The evening of May 5 at the Biltmore’s Coral Casino, Lynda Weinman, founder of, will ask: “The envelope, please…” and reveal the 11 outstanding women entrepreneurs who will be the recipients of the 2017 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards.

Winners were selected from more than 100 nominees in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties by independent judges who live outside the Santa Barbara area, and are not connected with the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (SOE) Foundation, the nonprofit that hosts the event.

“It is exciting for everyone involved,” says Cathy Feldman, the foundation’s board chair and CEO. “We had an amazing group of candidates this year, and it was hard for our judges to narrow it down to the top three in each of the categories.”

The 33 finalists will be recognized for their achievements at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards dinner.

“These remarkable women have such a variety of enterprises that we think it is important to tell the community about them. In fact, every one of them deserves recognition,” Feldman said.

One recipient, Pamela Webber, was unanimously selected by the foundation board and announced prior to the awards for the impact she has made on the community as a business-owner, tourism pioneer, and early environmentalist.

Webber will be honored as the Rock Star: Life Achievement winner for 2017 at the gala dinner.

Knowing nothing about tourism, she founded what has become the Santa Barbara Hotel Group in the 1950s, and grew it into five properties:

The Inn by the Harbor, Lavender Inn, Best Western Plus Encina Lodge & Suites, Best Western Plus Pepper Tree Inn, and Brisas del Mar Inn at the Beach.

The Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards also will honor high school and college student winners of SBCC’s Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge competition.

Proceeds from the awards dinner will go toward cash prizes, in the form of seed money, as well as scholarships for the winning student entrepreneurs.

Several sponsors also contribute directly to the student awards including Montecito Bank & Trust, Southern California Edison and Bank of the West. This fulfills the foundation’s mission of supporting entrepreneurship at all levels in the Santa Barbara community.

Before the dinner, the guests and public are invited to meet the high school and collegiate finalists from the New Venture Challenge and learn more about their proposed businesses from 5:30-6:30 p..m. on the Coral Casino’s patio at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Student Startup Showcase.

Tickets are available until May 1 and can be purchased at Click on the Buy Tickets Here button. For more information, email or call 682-8380.

The 33 finalists for the 2017 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards are:

» Agricultural/Wineries

Ashely Farrell, Melissa Sayer, Deborah Shaw

» Emerging Business

Carey Bradshaw, Yvonne Erwin, Alexis Schomer

» Green/Social Entrepreneurship

Heather Hochrain, Marine Schumann, Kristine Sperling

» Health

Jacqui Burge, Emilee Garfield, Melodee Meyer

» Hospitality/Tourism:

April Hoff, Tara Jones Haaf, Nirasha Rodriguez

» Media/Communications

Lindsey Carnett, Gillian Christie, Raiza Giorgi

» Nonprofit

Lynn Houston, Debra Manchester, Janet Reineck

» Professional Services

Hannah Jenner, Alelia Parenteau, Deborah Sweeney

» Retail

Reyna Chavez, Fay Doe, Angela Rosales

» Science/Technology

Marta Alvarez, Kristin Denault, Payal Kamdar

» Wholesale/Manufacturing/Global Trade

Jeanne David, J’nelle Holland, Kirsten Kemp Becker

— Joni Kelly for Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation.