2016 Judges

Thank you to our judges!

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Maureen Ford

Founder, Southern California Entrepreneurship Academy
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Maureen Ford's passion has always been teaching and working with people to help them to set goals and accomplish their dreams. In 1987 she started the Southern California Entrepreneurship Academy, an innovative educational program for college students who wanted to start a business. As an advisor and mentor to hundreds of students and start-up companies in Southern California, she received the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst & Young and the Orange County business community. Maureen is an active member of her community with an impressive record of volunteer work, public service and leadership in city government.

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Vanessa Ting

Founder, Lead Strategist Retail Path
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Vanessa Ting is a former retail buyer and consumer packaged goods marketer, and now a serial entrepreneur and leader in women's venture development. As a former Retail Buyer for Target Corporation and marketer for Neutrogena, Vanessa Ting now helps consumer brands strengthen their appeal to major retail buyers nationwide through Retail Path, a retail consulting firm that designs retail distribution growth strategies and provides outsourced Director of Sales services to emerging brands. Her companies are guided by her passion for cultivating women-led businesses.

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Pam Avila

Principal, Sierra Summit Group
Director, Economic Development
Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce
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After more than 30 years in the fast-paced Silicon Valley technology world, Pam re-invented herself with a new career in the public sector. During her time in high-tech, Pam was a sales and marketing executive until she became an entrepreneur with several start-ups to her credit. She also mentored 80 small business owners at CT Pioneers, an organization that she founded until its acquisition. Pam is currently the director of economic development for the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce and serves as the CEO and Board Chairman for the Stronger Futures Foundation.

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Karen Caplan

President/CEO Frieda's Specialty Produce
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Karen Caplan is a specialty fruit and vegetable guru and the President and CEO of Frieda's Specialty Produce in Los Alamitos, CA. The women- and family-owned company has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families, and food lovers everywhere since 1962, introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets like Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes, Habanero Peppers, Sunchokes®, and Organic Finger Limes. Karen is a well-respected leader in the produce industry, as well as a role model for women entrepreneurs, and small and family-owned businesses. You can follow Karen's blog at http://www.friedas.com/karensblog/.

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Lynda LeMole, M.S.

Nutrition, Herb & Food Consultant
Former President, Traditional Medicinals
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Lynda LeMole is known for her pioneering efforts in supporting the use of herbal medicine. Lynda was involved in the very beginning of the natural products movement, using her nutrition education and passion for holistic health and sustainability to teach and help various companies employ socially responsible practices. She was co-owner and president of Traditional Medicinals from 1983 to 2003, where she helped roll out the nation's first over-the-counter medicinal teas. Lynda is on the board of United Plant Savers. Her contributions to the herbal products industry are invaluable in inspiring and teaching legions of individuals, organizations, and businesses.

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Suzanne Patrick-Lawrence

President/CEO Advisor Business Solutions
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As President and CEO of Advisor Business Solutions, Suzanne Patrick-Lawrence brings over 25 years of her own business, marketing and communications experience to each client relationship. She has seen the ups and downs of economies and what happens when companies do not have effective strategies in place.

Previous to launching Advisor Business Solutions, Patrick-Lawrence oversaw business development and marketing for an international asset management firm and raised over $60 million assets under management.

In 2001, she launched Advisor Business Solutions, a certified Small Business Enterprise, Women Owned and Minority Owned Enterprise providing business development, buy/sell matchmaking, succession planning and strategic marketing consulting for small businesses, financial services firms and government agencies looking to increase revenues, secure clients or outreach initiatives.

She serves on PCR SBDC Advisory Board, is an active member for the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and is three-term past-President of the FPA San Gabriel Valley chapter. Ms. Lawrence is a speaker at financial industry events and lectures to audiences throughout the US. She educates professionals and community organizations on ways to improve their skill sets. She also provides an educational seminar series called Financial Empowerment for Women© throughout Southern California.

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