Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Alameda County Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

By Elizabeth Lanyon, Women's Initiative Senior Grant Writer
Photos by Lily Dong, www.lilydongphotography.com
Attendees of the Alameda County Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

Every year, Women’s Initiative hosts Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award celebrations to recognize the exceptional contributions of women business leaders.  This year was no exception as we held events in Contra Costa County, Silicon Valley and Alameda County to celebrate the success of women entrepreneurs.   Held at the Berkeley City Club on October 12 with more than 200 guests, the Alameda County celebration this year was especially moving.   

The Berkeley City Club was built by Julia Morgan and opened in 1930 as a social club and residence for women.  Julia Morgan was a leader in her own time, one of the first women to graduate from UC Berkeley with a degree in Civil Engineering, the first woman to be accepted at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris for architecture, and the first woman architect licensed in California.  

Shoppers enjoying the Graduate Marketplace

Standing in the library and balcony which held the Women’s Initiative Graduate Marketplace, it was clear that Julia Morgan had big plans for the women who would pass through those rooms.  The building design brings the outside in, creating a space for women to socialize, educate and become ambassadors for the changes that would shape women’s history.  Women’s Initiative shares many of these same values for women entrepreneurs, encouraging out clients to learn from each other and collaborate in business to leverage skills and experience that can help their businesses grow.  

Maricruz Castro, winner of Graduate Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
 Maricruz Castro, owner of Majestic Maids, was honored for her persistence and resilience in pursuing business ownership.  Despite the road blocks, Maricruz was determined to make a better life for herself. She even taught herself to drive so she could work three jobs to support her family.  She found Women’s Initiative at a difficult time in her life, and realized that she had the potential to build something for her future.  Today, Maricruz is the owner of The Majestic Maids and has five employees.  She is a proud mother and role model for any woman who was told she was never going to make it.   

DeeDee Towery, winner of Woman Entrepreneur of the Year
Deedee Towery was honored as the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. Her commitment to excellence is undeniable.  Deedee is the Founder and President of ProActiveBusiness Solutions, Inc., one of the leading IT companies in the Bay Area.  Since founding the company in 1998, Deedee now has over 200 employees throughout the United States and Canada.  

Women like Maricruz and Deedee follow the footsteps of our sheroes, who paved the way for all women to pursue their dreams, to let nothing stand in the way of their ambitions.  I definitely got the feeling that we were surrounded by generations of women who came through the Berkeley City Club; women who, just like graduates of Women’s Initiative, knew they had to overcome social challenges and stigmas to achieve their potential.  When the event was over, as the shopping at the Graduate Marketplace slowed, as everyone got back to their offices for the afternoon, Julia Morgan’s story left me with the idea that women can and will make change when given an opportunity, and that change will impact far more than those you can see.  If Julia were at the event, I am sure it would have brought tears to her eyes to see how far we’ve come and what we are truly able to accomplish – one woman, one woman owned business at a time.

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Michelle said...

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DeeDee Towery was the best you could find for Woman of the Year? Her company is rated "F" by the Better Business Bureau (lowest rating possible):

http://www.bbb.org/greater-san-francisco/business-reviews/relocation-service/proactive-business-solutions-in-oakland-ca-74537

And if you polled any of her employees, they'd tell you that DeeDee is a bipolar psychotic who is impossible to work with. Her company is at a standstill and hasn't grown in years because of her incompetence.