2012 Finalists

2012 Winners

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.




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Media & Communications



Rachael Ross Steidl

Deco Marketing Group

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.


Melissa Marsted

Lucky Penny Press



Kim Wiseley



Hospitality & Tourism



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.


Alethea Tyner Paradis

Friendship Tours World Travel

The company provides educational travel, experiential learning and community service programs abroad for students and teachers. It operates in historically significant countries that provide lessons for transcending conflict through mutual prosperity: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Cuba and Rwanda. Partnering with sustainable non-profits in the destination countries, Friendship Tours provides hands-on lessons for students in the power of social entrepreneurial collaboration. Alethea started this business in 2005 to give her high school history students the experience that was missing in the mainstream educational tour realm.


Judi Weisbart

A Busy Woman

A Busy Woman supports non-profits to create mission-driven events, helps them to brand their work, and works with individuals and businesses to create memorable moments through professionally designed events. Through their events they can educate, celebrate and support organizations and others with joy to help make the world a better place. That is why Judi loves helping those who help others. A Busy Woman is now five years old.

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.


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.


Suzanne McNeely

Senior Planning Services


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.


Michele Hinnrichs

PAT Industries, Inc.



Annie Meyer

Eiffel Software


Wholesale & Manufacturing



Kelly Jensen

Jensen Audio Visual

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.


Susanne Chess

Fine Fabrics of Santa Barbara/Force Fins

Susanne is Founding and Managing Director, and COO of two established companies. Bob Evans Designs, Inc. is the corporate entity behind and operates under the trademark “Force Fin,” which designs, develops, manufactures and distributes the World’s Finest Fins for swimming, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving. Force Fins are also used by Special Forces around the world. Her other business is Fine Fabrics of Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara’s only fashion fabric store. Along with FineFabrics.com, she specializes in procuring Fashion’s Finest Ingredients - fashion forward products that are not generally available to the public.


Calla Gold

Calla Gold Jewelry

Calla is a Jeweler Without Walls, a jeweler without the typical bricks and mortar store. She meets her clients by appointment only at their home, office, or her club, The University Club of Santa Barbara. She has been doing this for 15 years. Calla Gold Jewelry sells fine gold jewelry, custom designed jewelry with a specialty in Bridal jewelry, repairs jewelry and does estate jewelry restoration and re-design. Calla likes to educate her clients on how jewelry is made and what she does. She has also written a book, “The Language of Jewelry Design” to help brides explain what they want to other jewelers.

Rock Star: Life Acheivement



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.


Betty Pilkington

Betty’s Fabrics

Betty came to Santa Maria as a young bride who loved to sew. But, there were no fabric stores. She opened Betty’s Fabrics in 1960, later opening a store in Santa Barbara, then in San Luis Obispo and Lompoc because of the demand. Both the Santa Barbara and Lompoc store eventually closed but she continues to successfully run the other two stores by carrying everything from exotic sequins to yarns to decorator fabrics to notions and more. She has more than 10,000 bolts of fabrics for quilters. Betty’s guarantees all its merchandise is top quality and prides itself on customer service.


Jeannine Richards

Santa Barbara Art & Silkscreen

Jeannine has had many businesses in her 82 years. She ran summer camps with her husband for 25 years while raising her family. She then opened a pre-school that grew into three. After a few years in semi-retirement, she started Santa Barbara Art and Silkscreen with her three sons. After 18 successful years in business, the company closed in 2001 after one of her sons was hit by a car and developed Alzheimer’s. Jeannine recently reopened the business with another son and has also created a new line of tees for toddlers called Wee Tease.

2012 Award Recap


Award Categories

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