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Wednesday, Oct 4, 2023

Owning the Job

Owning the Job Newman Grace Inc. founder Jerri Hemsworth takes on high-profile role as president of National Association of Women Business Owners–California By SLAV KANDYBA Staff Reporter Jerri Hemsworth helms the Woodland Hills advertising and graphic design firm Newman Grace Inc. by afternoon and now, she has another high-profile, part-time gig on most weekdays as well. Hemsworth, who started Newman Grace out of her home in 1999, was chosen as president of the National Association of Women Business Owners-California, a consortium of the organization’s nine chapters in the state. There are chapters in Los Angeles, Ventura, Inland Empire, Orange County, Desert Cities, San Diego, Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Sacramento. NAWBO is a non-partisan organization that represents the interests of all women business owners in the state. According to Hemsworth, that’s 1.2 million women who bring in revenues of more than $400 billion every year. Although she has committed herself to NAWBO, Hemsworth has built a successful company from the ground up and does not plan to slow down its growth. She founded Newman Grace, named after her dog and cat, as a graphic design firm in 1996 and expanded services to advertising. Her husband Brian, who was previously director of marketing at the Hollywood Reporter, joined her company in 1999. The company has since grown to more than $2.5 million in annual billings, with a staff of six full-time employees and one part-time worker. Hemsworth joined the Ventura chapter of NAWBO in 1999 and immediately became a board member and later, chapter president. She was asked to apply and was selected president of the NAWBO-California in July, to serve a 2-year term. She recently gave an overview of her plans and goals as NAWBO-California president. Question: How long have you been involved with NAWBO and why did you join the group? Answer: When I started my business there was no manual, no group to support my business. I didn’t know what types of insurance I needed, how to position my company for growth, what kind of accounting should I get, do I trust my accountant and attorney, and how do I grow my business. Someone told me about NAWBO and the L.A. Chapter. At the time they met in downtown L.A. and that was a little too far for me to drive from Woodland ills. I went to one meeting, it was large, and I liked it, but it wasn’t enough for to make me to join. Then I heard about the Ventura chapter it was a much smaller group. I had just gotten a new account that day and I needed a Spanish translation, and that night I went to the first NAWBO meeting and the lady that greeted me at the door had a translation business. I was met with camaraderie, and joined because I thought NAWBO was a very valuable resource. Right away, I was put on the board as a newsletter chair and have been on the board every single year. Q: Do you belong to both L.A. and Ventura NAWBO chapters? A: There are a lot of members from the west San Fernando Valley that go to Ventura because it is closer. The L.A. chapter has started regional meetings and I am now member of that chapter, because they meet in Encino. The L.A. chapter has about 300 to 350 members and Ventura has just over 50. Each chapter in California has a different personality, feel, different needs, and they fulfill different needs. As my business grew I stayed in Ventura County because I have a lot of friends and valuable contacts. When I started going to L.A.’s chapter meeting I found a little bit larger pool to actually help grow my business. But I’ve grown my business because of both chapters. Q: Why do you think you were selected to this high-profile position? A: The pool of past presidents was getting smaller because so many women are busy running their businesses. Past NAWBO-California presidents had been chapter presidents, and they know the ins-and-outs of NAWBO, know the political ramifications of NAWBO and know the group’s heart and soul. They came to me because I was past president of the Ventura chapter and since I was following behind Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire (former NAWBO-California president) I knew I had a really good mentor who would help me. Q: What will be some of your job responsibilities as NAWBO-California president? A: California was established to look at “best practice”: the nine chapters would get together and talk about their problems, issues and concerns. The California chapter would help coordinate those meetings, which used to be quarterly and are now three times year. It was also formed to bring larger corporate dollars to feed into each chapter. If corporate partners wanted to sponsor NAWBO-California at a larger price tag than an individual, they could get marketing exposure to all of the chapters. We like to say that California represents the interests of more than 1.2 million women business owners in California and these business owners generate $406 billion in sales in California alone. Q: How do you plan to balance running Newman Grace with your NAWBO responsibilities? A: Much the same way I did when I was Ventura chapter president. If I can allocate a certain time period during the day, I try to make it late in the afternoon, if possible It takes 5 to 10 hours per week, and a lot of it is done via e-mail. I have an incredible administrative director in Orange County who keeps me up-to-date almost daily. Q: What do you hope to achieve in the position at NAWBO? Can you outline your priorities? A: The goal for this year is to increase membership by a minimum 25 percent. I want to have a statewide membership campaign that helps drive members to each individual chapter. That’s where California has not been able to focus in the last several years. We’ve been very focused on legislation such as AB1643 and our statewide Web site. I want to bring it back to individual chapter needs, and I think the best way to do it is by doing a membership drive. Since I have a marketing background, I want to bring that to the table and see how it can help. Q: What are the hurdles facing women business owners and how do you deal with them? A: I think politically or legislative-wise, you’ve got workers’ comp and health care as two of the biggest issues we’re dealing with right now. Workers’ comp affects all business owners. I know that health care, with the SB2 that just passed, concerns a lot of the larger business owners where health care is mandatory for businesses 50 employees and up. NAWBO just last year wrote legislation regarding a new classification for workers it’s about to go to the governor’s desk it’s a study bill for EDD to look at a contract service provider versus an independent contractor. It’s for women who are working out of their homes to not be counted as employees. This is our first piece of legislation that we’ve actually authored and it puts us on the map. Another issue that has come to NAWBO that some members are behind and support is universal pre-school. Some members are behind that. Q: This being an election year, are you planning to get involved politically? A: NAWBO is a non-partisan organization – we’re pro-business. Whether it’s a Democratic or Republican issue is not our concern as long as it’s good for business it’s good for NAWBO. NAWBO national – there are over 80 chapters – does have a PAC and a watch list. California helps to funnel that information from national to the rest of the chapters. SNAPSHOT: Jerri Hemsworth Title: President, National Association of Women Business Owners California/ Founder and CEO, Newman Grace Inc. Born: 1965 Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications and advertising, Pepperdine University, 1987 Career turning point: When former boss told her she could run her own business Most admired persons: Kurt Smith, art director at Warner Publishing, and Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, former president of NAWBO-California Personal: Married, 4-year-old daughter

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