Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Awards Program
The Comerica Bank Best of LA Women’s Business Awards Program recognizes women in leadership in Los Angeles County, in tribute to their contributions.
Five female honorees will be selected each month from December 19, 2011 – March 31, 2012 (one in each of the following 5 categories):
- Woman of Entrepreneurship: Recognizing Los Angeles County women business owners at companies of all sizes
- Woman of Business: Recognizing women executives (non-owner of the business)
- Woman of Philanthropy: Recognizing women who are changing our local community for the better
- Woman of Diversity: Recognizing women who are role models and breakthrough agents in our multicultural city
- Woman of Mentorship: Recognizing women who have shared their experience and talents to guide our future leaders
Applicants will be considered for all categories and throughout the program period on a rolling basis. All honorees will be recognized monthly (5 per month) at a Lakers game.
Honorees for the Month of March:
Shelly Ulaj Woman of Philanthropy
Johnnie Savoy Woman of Entrepreneurship
As an educator with 25 years of service in Los Angeles county public school districts, Johnny Savoy’s personal mission to prepare her son for college evolved into a community action plan that became College Bound. For over 21 years, College Bound has provided a stimulating educational environment, instilling a passion for learning and encouraging over 700 students to succeed as early as the fourth grade. 100% of College Bound students have graduated from high school and matriculated on to college. In addition, the organization has been instrumental in acquiring over $27 million in academic scholarships for students since 1994. College Bound continues to perpetuate a legacy of hope for students in underserved and disenfranchised communities throughout Los Angeles.
Debbie Fan Woman of Business
Debbie Fan is Senior Vice President and Treasurer of CBRE, Inc., the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm. In her role, Debbie is responsible for financial risk management related to foreign exchange and interest rates, worldwide cash and liquidity, short-term investment portfolios, and debt issuance in the private and public markets. Debbie is a key member of the CBRE management team and has twice been recognized by the APF Exchange Magazine as one of the 300 Most Influential People in Finance. She earned a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Business Administration from the University of Southern California, and is a mother of two.
Honorees for the Month of February:
Sophie Alpert Woman of Philanthropy
Kristin Nelson Woman of Entrepreneurship
Kristin Nelson is the Owner of LA Kids Consignment. The idea came to her after she became frustrated searching for a reasonably priced exersaucer for her son. After starting her first kids consignment sale in her driveway eight years ago, Kristin Nelson began her entrepreneurial journey by opening LA Kids Consignment under the motto “Kids are expensive. Their stuff doesn’t have to be”. These sales give families an opportunity to clean out their houses and earn money for all the items their kids have outgrown. Now LA Kids Consignment has grown to four locations with over 2600 total consigners. The sales are held in the spring and fall in large warehouses around the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Pasadena areas and Westside.
Patricia Zarate Woman of Mentorship
Chef Pati Zarate runs Homegirl Café, a division of Homebody Industries whose mission is to assist at-risk and formerly gang-involved young women and men to become contributing members of our community. Witnessing the power of communion created around a dining table, Pati began to think of ways in which she could offer her passion for food at a deeper level of service to the community. This drive led her to open her first restaurant, El Zarape, where she employed homegirls as an extension of the services offered by Homeboy Industries. In 2005, an official Homegirl Café became a reality in Boyle Heights, where Chef Pati mentored and trained a dozen young women, teaching them the basics of restaurant service and culinary arts. A new, larger, state-of-the-art facility in Chinatown was completed in 2007, which is now home to Homegirl Café, where 30 to 40 homegirls undergo job training at a given time. With her gentle guidance, Pati has made a powerful influence in helping young people redirect their lives.
Angela Agrusa Woman of Business
Angela Agrusa takes a hands on approach in the management of her firm, Liner Grode Stein, where she is head of the litigation department, media spokesperson and an equity partner. Liner Grode Stein is a dynamic law firm with a diverse client base which includes Fortune 500 companies, institutions, small businesses and individuals. Angela’s practice includes high stakes litigation and trial work in the areas of trademark, false advertising, unfair competition, copyright, as well as other types of business disputes. She is an active member of INTA, the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, and a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America, Trial Lawyer Honorary Society. Angela has also been honored in Southern California "Top 100 Lawyers" and "Top 50 Women Lawyers" lists by Super Lawyers.
Honorees for the Month of January:
Patricia Jones Woman of Philanthropy
Samira Asemanfar Woman of Entrepreneurship
Samira Asemanfar is the founder of Bellacures nail salon. Upon graduation from USC’s Marshall School of Business she joined KPMG, LLP as an internal auditor. Ten months later, frustrated with the lifestyle of a corporate career, she decided it was time for change, and she set out to open the first branded, high-end nail salon in Los Angeles focused on style, a spa-atmosphere and cleanliness. Bellacures opened its doors in February 2006 and since then has received numerous accolades such as “Best of LA” by Los Angeles Magazine in 2006 as well as Fox 11’s 2007 HotList Winner. In 2009, Samira was also awarded Small Business Administration’s “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” Award for Los Angeles, and today, Bellacures has opened locations in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Larchmont Village, Studio City, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Outside of her business Samira is heavily involved in the community through organizations such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Step Up Women’s Network, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles.