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noozhawkimage001_1432333717930_18701682_ver1.0_640_480From left, Renee Grubb, Village Properties co-founder; Marsha Bailey, Women’s Economic Ventures founder and CEO; Lynda Weinman, co-founder; and Alethea Tyner Paradis, founder of Friendship Tours World Travel. (Alíz Ruvalcaba-Ventura photo / R&V Photography)


By Amy Bernstein for Women’s Economic Ventures | Published on 05.21.2015 10:42 a.m

On May 13, 300 women and men ventured to the Fess Parker Resort to attend the nonprofit Women’s Economic Ventures’ annual event, Empowerment Is Priceless.

The breakfast fundraiser recognized WEV’s 2015 Trailblazer, Business of the Year and Volunteers of the Year. WEV clients also shared stories of their personal experience with WEV’s continuum of programs, and they also discussed where their businesses are today.

This year’s fundraiser featured a generous matching gift from Lynda Weinman, co-founder of the online-learning site As a result, WEV surpassed their fundraising goal — raising $270,000 to support local women-owned businesses.

“Women start businesses with roughly half as much money as men,” says Marsha Bailey, WEV’s founder and CEO. “Women often won’t apply for a business loan because they assume they’ll be turned down. At WEV, we build both skills and confidence to help women think bigger.”

WEV has made four million dollars in small business loans and plans to increase its lending to one million dollars per year within the next three years.

“Lynda Weinman is a great role model for women, not just because she’s been so successful, but because of the way she has succeeded and given back to our community. Her leadership and generosity has inspired others and will help WEV expand our economic impact,” Bailey says.

The Trailblazer Award is typically presented to a woman who is a pioneer in her industry, exemplifying courage, vision and the tenacity to overcome barriers. This year, WEV honored Renee Grubb, co-founder of Village Properties, for her excellence in business, her community involvement and her philanthropy.

Each year WEV also honors a business owner who represents the visionary clients the organization serves. The award is not necessarily for the biggest or the fastest-growing business, rather, WEV recognizes the unique and inspiring nature of a business and the contributions it and its owner make to the community.

The 2015 WEV Business of the Year award went to Alethea Tyner Paradis, owner of Friendship Tours World Travel, a business dedicated to meaningful travel in countries recovering from conflict. Through her business, Paradis inspires students to engage with vibrant cultures of nations healing from war and to gain an experiential education rich in the living history and modern culture of now-peaceful locales. She exemplifies the ingenuity and passion of WEV business owners.

WEV also honored two Volunteers of the Year for their commitment and service to WEV clients: Santa Barbara County Volunteer Sara Caputo, owner of Radiant Organizing, and Ventura County Volunteer Timothy Weaver of California Lutheran University.

Major sponsors of the 2015 Empowerment is Priceless event were Union Bank, Silsbury Wealth Advisors, Pacific Western Bank, Rabobank, , Fell, Marking, Abkin, Montgomery, Granet & Raney, LLP, and The Fess Parker Resort. All proceeds from the Empowerment is Priceless event will directly benefit client programs in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties including: Self-Employment Training (SET), SET to Launch, Thrive in Five, WEV Loan Program, and  Nasif, Hicks, Harris & Co. LLP.

— Amy Bernstein is a publicist representing Women’s Economic Ventures


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