L to R: Kathy Odell, WEV CEO Elect; Andy Winchester, 2019 WEV Volunteer of the Year; Caleigh Hernandez, owner of RoHO, 2019 WEV Business of the Year; Marianne Partridge, Santa Barbara Independent 2019 Trailblazer; and Marsha Bailey, WEV Founder and CEO (Photo: Sarita Relis Photography)
Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) raised more than $220,000 to support local entrepreneurs at their Empowerment is Priceless event held October 25th at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. The non-profit’s 14th annual breakfast fundraiser recognized WEV’s 2019 Trailblazer, Business of the Year and Volunteer of the Year award winners. 300 guests interacted with featured WEV clients who shared their personal experiences as entrepreneurs and how their businesses have evolved with the support of WEV’S business training, consulting and loan programs.
Each year WEV presents the Trailblazer Award to a woman who is a pioneer in her industry, exemplifying courage, vision and the tenacity to overcome barriers. This year, WEV honored Marianne Partridge, editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Santa Barbara Independent who was also the first female senior editor of Rolling Stone Magazine.
“She was a maverick in her field, a feminist who challenged the establishment and changed the paradigm in the field of journalism,” said Gary Hopkins, Pacific Western Bank Senior Vice President, who introduced Partridge at the event and talked about the six women she mentored at Rolling Stone who were eventually added to the iconic magazine’s masthead.
WEV’s Business of the Year award honors a business owner who demonstrates the unique, inspiring and powerful impact made by local small businesses from the WEV community. Caleigh Hernandez, owner of RoHo, is WEV’s 2019 Business of the Year award recipient. RoHo is a brand committed to social change that provides consumers with beautiful, ethical products handmade by over 400 artisans across Kenya. Hernandez is a 2017 graduate of WEV’s Smart Entrepreneurial Training (SET) course and is currently a member of Thrive, WEV’s long-term, individualized consulting, coaching, and training program for entrepreneurs.
Andy Winchester, Senior Vice President, Wealth Advisor at Wells Fargo Private Bank and Co-Vice chair of WEV’s Board of Directors, was honored as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year. Winchester, who also serves on WEV’s Endowment and Loan Review Committee, thanked Wells Fargo for providing more than $1.4 million to WEV business training programs and resiliency grants that support vital economic empowerment in the region.
For 28 years WEV has been working to help women entrepreneurs succeed. “Nearly three decades later, we have proven that business ownership can provide not only a viable pathway out of poverty, but can also build family wealth and stability, as well as contribute to the economic well-being of our communities,” said WEV Founder & CEO Marsha Bailey.
Major sponsors of the 2019 Empowerment is Priceless event were Pacific Western Bank, Trusted Legal, Wells Fargo, City National Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, La Arcada Courtyard, LinkedIn, and Ventura County Credit Union. All proceeds raised will directly benefit WEV client programs in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties including: Smart Entrepreneurial Training (SET), Thrive®, WEV en Español and the WEV Loan Program.