Meet the outstanding, local Ventura County outstanding business women who were honored at our 17th Annual BRAVO gala luncheon and awards ceremony in April. It was yet another successful celebration of women entrepreneurs! The honorees were joined by 200 distinguished guests, colleagues, family and fellow NAWBO VC members.

Who will be honored next year? Stay tuned in the Fall when nominations will once again be sought. Do you know next year’s honorees?

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Meet our 2016 Honorees

Woman Business Owner of the Year - Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet.com


Nellie Akalp is the CEO of CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service that gives entrepreneurs a way to start, grow and maintain their business in a fast, reliable and affordable manner. Nellie is an author, speaker and business expert and has been featured on major online sites such as Entrepreneur, WSJ, Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable, and more. Aside from having significant experience in the legal document filing industry, Nellie is a wife and mother of four. She has perfected the balance of being a mom, the CEO of CorpNet.com, managing her 14-year relationship with her husband and business partner, all while having a hand in forming more than 100,000 corporations and LLCs across the United States.

pictured: Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet.com, Westlake Village

Lifetime Achievement Award - Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, State District 19


Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson has been a friend to NAWBO-VC for numerous years while also maintaining a presence at NAWBO California conferences in Sacramento. She represents the 19th Senate District in the California State Senate, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County. Senator Jackson has shown passionate advocacy of women in business in her time as Senator. Most recently, Senator Jackson authored SB 358, the California Fair Pay Act, which ensures women are paid equally for work that is substantially similar to the work of their male colleagues. The act passed and was effective as of January 1, 2016.

pictured: Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, State District 19

Innovator of the Year - Andrea Gallagher, Senior Advisor/President, Senior Concerns


Andrea Gallagher is a Certified Senior Advisor and President of Senior Concerns, a Thousand Oaks–based nonprofit organization supporting seniors and family caregivers. As President since 2012, Andrea has transformed Senior Concerns from an organization solely providing support services to frail seniors, to one that offers a wide range of programs that create a positive aging process for seniors and family caregivers. Under Andrea’s leadership, Senior Concerns is recognized as a leader in the field of positive aging.


pictured: Andrea Gallagher, Senior Advisor/President, Senior Concerns

Visionary of the Year - Maryann Ridini Spencer, President, Ridini Entertainment Corp


Maryann Ridini Spencer founded Ridini Entertainment Corporation in 1990. She develops and oversees all public relations, film, video and multimedia activities. Maryann has led campaigns for major brands including NBC/Universal, United States Olympic Committee, City of Ventura, and many more. Maryann is also the writer, producer, director and host of “Simply Delicious Living with Maryann®” now broadcasting on PBS Television. As a screenwriter, Maryann is celebrated for writing the award winning Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie, now considered a Hallmark Classic, “The Lost Valentine,” starring Betty White and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Additionally, she has a text and video column, “Simply Delicious Living,” in the online edition of the Ventura County Star and is the developer, producer and writer of, “Sustainable Ventura News,” which airs on Caps-TV


pictured: Maryann Ridini, President, Ridini Entertainment Corp

Rising Star of the Year - Adriana Perez, Owner, Skincare by Adriana


Adriana Perez is the Founder and CEO of Skincare by Adriana. She is an advanced, certified NovaLash eyelash extensionist and a California Licensed Esthetician. In just two short years, Adriana has grown her business from a rented booth in a beauty salon, to owning her own professional esthetics studio. Since moving to her own space, she has increased her sales by 13%. Adriana is a Women’s Economic Venture (WEV) graduate. After completing the WEV Self-Employment Training program, she used her business plan to better organize her goals and the logistics of her business. She has given life to her vision of helping women look and feel confident and beautiful.


pictured: Adriana Perez, Founder/CEO, Skincare by Adriana

Community Advocate of the Year - Lisa Rule, Publisher, Acorn Newspapers


Lisa Rule (along with her husband) is the publisher of the five Acorn Newspapers, spanning from Agoura to Camarillo, as well as Beyond the Acorn Magazine. It is through her unwavering leadership that the Acorn has become the area’s go-to source for local news, events and information. Lisa has played an active role in regularly supporting local organizations and schools in the newspapers and magazine including the Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, Casa Pacifica, Kiwanis, and multiple schools within the county. The Acorn Organization has become one of the most valued and respected in the region thanks to Lisa Rule.


pictured: Lisa Rule, Publisher, Acorn Newspapers and Beyond the Acorn magazine

Education Advocate of the Year - Dianne McKay, VP, Mustang Marketing


Dianne McKay joined Mustang Marketing in 2010, sparking huge growth in clientele and profits. After Dianne became Vice President in 2013, the company attained a three-year growth rate that landed it a spot on the coveted, Inc. 5000 2015 Honorees List – the annual ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Aside from her professional career, Dianne has maintained a commitment to education. She has provided more than 20 years of volunteer service in public education, running organizations like PTA and DAC, and founding the Conejo Schools Foundation. Dianne currently holds a trustee position for the Ventura County Community College District, serves on the Community College League of California’s Advisory Committee on Education Services, and is an active member on both the Conejo Schools Foundation Board and the CLU Graduate School of Education Advisory Board.


pictured: Dianne McKay, VP, Mustang Marketing

Young Woman Entrepreneur of the Year - Allie Anderson, Owner, Shop Allie Anderson


At the age of 23, Allie Anderson was a bride looking for a beautiful yet practical gift for her bridesmaids. There were plenty of options on the market, but none that matched Allie’s vision – high quality, trendy, customized totes. Since she couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for, Allie decided to make the totes herself and “VOILA!” Allie Anderson Designs was born! Allie uses Etsy to sell her monogrammed bridal gifts and her products are also a favorite among sororities. She is also the co-owner and a certified wedding planner for Presh Events of Ventura County.


pictured: Allie Anderson, Owner, Shop Allie Anderson and Co-owner, Presh Events

NAWBO VC Member of the Year - Maura Raffensperger, Owner, YourChiefSimplicityOfficer.com


A NAWBO member since 2010, Maura has been an energetic and generous force within the NAWBO VC chapter. She is currently serving her third term on the Board. From 2010-2011 she held the Corporate Partner Director position, and for the past two terms, 2014-2016, she has been the chapter’s Marketing/PR Director. When Maura accepted the position of Marketing/PR Director in 2014, NAWBO VC was barely present on Facebook and the chapter website was in dire need of an update. Not only did Maura take on the overwhelming task of creating a robust social media presence and transforming the website, she has also been tireless in teaching members invaluable lessons in connecting with membership and promoting NAWBO VC. Her work in this area has been a critical factor in the chapter’s growth over the past two years. When not volunteering with NAWBO-VC, Maura is busy working with business owners and CEOs as Your Chief Simplicity Officer, coaching them how to work less, make more and love their businesses again.

pictured: Maura Raffensperger, Owner, Your Chief Simplicity Officer, Oxnard

Corporate Leader of the Year - Pacific Coast Business Times


The Pacific Coast Business Times is the weekly business journal for the coastal Tri-Counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Now in its 15th year of publication, under the wise leadership of Founder, Editor and Chairman, Henry Dubroff and Publisher Linda le Brock, the Pacific Coast Business Times has won several awards for its integrity in journalism and in-depth coverage including, “Best in Business” awards from the Society of Business Editors and Writers, Los Angeles Press Club awards, and Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for breaking news. The paper is also an active supporter of our local business and non-profit community. They produce multiple community award events, including the prestigious Top 50 Women in Business. The Pacific Coast Business Times has been a long-time supportive media partner for NAWBO-VC.

Thank You to Our 2016 Sponsors

Thank You to Our 2016 Media & In-Kind Partners