2020 Finalists

Arts & Entertainment

FINALISTS

Gail Hansen

Gail Hansen

SOhO Restaurant & Music Club

[Santa Barbara]  Gail is the owner, talent buyer, and general manager of SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. She has been in the restaurant business for most of her working years and is able to combine her love of being around people and music into SOhO, purchased by Gail and her husband 25 years ago. She now runs it independently. SOhO is a community hub, offering quality live music 7 nights a week. They support local musicians and have hosted hundreds of benefits for local non-profits all while in a very intimate venue. Gail was born in Sacramento and has lived in Santa Barbara for 38 years with her husband of 40 years and their four children. She loves practicing yoga, going to concerts and doing anything in nature, including hiking, kayaking and walking her dog.

Photo By Jon Patrick Hyde

Erika Martin del Campo

ME Sabor Dance Studio

[Santa Barbara]  A Santa Barbara native, Erika Martín del Campo, a Workers' Compensation attorney managing her office during the day and a dance studio owner tending to the dance studio nights and weekends. Erika graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Spanish. She is an active participant of Old Spanish Days' celebration through her dance studio and in she won the title of Old Spanish Days' Spirit of Fiesta. A 2017 graduate of the Santa Barbara College of Law, while there, she founded the Latino Law Students Association, and volunteered with multiple student organizations. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the Latina Professional Alliance and Chairs the Marketing and Communications Committee.

Teresa Kuskey Nowak

Teresa Kuskey Nowak

La Boheme Professional Dance Group

[Santa Barbara] Teresa began her study of dance at the age of four and has danced with New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the San Francisco Ballet. She attended UCSB and went on to work in hotels organizing events. She founded Le Boheme Professional Dance Group after creating a dance troupe for the 2014 Santa Barbara Solstice Parade. They are a supportive, non-competitive community of dancers with varying levels of background and experience, with a focus on performance and collaboration. Their goal is to support our community and spread the joy of dance, creativity and artistic expression to dancers and audience alike. Teresa has been married to her husband for over 30 years. They have six children together.

Green & Social Entrepreneurship

FINALISTS

Catalina Esteves

Catalina Esteves

Cat Therapy

[Carpinteria] Catalina is a photographer, musician and entrepreneur born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She moved to Santa Barbara in 2013 and lives with her husband and baby Felix. After volunteering at a cat shelter for two years, Catalina had a realization: If there's something that you love doing SO much that it doesn't feel like work, find a way to make it into your job. Making people happy and saving animals was just that for her. She created Cat Therapy as a place for humans to come together for the love of cats and doing good. The concept saves hundreds of cats’ lives a year and has become a staple for animal lovers in Santa Barbara.

Jessica Simon Baggarly

Jessica Simon Baggarly

Tinkle Belle Diaper Service

[Los Alamos] Jessica’s love for the environment was fostered while spending her teenage years living and working on her family ranch in rural New Jersey. Though she went on to work in the arts in New York City, her interest in health grew when both she and her best friend discovered that they had major tumors that would require surgery to remove. Jessica’s tumor was benign, but her friend was not as lucky. This crucial time in her life led her to take a hard look at the standards in our food and health products. Thirteen years ago, she made her way to Santa Barbara. After over a decade working in the local arts community, Jessica discovered the world of cloth diapers. After initially wrinkling her nose at the concept, she soon realized that it was a perfect combination of everything she had spent her life working for, researching, and sharing. Jessica and her family now live and work in the lovely Santa Ynez Valley.

Michelle Stevens

Michelle Stevens

The Refill Shoppe

[Ventura] Michelle is the founder of the Refill Shop in Ventura. The Refill Shoppe is an early pioneer in the zero-waste movement. As a result of her company’s commitment to conserve resources and prevent pollution The Refill Shop is a City of Ventura Certified Green Business and a Certified B Corporation and has the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Her company’s ultimate purpose is to encourage and enable our community to live a more sustainable life by offering a simple solution to the single-use plastics used in the home. Michelle credits her alternative lifestyle of growing up on a sailboat for 10 years, mucking around in the Everglades during summer conservancy camps, and having supportive parents for her inspiration and motivation. She loves learning, reading, music, ceramics, and spending time with her friends, family, and dogs.

Health & Wellness

FINALISTS

Karen Atlas

Karen Atlas

Atlas Rehabilitation for Canines

[Santa Barbara] Karen was three when her family moved to from Milwaukee, WI to Santa Barbara in 1973. She attended school locally through college earning a Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology at UCSB then going on to UC San Francisco where she earned a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. When Karen and her husband adopted their dog Teddy in 2003, he had an injury. After taking him to multiple veterinarians but not getting any solutions, Karen realized she could use her knowledge and skillset to help Teddy once she better understood canine biomechanics and comparative anatomy. She went back to school and became a certified canine rehabilitation therapist. After working for veterinarians, Karen decided to pivot and go into business for herself. That was the beginning of Atlas Rehabilitation for Canines. Karen lives with her husband, two sons and their dog, Harvey.

Meyer-MelodeeHR

Melodee Meyer

Martial Arts Family Fitness

[Santa Barbara] Melodee Meyer is an international bestselling author, keynote speaker, business owner and mentor dedicated to empowering others to create the life they want, in a body they love, doing work that matters. Melodee received her Master of Arts in Spiritual Psychology and is a 6th degree blackbelt, inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame. She has overcome many obstacles in her life including bullying, domestic violence, bulimia and life as a single mom to go on and build a 7-figure business, the journey of which she uses to inspire others, especially women, on national stages such as TEDx and NAWBO. Melodee travels often but when she is home, she can be found hiking with her dog, Fletch, playing with one of her 4 grandkids, or kickboxing at her Dojo in Santa Barbara. She loves to eat good food, laugh ‘til it hurts and Instagram – sometimes all at the same time.

Cynthia Torres2

Cynthia Torres

New Dawn Counseling and Consulting

[Oxnard] Cynthia Pinzon Torres is the founder of New Dawn Counseling. Cynthia is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 25 years of experience in the field of mental health. Cynthia’s passion and desire to promote wellness in her community has led her to work with the underserved Hispanic community in Ventura County. Her staff of predominantly bilingual-bicultural in Spanish serves about 1,250 individuals every year and provides culturally appropriate mental health education, resources, and wellness services. Cynthia loves spending time with her two teenage kids and supporting their commitment to sports and academic achievement. Cynthia enjoys traveling, getting to know other cultures and dancing salsa.

Hospitality & Tourism

FINALISTS

Charlotte Andersen

Charlotte Andersen

The Andersen's Danish Bakery & Restaurant

[Santa Barbara] Charlotte was born into a Danish immigrant family that did not speak English and came to America with no money. Despite these odds, her family established The Andersen’s Bakery in Santa Barbara in 1976, when she was two years old. Charlotte has been running the bakery and restaurant with her mother since she was 19. She learned how to work hard and do most everything in a business from a very young age, watching her parents open and operate the bakery then expand their business to include a restaurant. Charlotte is self-taught and enjoys the creative side of event planning as well as classic car repair, a hobby she learned from her father.

Nicole Dailey

Nicole Dailey

HEAT Culinary

[Carpinteria] Chef Nikki is a freelance food writer, culinary blogger and cooking instructor with a passion for seasonal local and organic cuisine. Raised in an Italian home, Nikki's family kitchen was one of great love and laughter as she learned the value of hard work, wholesome food and good wine. As an alum of The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY, Nikki has cooked worldwide alongside some of your favorite TV chef personalities, has earned the title of fromager and worked as a sommelier while organizing food and wine events. After years of working culinary production in many of the country's top restaurants, she decided to pursue her true passion and start her own business for the home cook. She started with a single culinary school in Carpinteria and a food truck and has expanded her business to 4 different locations in California. In addition, Nikki founded a non-profit organization, C.O.R.E., focused on turning food waste into food for animals or compost to reduce landfill usage.

Elubia Orozco

Elubia Orozco

Elubia's Kitchen

[Santa Barbara] Growing up in Guatemala, Elubia learned to cook from the women in her neighborhood, many of whom would sell their homemade food at the local market and on the neighborhood street in the evenings. Arriving in the United States 20 years ago, Elubia worked cleaning houses and tried to sell her prepared food on weekends. After leaving an abusive relationship, she attended Santa Barbara City College to learn English and graduated with a degree in Child Development. She always dreamed of owning a food-based business. She started with a booth at local festivals, and has grown her business to a Santa Barbara storefront that also caters events.

Media & Communications

FINALISTS

Denise Bean White

Denise Bean-White

consortium Media

[Ventura] In 1990, Denise founded Consortium Media in Ventura to be home with her baby daughter more. After working out of her home for eight years, she realized that her business and staff had outgrown her home and needed an office to better support them. The formation of Consortium Media was a combination of skills Denise believed could help many businesses through branded creative, individualized to their needs and vision, plus the media buying experience developed during her career in television station management. Utilizing effective media outreach, and in-depth research, they build balanced, targeted media programs for their clients. Not only does this specialized approach work for their paying clients, they are also able to assist non-profit organizations build media campaigns to target their goals more effectively on a pro bono basis.

View More: http://jonilynnphoto.pass.us/gocontentproofs

Emily Solomon

The Food Marketer

[Summerland] Emily Solomon is the CEO and Founder of The Food Marketer, a boutique creative agency with expertise in working alongside food & beverage ventures, the travel industry, and e-commerce brands. She specializes in controlled and customized growth strategies. She does this so she can be directly involved with every client. Emily always looks to feel inspired in her day-to-day life. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing, going to pilates, spending time with friends, and traveling.

Jeanne Spencer

Jeanne Spencer

Idea Engineering

[Santa Barbara] Jeanne is the co-owner and creative team leader at Idea Engineering, a Santa Barbara-based communications firm. There, she and her team develop strategic, memorable, and effective communications for businesses, government agencies, schools, and nonprofits. Their work has been described as the “gold standard” in public health and safety communications. She has a depth of expertise in public health and social issues, and presents on these topics, including at the National Prevention Network Conference, regarding best practices in communicating about marijuana and adolescent health. Jeanne serves on two public health organizations in Ventura County. She attended Williams College and has an MFA in graphic design from Yale University.

Nonprofit

FINALISTS

Kate Carter

Kate Carter

LifeChronicles, Inc.

[Santa Barbara] Almost everything in Kate’s life prepared her for her work today. Her experiences and training have made her comfortable with and capable for the work she pursues each day. When Kate completed a television production internship, she knew she wanted to use that training for something meaningful. A couple of years later when a close friend found out she would not survive cancer and leave behind three children, Kate volunteered to film her friend leaving messages for her children so they could always remember their mother. Kate loves that she was able to apply what she learned to bring comfort to people and their families anywhere. The idea of LifeChronicles began in Santa Barbara in 1998. Since then, they have served over 1,700 families worldwide.

Sue Eisaguirre_

Sue Eisaguirre

NatureTrack Foundation

[Solvang] Sue founded NatureTrack because she wanted to provide more students with an outdoor experience that gives them the opportunity to enjoy the natural world while aligning with classroom curriculum. NatureTrack is the only outdoor field trip program that takes place during the traditional school day and is no cost for students or teachers. The reach of NatureTrack has grown every year of its existence, from providing 600 outdoor experiences in 2011 to more than 5,000 this year. To date, they have provided over 20,000 students with a docent-led outdoor field trip aligned with their in-classroom unit of study. To fund the non-profit, Sue also began the NatureTrack Film Festival, a three-day festival of nature-centric cinema from around the world that takes place annually in Los Olivos, CA, with all proceeds benefitting NatureTrack's outdoor field trip program. Sue has lived in the Santa Ynez Valley for over 20 years with her husband and two sons.

Victoria Strong

Victoria Strong

Gwendolyn Strong Foundation

[Santa Barbara] Victoria Strong is a wife, writer, advocate, and mother to three beautiful girls. After her firstborn was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), the #1 genetic killer of young children, she founded the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation (GSF) to do something in the face of nothing. Since its inception, GSF has funded research around the globe, including a gene replacement therapy that has gone on to transform SMA and other diseases. Victoria worked to get federal legislation passed, newborn and carrier screening federally endorsed, and created the NEVER GIVE UP nonprofit apparel brand to inspire courage and kindness to all those facing hard things in life. She is now building Gwendolyn's Playground, the first inclusive playground in Santa Barbara County and speaks regularly about the power of kindness and tenacity.

Professional Services

FINALISTS

Brenda M. Allison

Brenda M. Allison

Coast General Insurance

[Oxnard] Brenda opened her first insurance agency in 2003 and acquired Coast General Insurance Brokers in 2007. Since then, she’s acquired two more insurance agencies. Brenda is a highly regarded public speaker on risk management in agriculture and is a regular keynote speaker for numerous non-profits throughout California. She continues to show her dedication to the local community by her work with non-profits, serving as a board member on many, including Women’s Economic Ventures. Brenda earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Urban and Public Affairs and a Master’s in Business Administration in Marketing. She lives in Ventura with her family, and enjoys travel, music, volunteering, family game nights and reading.

Courtney DeSoto

Courtney DeSoto

Channel Islands Fiduciary Group

[Santa Barbara] Originally from Sacramento, Courtney moved to Santa Barbara to attend Westmont and never looked back. She attended law school while working full-time for the Probation Department then worked for the Santa Barbara Superior Court as a Court Investigator monitoring and making recommendations about probate matters including conservatorships of the elderly. Courtney discovered her love of the elderly population so much and saw a growing need for their care management and protection from abuse, so she began Channel Islands Fiduciary Group to serve the community’s elders and their families. While running a business that supports her and her daughters is hard, she is proud to be giving back to the community and helping those in need.

Melissa Sayer

Melissa Sayer

Matilija Law, Inc.

[Ventura] For 25 years, Melissa Sayer has helped businesses and entrepreneurs of all sizes thrive. After working with top law firms in Silicon Valley and Ventura, she launched Matilija Law in 2016 to deliver practical and thoughtful counsel in an efficient manner suited to the needs of contemporary businesses including those in the water and agricultural sector. She strives to support the county’s environmental well-being by representing ranches that practice sustainable farming practices. Through Matilija Law, Melissa provides pro bono legal advice to the nonprofit organizations Veteran Farmers of America and advises Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) and FOOD Share. Melissa spends her downtime at her citrus and avocado ranch near Santa Paula and donates a portion of her crops to Food Forward, a nonprofit gleaning organization that works to feed our food insecure populations.

Retail

FINALISTS

Roxanne Barbieri

Roxanne Barbieri

Roxanne’s, A Wish and A Dream

[Carpinteria] In addition to have owned and operated her business for 39 years, Roxanne has created over 100 quilting and embroidery patterns, some of which have been featured in national magazines. Her store was named one of the Top Ten Quilt Stores in the country by Better Homes and Gardens Quilting Magazine twice! Roxanne also designs her own very popular fabric lines. Roxanne was born and raised in Southern California, growing up in Rolling Hills and completing college at the University of California, Davis with a BA degree in Anthropology. She has been married for 47 years and raised 3 beautiful children. Her middle daughter passed away at the age of 11, changing Roxanne in many ways. She looks at people differently because you never know the burden they may be carrying and Roxanne tries to bring a smile into everyone’s day.

Sarah Lockwood

Sarah Lockwood

College Outside

[Carpinteria] Sarah is the founder and CEO of College Outside. She built College Outside to meet the unique needs of an outdoor education programs and their students and is the only sales platform in the entire outdoor industry serving that market. Their members took over 800,000 college students outside for the first time in 2019. She was born and raised in Hawaii and earned a BA in International Relations from Tufts University in Boston. Sarah has created or worked for three previous startups and loves the entrepreneurial hustle! When not building her company, she can be found rock climbing, surfing, paragliding, or hanging out with her chickens in Carpinteria. In her free time, she is a competitive paragliding pilot and instructor, and is passionate about getting more women involved in business and adventure sports.

Leslie Person Ryan

Leslie Person Ryan

Letter Perfect's ink Design & Nature

[Santa Barbara] Letter Perfect emerged 36 years ago when Leslie could not find good choice and good service when looking for her own wedding invitation in Santa Barbara. A year later, she left her job as art gallery manager and opened Letter Perfect in a small space off Coast Village Road, an emerging retail area in Santa Barbara. Three years later she expanded it to triple its size. Leslie is now an entrepreneur and business owner, President and CEO of multiple businesses including Letter Perfect’s Ink Design & Nature which began as a small shop over three and a half decades ago and morphed into three times the original size with other sub-businesses. As the world changed so did Letter Perfect and are now much more than a retail store. Leslie is committed to giving back to the greater Santa Barbara and beyond in engaging and unique ways.

Science & Technology

FINALISTS

Jenna Berg

Jenna Berg

JobAps, Inc.

[Santa Barbara] Dr. Jenna Berg is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of JobAps, Inc. With 25 years of system design and programming experience and over fifteen years of experience working with government agencies, she directs JobAps in its mission to improve human resource processes and information access and analytics through technology. She holds a Ph.D. from Duke University in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in Statistics. Jenna has traveled extensively, working with various organizations volunteering and studying international development and technology in developing countries. She cofounded Children's Community Garden, Inc. a non-profit organization teaching organic gardening to Mayan communities and providing educational opportunities. Jenna is cofounder and CFO of Lights Up! Theatre Company -- a non-profit organization providing professional performance instruction to teens in Santa Barbara. Jenna grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, where her father worked for IBM and her mother taught home economics. Since 1998, Jenna has lived in Santa Barbara with her three sons.

Courtney Lane

Courtney Lane

Anacapa Clinical Research Inc.

[Ventura] Since founding Anacapa Clinical seven years ago, Dr. Courtney Lane has been working with physicians and small businesses to bring innovative medical devices to market. Dr. Lane has over a decade of experience navigating the development landscape for medical devices both internationally and within the United States. She has an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Rice University and a Ph.D. in Health Sciences and Technology from M.I.T. and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Lane moved to Ventura in 2005 and has worked with the community ever since, frequently volunteering at her thirteen-year-old triplets’ schools and extracurricular programs. She also provided substantial seed donations to local charities, including Dancing with Our Local Schools and 805Help. She has been a member of the Ventura Toastmasters since 2018 and served as the President. Last year, Dr. Lane co-founded the Ventura Moms Demand Action for Gun-Sense in America chapter. She has worked to build the group with dedicated leadership and members that are producing real change in the community to reduce gun violence in our communities.

Martha Townsend

Martha Townsend

Market Ready Rx, Inc.

[Santa Barbara] The President of Market Ready Rx, Martha is a seasoned marketer with over 25 years of commercial and operational experience in the medical diagnostics industry, specializing in personalized companion diagnostics. In 2006, after several successful commercial systems launches, including the first precision diagnostic process for women with breast cancer, Ms. Townsend created Market Ready Rx to serve clients in the evolving field of personalized diagnostics. Martha Townsend is a dedicated volunteer in Santa Barbara who has volunteered her marketing and strategic planning services to the multiple organizations making a difference in the community including the Junior League, Santa Barbara Public Library, Santa Barbara Zoo and Jodi House. Ms. Townsend holds a BS in Biology from Loyola Marymount University of Los Angeles, CA, and a certificate in Medical Marketing from UCLA Anderson School of Business.

Wholesale, Manufacturing & Global Trade

FINALISTS

Hannah Duncan

Hannah Duncan

Well Products

[Ventura] At the age of eight, Hannah began her career in sales, going door to door in her neighborhood selling avocadoes from her family’s tree out of her little red wagon. With a start in radio advertising, Hannah then moved on to director of marketing to a family of over 20 radio stations. In 2006, she began working with a local doctor, and within six months she founded an international cosmetic manufacturing company. Hannah has worked as vice president of sales and marketing in the spa industry for the past 11 years, working with international sales, organizational innovation, marketing, manufacturing, and package design. She is currently the Owner/ Creator of WELL PRODUCTS, a prestige CBD company and partners with over 400 resorts and spas across North America.

Kelley D'Angelo

Kelley D'Angelo

Lark Ellen Farm

[Ojai] Kelley D'Angelo was raised in Ojai and graduated from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. She had a successful career in sales, marketing and management with telecommunications giant SBC / AT&T. Her tenacity and drive propelled her career over 12 years, from entry level sales to Executive of Marketing for AT&T and managing teams of over 100 employees. When she retired from AT&T in 2001, Kelley became a marketing consultant while raising her two boys. A single mom since 2010, she raised her children while building Lark Ellen Farm, where she now lives and co-manages. Kelley prides herself on teaching her sons how to go after their dreams and to overcome life's hurdles with optimism. In her free time Kelley enjoys, bike riding, walking and oil painting.

Kerry Mellin

Kerry Mellin

Mellin Works LLC DBA EazyHold

[Simi Valley] Kerry Mellin is the founder and co-owner of EazyHold.com. After a 35-year career designing for the motion picture industry, Kerry discovered through her own necessity a lack of simple grip aids to help people continue to be active through physical adversity. Designing inclusive products that allow the differently-abled more independence is the motivating force behind Mellin Works LLC, and Kerry's company, that she co-owns with her two sisters. Their innovative history includes designing and producing a new category of silicone grip aids for the healthcare and caregiving industries. They are proud that their small company can enable a whole new generation of children to live their lives more fully, with the dignity that comes with doing for one’s self. Now supplied globally to over 7,000 schools, hospitals, and therapy centers, EazyHold is now recognized worldwide in university curricula, and academic textbooks.