Congratulations to Our 2019 San Diego Women of Influence Award Winners!


Champion of Women Award Winner

Athena is a women’s empowerment organization that fast tracks women in STEM through leadership development.

In transforming female scientists and technologists into corporate leaders, the goal is to widen the bridge and empower 1 million women leading in STEM, by 2030.

Athena’s 20 year plus history of advancing women in one of the nation’s leading Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics hubs marks them as a premier women’s empowerment advocate.

Athena’s innovative approaches are designed to close the gender gap in the STEM workforce. They create instruments of change through professional development training, community investment, and market research.

Athena’s market influence has positioned it to extend its mission beyond Southern California and has led to a new alliance announced in December 2018, with the United Nations.

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Jennifer Litwak_Headshot

Gamechanger Award Winner

Jennifer Litwak, is Executive Director of the nonprofit Housing on Merit based in San Diego. They are a leader in affordable housing and community development, which helps to break the barrier of economic disadvantage.

HOM provides services to nearly 5400 residents in California and Washington DC.

Jennifer has brought about a fundamental shift in how federal, state and local jurisdictions prioritize and pursue the development of affordable housing and inclusive neighborhoods.

She created “Awards of Merit for Housing Assistance” program, which awards grants to female veterans experiencing homelessness and provides resources to remove barriers to permanent housing.

Jennifer has helped coordinate community partnerships, including having the Girl Scouts lead a STEM program with the girls of the community and developing English as a Second Language programs.


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Garry Ridge

Catalyst for Change Award Winner

Garry O. Ridge is President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of the WD-40 Company. He is the co-author of a book with Ken Blanchard, which outlines his successful leadership techniques.

He is responsible for developing and implementing high-level strategies, all operations, and the oversight of all relationships and partnerships for the company.

Garry created a tribe culture whereby staff is not just a temporary team of people coming together to accomplish something, but a place of belonging, where you can bring your best “you” in the workplace and be recognized for it.

Garry models inclusion and equality and has championed programs throughout the years that don’t see gender, color or position, –but an individual with worth and unlimited potential.

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lindsey head

Woman to Watch Award Winner

Lindsey Head is the CFO of J Public Relations, an international luxury PR, influencer management and social media agency. Lindsey has provided financial guidance and operational strategies to facilitate exponential business growth for well over a decade.

For four consecutive years Lindsey has been recognized as the Chief Financial Officer of the year by the San Diego Business Journal.

She has served as a steering committee member for the San Diego chapter of the CFO Leadership Council to being featured in dedicated publications.

From facilitating the purchase of the angel-backed mobile technology startup SPARQ to now being the Chief Financial Officer for J Public Relations, Lindsey has certainly earned her stripes as an authority within her respective industry.

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Woman Breaking Barriers Award Winner

Dr. Ann Clark is the Founder and CEO of ACI Specialty Benefits, a top-ranked employee assistance program and provider of best place to work benefits for customers worldwide.

Ann was named “Most Admired CEO” by San Diego Business Journal and “Woman of the Year” finalist for San Diego Magazine.

She founded the first ever International Chair Yoga Association in 2016, with a mission to make yoga accessible for all.

She has authored numerous works including Workplace Warfare, Women and Recovery, and Cultural Crossroads. She is a frequent contributor to major magazines, news networks, and as a speaker at national conferences.

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Women’s Advocate of the Year Award Winner

Erika Werner, Chief Marketing officer at Red Door Interactive

She has been a leader in the company for over 15 years. In recent years, she has focused on the development of female leaders in this project management and client services organization.

Erika championed Red Door Interactive being the presenting sponsor for the first annual Women in Leadership STEAM event in 2018.

She co-founded San Diego Women in Leadership, a networking group that aims to co-mentor one another in the areas of personal, professional and career development.

She volunteers her personal time to the 100% women-led organization, Clubfoot CARES, which provides resources to parents of children with a clubfoot.

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ChrisGivant Pic

President’s Award Winner

Christine Givant is a registered Pharmacist, a compounding pharmacist and the co-founder of La Vita Compounding Pharmacy.

Chris is also a co-founder of Epigenetics Rx whose mission is to empower and inspire providers and patients in optimizing genetic potential that positively impact patients’ health and future generations.

She is a nationally recognized expert in transdermal pain compounds, healthy aging, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy and customized prescription- only cosmeceuticals.

Chris brings her 20 plus years of knowledge to medical practitioners in a quarterly physician educational forum and to patients and the community via the Wine, Women and Hormone educational series.

Christine speaks nationally on natural hormones, pain and healthy skin care. She was awarded “The Innovative Pharmacist of the Year Award” by the California Pharmacists Association in 2017.

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Kara Adams Head Shot Updated

Author of Influence Award Winner

Kara Adams’ book is entitled

Hidden Treasure: 5 steps to Transformational Self-Love

In her book, she wove a powerful story of how she reclaimed herself as a “Hidden Treasure” and rediscovered how to live a life filled with joy, meaning and purpose.

Kara’s background includes more than 15 years of marketing strategy, improving company performance and product utilization in the financial services industry.

She became known as the expert in marketing strategy and client experience for the largest auto auction house in the world and as the Vice President of Marketing for the largest based credit union in Riverside County.

Kara with her book, is helping women to find their own Hidden Treasure.

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Emerging Woman Owned Business Award Winner

Reb Risty is the CEO of RebL Marketing and an expert in corporate brand management and online marketing with a focus in SEO, inbound marketing and lead generation.

She grew her company, doubling her clients and projects from the previous year, seeing a 428% increase in revenue from the prior year and helped her clients to grow as well.

Recently Reb co-founded Her Sage –a special interest group focused on sharing and learning from other women business leaders.

Reb is also the Founder and President of Lean-In San Diego, which now boasts over 150 members! She has owned several small businesses so understands what business owners need in a marketing team.

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Lifetime Legacy Award Winner

Debbie Allen is the general manager of Eternal Hills Memorial Park, Mortuary & Crematory in Oceanside. She leads a staff of 65.

Debbie is licensed as an embalmer, funeral director, cemetery and crematory manager, and cemetery broker.

She has excelled in this male-dominated industry and became co-owner of a mortuary in Apple Valley, CA., from 1998 to 2002, when she assumed her current position and has been repeatedly recognized as General Manager of the Year.

She hosts events that provide comfort to local families who grapple with loss and grief. Debbie also supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside, the Rotary Club and the Elizabeth Hospice.

She serves on the board of directors for the Joe and Mary Mottino YMCA, KOCT TV, and the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce.

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Veteran of Influence Award Winner

Kimberly Mitchell is the President and CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego which serves over 2000 veterans annually by providing homeless veterans with housing, employment and rehabilitation programs.

She was adopted by an Airman from an orphanage in Da’Nang, Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War. As such she is recognized as a staunch advocate for our Vietnam war veterans.

Kim served in the United States Navy for 17 years as a Surface Warfare Officer serving onboard surface ships and at shore commands.

She was selected to serve as a White House Military Social Aide where she participated in more than 600 events hosted by two Presidents and First Ladies.

Kim served as the Deputy Director of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Office of Warrior and Family Support.

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michelle burkart 2

Connected Woman of Influence Award Winner

Michelle Burkart is the co-founder and Chief Results Officer of Diversity Supplier Alliance, a women-owned company with expertise and knowledge in supplier diversity procurement and government contracting opportunities.

With over 40 years of experience in business, ranging from serial entrepreneurship to being a corporate regional vice president of sales, Michelle is also a Licensed Professional Fiduciary and credentialed Mediator specializing in Probate mediation.

In 2015, Michelle was selected to develop the LGBT Biz Builder program that helps LGBT businesses become certified and trained in successful supplier diversity contracting.

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Hollan McBride pic

Resilience Award Winner

Hollan McBride has more than 15 years of experience in sustainable business strategy, leadership development, organizational learning, talent management, sales, marketing and social media networking.

Hollan built her career in hospitality with extensive experience in luxury resorts and highly acclaimed hotels, spas, retailers, restaurants, and wineries.

She leads as an agent of social change especially in the areas of sustainability, social and environmental justice, and corporate social responsibility.

Several companies recruited Hollan as part of their startup, grand opening or business expansion teams: one honored her as the “Most Inspirational Manager of the Year.”

She moved to San Diego to earn her master’s degree in organizational behavior.

Shortly thereafter, Hollan founded Blazon Laurels to educate leaders, build honorable reputations and publicly recognize hospitality global businesses “doing well AND doing good.”

She developed a network of over 5,000 followers via public speaking engagements and social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram) promoting niche concepts like eco-leisure, sustainable dining, and green shopping.

Currently, blogging and utilizing social media forums to promote conscious consumerism and value-based business strategy.

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San Diego Women of Influence Award Past Winners


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