2012 Winners

kathy gruver Health, Fitness & Beauty
Kathy Gruver
Healing Circle Massage

Dr. Kathy Gruver, author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet, has earned her Doctorate as a Traditional Naturopath and PhD in Natural Health. She has studied mind-body medicine at the famed Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School and pursued further education at The National Institutes of Health. Gruver has been featured as an expert in countless publications and has written dozens of health and wellness articles. She has also served as an expert witness for massage negligence and ethics cases.

In addition to maintaining an award winning natural health and medical massage practice in Santa Barbara, CA, Kathy offers phone and email health consultations. She has also produced an instructional massage DVD, Therapeutic Massage at Home; Learn to Rub People the RIGHT Way and is a practitioner with over 20 years of experience. Kathy was featured on Lifetime Television’s The Balancing Act in 2011 speaking about natural health and is in development with a network in Los Angeles for her own TV show. For more information and free health tips and resources go to www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com


karen mora Professional Services
Karen Mora
Accountability Plus

Karen Mora is a fantastic business woman and has grown her business tremendously since she started it and knows how to run a successful business. Karen is the CEO of Accountability Plus, a full-service bookkeeping and business management firm, which she founded in 1997. Her previous experience includes 10 years at a Silicon Valley commercial real estate firm and 5 years working for two Santa Barbara CPA firms. Karen’s business affiliations include Treasurer of the National Association of Women Business Owners, past VP and current member of the American Payroll Association – Santa Barbara Chapter, and past President of the Santa Barbara Bookkeeper’s Association. She was an adjunct Instructor and taught a Payroll class at Santa Barbara City College for three years.

Karen has trained her employees to be personable, customer service oriented and to get the job done. Karen is also very involved in many business organizations and proactive when it comes to increasing the strength of her business. Karen is she is constantly striving to make her business the best it can be. Karen has a strong head for business and she is committed to her own success. She recognizes the strength in networking with other business professionals and takes time to improve herself through taking MBA classes at UCLA while running her own business. Her education includes extensive college courses, and she is only a few courses shy of earning her bachelor degree.


rachel steidl Media/Publishing/Communications
Rachael Steidl

Rachael is the founder and CEO of ParentClick, Inc. (formerly SBParent.com), a website that centralizes resources for local families in cities. In 2002, she was motivated as a new mother to create a website to support families when she saw parents struggling to find resources for their children. Two years later, after seeing the impact this site had in her community and hearing comments from parents in other cities wanting this same resource, ParentClick.com was launched. This allowed her to expand from one community to being in multiple communities nationwide as a one stop, web based research portal for families. ParentClick.com was built from hard work, thorough research, a passion to support parents and a love of seeing families taking advantage of incredible programs in their community.

Rachael is very involved in the community volunteering on several committees that have included the Youth Making Change, Santa Barbara Foundation’s Katherine Harvey Fellows Committee, National Charity League and serving as the former board president of the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, and former co-chair of the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara. Rachael has an M.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine University. She is a Santa Barbara native and the mother of 3 girls.


carol ashley Real Estate/Construction
Carol Ashley

In 2001, Carol originated Demo 2 Design, an architectural reuse business, as an alternative to wasteful disposal of construction material entering the landfill.  Her commitment to promoting environmental awareness spans 30 years ranging from public education, municipal government legislation and non-profit retail to public-private business partnerships. Her recent partnership with Marborg Industries, Santa Barbara’s leading recycling and waste hauler, has increased the scope of service options that benefit the community.

Carol Ashley is forging through uncharted territory by creating and sustaining a comprehensive resource management business, Demo 2 Design.  For more than 30 years, she has been committed to promoting environmental awareness ranging from public education, municipal government legislation and non-profit retail to public-private business partnerships.

Collecting materials from contractors, homeowners and property managers involved with remodeling or demolition, Demo 2 Design rescues vintage doors and windows, plumbing and lighting fixtures, lumber, wrought iron, and hardware.  This inventory is available to the public for reasonable prices at Carol’s warehouse. Selected materials are re-constructed into permit-exempt structures called “Custom Casitas,” a model of which is scheduled for construction at Demo 2 Design this Spring by Santa Barbara City College’s Construction Academy.

Current programs on the horizon for Demo 2 Design include on-site repurposing workshops designed to connect Santa Barbara residents with examples of creative reuse demonstrated by local artisans.  From lamp rewiring to stained glass art, the wealth of possibilities is unlimited. www.demo2design.com


Darya Bronston Science & Technology
Darya Bronston
Annovium Products

Darya Bronston founded DKB Resources in 2000 to focus on research and development within the printed circuit board (PCB) industry. By providing PCB program management, engineering, design layout, and manufacturing support services; the most notable of which include the 2003 and 2009 Mars Rover Programs for Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as the EKV and RAFAR Programs for Raytheon Systems, Ms. Bronston has ensured that DKB Resources is identified with excellence.

15 years ago, prior to developing DKB Resources, Ms. Bronston became a certified massage therapist using a wide variety of techniques including Deep Tissue, Swedish, Reflexology, and Cranio-Sacral and Hot Stone therapy. Inspired by the complex and amazing systems and structures of the body, she continued to train and expand her skills and knowledge about health, wellness and fitness, while also studying and growing her practice and understanding of Pilates.

Her work experience trouble shooting programs combined with her fascination with health and the human body, inspired Ms. Bronston to create a foam rolling class in 2007 using trigger point therapy and a Foam Roller to teach and empower participants about muscle release, circulatory flow, core strengthening and overall body health. As she worked with clients, Ms. Bronston had an epiphany about exercise that would combine the benefits of massage and foam rolling with the benefits of resistance, strength training and Pilates. She and her husband built a prototype exercise device in their garage that evolved into the current CoreFitnessRoller™. With her sights set on the “benefits to users,” her extensive training and teaching evolved into the founding of Annovium Products and creation of the CoreFitnessRoller™. www.Annovium.com


merryl brown Tourism/Hospitality
Merryl Brown
Merryl Brown Events

Merryl Brown specializes in event planning for nonprofit, corporate, and private events. With only three years in business, she has distinguished herself as a leader in the industry, not only locally but nationally, as evidenced by multiple awards from leading industry associations including the national Association of Women in Communications (best fundraising event 2011), the International Special Event Society (Best Green Solution 2011), and BizBash West 2011, where she was awarded Social Event Planner of the Year in front of 1,200 event and meeting professionals.

Merryl is well-known for her creativity, expertise and professionalism. Her work encompasses intimate social occasions as well as major events with budgets in excess of $250,000. For each client, Merryl is dedicated to insuring success through her innovative ideas and attention to detail, no matter how big or small the event. Her constant concern for her clients and colleagues is evident throughout her work.

Merryl has distinguished herself by insisting on sustainability throughout the planning process and event execution. She is recognized for her leadership in demonstrating that elegant, expensive events can be managed with our environment in mind. She considers all aspects of environmental sustainability, including energy efficiency, transportation, waste reduction, materials sourcing, and using organic, locally grown food and flowers.

Her company has achieved measurable financial success and she supports many nonprofit organizations by offering free or substantially discounted services to help them achieve success both in fundraising and in service delivery. Beneficiaries include Community Environmental Council, Breast Resource Center, Pacific Pride Foundation, Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, Angels Foster Care, American Heart Association, and others. www.merrylbrownevents.com


kelly jensen Wholesale/Retail
Kelly Jensen
Jensen Audio Video

In 1997, Kelly Jensen founded Jensen Audio Visual, Santa Barbara’s only woman-owned firm specializing in the design, sales and installations of commercial audio/visual and surveillance systems. Jensen AV also provides audio/visual rentals for hotels, businesses, corporate events and weddings.

Certified as a woman-owned smalls business, Jensen AV holds two General Services Administration (GSA) contracts with the Federal government and two California Multiple Award Schedule (CMAS) contracts.

In 2010, Jensen AV was listed by Inc. 500 as “One of the fastest growing firms in the United States.” Jensen AV received the same distinction in 2007 and 2009.

Also in 2010, Ms. Jensen was recognized as CEO of the Year by the Santa Barbara Technology Industry Association and received the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce Business Star Betty Hatch Award.


mindy bingham Rock Star
Mindy Bingham
Academic Innovations

Innovative educational approaches have always been a mission for Mindy Bingham. Over the years as a part-time college professor, seminar leader for educators, author, publisher, nonprofit executive director and community activist, Mindy has dedicated herself to improving education. A sought-after speaker and thinker on educational reform issues in the area of adolescent motivation, dropout prevention and gender equity, Mindy has made a major contribution to education over the last 30 years, the most recent being her dedication to institute a course in middle school or high school that provides the structure to help all students develop successful life plans. Her grassroots approach has earned her several honors including the south coast Business Network's Entrenpreneur of the Year in 1998.

Mindy’s journey as an educational activist and publisher began in Santa Barbara, Calif. where she worked as the executive director for the Girls Club of Santa Barbara (now Girls Incorporated) from 1973 to 1989. Mindy and her team at the Girls Club (now Girls Inc) launched Advocacy Press’ first book, Choices: A Teen Woman’s Journal for Self-awareness and Personal Planning in 1983. The book sold 500,000 copies and is credited as one of the seminal works impacting the lives and goals of hundreds of thousands of girls. Choices, and the male version, Challenges, led the gender equity movement in the 1980’s by providing a classroom curriculum for students that focused on the issues that held young women back from succeeding.

Deciding it was time to create her own path, Mindy retired after 16 years with the Girls Club and set off to found Academic Innovations, in 1990. With just a 10 x 10 home office and her Santa Barbara garage, Mindy launched her most ambitious endeavor to date: a series of standards-based, interdisciplinary curriculum of which the anchor for an innovative approach to education is CAREER CHOICES: A Guide for Teens and Young Adults Who Am I? What Do I Want? How Do I Get It? (Academic Innovations 1990). The launch of this book allowed Mindy to pursue a life-long dream to create a curriculum that high schools could use that would motivate young people to stay in school and prepare themselves for a career and a satisfying life.

A true self-publisher with a diversity of books on her resume, Mindy has authored or co-authored 17 titles. These award-winning books have sold well over 2 million copies in the States and abroad. Mindy’s last few years have been spent developing and writing web-based curriculum and computer software to enhance her curriculums, upgrading the Career Choices curriculum and writing/editing the adult version, Career Choices & Changes. She also has another children’s picture book, Mama Knows Best, near completion.

To see the Student Recipients, click here.