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Wo(w)men Power!

The impressive accomplishments of these amazing women encompass a wide range of successful endeavors with a common thread weaving them together: service to others. Drawing on their innate ability to nurture and create, women are impacting the world in unique and powerful ways. Here, we proudly present some local superstars whose stories are sure to inspire and empower.

 

Lupe Anguiano

Founder, National Women’s Employment and Education, Civil Rights Activist, 2021 WEV Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

“Make time to spend by yourself so you can discover the spark that you really are.”

“You are the light of the world,” says Lupe, who has made a lifetime of sharing her brilliance with the world. Recently celebrating her 92nd birthday, the former Catholic nun, activist, teacher and nonprofit founder has been deemed a “Rockstar” byWomen’s Economic Ventures.

As the recipient of the prestigious 2021 Rockstar: Lifetime Achievement Award, presented byWEV, Lupe will be honored for her extensive achievements on May 21 at the virtual Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards events (SOEFoundation.org).

The daughter of Oxnard fieldworkers, Lupe has spanned the globe, working in Washington, DC, and locally in Ventura County, to promote equal rights for all and protect the environment. In 1978, she founded the National Women’s Employment & Education nonprofit aimed at welfare reform and received a President’s Volunteer Award from Ronald Reagan in 1983 for her leadership role in creating opportunities for women. Lupe also founded an environmental nonprofit, Stewards of the Earth, to protect against agricultural pollutants and fracking.

Embodied in all she does, Lupe emphasizes, “God created us in his image and likeness; God’s perfection is with us already—that spark of life, of love, of success, being successful and happy and experiencing deep love for yourself and who you really are is very easy; you need to spend time….stop, take a deep breath and focus on your inner beauty, experience love and the perfect person that you really are.”

Greatest Accomplishments: I really worked very hard to develop the National Women’s Employment and Education nonprofit while working in Washington (DC) during the ERA.

I took a drop in pay to make welfare reform my priority issue; we focused on working with women to help them move from welfare into jobs…the model we developed was implemented in several states— Denver, Colorado, has continued with this effective program since 1982.

I also work on protecting our water, air and soil from oil and gas pollutants. I lived in Oxnard, where they were drilling and fracking for oil and gas…it was going through the aquafers and destroying our land. Malibu was really very instrumental in helping us—Susan Jordan, wife of Assemblyman Pedro Nava and other activists helped us—it was the first time that any nonprofit had beaten Exxon-Mobil—a lot of people remember me for that in Ventura County.

Inspiration: I’m really looking forward to spending more time for my next life in meditation and prayer; one of the things I find that is very rewarding is the new trend of mindfulness. Meditation and yoga were always part of my life. I also joined a women’s group—we enjoy wine and communicate. We boldly demonstrated that women 50 and older are strong and healthy, building a boat and sailing it from San Francisco to Alaska…Gracefully Aging and Growing Bold.”

Words of Wisdom: Take time to really think about what you love to do, and then start looking into how you could build an economic base with that in mind.

Goals: Investing in the stock market—I’m learning and what I’m finding is very exciting; I’m starting to invest in stocks that are focused on renewable energy and the building of our infrastructure in the U.S., which we really need. I see that as a possibility for women who are struggling financially in becoming wealthy; their wealth is part of building our economy for everyone.

Lupe continues to lobby for clean air and water and is currently involved with supporting Mark Kelley (Arizona) campaign for senator.

R&R: I love to walk, watch movies and be inspired by Netflix.

Lupe’s incredible journey from birth in a Colorado railroad town through her 80s is captured in Uncompromised: The Lupe Anguiano Story, available at LupeAnguianoStory.com.

Rebecca Carson

Managing Director, Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts, Pepperdine University

“My work is loving the world…which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.”  —Mary Oliver

“To me, the arts help us learn to be astonished,” says Rebecca, who keeps Mary Oliver’s poem close to her heart. Believing in the important role the arts play in our lives, Rebecca determined that the show must go on despite the COVID pandemic bringing live performances to a halt. Working with her staff, Rebecca led efforts to bring the university’s arts programs and performances online, keeping the community engaged and connected despite the theatre’s doors being temporarily closed.

Throughout the pandemic, audiences enjoyed virtually attending free theatre performances and museum tours, prerecorded performances with children's artists, livestream recital series concerts for classical performers and students’ various creative projects, such as videos, art and music.   

In line with her dedication to the arts, Rebecca also served as Vice President and board member for California Presenters, a nonprofit organization that advances professional touring and presenting of the performing arts.

Greatest Accomplishments: I’ve had many successful performances and exhibitions in my years at the Center for the Arts at Pepperdine, but I think my greatest accomplishment has been leading our team through the trials and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We successfully transitioned to a virtual experience for much of our programming, including virtual classical music recitals, an online ARTSReach program for K-12 schoolchildren in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, and virtual Pepperdine theatre and music performances. We even added a Centered on the Arts podcast. I am incredibly proud of our team of staff and Pepperdine students and their resilience during this time. 

Inspiration: Our artists—their creativity and resilience inspire me every day.

Words of Wisdom: The artist Chuck Close says, “Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work.” I believe in the power of persistence and perseverance.

Goals: I can’t wait to reopen our bustling Center for the Arts and resume in-person shows! We present an innovative, unique, entertaining and diverse program of exceptional performances and museum exhibitions. We can’t wait to see what’s next. If I could have any living artist perform in our intimate Smothers Theatre, I’d pick Stevie Wonder. His music just brings a smile to my heart and brings people together.

R&R: One of my favorite ways to relax is to bake. Pies are my favorite. After staring at screens all day, there’s something incredibly rewarding about creating something with your hands that is beautiful—and delicious!

Leslie Heimbuch, BSN, RN

Director of Medical Services at Oaks Christian School

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Knowing the Lord has a plan for me brings great comfort.” —Philippians 3:14

For Leslie, “Being a nurse is more than just a job, it’s a calling.” In her role at Oaks Christian School, she oversees a staff of nurses and volunteers and has made a Herculean above and beyond to shepherd the school’s staff, students and campus through the COVID pandemic and back to campus by January 6.

Sharing her gifts with those both near and far, Leslie has volunteered with Africa Renewal Ministries for 15 years as a medical consultant at their Wentz Medical Center, leading medical missions to provide care and education to people in remote regions in Uganda. She also mentors students interested in medicine by providing them with travel and work opportunities and serves in her church community as well.

“There is joy and there is sorrow as we care for people,” says Leslie. “It’s an incredible feeling to help a patient heal and recover, However, it is also incredibly painful to lose a patient. The ability to manage those feelings takes a unique person.”

Greatest Accomplishments: Being married to my wonderful husband, Mark, for almost 31 years and raising my two children, Micah (23) and Mikayla (20); both of our children are pursuing careers in science and medicine like their mom and dad! Also, after supporting my husband during his PhD program, I went back to school to become a registered nurse, an incredible career that has blessed me in so many ways.

Inspiration: Clara Barton, a nurse in the Civil War who started the American Red Cross in 1881, said, “I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.”

Words of Wisdom: Find what you love and work hard to make it happen. Don’t be afraid to make decisions and don’t fear failure. Embrace it! It’s rare to have success without some failures along the way.

Goals: To continue working as a nurse and be a part of Oaks Christian School where I have worked for 12 years—it’s what I love. I am also looking forward to watching my children pursue their passions and supporting them in that.

R&R: Traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. I also love skiing and hiking the mountains with my friends!

 

Patrice Karst

Author, The Invisible String, The Invisible String Workbook, The Invisible Web, The Invisible Leash and You Are Never Alone (An Invisible String Lullaby)

“It’s all going to be okay.”

Author Patrice Karst launched her writing career from the heart, penning The Invisible String to ease her son’s separation anxiety, and watched it skyrocket to success as the story’s message resonated with more than a million readers worldwide.

A children’s book about the ever-lasting connection we have with our loved ones, wherever they may be, The Invisible String continues to comfort kids of all ages, giving them hope as they deal with separation and the often difficult subject of death.

Especially during the pandemic, Patrice spends time every day personally answering each and every email, Facebook and Instagram message she receives from fans.

“Because of the nature of my books, these tend to be some very profound letters that require time, love and energy to respond deeply to. Sometimes, it is life and death level of intensity. I just try to be the best me and offer love, hope and support,” says Patrice.

Greatest Accomplishments: Staying real and true and somewhat sane on a twirling ball that often feels like it’s spinning out of control; writing a book about LOVE and ENERGY and CONNECTION that has sold almost a million copies and is traversing the planet; and raising a really kind, loving man, who still likes to come and have weekly dinners, as a single mother all alone with no family or help—not necessarily in that order!

Inspiration: Every place that I look when I am in the right frame of mind. Honest, funny, real people that share from deep places and thus change the world.

Words of Wisdom: It’s all about perseverance, luck, grace and often a lot of prayer. Keep it personal—relationships are everything and word of mouth is still the most important secret to true and long-lasting success.

Goals: Continue to write and publish new stories that matter, make The Invisible String into a film, go back to traveling the world to magical places and find my last true love. Oh, and spiritual enlightenment and liberation sound good too!

R&R: Hiking with Luna the wondrous wiener dog, Yoga while Netflixing and getting together with friends that still do that kind of thing! Thank God for my girlfriends! 

PatriceKarst.com

 

Monica Merryman

Executive Director, Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the BIG things.”

“She believed she could, so she did.”

Monica views every day as a gift and aims to appreciate “every little blessing” along the way. Her optimistic outlook and heart for service have sustained her through life’s overwhelming and life-changing challenges and heartaches, such as the loss of her 28-year-old son and her journey with breast cancer.

Influenced by her parents’ “Acts of Service” —“they were always the first to go help family and friends”—Monica’s dedication to a career working with nonprofits and helping others began with a volunteer opportunity with Relay For Life, raising over $10,000. That led to a 10-year career with the American Cancer Society.

Today, as the Executive Director at Cancer Support Community, Monica applies insight from her personal experience with cancer to help others.

“Understanding the value of emotional support through cancer is a real-life experience for me,” says Monica. “I have that motivation every day as we navigate the ever-evolving needs of patients and their families in our community.”

Greatest Accomplishments: My children are what I am most proud of. They have become loving and independent young adults. Sometimes I wish they could live with me forever, but I know that part of raising them to be independent is that we have to let them go.

My first job in management was with McDonald’s Corporation—as the administrative manager. I planned the region’s first black-tie gala for Ronald McDonald House, raising over $100,000. My years at McDonald’s Corporation gave me the self-confidence that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I am forever grateful to those executives that saw potential in me and pushed me out of my comfort zone!

Most recently, I kicked cancer’s ass! I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. That day my world stopped and became blurry. My first thought was “What if I don’t survive, what will happen to my kids?” In the previous year, we lost Jonathan, my oldest son, and my kids lost their father a few months later. So, every day became about surviving, getting through surgery, treatments and focusing on living a long full life!

I am so very grateful for my family, friends, doctors and nurses that surrounded us during that very long year of treatment. I am now cancer-free and focused on my health and regaining strength. I learned to lean on others, to treasure each day and surround myself with positive people.

Inspiration: I am inspired by the end result and community. At the end of an event, I am energized by the enjoyment of the attendees and also challenged by “What can we do bigger and better next time?”

Words of Wisdom: Take care of your staff and they will take care of your customers. Relationships are a critical part of any job. Work/life balance is a reality!

Goals: I would like to get more involved with some sort of mentorship program, especially with young women in the underserved communities.

R&R: Spending time with family and friends, gardening, walking and travel with my husband.

 

Trish Steele

Founder and CEO, Women Crowned In Glory, Inc./Safe Passage 

"Nothing is impossible for those who believe.” 

"There is something special about me, even though I have gone through much trauma." 

"We are all fearfully and wonderfully made! No one is like you, so be unique."

A trailblazer in the fight against domestic violence and abuse for over 50 years, Trish draws from her own traumatic experiences to help others transform their lives and recover from trauma.

Reaching out to women and encouraging and directing them to fulfill their calling in life, Trish founded Safe Passage Heals, providing thousands of women and children with the support and resources needed to escape domestic violence.

Greatest Accomplishments: I'm the wife of a minister and the mother of two beautiful daughters and friend to many amazing women—that tops my list. Being able to forgive myself so I can forgive others who have hurt me has been very liberating. By doing this, I was able to move forward to a new life and accomplish whatever I put my hands to. What I went through paved the way for Safe Passage Heals, which has a 95% success rate of breaking abusive cycles in the lives of countless women and children.

Inspiration: I'm inspired by the stories of women who have overcome past trauma and drama and found a new life. Inspiring stories always motivate me with more passion to reach higher in my goals and my life.

Words of Wisdom: Follow your passion and your heart will lead you. Every good and perfect talent comes from above. Don't despise small beginnings.

Goals: I will be launching "Time2Heal," a website providing access to counselors and inspiring tools to heal from trauma. This past year has taken a toll on many lives. Many are living in fear, depression and hopelessness—my heart goes out to them.

R&R: I always take time for myself and enjoy my alone time to recharge and create time for fun—that could be walks on the beach and smelling the fresh ocean air. I also love spa days and weekly outings with my gal pals. As for sports, on my bucket list is mastering golf, tennis and dancing. I danced my way through my healing from past abuse and hurts, now I want to dance to celebrate my life!

 

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