Nominations are open for the eighth annual Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards for women entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Winners will be announced at the annual Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards dinner, Friday, May 4, at the Hilton Santa Barbara Seaside Resort.

Outstanding women entrepreneurs will be recognized for their success and contributions to the economy and the community in 11 categories:

Agriculture & Wineries
Emerging Business (1-5 years)
Green & Social Entrepreneurs
Health & Wellness
Hospitality & Tourism
Media & Communication
Professional Services
Science & Technology
Wholesale, Manufacturing, & Global Trade

Nominations are open to any woman entrepreneur in Santa Barbara or Ventura county. Descriptions of each category are listed at Deadline for nominations is Monday, March 5.

“We are so pleased that we expanded our nominations to Ventura County last year,” said Cathy Feldman, board chair/CEO of the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation (SOEF).

“By encouraging these nominations, SOEF will bring well-deserved attention to the valuable contributions made by the many women who are influencing the economics of our region and other communities,” she said.

The selection of award-winners will be done by successful business women from outside the area who are not affiliated with the foundation to ensure fairness and integrity in the decision-making process, the foundataion said.

Three finalists in each category will be announced at the end of March. While all the finalists will be recognized before the awards dinner, the winners will be revealed at dinner.

In addition to the 11 awards, one special award is selected by the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation’s Board — the Rock Star: Life Achievement Award, which goes to a successful woman entrepreneur who has made an indelible impact on the community, the foundation said.

Previous winners of this award are Pamela Webber, Sara Miller McCune, Dorothy Largay, Betty Hatch, Kathy Odell and Mindy Bingham. The 2018 recipient will be announced in a few weeks.

Proceeds from the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards benefit student winners of the SBCC Scheinfeld Center’s New Venture Challenge, a business-pitch competition for area high school and college students that promotes youth entrepreneurship.

The student winners will be the foundation’s guests at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards dinner, where they are recognized and receive their prizes in the form of seed money.

Student finalists from the New Venture Challenge participate in a Student Startup Showcase May 4 at the SOE Awards event.
“The mission of the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation is to support entrepreneurship at all levels in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties because entrepreneurs are the engine for growing our economy,” Feldman said.

“By recognizing women entrepreneurs for the benefit of student entrepreneurs, we believe we are making an important contribution to that growth,” she said.

For more about the 2017 Spirit of Entrepreneurship winners, visit

— Cathy Feldman for Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation.