Congratulations to Our 2020 Orange County Women of Influence Award Winners!
Champion of Women Award Winner
Cindy Calderon is a 5’3 go-getter El Salvadorian woman who calls Garden Grove her home. Cindy always had an entrepreneurial spirit but it wasn’t until 5 years ago when her husband Irving and her opened ”Kingdom Auto Repair”, that her entrepreneurial skills were put to the test.
As a wife and mom of 3 beautiful kids, she learned to juggle being a mom, while also running a business. Today, Kingdom Auto Repair is well known in the community for being a well respected and trusted auto repair.
But Cindy found a HUGE problem in the auto repair industry.
She discovered a lack of information and a lack of respect for women. She got tired of hearing the horror stories of how women were taken advantage of by other auto repairs. But also how women’s lack of knowledge of their car, put them in sticky situations.
So last year Cindy started ”Ladies Kar Care”, a local and online movement to empower women to learn about their cars in a fun way. Locally they run free monthly clinics to teach women things like changing a tire, checking their oil levels, adding air to their tires and so much more.
Cindy feels the most empowered when actively getting to empower other women.
But when she’s not working you can find her at church volunteering with the kid’s program, or at home sipping on her favorite Cinnamon tea while watching a movie with her kids.
Cindy is so humbled to be nominated and is looking forward to connecting with such amazing women!
Gamechanger Award Winner
Xandra Laskowski is a startup advisor with over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience with large multinational tech companies as well as startups as founder, investor, advisor and board member. She has held positions as Worldwide Commodity Manager and National Major Accounts managerial roles before moving into the Angel Investment and startup worlds. She founded OSEA Angel Investors in 2017, a woman focused angel investment group based at the UCI Cove, University of Irvine, California. OSEA Angel Investors is an investment partner with Tech Coast Angels, Titan Angels (CSUF) Angel Syndication Network and Family Office Networks. Through Xolas, Ms. Laskowski provides startup consulting assisting entrepreneurs in producing their “Startup Roadmap”.
In 2019 Ms. Laskowski was included in the Orange County Business Journal OC 500 Directory of Influence for Innovation and in February 2020 was nominated to the Orange County Business Journal Woman in Business Awards. In March 2020 Ms. Laskowski was nominated as a Women of Influence Awards finalist for the Gamechanger Award.
OSEA Angel Investors is a membership-based private angel investment group focused on and driven by executives and entrepreneurs with very diverse and successful backgrounds. We provide a forum for the introduction of emerging companies to potential angel investors and offer access to meaningful education regarding the vetting and investment process. Educated entree to investment opportunities will allow our members possibilities to diversify their investment portfolios. OSEA Angel Investors is based at the UCI Cove, University of California, Irvine
Catalyst for Change Award Winner
Tam Nguyen is the President of Advance Beauty College with campuses in Garden Grove and Laguna Hills, California. More than 40,000 graduates have gone through the innovative program in its 33-year history with training that includes educators who speak English, Spanish, Farsi, and Vietnamese. The vast majority of graduates are women who are proudly employed in the beauty-care industry with many becoming successful business owners. Tam along with his sister Linh Nguyen are proud second-generation co-owners of Advance Beauty College. Their leadership team comprises of talented OC businesswomen including Christine Nguyen, Suzette Marchetti, Tracy Pham, and Lupe Solis. The greater education team is made up of 90% women ranging from executives, management, department leads, administrative staff, and educators. Advance Beauty College is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious National School Spirit Award by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools. After experiencing the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Advance Beauty College joined forces with the nail care industry to lead a “Nailing It For America” campaign that collected more than 1.2 million medical-grade masks, gloves, and other PPE’s along with teaming up with restaurants to provide more than 52,000 meals to front line workers.
Tam is an active member of the community, he enjoys teaching as a Management faculty member of Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics. His leadership and experience in the community range from Vice Chair of OC United Way, Vice-Chair CSUF Philanthropic Foundation, Vice President Garden Grove Community Foundation, past Chair of the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce, & Board member for Project Vietnam Foundation. He was named by the Orange County Business Journal OC 500 – as a member of Orange County’s most influential. Tam has personally mentored hundreds of students and has been a guest speaker to alumni and student groups including Harvard, Yale, UCLA, USC, UCI, CSUF and Chapman. As an industry leader he has appeared on CNN, PBS, BBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC, KFI 640, LA Times, OC Register, and numerous Vietnamese media, podcasts, and award-winning documentaries. He is a proud local OC graduate of both UCI and CSUF.
Tam is also a dedicated family man. He and his lovely wife Christine and 3 children reside in Fountain Valley and serve on the PTA’s in the Fountain Valley School District. They enjoy spending quality time with family and friends while spreading love and kindness.
Woman to Watch Award Winner
Heather Heleloa is the Director of Marketing at THE RANCH Restaurant, Saloon and Events Center. Named Anaheim’s 2020 Restaurant of the Year, THE RANCH is a 53,000+ square foot venue that specializes upscale dining, private events and live music entertainment. Her advancement through professional roles demonstrates exceptional marketing savvy within the hospitality industry at company-owned chains, international franchises, and independent single-unit operators.
Heather serves as the Vice President of the California Restaurant Association-OC Chapter and Course Project Administrator at her alma mater California State University, Fullerton. She is active in the Pacific Islander community, honoring her Native Hawaiian heritage as a member of ‘Āinahau O Kaleponi Hawaiian Civic Club, Pacific American Community Cultural Center, and creator of Heleloa.com – a directory of NHPI news, events businesses and people throughout Southern California.
Woman Breaking Barriers Award Winner
Annie Chen was born in Shanghai to an affluent family, where she was the youngest of three children. During her childhood, she excelled in all her classes, allowing her to eventually matriculate to the University of Shanghai, where she graduated with top honors in mechanical engineering. With a stellar academic record, Annie was selected to be a fellow at General Electric – an opportunity that positioned her into launching one of the largest marketing firms in Shanghai. Yet, despite this early success, she had always harbored the tremendous ambition of living in the United States.
As such, in 1995, Annie left behind an extraordinary career to move to the United States. Despite the daunting obstacles she faced as a newly immigrated woman with no connections and no network, Annie’s career quickly progressed. After five short years, she was recognized with the John Hancock Manager of the Year award, a firm-wide honor reserved for one candidate a year. She has since made a transition into leading her own agency, which has been consistently recognized for its stellar performance by institutional partners like AIG and Blue Shield.
Although Annie has experienced great professional success, she also pursues non-profit advocacy, where she has spent much of her time advancing issues unique to the Chinese American experience. 20 years in the United States has given her a distinct understanding of the subtleties of being both Chinese and American. As such, she joined the Diamond Bar Chinese American Association, where she was the longest-serving President in the organization’s history. This gave her a platform to help steward and teach Chinese Culture to 1st generation students, allowing her to help pass on the treasure of cultural heritage. Other board members have called her work consolidating and innovating for the DBCAA, “some of the most pivotal in the organization’s 30 year history.”
Additionally, Annie noted that there was a need for a network that supported other Chinese American Women. As such, she helped found the Jinguo committee, which she now leads as Executive Director. This committee has been tremendously successful in pursuing a goal of advancing female community leadership and Sino-American relations.
More recently, the Jinguo committee has been praised for its proactive work in response to the WuHan Health Crisis. Under the leadership of Annie, the network has made a concerted campaign in aiding the Public Health effort in China. The organization has been lauded for its role in rallying the Southern California Chinese Community into making a coordinated drive to donate medical supplies and capital to aid the containment of the Novel Coronavirus.
Beyond her work in both the insurance and philanthropic sectors, Annie is an avid reader, who believes that the process of learning is one that never ends. She also greatly enjoys traveling and adventurous dining, which speaks to a larger motivation to seek out new and enriching experiences.
Women’s Advocate Award Winner
Jenny Elmore is the Regional Vice President for Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm overseeing operations in Southern California. She joined the company in 2007 as a staffing manager and has held progressive leadership roles since that time including division director and metro market manager.
Jenny is dedicated to helping local businesses find skilled talent, local professionals find rewarding job opportunities, and ensuring her team members have successful careers at Robert Half.
President’s Award Winner
AnGèle M. Cade is a consulting expert, who has dedicated the last twenty years to helping entrepreneurs develop effective corporate structures and implement managerial procedures, while enforcing viable compliance measures. With a pointed emphasis on current and future business goals, AnGèle truly walks alongside her clients to make sure they are set up with security and success.
Today, AnGèle is the CEO and Co-Founder of Executive on the Go, Inc. a thriving consulting firm for today’s entrepreneur. After nearly two decades spent developing, supporting, and counseling thousands of local, national and international businesses AnGèle is recognized as the “Go To” expert for structural professional business needs.
When AnGèle is not consulting, she can be found speaking, teaching, and training on the best practices to set goals, create priorities and attain support for their vision. She is passionate about sharing down to earth, real world business experience to help solve problems and empower those around her.
Author of Influence Award Winner
Elisabeth Caetano, MA, MFT is a published author, professional keynote speaker, adjunct professor and licensed therapist in the state of California. She has owned and operated a successful therapy private practice in San Diego for more than 20 years and has made appearances on KPBS radio and KUSI television, and has also given numerous talks around San Diego at professional organizations and local businesses.
She recently completed an interview on an 8-part docuseries on children victimized by domestic violence; the hidden epidemic and volunteers on the board of the Thumbprint Project Foundation working with women and children victimized by domestic violence.
Her book Down the Rabbit Hole and Back, a self-help workbook style book that helps women empowerment themselves, is available for sale exclusively at FabEverAfter.com. She can be contacted at [email protected].
Emerging Woman Owned Business Award Winner
Stephanie Courtillier, founder and CEO of Integrous Women, is paving the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs. She is on a mission to inspire, educate and empower leaders to create their own purpose-driven futures through a supportive, forward-thinking and compassionate community.
As a social enterprise, Integrous Women is not only a resource platform for women, but is also a powerful channel to connect local women with the philanthropic cause of supporting an orphanage in Guatemala. In parallel with helping women lead purpose-driven lives that enhance their professional and personal goals, Integrous Women seeks to take these skill-building tools to empower young women in Guatemala.
She recently won the 2020 World Changing Woman in Conscious Business award by Conscious Company Media for her local and global sustainable impact work. By living through heart-space versus headspace, Stephanie continues to inspire and educate audiences wherever she goes on creating and implementing social impact models, and the power of turning our dreams into reality. As a certified Appreciative Inquiry facilitator and 4-time first place winner of Toastmaster Table Topics speech competitions, Stephanie masters the art of engagement by creating experiential, authentic and safe learning environments for all participants to thrive.
Lifetime Legacy Award Winner
Jeannine Coronado Eckenweiler began her career with SullivanCurtisMonroe (SCM) as a receptionist in 1979 at age 19 and eventually headed up each insurance division over the course of her tenure. She later assumed the role of General Manager, overseeing the firm’s three offices (Irvine, Downtown Los Angeles & Corona) for more than a decade. Currently, Jeannine is a member of the executive committee and is responsible for handling a wide range of corporate initiatives focused on strategic planning, leadership development and employee advocacy.
She is an active supporter of social organizations focused on helping children, including Boys & Girls Club, Children’s Hospital of Orange County and Maryvale.
Jeannine will be retiring from SCM after 40 years and leaves a legacy of kindness and advocacy for all things giving, healthy and fun!
Veteran of Influence Award Winner
Romy Walton is a Senior Manager at the Boeing Company, leading the Enterprise Engineering Model-Based Engineering Architecture organization; a transformative initiative across the entire Boeing ecosystem. She is a fun and motivated leader, who brings a positive energy and common vision to all her projects, enabling success at every level. She has over 20 years of experience managing small to large scale aerospace and defense projects and programs for commercial, civil, and government customers. She is a recognized business leader and innovator, having won awards for outstanding execution in areas of technical, cost, and schedule performance as well as championing change and pioneering new and unique technical solutions.
Romy is also a decorated Air Force veteran, having served active duty for over 5 years. She was honored to serve her country, and support critical operations in a designated combat zone on military intelligence missions.
Romy is a native Californian and graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Masters of Business for Veterans degree. In her spare time, she enjoys leading a full family life with her two daughters and husband of 22 years.
Connected Woman of Influence Award Winner
Adrienne Grace, an Orange County native, is a creative director and co-owner of Vim & Vigor, a strategic branding and design firm. Her business partner, Tony Pinto, also happens to be her husband, so there’s plenty of design-nerd talk over dinner about things like user interface and typography.
Adrienne has an MA in graphic design, has taught web and graphic design at Irvine Valley College, is currently finishing up a full-stack web development boot camp, and is an active member in several professional associations, including (of course) the fabulous Connected Women of Influence.