By: Linda Lazar
For 25 years, Business Life Magazine has been honored to present an annual cover story featuring outstanding women achievers who live, work, and serve their communities throughout our region. The meaning of success is often defined differently, depending on who is asked, but the one constant that we have discovered throughout the years is that volunteerism occupies the hearts and souls of successful women. Volunteerism plays an essential role in building a healthy community, and we are proud to introduce you to 26 successful businesswomen who have built their businesses, their families, and their communities while also sharing their hearts and souls through generous acts of volunteerism. We honor these women and we thank them.
Ani Bedrosian Adaimy
Armenian American Chamber of Commerce
Ani Bedrosian Adaimy, Past President of the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, has been an account executive and title insurance sales representative at Lawyers Title Company in the Glendale-Burbank area for two years. Ani has worked in the mortgage and real estate industry for 27 years and feels blessed to work in a career that allows her to interact with individuals that enrich and fill her day with happiness. She says her greatest success comes from her relationships with the individuals that she holds close to her heart.
Ani was the first woman to hold the position of President of the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, and she is a proud member of the Armenian Relief Society, Sepan Chapter, and the Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region. She is a member of the Glendale Association of Realtors (GAOR) and is active on the Cultural Diversity committee and the PR committee, which holds an annual fund raising event, Can Tree, to benefit the Salvation Army, Ascencia, and other community programs. Ani was named the GAOR Citizen of the Year in 2013 and Woman of the Year by New Horizon Family Center in 2005.
Ani believes the greatest obstacle in the workplace for women today is that women usually have more demands on their lives while juggling careers, household responsibilities, and family; and women are required to try harder, work harder and demonstrate more ability in order to achieve success. Although Ani has faced these obstacles, she has received a tremendous feeling of satisfaction in return.
Mary Ann Bennett
Soroptimist International of Altadena/Pasadena
Mary Ann Bennett has been actively associated with Pasadena Christian School (PCS) for 40 years. In 2009, she retired from her position as Director of Development, where she helped raise millions of dollars through fundraising events, foundation grants, and capital campaigns. After retirement, she worked part-time for two years as a consultant, and currently volunteers for fundraising events. While working at PCS, she was instrumental in raising the funds for a new preschool building and library, and she spearheaded a capital campaign for a new junior high complex.
In 1992, Mary Ann was inducted into the Altadena/Pasadena Chapter of Soroptimist International, and has served as a board member, VP of Finance, and currently serves as the club’s treasurer and co-chairs the Action Committee. The club supports several agencies in the community, including Pasadena Door of Hope and The Women’s Room at Friends in Deed. The club’s fundraising events also provide scholarships to women who are head of their household and returned to school. She says that she is proud to be a member of a club that provides a platform for business and professional women to work together to achieve goals that members could not accomplish on their own.
Mary Ann also helps various non-profits in her community and across the country, by volunteering her time to consult with them about their fundraising and capital campaigns. She says she loves working with organizations, to help them achieve their dreams and goals.
Soroptimist International of the Verdugos
Liza Boubari is a clinical hypnotherapist and founder of HealWithin, a wellness and healing center specializing in women’s issues. She is also the current president of Soroptimist International of the Verdugos. Liza says she was motivated to become an entrepreneur from the healing she feels can come through hypnotherapy. She believes that being an entrepreneur can be challenging until you are well established, and says she is a true believer that dreams do become reality. She feels we get what we ask for, and for many years, she wanted to become part of a big organization with a mission to help women and girls.
Liza joined Soroptimist International because it is a global volunteer organization, working to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. She wanted to help create pathways for more women and girls to dream bigger, to be free of slavery, human trafficking, and free of being abused and violated. She believes reaching these goals will require change on many levels—individual, organizational, and global. She feels that change must start with each of us, today. She suggests to ask yourself what one step you can take toward the changes needed, either as a female committed to a better and healthier lifestyle, or as a female or male leader with the power and influence to bring about true change at home and in your organization. She offers an invitation to join Soroptimist International of the Verdugos to take a first step toward change.
Soroptimist International of Glendale
Dolly Carl was co-owner of a small business from 1970-1991. She retired from Glen Oaks Escrow in 2006 and has been a longtime member of Soroptimist International of Glendale. She says that Soroptimist International of Glendale meets many needs in her community, and the club has awarded many grants from the funds raised through the its many events. She says she has been part of the realization in her club that reaching out to the community in many ways is the key to retaining members and recruiting new members.
Mentoring is important to Dolly, and she feels there is a definite place for mentoring, whether professionally or personally. She says in her first secretarial position, she had a wonderful mentor who taught her the importance of taking pride in her work. She says it was because of his training that she has enjoyed mentoring others.
Dolly feels she has been successful in life. She says she was married to a wonderful man, had two lovely daughters, and she and her husband owned a successful business for 21 years. Dolly sold the family business, following her husband’s passing, and then had time to give back to the community for last 25 years. She has volunteered with many organizations over the years and says she has loved serving on every board with which she has ever been involved.
Women at Work
Melinda Carmichael is the senior vice president of Wealth Management UBS Financial Services in Pasadena. She has worked over 35 years as a wealth advisor, offering financial planning, investment management, tax minimization, legacy planning, and philanthropy to her clients. She currently serves as treasurer for Women at Work, where she would like to see inauguration and growth of an endowment, and support from individual donors, to finance the organization until everyone reaches their full earnings potential.
Melinda was motivated to enter the world of wealth management after reading a small article in Time Magazine (circa 1980). The article featured information about the College for Financial Planning and described a certification that could be acquired by individuals with experience in real estate, insurance, accounting, or securities. Melinda choose to explore the securities industry and used her innate talents for financial planning and math. She found it rewarding and intellectually challenging, along with the pleasure of helping people achieve their financial dreams. Melinda says serendipity stepped in when she found a job working with a gentleman 20 years older who liked working with women. He mentored Melinda in an industry that Melinda says was not well diversified then or now. Melinda feels that the greatest challenge women face today is the latent biases that hold women back from achieving more. She feels that employers and society hold the first of the biases. The second is self-imposed by the individual, and with boldness borne of confidence, and a don’t-take-no-for-an-answer attitude, women can be successful if they find their passion and follow it.
Marissa B. Castro-Salvati
Southern California Edison
Public Affairs Region Manager
Marissa Castro-Salvati has been the Public Affairs Region Manager for Southern California Edison (SCE) in West San Gabriel Valley and the City of Los Angeles for 18 years and has been in public affairs since 1983. She works to establish and maintain relationships with city councils and city staffs, other levels of government, opinion leaders, community organizations, and government agencies. She feels that her job offers her the opportunity and privilege of fulfilling her goals through her continued commitment of advocacy and support for the communities that she serves.
Marissa believes mentoring is important, and her late mother was her primary mentor in life. She says her mother pointed her in the right direction with much guidance, love and support. She feels her mother’s advice to share one’s wealth of experience, knowledge, and talents with others is important to achieve success. For this reason, Marissa seeks opportunities to mentor individuals, to provide them with positive feedback and insight that help them be successful. Marissa feels that one of the greatest challenges for women today continues to be unbalanced pay equity in the workplace, and inequitable representation in both public and private sectors.
Marissa defines success as the ultimate accomplishment of goals, whether it’s on a personal or professional level. Although she feels that she has fulfilled many of her personal and professional goals, she continues to strive for other successes in life through personal and career development.
Senior Director, Facilities
Vicki Fenton has been the senior director of facilities at Nickelodeon for three years and has been in facilities for 20 years. She oversees the functioning of building systems, including mechanical, electrical, fire/life safety, and elevators. She manages all the maintenance of buildings and grounds for Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank and says her career goal is to be an integral part of building their new facility in Burbank.
Vicki says she loves what she does. She started in public relations, tried marketing, and landed at Universal Studios in the animation department. She loves production but feels her strength has always been managing people and making sure everything is running smoothly. Vicki has a fun personality and says that as “corny” as it sounds, her parents have been her mentors. As a kid, she observed her father’s work ethic, the way he talked to his team, and how he treated people. She observed her mother in the same way and noticed how people responded to her. She says throughout the years, her parents have listened, advised, and counseled her when needed, and she tries to pay it forward whenever she can.
Miryam E. O. Finkelberg
Chief Administrative Officer/Executive Director
Law Offices of Finkelberg & Finkelberg
Glendale Latino Association
Miryam Finkelberg has been the chief administrative officer and executive director for Finkelberg & Finkelberg Law Offices since 1992, and has worked in the legal offices since 1982. Finkelberg & Finkelberg assists qualified disabled individuals to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. Miryam says working in this field offers a rewarding and gratifying feeling every time a client is approved.
Success for Miryam is fulfilling the many roles in her life, as a daughter, wife, mother, administrator, volunteer and friend. She says she was introduced to volunteering in 1995, and it has become her passion. She is an active member of several civic groups and organizations and has volunteered at her sons’ schools.
Having the opportunity to improve lives, serve the community, and give back to society is her motivation for her volunteer work with the Glendale Latino Association, Cabrini Literary Guild, Kiwanis Club of Glendale, Soroptimist International of Glendale, Childhelp, Arturo Sandoval Institute, the Glendale YWCA, Friends of the Glendale Public Library, Friends of Rockhaven, GAMC Cancer Care Guild, The Campbell Center, and Glendale Arts.
Miryam feels that through volunteerism, she is able to assist organizations financially and otherwise. She is able to help improve access to education by awarding scholarships to Latino students; recognize outstanding community leaders for their contributions and leaderships; implement projects that focus on children and youth; raise funds for breast cancer services; improve the lives of women and girls by providing grants, awards and recognizing women who help other women and girls; and help victims of child abuse and neglect by meeting their physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs.
Glendale Arts-Alex Theatre
Elissa Glickman is the CEO of Glendale Arts (GA), which is a private non-profit organization in charge of managing the historic Alex Theatre and coordinating resources for artists, businesses, government agencies, schools, and community groups. Elissa has been in this position since 2012 and has been with the organization since 2004. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the management, rentals, productions, and restoration of the historic Alex Theatre and other GA programs. Before her association with GA, Elissa spent 15 years working with various organizations, such as the GRAMMY/MusiCares Foundation, Children’s Museum of Los Angeles, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and the City of Los Angeles.
Mentors have been significant in Elissa’s life. She feels fortunate to have had many people in her life who helped shape the professional she is today. In particular, Candace Barrett had a significant impact on her life and career. She taught Elissa to think and dream big, to remember the mission is the important thing, not to be afraid to take risks, and not to be afraid to fail. Elissa says these lessons became her mantra over the years, and she hopes she has passed them along to the many interns, students, and young professionals who have worked for her.
Elissa has been a member of the Glendale Kiwanis Club for more than four years. She joined at the urging of some very good friends and supporters of Glendale Arts and the Alex Theatre, and she says she has personally benefitted from the club’s dedication to service and the community.
Southern California Leadership Council
Since 2011, Billie Greer has been serving as the president of Southern California Leadership Council, comprised of three former California governors and several dozen business executives and community leaders. A non-profit, non-partisan organization, the Council was formed to provide leadership on major public policies critical to the economic vitality, job growth, and quality of life in the Southern California region. The Council is focusing on various issues that are regional in scope, including water reliability, international trade, regulatory reform, workforce development, energy solutions, among others.
Billie calls herself a multi-career junkie, who, in her 5th career, says she wouldn’t have it any other way. She is a teacher, a public affairs professional that earned her stripes in a large firm, co-founder of her own government affairs company called Greer Dailey, senior staff member to Governor Schwarzenegger and now the Leadership Council. Billie suggests that as you look ahead in your career, new opportunities are sure to abound, and you should put aside your nervousness and don’t over think. She says grab the new golden ring, you’ll be re-energized, re-tuned and opened up to new exciting challenges as you play in a whole new sand box. She says, as you consider your next careers, think about engaging in the political process by running for public office. She knows that bright, fearless women can make an indelible mark as a council member, supervisor, state legislator, or congress member. She hopes that women think seriously about entering public office, she says women are losing ground.
Founding President & CEO
Mission Valley Bank
Tamara Gurney began her career in community banking 34 years ago at American Pacific State Bank working as the executive assistant to the president. When the bank was sold in 2000, Tamara was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Today she is Founding President and Chief Executive Officer of Mission Valley Bank in Sun Valley, a title she has held since the bank’s inception in 2001. Tamara also serves as President of California Independent Bankers. She says she and her team are dedicated to providing unparalleled financial services and products delivered by skilled and creative bankers who truly love what they do. She says she and her team are committed to being a bank that is “more about the client and less about the bank.”
Tamara’s passion for building a better community runs deeper than banking. Her dedication of time and resources to a multitude of organizations allows Tamara to actively contribute to the community on a personal level. She serves on the board of directors of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation, Pacific Coast Banker’s Bank, Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, College of the Canyons Foundation, Valley Economic Alliance, BizFed, Southland Opera, and the YMCA of Santa Clarita Valley.
Tamara defines success as the ability to help businesses and the people who run them financially flourish. She believes she is successful when the businesses she serves are financially successful.
Dr. Mirelle Hamparian
Armenian American Medical Society of Southern California
Dr. Mireille Hamparian is a board-certified ophthalmologist and eye surgeon who specializes in glaucoma. From her office in Glendale, Dr. Hamparian treats a wide variety of eye diseases, from diagnosis to treatment, from medical therapy to lasers and surgery. She is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, California Medical Association, California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, and the Armenian American Medical Society of Southern California. Dr. Hamparian says she is very proud of her service and encourages young Armenian American medical professionals to ba