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From left to right: Renee Grubb, Village Properties Co-founder, Marsha Bailey, WEV Founder and CEO, Lynda Weinman, Co-founder and Alethea Tyner Paradis, Friendship Tours World Travel Founder (Photo credit: Alíz Ruvalcaba-Ventura/R&V Photography)

Three hundred women and men attended non-profit Women’s Economic Ventures’ (WEV) annual Empowerment is Priceless event held on May 13th at the Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara. The breakfast fundraiser recognized WEV’s 2015 Trailblazer, Business of the Year and Volunteers of the Year.

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.

“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,” says Marsha Bailey, WEV’s founder and CEO, “Her leadership and generosity has inspired others and will help WEV expand our economic impact.”

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 2015 WEV Business of the Year award went to Alethea Tyner Paradis, owner of Friendship World Travel, a business dedicated to meaningful travel in countries recovering from conflict.

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 + Productivity, and Ventura County Volunteer Tim Weaver of Cal Lutheran University.

About Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)

WEV is dedicated to creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women. Since 1991, WEV has been providing self-employment training, technical assistance and microloans to primarily low-income women. WEV offers a continuum of programs to help both women and men start, stabilize and grow small businesses. WEV’s service area includes Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, with offices in Santa Barbara and Ventura. As a non-profit community lender, WEV provides start-up and expansion loans of up to $50,000. For more information, visit WEV’s Web site at

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