Comerica Bank Best of LA Women's Business Awards Program 2017-18
The Comerica Bank Women’s Business Awards Program recognizes women in leadership in Southern California, in tribute to their contributions. Winners were selected based on the following five categories:
- Woman of Entrepreneurship: Recognizing 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, and who share their experience to guide our future leaders
- Woman of Promise: Recognizing women who are "rising stars" in their chosen field or industry
Honorees for the Month of March 2018:
Rachel Rabizadeh (Comerica Representative), Allison Citelli, Maxine Tatlonghari, Celia Bernstein, Wendy Sabins and Kerri Sonenshine accepting the Comerica Bank Woman’s Business Award for March 2018.
In the Category of Woman of Promise is Allison Citelli. Allison has dedicated her entire career to the world of sports business. As the Director of Events and Business Development for the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission, Allison aims to make a positive impact on the economy as well as the local community through her proposals and bids.
In the Category of Woman of Entrepreneurship is Maxine Tatlonghari. Maxine is the CEO of Vanity Girl Hollywood. Maxine’s passion is to make women and girls feel glamorous and special everyday with their Hollywood Vanity Mirror. Her business quickly evolved and reached Hollywood Stars and beauty gurus as well as thousands of “everyday” women on YouTube, Instagram, and more.
In the Category of Philanthropy is Celia Bernstein. Celia is the Director of Development at the Westside Family Health Center, a nonprofit health clinic that provides high quality, cost effective health care. Through her numerous roles, Celia works to empower patients to take an assertive role in caring for their wellbeing through all stages of life.
In the Category of Business is Wendy Sabins. Wendy is the Senior Vice President of Auto Club in Cosa Mesa, California. She has demonstrated strong leadership and has continued to display a positive vision as a leader in management. She is a past board member of friends of the Santa Ana Zoo and received the AAA Special Sharing Award in 2012.
In the Category of Business is Kerri Sonenshine. Kerri is the Marketing Vice President of 42 family owned Wingstop restaurants in Southern California and Las Vegas, as well as four Dunkin Donut locations. She also is a board member of the Wingstop Foundation, an organization that provides financial resources for students to further their education and has over eighteen years of experience in world of business.
Honorees for the Month of February 2018:
Jenny Smyth (Comerica Representative), Laura Reathaford, Molly Jolly, Victoria Pineda, Sonia Lister, and Johnnie Resendez accepting the Comerica Bank Woman’s Business Award for February 2018.
In the category of Woman of Promise is Laura Reathaford. As a labor and employment attorney in Los Angeles, Laura has litigated more than one hundred cases disputing claims for wrongful termination, sexual harassment, wage and hour collective and class action suits, discrimination, and union grievances. Her drive, determination, and focus on building long-term relationships with her clients makes her a woman of tremendous promise.
In the category of business is Molly Jolly. Molly is the highest-ranking woman in the Los Angeles Angels Baseball Organization, a position she has held for the past fourteen years. In addition to her diverse work experience, Molly dedicates herself to serving her community as a board member to the Orange County Community and she acts as 2nd Vice Chair for the Girl Scouts of Orange County. Molly’s vibrant personality embraces what it means to be a Woman of Business.
In the category of Woman of Entrepreneurship is Victoria Pineda. After many years as a real estate agent, Victoria found her niche when she formed New Stone Tax Services. Victoria believed she had the power to not only help her own family members but also thousands of individuals who were in similar situations. She prepares over five hundred tax returns a year and there is not a single client’s name or story she does now remember which is why she is such a successful owner and boss.
In the category of Philanthropy is Sonia Lister. Sonia practices real estate transactional law at Jackson Tidus in Orange County. Sonia is on the board of directors at her firm where she is active in ensuring the mentorship, promotion and equal treatment for women lawyers in the firm. Sonia is extremely active outside of her legal career as a HomeAid Orange County volunteer where she dedicates her time to ending homelessness through awareness and engagement.
In the category of woman of diversity is Johnnie Resendez. As a young Latina technology entrepreneur and author, Johnnie acts as a role model for young Latina and multicultural leaders in the technology field. She created a consulting agency, Happy Planners, dedicated to helping her community understand utilizing technological advancements in a positive manner. Her commitment to volunteering and helping small businesses and nonprofits makers her deserving of the woman of diversity award.
Honorees for the Month of January 2018:
Jaqueline Vega (Comerica Bank representative), Aimee Gilbreath, Laura Azzalina Rigali, McCall Hall, Desert Horse-Grant and Thuong Luong accepting the Comerica Bank Woman’s Business Award for January 2018.
In the category of Woman of Philanthropy is Aimee Gilbreath. Aimee serves as the Executive Director of the Michelson Found Animals Foundation. With a mission of saving pets and enriching lives, Aimee’s dedication and hard work has helped the organization save over one and a half million pets. Aimee is committed to making a positive change in the lives of pets and humans through research and volunteering.
LAURA AZZALINA RIGALI
In the category of entrepreneurship is Laura Azzalina Rigali. Laura is the founder of ILLUMINATE CEO/CFO, a strategic advisor and coach to startups, growing companies, and executives. Her finance career combines her love to help people and companies achieve their best. Laura devotes a majority of her time and work to empowering women to run successful businesses and achieve the equality they deserve.
In the category of woman of promise is McCall Hall. McCall Hall currently serves as the Director of Community Outreach for the University of Southern California Athletic Department. Her work has raised nearly two million dollars in funding and produced over five thousand hours of community service curriculum. McCall is constantly producing socially impactful programming for our communities.
In the category of business is Desert Horse-Grant. Desert is the Senior Director of Research and Innovation at UCLA Health and David Geffen School of Medicine. She proudly spent thirteen years at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to help create their first Brain Tumor Center and Neurosurgery Department. Desert is committed to helping her faculty bring about more cures to their patients in our lifetime.
In the category of Woman of Diversity is Thuong Luong. Thuong is the Chief Investment Officer of Gehr Hospitality. Thuong has worked on over one billion dollars of real estate acquisitions. She dedicates her free time to non-profit work focused on housing for veterans and the homeless with chronic mental illness.
Honorees for the Month of December 2017:
Kaitlin Skopec (Comerica Bank representative), Cindy Nasser, Tracy Sanders, Tera Hilliard and Chloe Riley (accepting on behalf of Ashley Crowder) accepting the Comerica Bank Woman’s Business Award for December 2017.
In the category of Woman of Business is Cindy Nasser. Cindy is the Senior Vice President of Operations at PCV Murcor. Cindy’s honest and get-it-done approach creates confidence among her partners and clients. Through team development, client success, and business retention, she is constantly striving to better the industry for all the stakeholders at her company. From speaking at industry events to making meals for residents of Ronald McDonald House, Cindy is relentless in her effort to regularly share her knowledge and time in countless ways.
In the category of Woman of Diversity is Tracy Sanders. As an accomplished attorney, entrepreneur and speaker, Tracy is strongly committed to philanthropic endeavors and interested in helping young people achieve their education and career goals. Tracy is employed at The Institute for Multicultural Counseling and Educational Services. She also established Natural Hair and the Law, an organization that addresses legal issues related to natural hair in the workplace and schools. Tracy attributes her success to a passion for promoting liberty, empowerment, and justice.
In the category of Philanthropy is Tera Hilliard. Tera is the CEO of Forgotten Children, a non-profit organization that seeks to rescue women from human trafficking and sexual exploitations by providing alternative options. Tera is committed to educating the community and law enforcement with the resources to be able to identify a woman in need. Forgotten Children has exceeded expectations because of Tera’s selfless dedication to the community day in and day out.
In the category of Entrepreneurship is Ashely Crowder, accepting on Ashley’s behalf is Chloe Riley. As a music enthusiast, Ashley found a need in the entertainment market when she realized a limited ticket supply often leaves fans out of the action. Ashley is the CEO and co-founder of VNTANA. Her strong work ethic and passion helped build VNTANA from the ground up. The technology company has seen successful results with companies like Microsoft, Lexus and Nike by creating fun, interactive experiences.
Honorees for the Month of November 2017:
Jenny Hsu (Comerica Bank representative), Leilani Llacuna-Morales, Camille David (accepting on behalf of Rachel Bullock), Linda Deyampert and Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs accepting the Comerica Bank Woman’s Business Award for November 2017.
In the category of Woman of Promise is Leilani Llacuna-Morales. Leilani is the head of the Business Resources Department and Vice President of MassMutual Greater Pacific. Leilani is one of the only two woman in a leadership position with firm. Not only is Leilani dedicated to her advisors, but she plans her firm’s charity events every year. Leilani and her team sponsored the Heart Walk Los Angeles this past September that raised almost $15,000 for heart and cardiovascular diseases.
In the category of Woman of Business is Rachel Bullock. Accepting on her behalf is Camille David (pictured). Rachel is the COO of Render Media and has developed the media company into a digital powerhouse. Render media was recently named as a “rising startup” on this year’s Techweek 100 Los Angeles list, and Rachel played a huge role in this achievement. She has grown the organization from a handful of employees to a talented team of fifty people and takes pride in recruiting inclusive and diverse employees as well as setting goals that her team can meet and exceed.
In the category of Woman of Diversity is Linda Deyampert. Linda has dedicated herself to serve all NFL Media employees as she oversees all safety protocols and practices that keep all NFL media employees safe. Since 2016, Linda was named Los Angeles co-chair of Black Engagement Network, whose aim is to strengthen the NFL’s commitment to black employees through professional development and community outreach. Linda currently leads recruiting initiatives aimed at increasing a more diverse candidate pipeline and has always been a relentless advocate for diverse leadership.
In the category of Woman or Philanthropy is Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs. Julie is the President and CFO of Lifescape and VP of Strategic Planning and Executive Committee Member of HomeAid America, a leading national non-profit provider of housing for today’s homeless. Julie helps lead her company towards the future by providing housing for more than 300,000 individuals, 500 shelter projects completed with 50 more in development. She is a frequent speaker at industry events and has authored numerous articles on real estate and demographic trends. Julie is actively involved in urban land institute, international council of shopping centers.