Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Awards Program

Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Awards

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 November 1, 2012 – March 31, 2013 (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.

2012-2013 Comerica Bank Best of L.A. Women's Business Awards

Best of LA

Lori Gangemi Woman of Philanthropy (second to left), Janet Neman Woman of Diversity (center), Cindy Kirven Woman of Business (second to right), Jill Campbell (right), Awards presented by Cynthia Loo, Comerica Bank (left)


Honorees for the Month of March 2013:

LORI GANGEMI Woman of Philanthropy

Lori Gangemi is the president and CEO of AbilityFirst, an agency which provides life-transforming programs and services children and adults affected by developmental or physical disabilities. Under her leadership, AbilityFirst has been able to counteract reduced public funding by increasing private fundraising and engaging corporate sponsors, foundations, and the community contribute to events such as its signature 5K run and the first annual AbilityFirst Stroll & Roll this year. An alumna of Washington State University, Lori’s past philanthropic involvement includes the March of Dimes and the American Heart Association.

JANET NEMAN Woman of Diversity

Janet Neman is the Senior Managing Director of the Charles Dunn Company, a full service commercial real estate firm, with over 25 years of experience in this field. She is a specialist in the analysis, marketing and sale of multifamily, office and retail properties mostly in the Southern California market, and over her career she has completed a total of $950 million in sales transactions, netting $100 million in 2012 alone. Janet has received a multitude of awards as a top agent at Charles Dunn Company and has received recognition as a “Southern California Woman of Influence” and is quoted in papers such as the California Real Estate Journal, LA Times, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to commercial real estate, she is involved with the Los Angeles Shelter for Battered Women.

CINDY KIRVEN Woman of Business

Cindy Kirven is the chief operating officer of Endgame Entertainment Company, an independent film production, financing, and releasing entity. Ms. Kirven has held this position since Endgame’s start in 2003. This year, Endgame has been involved with the production and release of the films “Looper” directed by Rian Johnson and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, “Side Effects” directed by Steven Soderbergh and Starring Rooney Mara and Jude Law, and “A Haunted House” directed by and Starring Marlon Wayans. Other notable film and television projects from Endgame include the Oscar-nominated “An Education” and “Hotel Rwanda” and the upcoming HBO documentary series “Sport in America: Our Defining Stories.” An Alumna of Scripps College, Cindy has over 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry as well as senior management experience at financial institutions.

JILL CAMPBELL Woman of Entrepreneurship

Jill Campbell is the president and CEO of Campbell Tax & Financial Services, which has been in operation in Sun Valley since 1970. She advises clients on tax investments, insurance and risk management matters, and has built such longstanding relationships with many of her clients that it is estimated that 35% of her clients have been with her for 20 years or longer. In addition, Jill is a co-founder of Mission Valley Bank in Sun Valley as well as the owner of WatchMe 911, Inc., a company dedicated to protecting women through mobile security technology. The WatchMe 911 app and the college-age student adaptation OnWatch allows for easy access to contact emergency responders and emergency contacts. The OnWatch app was announced as the winner President Obama’s “Apps Against Abuse” in November 2011 and was presented the award in April 2012 by Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder and was also honored by U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services Katherine Sebelius in December 2011.

Best of LA - November 2012

Linda Gach Ray Woman of Entrepreneurship (center)

Janeen Holmes Woman of Philanthropy (right)

Awards presented by Cynthia Loo, Comerica Bank (left)

Honorees for the Month of February 2013:

LINDA GACH RAY Woman of Entrepreneurship

Linda Gach Ray is the founding partner of the law firm of Owens & Gach Ray, a firm that is celebrating 26 years of dedicated and successful service to its clients. Linda is a highly accomplished lawyer and has also served for over 20 years on the Los Angeles County Superior Court Probate Volunteer Panel. Additionally, she has previously co-owned and operated a minor league baseball team, where she quickly mastered the complex business of baseball, working on every aspect of the business from game day operations to advertising sales and promotional opportunities. Linda dedicates her spare time to career mentoring for young women at WoMentoring and various philanthropic endeavors such as the Mitchell E. Gordon Memorial Fund benefiting Southern California Special Olympics.

JANEEN HOLMES Woman of Philanthropy

Janeen Holmes is the President and CEO of My Stuff Bags Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization that provides new belongings, comfort and hope to tens of thousands of children each year who must be rescued from abuse, neglect and abandonment across the United States. These children often enter shelters and foster care with nothing to call their own. My Stuff Bags are blue duffels filled by volunteers with age and gender appropriate items for children being cared for by nonprofit agencies. The bags address the immediate physical needs (toiletries, clothing) and emotional needs (things to do, things to cling to such as toys, stuffed animals or blankets) of frightened, rescued children. Established in 1998, more than 430,000 at-risk children nationwide have received My Stuff Bags, nearly 50,000 of them in Los Angeles County.

Best of LA - November 2012

Natalie Cole Woman of Entrepreneurship (center)

Maribeth Annaguey Woman of Mentorship (right)

Awards presented by Cynthia Loo, Comerica Bank (left)

Honorees for the Month of January 2013:

NATALIE COLE Woman of Entrepreneurship

Natalie Cole is the founder and CEO of Our Weekly, the largest African American owned newspaper in the state of California. She has more than 30 years of media experience in the newspaper industry, the majority at senior level management, at the LA Times and LA Weekly before leaving to establish Our Weekly. In addition to being the founder and CEO of Our Weekly, Natalie is the founder and CEO of Healthier You magazine, The West Coast Expo, an annual event at the LA convention center focusing on business, technology, sustainability, and health, and the Urban Media Foundation, a program which educates, trains, and mentors underserved inner city youth in journalism, media technology, and mass communication. Natalie’s innovative thinking and drive has helped her to find great success in this niche market and allowed her to continually expand her business in a waning industry. She has gone on to share her entrepreneurial methods of success through speaking engagements as well as co-authoring three books: Yes You Can! Reaching Your Potential While Achieving Greatness (2010), Million Dollar Conversations, Women Entrepreneurs Share Strategies for Mastering Business (2011), and Life Moments for Women (2012).

MARIBETH ANNAGUEY Woman of Mentorship

Maribeth Annaguey is a partner at Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor LLP in the firm’s Entertainment Litigation department. An exceptional attorney with outstanding commitment and work ethic in her own right, Maribeth has dedicated much time, work, and personal resources pro bono in philanthropic endeavors in education. She has volunteered with the South Central Scholars Foundation since July of 2010, an organization that provides mentoring, career coaching, and academic resources for highly motivated, talented students from disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles County. She has shared her experiences as a student in law school and as an attorney to these scholars as a mentor at the foundation’s 2-day summer conference at USC and as a webinar panelist throughout the school year. Maribeth is also a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Extera Public School, a California Public Benefit Corporation, located in the Boyle Heights community of East Los Angeles. Located in a community where 25 out of the 27 public elementary and middle schools are considered failing by the California Department of Education’s standards, Extera provides a high quality educational option for families by providing an enriched academic environment and a longer school year. In May 2011, the Yucaipa-Calimesa School District recognized Maribeth’s outstanding contributions to the education of English Learners.

Best of LA - November 2012

Nora Plesent Woman of Entrpreneurship (center)

Randy Fifield Woman of Business (right)

Awards presented by Cynthia Loo, Comerica Bank (left)

Honorees for the Month of December 2012:

NORA PLESENT Woman of Entrepreneurship

Nora Plesent is Founder and Principal of Lexolution, a leading provider of temporary legal staffing services. Since 2001, Lexolution has expanded to markets in Washington D.C., Richmond, Virginia, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles, providing the highest quality temporary legal staffing to the nation’s top law firms and corporations. Nora has also founded the New Girls Network, which is an alliance of female leaders who promote the advancement of women in the legal profession. Ms. Plesent frequently writes, speaks, and hosts seminars on cutting edge topics faced by the women who are redefining the legal marketplace.

RANDY FIFIELD Woman of Business

Randy Fifield who is Managing Director and Principal for Century West Partners, a Los Angeles-based residential development firm responsible for the construction of nearly 2300 affordable multi-family residential apartments in greater Los Angeles. By developing in urban areas with close proximity to entertainment, shopping, schools, commercial businesses and transportation, Randy is committed to providing upscale, yet affordable residential living that truly considers the resident’s quality of life. Throughout her career, Ms. Fifield has helped spearhead numerous luxury residential developments as well including the Beverly West and The Californian on Wilshire condominium towers.

Best of LA - November 2012

Sheri Shrier Woman of Philanthropy (center)

Marsha Metz Woman of Business (right)

Awards presented by Melissa Pollard, Comerica Bank (left)

Honorees for the Month of November 2012:

SHERI SCHRIER Woman of Philanthropy

Sheri Schrier is the founder of a non-profit organization called Happy Hats for Kids, which she founded in 1991. After losing loved ones to cancer, she set out on a mission to help hospitalized children who were dealing with the same devastating disease. With a background as a designer and manufacturer of women’s accessories for 25 years, Sheri created a whimsical hat collection called “Happy Hats” to uplift the spirits of hospitalized children suffering from cancer. Sheri has since expanded her charity by creating “Happy Hats” for many other holidays. With the popularity of her collections, her program has enrolled hundreds of volunteer inmates as well as disabled and autistic teens to sew, package and ship thousands of Happy Hats. Sheri and her husband Gene have also created a book entitled “Hero Club” which has helped to educate more than 20,000 hospitalized children and their families coping with the treatment of cancer in a light-hearted manner, sharing the message that courage and bravery comes from within.

MARSHA METZ Woman of Business

Marsha Metz is Senior Executive Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at Constantin Film Development, Inc. She manages a team of international production attorneys, associate attorneys, and legal assistants as well as overseeing business and legal affairs for the motion picture company. Marsha’s powerful analytical skills in navigating the legal rapids of the entertainment industry have been a successful guiding light in helping Constantin develop into one of the most important media companies internationally. Prior to practicing law, Marsha was an educator for 10 years and worked for other major legal firms and a motion picture studio. She has been with Constantin for the last 17 years, where she continues to steer the company to be a strong force in the entertainment business with her skills, expertise, and experience.