The following eight women entrepreneurs will be celebrated at the 2013 Women of Achievement Breakfast on Saturday, April 13, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Brookside Clubhouse in Pasadena. Here is a little about these special local women in business . . .
Arnetta Tolley has strong beliefs about success and willingly shares it with those who want to be qualified to give that advice. Her simple formula for looking for a career is to take risks; "Follow your heart, do what you love and the money will follow."
Arnetta was born in Los Angeles and has spent most of her life in the financial industry. She is a graduate of Los Angeles Valley College and attended classes at the University of Redlands and the University of Southern California. After 26 years experience as a banker, from teller to management and Vice President, she joined Edward Jones Investments, in 1997, and became a Partner in 2007.
She moved to Pasadena, in 1971, from her native Los Angeles. She defines being an Entrepreneur as "one who blazes the trail as opposed to an employee who follows a trail set by someone else." She has been on both trails but finds the Entrepreneurial trail the most exciting and rewarding.
She is one of seven siblings and says that accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior has been the most life changing experience in her life. Her passion is helping others realize their financial dreams. To that end, she is an accomplished speaker and conducts seminars covering a variety of topics related to finance and estate planning.
Tolley is an established expert in the field of securities. She has been quoted in numerous magazines including Ebony, Black Enterprise and Wall Street Magazine.
Born in Tennessee, Samella, affectionately known as "Sam" by those who know her, earned a Bachelor's Degree from Tennessee State University. She spent four years working in Murray, Kentucky and later moved to Missouri where she met and married Delano Yarbrough, in 1962. A year later, the couple moved to Pasadena. In Pasadena, Sam attended Azusa Pacific and earned her Masters. She spent 25 years as an educator serving in the Pasadena Unified School District as a dean and counselor at schools including John Muir High School and Eliot Middle School before retiring.
The pride and joy of her life are her three children, Desiree, Monique, and Darryl. She says that all too soon they left home, one by one, to Attend Tuskegee University. Desiree married and moved to Houston, Texas where she lives with her husband, Daryl Irby. They have two children in college, Kayla and Daryl Jacob Irby. Monique relocated to Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Reginald Williams and they have three daughters, college student Aisha and high school students Imani and Kali Williams. Darryl lives in the Detroit, Michigan area with his wife NaKenya and three young children, Amira, Naima and Delano.
She enjoys her eight grandkids and discovering a whole new world. She enjoys playing card games on her computer and tablet such as Solitaire and Hearts, video chatting with her kids and grandkids, serving as a member of Metropolitan Baptist Church for almost 50 years and of course traveling.
Samella began her business, Fantasy Tours with Tommy McMullins in 1997 quite by accident. There was a group of church members that wanted to travel for a day trip. Tom and her contacted a bus company to take the group on the trip. One one-day trip turned into several day trips and each time they used the same bus company. After organizing several trips the owner of the bus company asked if they would like to take a group of about 15 people to China. He was from China and promised to give them a good deal. They got a name for the business and almost 50 people signed up to go. Fantasy Tours was born and the rest, as they say, is history. When they first started, she didn't even have a passport, but now she has logged over 10,000 travel miles all over the globe including Africa, Germany, Asia, Brazil and Australia to name a few. They have traveled with hundreds of people to places she could not even image. It has been so enjoyable and educational to actually visit the many places that she read about in History class, oh so long ago. At its inception they agreed that if and when they business ceased to be fun, we would no longer continue. So far, so good.
For those contemplating starting a business, her best advice is to love and enjoy what you do. She says, "It sounds like a clique but it is so important to have a passion for your business because there will be times when you might question your decision. But the joy you receive from doing what you love will greatly outweigh those questions."
She looks forward to the future and all that is has to give.
CAROLYN ANN RODDY
Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Carolyn Roddy's father died when she was age 8. Her mother was left to raise Carolyn and her sister as a single mother. The small family moved to California for a short time then returned to Phoenix. Like globetrotters, the small family returned to California after Carolyn attended Arizona State College and the Phoenix School of Business. Back in California, she worked in her stepfather's auto repair shop. She married and gave birth to her daughter, Tiffany. After five years of marriage the tragedy of death struck again. This time, it was her husband who died.
Death did not define Carolyn. She picked up the pieces and in 1973 she met and married Marion Roddy. Together they have raised their daughter Tiffany and stepson, Keith Roddy. They have lived in Altadena since their marriage. Her role model has been her mother who recently passed at age 95.
Carolyn worked until retirement for the County of Los Angeles in a variety of Departments as a Clerk. Trying to decide what to do after retirement, Carolyn decided to open a flower shop. She worked in another shop to gain some experience and after five months opened what is now Pampered Lady Florists in Altadena in 1986. One lesson she learned from her mother was the value of owning Real property.
Over the years Carolyn purchased property, watched the value grow, and later used the sale of a property to finance her flower shop. She is active in the community and serves as president of the Steward Board of her long-time church home, Calvary C.M.E. church in Pasadena. She advises others going into business to make sure they are prayed up and that their finances are in order for home and business. She says, with her ever present smile, " Don't do fancy if you can't afford it, and everything will be okay."
From International Banker to Restaurant Owner Debbie Rainey has parlayed an entrepreneurial spirit that started with her making dresses while she attended Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, CA. The Entrepreneurial spirit also led her to sell breakfasts after her High School Prom.
An only child to a young, unwed couple, Debbie was raised in Los Angeles and says she was a rebellious young woman. She channeled the energy of rebelliousness into an MBA college degree in Economics and into a career as an International Banker and Auditor.
Banking took her into the corporate world as a manager for Banking giant, Bank of America. She became the first female International Auditor and the first Black International Auditor in the bank's history. One of her accomplishments was to establish the audit office for Bank of America in Hong Kong, China.
The five years she spent in China was an invaluable experience. She loved cooking, a skill developed from her family's career as a domestic for Pasadena's wealthy families. She feels she has come full circle, as she has spent the last twenty years in the restaurant business. She has been the owner of Park Bench Deli and Three Corner's Restaurant in Altadena and currently owns The Courtyard Café, a coffee shop at Hopkins Village.
Katy Gillespie Townsend was born in Shaw, Mississippi and has been a resident of Altadena for over 50 years. She is a cosmetologist, stylist, teacher, entrepreneur, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.
She is the owner of Katey's Beauty Salon, located at 1711 East Washington Boulevard, in the city of Pasadena, specializing in hair extensions and multicultural hair services. She also mentors young women and men who are interested in the Cosmetology profession. She has over 18 years of hair care experience. She also offers apprenticeship opportunity to special education students in the Pasadena School District.
Katy received her License in Cosmetology from Pasadena City College. She has always enjoyed learning and decided to continue her college education and earned an Associate Degree in Cosmetology majoring in Science. She then enrolled in the Pasadena City College Cosmetology Teacher Credentialing Program and earned her Teaching Credential and taught Cosmetology for five years at a private Beauty School. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Katy is also involved in her Community. She is a member of Metropolitan Baptist Church.
Katy initially came to California on a two week vacation and was so impressed with the opportunities for employment and education that she decided to move her family from Mississippi to California. She was a single mom and felt that California offered more opportunities for her personal development and that of her children.
She was able to immediately find employment in a variety of industries but her burning desire was to attend college. Katy had to immediately find employment that would support her family. Her first position in California was with the Royal Laundry. She subsequently moved to positions with Burroughs Electronic Company, Xerox Corporation, and California Casualty Insurance Company. Along the way, she also worked as a meat cutter in a poultry factory and assumed an evening position at JC Penny's as a night supervisor. The well-being of her family has always been the first priority for Katy.
In 1998, Katy had the opportunity to take another bold step in her career development. She decided to become an entrepreneur and open her own business.
Katy has been recognized in the community for her work and has received numerous awards:
She loves her profession, her family, her community and constantly thanks God for the many blessings that he has bestowed upon her.
Gerda grew up in British West Indies with her Mother, Irene Vanterpool, currently residing in Florida. Father, Conrad Govine, Sr., currently living in Jamaica, Queens, New York City, two Brothers, Conrad Myron Govine, Jr. Myron Govine. She has two daughters, Lisa Kim Steele who passed away in 1979 and Dorie Janine Steele who passed away in 2011.
She attended college as an evening student while working during the day. At both NYU and Columbia, she received 8 credits per semester, free, and was able to attend college without incurring debt. She earned a B.S. and M.A. in Business Education, New York University and received a Martin Luther King, Jr., scholarship which enabled her to attend full time (for one year) and complete her M.A. She quit her job as National Director of the NAACP and worked on her last year for a doctorate, full time.
Gerda decided to be a full-time entrepreneur and specialize in human resources: diversity training, staff and management development, sexual harassment training, research and one-on-one coaching (1983-1990). After she left employment with the City she secured numerous clients where she consulted and taught for over 10 years. Eventually, in 1994, she became an expert witness in employment discrimination. Currently she works as an expert witness, trainer, mediator and coach.
She says, "I have many opportunities for life-long training and development based on my goals and objectives for me and my consulting business. I love my work and appreciate all of the experiences that have helped me along the way."
Her passion has always been writing and she was fortunate enough to continue working with the Journal as a columnist for "As We Speak," published a diversity handbook, and articles in professional magazines. She began writing poetry seriously in 2010 and published her first poetry art book , "Oh, Where is My Candle Hat?" as a joint project with her husband, Luis.
Her advice: "Do not be afraid. Step out on faith supported by your hard work, experience and commitment to make a positive difference. And, do not let anyone define who you are. Keep your eyes on the prize—yourself. Give back and connect with others because we all stand on the shoulders of those who have helped and nourished us."
GAIL VALENTINE TAYLOR
Gail Taylor is the keeper of the Valentine family tradition. She is the third generation to run Pasadena's oldest black-owned mortuary, Woods Valentine Mortuary. She is married to George Taylor. They have three daughters, Gemia, Gianna and Andrea Taylor, one grandson, Terrell Allen, age 11. Gail attended Pasadena schools, growing up. She graduated from Pasadena High School, attended UC Santa Barbara, where she obtained B.A. in Psychology 1972, and UC Berkeley, where she earned a Masters in Social Welfare from U.C. Berkeley in 1975. She is a L.C.S.W. (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), a Licensed Funeral Director, a Licensed Life Insurance Agent and a Licensed Notary Public.
She worked for 16 years as a Clinical Social Worker in Health Care settings: VA Hospital Loma Linda and VA Hospital West L.A. and Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. She grew up in the family business, working summers and holiday breaks where she learned office skills, customer service and developed people skills in family business. She loved her career in Social Work, but family called. Her parents, Fred and Arzella, were getting older and asked her to joining the family business as her sister, Janyce, did. She says, "Although I loved my social work career, I have never looked back."
Her advice, "As an entrepreneur leads, gives direction, and casts vision, you must consistently make good decisions in order to remain successful. Long hours and lots of sacrifice is part of the challenging commitment you make. At the end of the day you give more than an employee, but you receive more too. The accompanying sense of accomplishment and satisfaction is great. To whom much is given, much is required. Right then I ended my pity party and pressed on. I truly realized then how much I have been blessed to be a blessing."
Marlene is the oldest of 6 children of Mary and Andrew Session, long time San Gabriel Valley residents. She attended schools in the PUSD. After graduating from high school and a short career working on a factory assembly line, Marlene Cooper began to seek out a new career which led her to a career in Law.
She graduated from John Muir High School in 1971, received an A.A. Degree from Pasadena City College in 1973 (Black Studies), a B.A. Degree from UCLA in 1975 (Political Science), and a J.D. Degree from UCLA in 1978. Upon graduation from law school, she began work as in-house Corporate Counsel for Pacific Bell (now AT&T), serving as Supervising Senior Counsel the last ten years of her 22 year tenure as a litigation attorney with cases ranging from automobile accidents to antitrust lawsuits.
While working at Pacific Bell she handled a few probate matters for family and friends. After retiring from Pacific Bell in 2000, she established a private law practice focused entirely on estate planning, trusts, wills and probate. As an entrepreneur, she is responsible for all operations of the Law Office of Marlene S. Cooper including marketing, work product, and back office matters.
As an entrepreneur, she says, "The buck stops with me. I think the difference between an entrepreneur and an employee is that an employee has the luxury of 'passing the buck'".
Aside from helping families, she is passionate about helping the next generation of African-Americans. For 7 years she was the Executive Director of the African American Cultural Institute, an organization which held Saturday classes to teach African-American youth their history and culture. At the present time, she is coordinating a mentoring program at John Muir High School for African-American girls through the Links, Inc
Marlene and her husband, Keith, of 32 years, have two daughters Kristin and Rachel, and a son-in-law, Rachel's husband, Lawrence Thomas.
She says, "Find something you are passionate about. That way what you do won't seem like work. What you do should also match your God-given skills and talents so that what you do comes naturally to you.