To celebrate the accomplishments of women and inspire others to realize their dreams, inaugural Women’s Festivals were launched this month in Santa Barbara and Sedona. Founded by entrepreneurs Patty DeDominic, of Montecito, and Mary Schnack, the forums focused on five key areas: personal, professional, philanthropic, political and planet.

The forums were held March 7-9 in Santa Barbara and this past weekend in Arizona.

In Santa Barbara, the March 8 “personal” panel on “Transition: The Best is Yet to Come,” was thought-provoking for the approximately 50 people — predominately women — who attended.

Introducing the panel, Alberto G. Alvarado, Los Angeles district director for the Small Business Administration, started out the morning with a laugh when he asked the audience, “When does a woman most enjoy a man’s company?” The answer: “When she owns it.”

Then it was on to a dynamic discussion of transitions — both in life and in business — with four very different women.

“Your experiences turn to lessons and, hopefully, those lessons turn to wisdom,” said Tessa Warschaw, Ph.D., founder of Big Thinking Women and the author of Winning by Negotiation and Resiliency: How to Bounce Back Faster, Stronger, Smarter. As you age, “if you don’t have your marbles and you don’t have cash, you’re in trouble,” she said.

“If you live in the future or in the past, you’re wasting your time,” said Linda LoRey, president and CEO of Frederick’s of Hollywood, who related her story of taking the company public and in the same year becoming a mother for the first time at age 52. “You can do it all, but you can’t do it all at once,” she said, although it sounds like she, at least, can do an awful lot at once.

Maureen Ford, an entrepreneurial education expert and author of The Turning Point, said that a dream about her dead mother inspired her to write the book, for which all profits go toward Women for Women International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to financial, educational and interpersonal support of women survivors of war, poverty and injustice.

Joan Frentz, author of Life Begins at 60 and a personal trainer in Carpinteria, talked about the importance of staying in good physical health.

“The good and bad news is that we’re going to live to be 100,” said the impressively spry 72-year-old. “We have to take care of ourselves to make those years worthwhile.”

A fundamental objective of the festivals was “to bring together a unique gathering of extraordinary women to share their experiences and wealth of knowledge with the goal of transforming the lives of participants,” according to the organizers. Other featured speakers included actor LeVar Burton; Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara; Dr. Susan Love, founder of the Susan Love Research Foundation; and philanthropist Sara Miller McCune, founder and chairwoman of Sage Publications.