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Friday, Jan 27, 2023
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Women In Business – 2010 Honorees

Client Services Manager of the Year Cathleen M. DicksonVice President & Senior Relationship ManagerCommunity Bank A veteran banker with over 30 years in the industry, Cathleen Dickson has provided the services and knowledge that has enabled the businesses she works with to weather the current economic environment. Her clients have been able to keep the doors open, and in one special instance, maintain control of the company. She specializes in the health-care field, continuing her education and doing volunteer work in that discipline. Medical facilities have been able to acquire needed equipment due to her efforts. Her nominator, Judi Rose of Valley Community Clinic, said that, “Cathy’s caring heart has led her to understand health care as a vital community need and her sharp brain recognizes health care as an economic engine. Through her financial acumen she has helped ensure health care access for entire communities.” She sits on several boards, including the California Hospital Medical Center and has been Vice-Chair of VICA’s health committee. Business owner of the Year Susan FriesPresident – CEOEcola Services, Inc. An all-around person who country dances, volunteers, and hosts a popular radio show, Susan Fries is one of the only women business owners in her field — pest control. Her understanding of the business, that her customers not only want to get rid of bugs, but must do so in a way that is safe to family, employees and pets, has led her to be a leader in the industry. Running a green business, not only in product but also in practice, is a hallmark of her achievements. She also is a strong proponent of women in the workforce and fosters and encourages her female employees to continue their education and grow in all ways. Susan was nominated by the Agoura/Oak Park/Conejo Valley/Calabasas Chamber of Commerce. One of the Chamber’s executives, Alex Soteras said, “Susan is a model business owner who illustrates how businesses can get involved in the community by bringing people together and making things happen. Our Chamber is very proud of her.” Office Administrator of the Year LisSa E. Golden-KrovetzLegal AdministratorLevinson Arshonsky & Kurtz, LLP Lissa Golden-Krovetz started her career after her children had grown. She was so impressive as a volunteer that her employers were the people she met while involved in these volunteer groups. She has led Levinson, Arshonsky & Kurtz through a dissolution, company start-up, and relocation. And in these tough economic times, she has effectively cut costs without losing any staff members. Her volunteerism continues to this day. She represents her firm as a 2010 Team Leader for bar association food donation centers and is a member of the Association of Legal Administrators. Time has also been spent teaching Earthquake Preparedness to schools and businesses. Larry Haworth of Bessolo Haworth & Vogel, LLP nominated Lissa, adding, “I had the opportunity to work closely with Lissa when my firm sub-leased office space from the law firm where Lissa works as office administrator. She provided excellent service by finding us work space when our furniture delivery was delayed and provided internet service prior to our network server being installed. She is the primary interface with the building owner and manager and as such takes a tremendous administrative burden off of me and my firm. I know she’s busy with her own work at the law firm but she always makes time to help us out…and that means a lot to us.” Community Leadership Award Stephanie Klasky-GamerPresident & CEOL.A. Family Housing Since 2007, Stephanie Klasky-Gamer has grown revenue and services at L.A. Family Housing by 30% — allowing the organization to increase the number of families and individuals they assist from 2,500 to 3,100. She has helped launch a program that targets the first-time homeless, diverting them from the shelter system to permanent affordable housing. Their program is being modeled nationwide. She was nominated by Roberto Barragan, President of VEDC. “Stephanie took over LAFH in a challenging condition, both financially and organizationally,” said Barragan. “She has turned the organization around to the extent that major federal funds directed at the homeless run through LAFH to help avert homelessness in these tough economic times. As an advocate for the homeless, she sits on many boards and committees and was appointed by the Mayor to serve on the City’s Affordable Housing Commission and Housing Element task Force. She is a frequent guest speaker at UCLA and USC. CEO of the Year Heidi LennartzCEOMission Community Hospital Heidi Lennartz, this year’s CEO of the Year, has spent her entire career in health services, utilizing her LCSW while she developed her business acumen. She began as a volunteer and is now the Chief Executive Officer of one of the leading hospitals in the Valley. During her three year tenure, she has led a multi-million dollar financial turnaround and developed community benefit programming related to Diabetes education, oral health and the building of a community education kitchen. Nancy Hoffman Vanyek, President/CEO of the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce, nominated Heidi because, “Anyone who has the chance to meet Heidi and work with her knows what an incredible woman she is. While she appears to be soft-spoken, don’t misunderstand her strength; she is a strong, dedicated leader whose well thought out thoughts and strategies have turned around a hospital and earned the respect of the medical community, her staff, business leaders, and the fortunate individuals and families she helps out of the goodness of her heart.” Her volunteer work covers the gamut from business organizations through social services and health associations. She is also the current Chair of the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce. Rising Star of the Year Jillian PhanPartnerMeloni Hribal Tratner LLP Jillian Phan is a partner at Meloni Hribal Tratner, and sets an example for the young women in the firm who are following her success arc. She is in a mentoring/leadership role by sharing her experiences of balancing her professional and personal life and showing how a woman can “have it all.” As a new partner, she was given the task of directing the audit practice of the firm, currently the ninth largest in the San Fernando Valley. She is responsible for all of the firm’s financial reporting business which grew an average of 12% per year over the last three years, during the nation’s economic downturn. Firm Partner Gary V. Meloni said, “We are so proud of our partner Jillian for receiving this prestigious award. Her unprecedented advancement to Partner in our firm has resulted in a dramatic expansion of our audit practice. We are equally impressed to see her simultaneous involvement as an executive officer and member of the board of directors of the CalCPA – LA Chapter. Jillian’s ability to mentor young professionals is noteworthy. She demonstrates a unique skill set both in our firm and within our community. Most importantly, she is a wonderful, dedicated and loyal professional whose friendship has meant so much to all of us at Meloni Hribal Tratner.” Business Team of the Year Danone SimpsonPresident & CEO Susan DubinVP of Finance and HR Danone Simpson Insurance Services LLC Danone Simpson and Susan Dubin began their relationship when one was the client of the other. Due to this relationship there was no need to explain the basic tenets and customer service philosophy of the firm. Although their backgrounds differed, they knew the common ground. The platform they work on is to give back to the clients and community that have been a support of the business. They pride themselves on understanding the insurance needs of their clients’ employees and through these needs they having experienced the good and the challenging of their lives with them. Vice President of Account Sales and Services for Danone Simpson Insurance, Toby Kennedy, says of the team, “As I enter my fourth year under the direct management of Danone and Susan, I am humbled by the wisdom they so readily bestow upon me. Working under them is an absolute joy and watching them work in unison is an experience that I will carry with me for the entirety of my professional career. As I watch them navigate our firm through the hard times and the good, I am amazed at the consistency with which I feel both confident that they are leading us in the right direction, and certain that there is no team better suited for the situation at hand. Working beside these two is a true honor, watching our company steadily rise is a daily encouragement, and believing that their fantastic work is only just beginning is an inspiration that drives me every morning, and it is for those reasons that I nominate these two as the Valley’s best partnership.” Each is engaged in various volunteer activities that enhance their business and personal lives. Innovation Leadership Award Leslie StarusPresident & FounderFoodology Leslie Starus is also an innovator in the natural/organic food market. She started a sprout growing business in 1980 and now helms a business that has expanded to provide healthy, natural/organic food in wholesale and retail markets under the label Foodology, a company that also has private and co-packing products including items for Trader Joe’s. Starus’ company has weathered the economic downturn by reorganizing from higher end gourmet to value priced mainstream products. A specialty of the business is Edamame packaged in a state of the art manner that increases the shelf life from 7 to 21 days. This product is distributed all over the United States. She sits on several Boards of Directors, and has had her art work shown internationally. “You don’t find women in the manufacturing sector too often, and Leslie is not the usual manufacturing type,” is how her nominator Robert Barragan, VEDC President characterizes her. “But with her style, creativity and persistence she has carved a niche for herself in organic foods and is posed to exploit a growing market. Committed to her community and her workforce, she is an example of a pioneer in this badly need sector in LA.” Manager of the Year Lisa TurchanDirector of FinanceThe Buckley School As Director of Finance for the Buckley School since 2004, Lisa Turchan has been overseeing a major expansion and improvement project that will add to student capacity, space, operating hours and a revenue increase. She also has, through cost-cutting and prudent fiscal management, increased the reserve finances from $100,000 to $7.5 million. This far exceeds the conservative estimate of 15% of annual budget. Her success was described by her nominator, Jessica Yasukochi of VICA, “Lisa’s knowledge and strong fiscal oversight has contributed to the Buckley School’s success and reputations a first class education institute.” Although not a job requirement, she has gotten very involved with volunteerism. She sits on the Sherman Oaks Chamber Board, is an active volunteer at the Midnight Mission, and supports and is involved in several other community organizations. Executive of the Year Anne WilliamsChief Operating Officer and Chief Credit OfficerCalifornia United Bank The 2010 Executive of the Year, Anne Williams, began her banking career in New York City. In 2005 she was one of the founding members of the California United Bank in Encino, with, at that time, the largest capital of any state chartered bank in California. The bank now has three branches and three loan production offices. Her time is volunteered at VEDC to assist in their lending programs that provide funding for entrepreneurs who may not otherwise qualify for loans. Robert Barragan, President of VEDC and Anne’s nominator, said, “Anne has worked with VEDC for over 16 years to build its $12 million loan portfolio and $20 million a year loan origination program. For Loan Board chair to microloan committee member to now VEDC Board member, Anne has shown significant commitment to small business lending to the San Fernando Valley. Her leadership at California United Bank has been instrumental to their success and their incredible growth to $500 million in assets in just 5 years.” She has been a board member of the Los Angeles Local Development Corporation, the California Economic Development Lending Initiative, served on the Park Advisory Board for the Pan Pacific Recreation Complex, and is a founding Board Member of People+Plus, a Red Cross auxiliary.

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