Saturday, October 20 , 2018, 10:59 am | Fair 78º


Women’s Business Group Honors Trailblazer

Annual event raises $400,000 to support local entrepreneurs

Lynda Nahra, left, Kathy Odell, Marsha Bailey and Claudia Cordova Papa at WEV fundraiser.
Lynda Nahra, left, Kathy Odell, Marsha Bailey and Claudia Cordova Papa at WEV fundraiser. (Theresa Gingras)

Women’s Economic Ventures’ (WEV) welcomed some 400 guests and raised more than $400,000 at its Empowerment is Priceless event held Oct. 10 at the Fess Parker Hotel in Santa Barbara.

The nonprofit’s annual breakfast fundraiser recognized WEV’s 2017 Trailblazer, Business of the Year and Volunteer of the Year award winners.

Each year, WEV presents the Trailblazer Award to a pioneer in her industry, exemplifying courage, vision and the tenacity to overcome barriers.

This year's honor went to Lynda Nahra, who is the first female bank president in Santa Barbara and current president of the Central Coast Region of Pacific Western Bank.

“When Lynda started her banking career in 1970, it was a different era,” said Catharine Manset Morreale, director of finance for Santa Barbara’s Habitat for Humanity.

“Women were expected to stay in their place. Possibly attend college and spend a few years in a low paying job before getting married and leaving the workforce," Morreale said.

"Lynda was a trailblazer because she broke that mold. She worked her way up the ladder the old fashioned way — lots of hard work combined with a stubbornness not to accept the status quo,” Morreale said.

WEV’s Business of the Year award honors a business owner who represents the clients the organization serves and recognizes the unique and inspiring nature of a business and the contributions it and its owner makes to the community.

The 2017 WEV Business of the Year award went to Claudia Cordova Papa, owner of Aqua Skin & Nail Care, a dedicated client who has utilized the WEV loan program and Thrive-in-Five business consulting.

Aqua currently has 10 full-time employees, who benefit from Aqua’s team-based pay compensation system that allows them to share in the company’s profits through a unique business model implemented by Cordova Papa last year.

WEV also honored Hudson Institute of Coaching as Volunteer of the Year for its commitment and service to WEV.

For more than 10 years, Hudson has provided entrepreneurial coaching to push WEV clients to work at their peak capacity by identifying and developing their personal skills and assets.

For 26 years WEV has been working to help women entrepreneurs to succeed.

“Women’s business ownership is about freedom and options, security — and human potential. It is about empowering women to dream big dreams, to act on a bigger stage, to become leaders,” said Marsha Bailey, WEV’s founder/CEO.

“The good news is that women are starting businesses at five times the national average and own 38 percent of privately held firms,” Bailey said. “Unfortunately, they start their businesses with half as much capital as their male counterparts.

"The capital gap widens as businesses grow larger. Among the largest businesses (the top 25 percent), men receive six times more capital than women," she said.

"Last year women received only 2 percent of venture capital dollars, a decline from previous years,” Bailey said.

These statistics demonstrate the importance of programs like WEV.

In addition to educational programs that build skills and confidence to help women business owners, WEV has made $4 million in small-business loans and plans to increase its lending to $1 million per year within the next three years.

Guests at the event interacted with featured WEV clients, who shared their experiences as entrepreneurs and how their businesses have evolved with the support of WEV’S programs.

Major sponsors of the 2017 Empowerment is Priceless: Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray LLP, Pacific Western Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co., La Arcada Plaza, Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura, Montecito Bank & Trust, Rabobank, N.A., Union Bank.

All proceeds raised will directly benefit client programs in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties including Smart Entrepreneurial Training, Thrive in Five®, WEV en Español and the WEV Loan Program.

To learn more about Women’s Economic Ventures, visit

— Danelle Coyle for Women’s Economic Ventures.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Gary Welterlen and Carla Reeves
Gary Welterlen and Carla Reeves
"We both love this business. We strive to make life long relationships from each real estate transaction."

Full Profile >