2013-14 Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Awards Program

Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Awards

The Comerica Bank Women's Business Awards Program recognizes women in leadership in Southern California, in tribute to their contributions. Honorees must reside and work in one of the following counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino, California.

Five female honorees will be selected each month from November 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014 (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. Submit an entry for this season

Honorees for the Month of March 2014:

Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Award

Veronie Steele-Small (second to left), Gina Raphael (third to left), Arleen Paulino (third to right)
Mariam Khosravani (second to right), Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire (right), Awards presented by Cynthia Loo, Comerica Bank (left)


Veronie Steele-Small is the first and only female African American Battalion Chief in the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Since joining the fire department in 1988 as the 7th woman hired, she has overcome every challenge thrown her way with elegance and dignity, and has proven to be a serious force to be reckoned with.

GINA RAPHAEL Woman of Entrepreneurship

Gina Raphael is a driving force behind the growth of Mickey Fine Pharmacy and Grill. She works to mentor within the organization with a focus on finding growth opportunities for women. Her dedication has allowed the company to grow dramatically over the last decade.

ARLEEN PAULINO Woman of Business

Arleen Paulino is the Executive Director of Clinical Operations at Amgen. Amgen leverages its biologics manufacturing expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people’s lives. Arleen is responsible for multiple production facilities to ensure delivery of clinical product throughout the lifecycle of Amgen’s drug product portfolio.

MARIAM KHOSRAVANI Woman of Philanthropy

Mariam Khosravani is the Founder & President of the Iranian-American Women Foundation. Over the past 20 years, she has also been committed to serving as an executive director, senior advisor, community service commissioner and consultant to several non-profits throughout Southern California.

BETSY BERKHEMER-CREDAIRE Woman of Diversity (Honoree from Month of January)

Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire is the President and Co-Founder of Berkhemer Clayton, a retained executive search firm in Los Angeles which places high level executives in areas of communications, marketing and finance. Being a champion of women in leadership, she has served as President of the National Association of Women Business Owners-California and published ‘The Board Game’, a book about women gaining seats on corporate boards.

Honorees for the Month of February 2014:

Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Award

Tamara L. Harper (center) Rebecca Goldfarb (right) Awards presented by Lisa Kaplan, Comerica Bank (left)

TAMARA L. HARPER Woman of Entrepreneurship

In her private practice, Tamara L. Harper, Esquire, represents a diverse group of entrepreneurs, inventors and businesses in employment regulation, copyright and trademark law, estate planning, corporate law and more. One of Tamara’s most rewarding legal experiences was the civil prosecution of perpetrators of domestic violence through a Department of Justice grant under the Violence Against Women Act protecting victims of domestic violence, and she has successfully argued before the U.S. Hague Court in matters of international child abduction.


Rebecca Goldfarb is an attorney at law and co-founder of Goldfarb and Luu, where they exclusively practice estate planning and elder law. Her firm offers free, public presentations to educate residents about the importance of estate planning. In 2013 and 2014 she was recognized as a rising star in the New York Times and The Los Angeles Magazine. Outside of her practice, she volunteers as a civilian Sheriff and sits on the board of directors of Topanga Town Council and the town emergency planning organization.

Honorees for the Month of January 2014:

Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Award

Tammie Helmuth (second to left), Myra Nourmand (center), Meiko Takayama (right), Awards presented by Cynthia Loo, Comerica Bank (left), Not pictured (Betsy Berkemer-Credaire)

TAMMIE HELMUTH Woman of Philanthropy

Tammie Helmuth is the President and CEO of Conejo Awards, an awards and promotional company in Thousand Oaks. Aside from leading her family business, Tammie has served her community as President of the Thousand Oaks Police Charitable Foundation where she initiated fundraising campaigns. She is also a longtime Rotarian and will be the incoming Board President for the Girl Scouts of California Central Coast.

MYRA NOURMAND Woman of Entrepreneurship

Myra Nourmand is a licensed broker with over 20 years of experience who specializes in marketing and selling luxury properties from Beverly Hills to Malibu and has sold properties ranging from $1 million to $30 million. In addition to selling luxury properties, Myra has authored a book called From Homemaker to Breadwinner and has made appearances on numerous real estate television and radio talk shows.

MEIKO TAKAYAMA Woman of Promise

Meiko Takayama is the Founder and CEO of Advancing Women Executives (AWE), which is the fastest growing business service for corporate executive women with the mission to increase the number of women in senior management and on boards to improve the global economy. AWE is a leading resource for many Fortune 500 companies in California and New York and will be expanding their membership to Chicago in 2014.

Honorees for the Month of December 2013:

Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Award

Chris Knight (second to left), Anna Ouroumian (center), Tamara Gurney (right), Awards presented by Marianna Wong, Comerica Bank (left)

CHRIS KNIGHT Woman of Entrepreneurship

Chris Knight is an independent financial executive with extensive experience in senior financial management positions. In 2009, she started Knight-Consulting to help clients with her financial expertise, and now specializes in providing small to mid-sized law firms and other professional service firms with the advantages of a sophisticated chief financial officer on a part-time, interim or project basis.

ANNA OUROUMIAN Woman of Diversity

Anna Ouroumian is the Refounder, President and CEO of The Academy of Business Leadership, an award-winning and dynamic organization that provides business and transformational leadership education to underserved and high potential youth in Southern California. As a visionary leader, Anna has created a mission that encourages youth to harness their talent and see themselves as leaders so they can make a difference in the world today and rise to become influential leaders of tomorrow.

TAMARA GURNEY Woman of Business

Tamara Gurney is the founding President and CEO of Mission Valley Bank, a community based business bank headquartered in Sun Valley. She began her career in community banking 33 years ago, and in 2001 formed Mission Valley Bank which focuses on true relationship banking that is dedicated to earning the role as each client's trusted advisor, thus aiding in the success of the client, bank and community.

Honorees for the Month of November 2013:

Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Award

Jen Hollingsworth (second to left), Karen Erickson (center), Maria Cervantes (right), Awards presented by Cynthia Loo, Comerica Bank (left)


Jen Hollingsworth is the Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning and Operations for Lionsgate's Motion Picture Group. She is responsible for all film financing for Lionsgate, which totaled several hundred million dollars this year with films such as the upcoming 3rd and 4th installments of the global blockbuster Hunger Games franchise. Hollingsworth has helped propel Lionsgate's films to a global box office of over $2.5 billion in 2012.

KAREN ERICKSON Woman of Philanthropy

Karen Erickson was diagnosed with a genetic form of COPD called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, and given two years to live twelve years ago. This disease inspired her to work with the Alpha-1 Association and Foundation as a patient advocate, board member, speaker and fundraiser, with the goals of increased research, improved health, world-wide detection, and a cure for Alpha-1. After receiving a double-lung transplant in March, her determination and commitment to finding the cure and every patient who needs it is stronger than ever.

MARIA CERVANTES Woman of Diversity

Maria Cervantes is the Diversity and Community Relations Officer and top fundraiser at Mind Research Institute, who has raised over $3.5 million in four short years. She has united Latino community leaders and corporations to donate millions to help low income, English language learning students to become tomorrow's hi-tech professionals with Mind's game-changing math education program. Maria's vision helped found Mind's diversity council and first youth board.

Past Award Winners