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California Women Making their Mark

To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day this March, destinations across California are shining a spotlight on female trailblazers making a difference in their communities, industries and the lives of those around them. Join us in saluting each of these amazing women.


Los Angeles’ New Female-Led Hotel
Opening spring 2021, Downtown Los Angeles Proper Hotel will open its doors to guests within a newly restored historic Broadway Corridor. With celebrity interior designer Kelly Wearstler in charge of design, the 148-room destination hotel will feature California architecture with an emphasis on L.A. style, while Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin – the legendary James Beard Award-winning L.A. restaurateurs – will oversee the hotel’s restaurant. Kelly Werstler also designed the Santa Monica Proper Hotel.

Kimberly Walker Keeps it Local in Central California
As the managing partner of Nomada Hotel Group in San Luis Obispo, Kimberly Walker’s team specializes in restoring forgotten Central Coast properties – like the Granada Hotel & Bistro in SLO and Skyview Los Alamos in the Santa Ynez Valley – into modern communal spaces. Focusing on hiring local staff, wineries, farmers and purveyors, she ensures each property makes a positive financial impact on its community. Walker’s next project is Hotel Ynez, which will open at the site of the former Meadowlark Inn at the crossroads of Santa Ynez and Solvang.

Grace Tucker, Lake Shasta Tourism Visionary

Recognizing the potential positive impact of tourism, Grace Tucker played a pivotal role in what is now known as the Lake Shasta Caverns. In 1953, she purchased the land and worked with investors to create one of California’ most visited national natural landmarks, with over 3 million guests since its opening in 1964.

Flying High with San Diego’s Kimberly Herrell
With fewer than 5% of female chief executives in the aviation industry, Kimberly Herrell has achieved success as president and CEO of Schubach Aviation, a private jet charter company in San Diego. In 2020, she purchased the company alongside a financial partner and ushered the company into a new era of success. Herrell continues to help maintain Schubach Aviation’s relevance and commitment to excellence, while ensuring that philanthropy always remains a focus. Each year the company donates one cent for each mile flow by its clients to a local non-profit organization.

Terranea Resort Women Making Their Mark
As President of Terranea, Terri A. Haack has helped ensure that the resort remains dedicated to taking care of its employees and community, while serving as an environment steward. More than a leader, Haack is also a role model and a mentor who is committed to raising up those around her. Lauren Bergloff, Terranea’s Sustainability Leader & Naturalist, is dedicated to protecting the valuable coastal resources. She leads the resort’s Green Team and is committed to minimizing its environmental footprint by integrating transparent eco-friendly practices.


Laura Johnson’s Women-Owned You & Yours Distillery in San Diego

Named one of Forbes 30 Under 30, Laura Johnson opened You & Yours Distilling Co. in downtown San Diego’s East Village, making it the only female-owned distillery in Southern California. Her award-winning vodka and gin set the foundation for a world-class, seasonally based cocktail menu, where each cocktail is handcrafted using locally sourced produce.

Chef Jammir Gray’s Diverse Menu at Napa’s Compline
Having grown up in diverse Vallejo, CA where all cultures and cuisines were celebrated, Chef Jammir Gray of Compline Restaurant & Wine Bar prides herself on creating dishes inspired by global ingredients. Chocolate tres leche cakes include polvoron, a Filipino dry milk candy; chestnut soup is elevated with Moroccan dates; and calamansi, a citrus widely used in the Philippines that grows year-round in California, is the star of other dishes.

Anya Fernald of Belcampo Farms is Committed to Improving Food Quality
Anya Fernald founded Belcampo Farms in Gazelle, California with a purpose: to create meat that’s good for people, planet and animals. What started as one mom’s desire to feed her family the healthiest meat possible became a mission to revolutionize the industry from the inside out. Since purchasing their farm in 2012, Belcampo has expanded to include their own FDA-approved processing facility, full-service butcher shops, and restaurants that serve authentic farm-to-table experiences. Belcampo Farms practices regenerative agriculture and humane animal practices, and also offers sustainable glamping and summer meat camps that are part of the mission to connect people to their food, and food to the planet.

Lisa Howard’s Award-Winning Tolenas Winery in Solano County
Tolenas Winery in Fairfield is co-owned by award-winning female winemaker Lisa Howard, a second generation winemaker and farmer with an academic background in agricultural engineering. Lisa and her team are committed to producing high-quality wines that center the vineyard and fruits as the focus, abstaining from disturbing the vines with chemicals or unnecessary additives.

Claudette Zepeda of Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas in San Diego
Claudette Zepeda is an award-winning San Diego-based chef known for her fearless culinary style, bold approach to regional Mexican cuisine and James Beard “Best Chef” nomination. In her role as Executive Chef of Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas, opening March 2021, Zepeda will oversee the culinary program with dishes influenced by local ingredients and her native hometown.

Cecilia Enriquez Breaks Barriers for Latina Winemakers in Sonoma
Celebrating the growing Latinx presence in the wine industry, Cecilia Enriquez, owner and winemaker at Enriquez Estate Wines in Forestville, paves the way for Latinas in an industry where both women and Mexican Americans are underrepresented. Cecilia is both an award-winning innovator breaking the mold of wine traditions with creative blends and an educator who strives to make wine approachable and enjoyable.

Hannalee Pervan’s Sweet and Savory Treats in Benicia
One House Bakery in Benicia is co-owned by Chef Hannalee Pervan whose passion for baking has attracted guests from across the state to her delicious food made from all-natural ingredients. The bakery is owned by Hannalee and her parents, who don’t take a salary. The bakery currently employs 35 women (76% female) and has been a community resource for those during COVID-19 by offering lunch kits and home cooked meals for families adjusting to remote work and school.  

Paso Robles’ Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins Pays it Forward in the Wine Industry
As a Paso Robles vintner and fourth-generation local on the Central Coast, Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins is helping change the face of the California wine industry. She is the founder of Dream Big Darling, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring the next generation of female leaders in the wine and spirits industry. Amanda is also co-founder of Wine Speak, an acclaimed industry event with a focus on community and collaboration.

Winemaker Tara Gomez Celebrates Nature at Kitá Wines
Kitá Wines is a premium winery located in the Santa Barbara County AVA, led by winemaker Tara Gomez. The word “Kitá” means “Our Valley Oak” in the Santa Ynez Chumash native language of Samala. Like the valley oak, their wine highlights the gifts from Mother Earth and embodies the spirit of the Santa Maria Valley. A member of the Santa Ynez Band of Indians, Tara was always mesmerized with the land and vineyards. Kitá Wines focuses on respecting the balance of soil, climate, location and taste. With a total case production of approximately 2,000 cases, the wines are crafted using sustainable methods and a blend of old world and new world techniques.


Mother-Daughter Duo Aim to Preserve Catalina Island’s Nature

Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy and Larina Cassidy of Catalina Backcountry, a family owned and operated company that offers locals and tourists guided hikes, camping services, customized experiences and more, to showcase and preserve the natural beauty of Catalina Island.

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Ocean Conservationist Julie Packard
Julie Packard is the award-winning executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium which she helped found in the late 1970s. Internationally recognized for her work in ocean conservation and plastic waste elimination, Julie is the second woman in marine sciences and conservation to have a portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.

Patty McCleary’s Mission to Protect California’s Redwoods and Wild Rivers
For nearly 20 years, Patty McCleary of the Smith River Alliance and Rock Creek Ranch has advocated for the special wild places of Del Norte County. By promoting land and river protection, securing and restoring coastal and forest public access, and advocating for fisheries monitoring in the Smith river basin, Patty fosters the region’s natural resources so visitors can enjoy the rivers, hiking and biking trails, and world-class salmon and steelhead fishing for years to come.


Sonoma County's Duskie Estes is Fighting Food Insecurity

After two decades dedicated to ethical sourcing and advocacy for small farmers at her farm-to-table restaurants in Sonoma, Duskie Estes is the Executive Director of Farm to Pantry where she fights food insecurity with gleaning, by distributing nutrient-rich foods to those in need. She has also helped farmers eliminate waste resulting from the food distribution and labor breakdown during the pandemic.

San Luis Obispo Community and Diversity Activist, Courtney Haile
As a native of San Luis Obispo, Courtney Haile is the co-founder of the community-based group R.A.C.E. Matters SLO where she publicly talks about race, diversity, inclusion and action. The organization offers anti-racism workshops, special events and cultural projects to address social injustices.


Paralympic Gold Medalists Alana Nichols Makes Waves in San Diego

Alana Nichols is a six-time Paralympic medalist known for her competitive spirit and determined personality. Nominated for the Best Female Athlete with a Disability ESPY Award, Alana set her sight on something new: the water. Training daily in Mission Bay and surfing along the coast, the San Diego local credits her time spent in the water for helping her move forward physically and emotionally, making her stronger than ever before. Alana is the first U.S. female Paralympian to win gold medals at a Summer and Winter Paralympic Games.

California Women Making Their Mark in the Tri-Valley
The Tri-Valley is popular for its warm weather and gorgeous views, but few know that the East Bay Area region is also steeped in science. Home to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the world-famous hub of science and technology, is breaking barriers by supporting budding female scientists who are less likely to enter into STEM programs. At the helm is trailblazer Patricia Falcone, Deputy Director of Science and Technology where she oversees the strategic development of the Lab’s capabilities.