opportunities that have led to her success. She graduated from Columbia University in 2016 and serves as a marketing associate for the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders.

Jougla said she joined Girls Inc. when she was 5 years old. In high school, she was nominated to be a national teen adviser with Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign that raises awareness and funds for adolescent girls in developing countries. She traveled to Moscow in 2013 to represent Girl Up at the annual G(irls)20 Summit and since has shared the stage with many world leaders.

“Girls Inc. equipped me with a skill set that I can rely on for the rest of my life,”​ she said. “I know that even if I make a misstep, I’ll always have the skills that Girls Inc. instilled in me as my compass, and the support of this community.”

Jougla received $35,000 in scholarships throughout her time at Girls Inc., including the prestigious National Scholar recognition, making it financially possible for her to attend the college of her choice. Columbia became her “dream school” after she learned about and visited the university for the first time through a Girls Inc. trip to New York.

“Karina was inspired by the female role models she saw through Girls Inc. who encouraged her to pursue her passions,” Juarez told Noozhawk. “Her role quickly transformed into being one of those very role models for other young girls, and we are proud to see her continuing to effect change in the world day after day.”

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria is a member of Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold. With local roots dating to 1864 and national status since 1945, Girls Inc. has responded to the changing needs of girls through research-based programs and public education efforts that empower girls to understand, value and assert their rights.

It provides programs for girls 6 to 18 years old that focus on science, math and technology, health and sexuality, economic and financial literacy, sports skills, leadership and advocacy, and media literacy.

Click here for more information about Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, or call 805.684.6364. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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