From left, Laura Knight, Member of the Year; Jessica Lindsey, Rising Star; Judy Hawkins, Philanthropic Champion; Jenny Schatzle, Women Business Owner of the Year; Ana Jimenez, Rising Star; Susan Rose, Lifetime Achievement; Marsha Bailey, Innovator of the Year; Maria Wilson, Entrepreneur to Watch; and Judy Bruton, Education Advocate of the Year at NAWBO-Santa Barbara’s inaugural BRAVO Awards. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

March is Women’s History Month and was represented by the Santa Barbara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners on Thursday celebrating the organization’s 40th year with the inaugural BRAVO Awards honoring local women of influence held at the University Club.

“Our 40th anniversary provides us with an opportunity to remember our roots and what our founding mothers, current and past national and chapter leaders, and women business owners have achieved over 40 years,” said Kim Clark, NAWBO-SB president and Noozhawk partner and vice president of business development.

A wide range of entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators were recognized as trailblazers, including Woman Business Owner of the Year Jenny Schatzle of the Jenny Schatzle Program, Entrepreneur to Watch Maria Wilson of Painted Cabernet and Innovator of the Year Marsha Bailey of Women’s Economic Ventures.

“I am so honored to be NAWBO’s Woman Business Owner of the Year,” Schatzle said. “My incredible staff and I have worked hard to create an amazing, positive environment, and more importantly a community of supportive people committed to not just changing their bodies but changing their lives!”

Also recognized were Judy Hawkins of Ruby Road Leadership as Philanthropic Champion, and Judy Bruton and Susan Rose from Antioch University for Education Advocate of the Year and Lifetime Achievement.

NAWBO-SB member Laura Knight of Pascucci Restaurant was presented the Member of the Year award for providing time, goods and services to events, members and programs.

The organization also recognized two local youths — Ana Jimenez and Jessica Lindsey, both San Marcos High School students — with Rising Star of the Year awards for their work with the Youth Making Change Foundation and Youth Interactive program. In addition, Jimenez received a $500 scholarship from BOMA Investments LLC while Lindsey was presented with a $500 scholarship from Cox.

“I’m deeply honored to have been selected as one of the Rising Stars of the Year from this company of women who have already accomplished what I dream of doing — starting a business with my family,” the 17-year-old Jimenez said.

The influence of the organization and its recognition have already had a profound effect on her.

“The most important thing I have learned is that every successful enterprise has to have one totally committed leader that is fearless and obsessed with overcoming every obstacle,” Jimenez said. “Someone who will never, ever give up. Someone who will find help wherever and from whoever is needed. Someone who knows that the final responsibility is his or her own. And I now know that person will have to be me.”

The awards were nominated by NAWBO-SB members and the Santa Barbara County community and chosen by a selection committee using guidelines for each category, including number of years in business, impact, accomplishments and contributions to the local community.

“As a longtime NAWBO member and chapter founder, I’m especially proud of today’s honorees,” Patty DeDominic said. “They represent one of the chapter’s missions, which is to propel women into spears of influence and to train leaders for a changing world.”

NAWBO-SB has nearly 100 acting members, including a dozen founding members who work together toward common goals.

“As a business coach, I know the importance of focus and the power of recognition,” DeDominic said. “And I’m delighted that NAWBO-Santa Barbara has come so far, and I look forward to staying involved with the chapter and the national organization for many years to come.”

Established in 2007, NAWBO-SB is a nonprofit organization made up of a diverse group of women who own all or part of their businesses, and members are committed to helping other business owners network to expand their business, form alliances, create strategic alliances and work in unity to instill economic growth and strive to transform public policy.

NAWBO is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries and boasts more than 8,000 members and 80 chapters across the country.

“We know that NAWBO is strongest as one voice and we can all work together toward the same shared mission of propelling women entrepreneurs into spheres of economic, social and political power,” Clark said.

Since its founding in 1975, NAWBO has become a unified voice of America’s more than 10 million women businesses representing the fastest-growing segment of the economy.

The organization prides itself on being a global beacon for influence, ingenuity and action, and is uniquely positioned to provide incisive commentary on issues of importance to women business owners as a one-stop resource helping to propel women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.

NAWBO-SB members are predominantly small-business owners with a focus on increasing sales and using social media to generate business and participate in outreach opportunities, such as social and civic events, to promote business, gain more exposure and generate value within the community.

“Our local Santa Barbara Chapter is growing and we invite you to grow with us,” Clark said. “Our Annual Membership Drive is running now through April 30, and in addition to the benefit of saving $50 off the cost of membership, you will become a part of something bigger than yourself for the benefit of all women entrepreneurs and business owners both young and old.”

Upcoming events include the Connect & Re-connect Member Breakfast to build lasting relationships and stay connected on May 20 at the University Club. Click here for event details.

NAWBO-SB graciously thanks the following corporate partners for the success of the chapter: Accountability Plus, Bank of America, BOMA Investments LLCBuynak Fauver Archbald Spray, Cox, Deco Marketing Group, Dowitcher Designs, Heritage Oaks Bank, Linda Blue Photography, Montecito Bank & Trust, Noozhawk, On Q Financial, Pacific Coast Business Times and Reagan Professional Services

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.