Business Women of The Year

Letter from the Publisher

The San Diego Business Journal has the longest-running recognition program in our area for women business leaders, and in honor of our 25th annual event, we celebrated 25 winners at the Business Women of the Year event December 13, 2018, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

Below, you will read about women from nearly every industry segment San Diego has to offer. Their accomplishments are impressive and worthy of recognition.

We had more than 200 nominations, which produced a superb roster of finalists, making it difficult for our judges to narrow their choices to just 25 deserving women.

Special thanks go to our judges: Joyce Glazer, former columnist at San Diego Magazine, Lidia Martinez of Southwest Airlines, Catherine McCullough of McCullough Landscape Architecture, Nancy Rohland of National University, and Bettie Youngs of Bettie Youngs Book Publishers Inc.

Nyda Jones-Church was recognized with our Lifetime Achievement Award. Jones-Church has long been a key player in residential real estate in San Diego County. She’s currently president and COO of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty.

The keynote address was delivered by Shelley Zimmerman, who recently retired as chief of police from the city of San Diego. She talked of the importance of being role models and providing inspiration and encouragement for young women to follow their dreams. Our emcees, Pat Brown of Pat Brown Productions and Susan Taylor of Scripps Health did a superb job, as usual. They have deftly handled the role for a number of years.

Special thanks to our sponsors who make the Business Women of the Year Awards possible: Cox Business, Union Bank, Kaiser Permanente, the American Heart Association and Athena San Diego.

Congratulations to all of our finalists and winners. We can’t wait to see what you will achieve in 2019.

Congratulations 2018 Winners!

Nyda Jones-Church
Maria Baldwin
Cathy Baur
Sarah Boyce
Kate Broderick
Jennie Brooks
Nisha Bunke
Kristin Carroll
Lisa Churchill
Dr. Ann Clark
Jennifer Farnham
Jane Finley
Joni Flaherty
Sallie Giblin
Michele Goetz
Jodie Grenier
Teresa Halleck Campbell
Danielle Humphries
Jennifer Kearns
Marie Kenny
Cecilia Kucharski
Kalyn Maher-Walker
Cindy Marten
Patty Mayer
Jeanne McAlister
Kim Perell

Nyda Jones-Church
President & COO Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty

Nyda Jones-Church took home the Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2018 San Diego Business Journal Business Women of the Year awards, held Dec. 13 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel. Jones-Church is president and chief operating officer of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, which specializes in Southern California luxury real estate. A San Diego native, Jones-Church grew up in Point Loma and La Jolla. She attended the Bishop’s School and graduated from La Jolla High School, prior to leaving for Northern California and getting her degree from Stanford University. She is one of the few San Diegans who can recall riding the glass elevator at the El Cortez Hotel. She recalls when Interstate 5 was “the new freeway” — as new as the trolley construction that is crisscrossing the route now. Jones-Church said she had a great mentor, her mother, whom she recalled as a “smart, gracious business woman.” She never had a car loan, Jones-Church said, because her mother’s advice was that a person should not leverage depreciating assets. As an adult, Jones-Church brings an analytical perspective to her real estate business. Her business partner is Steve Games. In her acceptance speech on Dec. 13, she described their decision making process as “dynamic” and “a spectator sport.” The real estate landscape has changed, she said, and transactions look different every year. Predictions that the internet would take over the business seem to have been overblown. People can start a search on the internet, but they still need to go forward and conclude with an agent. Relationships still matter in real estate, she said. Jones-Church addressed an audience of business women in a variety of vertical markets. She advised them to lead with passion. And if you have to eat an elephant, she said, do so in small bites. Recognition in her hometown is enormously gratifying, Jones-Church said, adding that “I don’t take the stage very often.” Her plans for 2019 are to expand her business in Orange County and Southern California’s desert communities, and to grow ancillary businesses such as mortgages and escrow. Jones-Church is active in the community through organizations such as the Junior League and the Sonoran Institute. The latter advocates for careful planning and stewardship of the landscape in the western portion of the United States, along with Mexico and Canada. One of its signature projects is to reconnect the flow of the Colorado River to its delta on the Gulf of California.

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Maria Baldwin
Vice President of Operations ASI The White Glove Guys

Maria Baldwin singlehandedly built one of San Diego’s largest plumbing companies in 2018 when ASI — a company that may be better known for heating and air conditioning work — decided to add plumbing to its lineup of services. Baldwin has hired more than 40 plumbers since the department was formed, created an extensive training program and built the business’s reputation. As vice president of operations, she showed perseverance despite “almost impossible” odds in building the new department. And during a year when the overall heating, cooling and solar industries saw declines in business, Baldwin implemented cross-training opportunities to help employees broaden their skills. On the award: “I am honored, overwhelmed, grateful and humbled to be included among the other winners.” Plans for 2019: “They include growing the plumbing department by 50 percent, opening an inside sales division and expanding ASI’s electrical division.”

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Cathy Baur
Vice President - University Advancement

California State University San Marcos Cathy Baur has been vice president for university advancement since 2016. During this brief period, she has built a culture of philanthropy at California State University San Marcos, steering a $50 million campaign. Baur and her team recently achieved 144 percent of their fundraising goal with more than $9.7 million raised. A university employee for 10 years, Baur was previously associate vice president for communications, where she helped establish the university’s brand. Co-workers describe her as dynamic and innovative, “unfailingly ethical and positive,” and someone who “makes everything appear effortless, even in the midst of utter chaos or crisis.” She is also a governor of The San Diego Foundation. On the award: “It’s a tremendous honor. There are so many wonderful women here in San Diego County.” Plans for 2019: “Celebrating the success of our first capital campaign and welcoming a new president [to the university].”

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Sarah Boyce
President Akcea Therapeutics

Previously senior vice president and chief business officer of Carlsbad-based Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Sarah Boyce became president of Ionis affiliate Akcea Therapeutics in April. She has led the commercialization of two drugs —Tegsedi and Waylivra — to treat patients with serious and rare diseases. Co-workers characterize Boyce as a scrappy, entrepreneurial leader who ably complements CEO Paula Soteropoulos. Boyce is also an approachable leader, a good judge of her colleagues’ potential, a mentor to her women colleagues and a builder of high-performing teams. Outside of her job, Boyce works to inspire the next generation of women scientists.

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Kate Broderick
Vice President - Research & Development Inovio Pharmaceuticals

Kate Broderick is a world expert in the area of DNA vaccines. She recently led Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ effort to secure a $56 million contract with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a worldwide consortium dedicated to developing new vaccines for emerging infectious diseases. One co-worker describes Broderick as “a force of nature, developing vaccines, researching and writing the grant applications, and then standing before committees such as the Gates Foundation to present why her lab is worthy of the grant.” Broderick received her doctorate in molecular genetics from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. She continues to mentor students there as well as colleagues in California. Plans for 2019: “We have a lot of work to do on Ebola and emerging infectious diseases.”

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Jennie Brooks
Vice President Booz Allen Hamilton

Jennie Brooks runs the San Diego office of Virginia-based defense contracting giant Booz Allen Hamilton. Some 1,200 Booz Allen employees based in Mission Valley serve the U.S. Navy’s needs in specialties such as cybersecurity, data science and analytics. In her current role since 2016, Brooks has grown revenue by 25 percent year-over-year and increased headcount by 43 percent. Co-workers describe her as a tenacious, passionate, charismatic leader. She is a mentor to women in the defense contracting field and to working mothers. In addition to her demanding work life, Brooks has successfully raised a child with a complex heart condition into a thriving and healthy 13-year-old.

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Nisha Bunke
Ceo La Jolla Vein Care

Dr. Nisha Bunke is CEO of La Jolla Vein Care. Founded in 2010, the practice now employs 10 people. In August, Dr. Sarah Lucas joined La Jolla Vein Care, and in September, the practice doubled its clinic space. Dr. Bunke’s other recent professional achievements include publishing research that made the cover of the “Journal for Vascular Ultrasound” and bringing a bruise recovery cream called Recova to the market. Dr. Bunke is a fellow of the American College of Phlebology and a registered phlebology sonographer. She serves as a volunteer clinical instructor of surgery at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. On the award: “There is a recurring theme of support in all of the acceptance speeches. We don’t do it alone. I’m honored to be in the company of such professional women.” Plans for 2019: “Continue to grow my practice and continue research in my field.”

Growing and doing good while growing. Those are two of Kristin Carroll’s goals, and they are not mutually exclusive. Building on experience at a New York City ad agency and a fast-growing tech firm, Carroll became chief executive of Rescue, the Behavior Change Agency — a San Diego firm specializing in public health campaigns. Rescue has appeared on both the Inc. 5000 list of fast-growing companies and B Lab’s list of socially responsible companies. “Kristin is always inviting us to reconsider our worldview and elevate ourselves and our work,” said one associate. On the award: Carroll told the audience that she has two little girls and is expecting a third. She wants to show new generations (both young colleagues and her daughters) that leadership is achievable. Plans for 2019: “Support the men and women on her staff, and continue groundbreaking work in tobacco prevention, obesity prevention, nutrition and opioid education.”

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Kristin Carroll
Ceo Rescue | The Behavior Change Agency

Growing and doing good while growing. Those are two of Kristin Carroll’s goals, and they are not mutually exclusive. Building on experience at a New York City ad agency and a fast-growing tech firm, Carroll became chief executive of Rescue, the Behavior Change Agency — a San Diego firm specializing in public health campaigns. Rescue has appeared on both the Inc. 5000 list of fast-growing companies and B Lab’s list of socially responsible companies. “Kristin is always inviting us to reconsider our worldview and elevate ourselves and our work,” said one associate. On the award: Carroll told the audience that she has two little girls and is expecting a third. She wants to show new generations (both young colleagues and her daughters) that leadership is achievable. Plans for 2019: “Support the men and women on her staff, and continue groundbreaking work in tobacco prevention, obesity prevention, nutrition and opioid education.”

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Lisa Churchill
Managing Director Cushman & Wakefield

Joining Cushman & Wakefield in early 2016, Lisa Churchill was tasked with restructuring and integrating the company’s asset services team following Cushman’s merger with DTZ. In those three years, she has shown the courage to make tough decisions, created a collaborative work culture and nurtured key client relationships. The year 2017 saw her found a San Diego chapter of the company’s Women’s Integrated Network or WIN. A fellow employee said Churchill has “solid judgement, exceptional customer service skills and an amazing ability to build a great team. … Her ability to handle volatile situations and put people at ease is something that I have never seen anyone else do with such skill.”

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Dr. Ann Clark
Ceo & Founder Aci Specialty Benefits

Her employees describe her as unstoppable. A holder of six academic degrees, Ann Clark received her doctorate in psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her early work was as a university professor. Today, she marks 35 years running ACI Specialty Benefits, a San Diego-based provider of employee assistance programs. The company provides clinical support and critical incident response as well as HR and management consultation. ACI also provides student assistance and concierge services. Throughout her career, Clark has been told she could not do things — and she has persisted in proving the naysayers wrong. As a female pioneer in a male-dominated insurance industry, she drove ACI to be a top 10 global benefits provider, competing against giant health care organizations and conglomerates. On the award: “People say follow your dreams. I’ve never allowed my life to be so limited.”

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Jennifer Farnham
Area Manager Pcl Construction

Jennifer Farnham started work at PCL Construction as an intern. Twenty-six years later, she is San Diego area manager for the Denver-based business, and has had a hand in projects as notable as the Legoland Castle Hotel, San Diego International Airport’s federal inspection station and San Diego State University’s Tula Conference Center. A recent big win was UC San Diego’s Triton Pavilion. PCL’s San Diego office quadrupled in size under Farnham. As area manager, she builds both people and careers: her work as a mentor includes “Java With Jennifer” coffee sessions where employees can talk about anything. Farnham has had the tenacity to stay in the male-dominated construction world. Her co-workers cite her as an example of the diversity that the industry needs.

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Jane Finley
Senior Vice President & Area Manager Kasier Permanente

Jane Finley led the development, planning, construction and opening of the Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, a 253-bed, 617,000-square-foot facility that received top honors as a green building. It is the third hospital she has opened. The facility was finished ahead of schedule and under budget. Finley’s co-workers describe her as an extraordinary and highly principled CEO; a person who inspires others to go beyond a ‘check the box’ solution; and a people-oriented leader — one who makes time to develop employees and teams that embody a growth mindset. Finley is a board member of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. and the Jacobs Cushman Food Bank. She is also a repeat participant in the Thrive Half Marathon. On the award: “It is a great honor. There was an incredible group of women leaders selected.” Plans for 2019: “Continue to care for nearly 1 in 5 San Diegans. And continue to grow the business.”

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Joni Flaherty
Partner Gordon & Rees LLP

Joni is a force to be reckoned with, both in the courtroom and in the boardroom.” So says her nomination for Business Women of the Year. Joni Flaherty made partner at her law firm, Gordon & Rees, during her seventh year of practice. She is also president of the Junior League of San Diego. An associate describes her as someone who refuses to downplay the strains and challenges of balancing work, family and volunteering. “Instead, she candidly addresses the way she and others can best navigate conflicting priorities, and is a leader to others who have similar struggles.” She is a mentor, confidant and resource to women looking to move up in the legal profession. On the award: “I’m thrilled, honored and very happy to support and develop the potential of women in San Diego.”

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Sallie Giblin
President Lockton Companies, San Diego

Sallie Giblin had a landmark year in 2018. She not only increased her book of business by 18 percent, but she became the first female president of a U.S. office for Lockton Cos., a company offering commercial insurance and employee benefits. As a leader, she cares first about the individual. While she does not back down from hard conversations, she is empathetic and wants others to feel they are heard and valued. Giblin takes a genuine and selfless approach toward mentoring young professionals. One of her associates recalled the words of poet Maya Angelou: people never forget how others make them feel. The people around Sallie Giblin certainly recall that best. On the award: “I am very honored and excited about the future of Lockton San Diego and the support we’ve been able to bring to female team members.”

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Michele Goetz
Associate Vice Chancellor & Executive Director SDSU Research Foundation

Michele Goetz brings a combination of technical skills, emotional intelligence and leadership to her job at San Diego State University. Her work crosses borders; she has successfully developed and administered a 10-year, $60 million project in the country of Georgia. The 2017-18 academic year saw her implement cost-saving measures. Co-workers credit her for changing the culture in her organization to emphasize inclusiveness and positivity. As a leader, she provides direction and then allows the team to implement and accomplish its goals. She trusts her team and their teams. This has increased morale, optimism and collegiality. On the award: “This award for me represents the accomplishments of my staff, the support of my peers, the love of my family and the faith of university leaders in my ability to lead.” Plans for 2019: “I look forward to working with President (Adela) de la Torre and my university colleagues to help support and implement SDSU initiatives and partnerships on campus and in the community.” Michele Goetz
Associate Vice Chancellor & Executive Director SDSU Research Foundation

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Jodie Grenier
CEO Foundation for Women Warriors

Enlisting in the Marines out of high school, Jodie Grenier served as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, helping Gen. Jim Mattis combat real-time threats to front-line troops. Her skills and service went unrecognized on her return to the United States. Grenier received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management. Joining the Foundation for Women Warriors in 2016, she conducted a rigorous financial overhaul, closed a deficit, secured more revenue streams, doubled annual income and revitalized the organization’s financial health. Grenier has a tenacious work ethic, an ability to inspire others and a passion to advocate — and provide — for women veterans and their children. On the award: “I’m honored to receive this on behalf of women veterans.” Plans for 2019: “Continue to deliver our services to women veterans in San Diego County and increase the number of San Diego mentors and volunteers we have.”

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Teresa Halleck Campbell
President & CEO San Diego County Credit Union

Teresa Halleck Campbell oversaw another year of growth at San Diego County Credit Union: Its customer base grew to 393,000; assets grew to $8.4 billion; and the organization opened new branches in Scripps Ranch, Mission Viejo and Costa Mesa. The expansion is a testament to Halleck Campbell’s leadership, which associates describe as highly strategic and effective. While placing an emphasis on customer service, the CEO ably tends to the portion of the business not seen by the customer. Campbell sets an ethical standard and creates a positive work environment. She empowers her employees, gives team members ample autonomy, lets them develop solutions to improve the organization and serves as a resource to help their efforts.

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Danielle Humphries
Partner Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP

Early exposure to a parent’s work can be a profound thing. Danielle Humphries’ father was an attorney specializing in estate planning. He let his preschool-age daughter shred documents. This year, the younger Humphries became an equity partner in Hahn Loeser & Parks, where she focuses on estate planning (as well as complex trusts, business succession planning and related issues). Humphries’ accomplishments reflect a commitment to leadership, advocacy and compassion for others, say those who know her. She leads by example, is authentic, encourages collaboration and empowers others — offering younger associates vision, guidance and support. She is an advocate for gender parity as well as an extraordinary role model. On the award: “I’m incredibly honored ... It’s really nice to be recognized for your accomplishments, especially among women in business in San Diego County.” Plans for 2019: “Continue in my role at the firm and become more involved in Promises2Kids and improve the lives of foster children.”

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Jennifer Kearns
Partner
Duane Morris LLP

Jennifer Kearns advises employers in all aspects of labor and employment law. She defends her clients – including a very large retailer and car wash owners – in a wide range of employment cases and has amassed an enviable string of wins during the past year. Kearns also works closely with Duane Morris’ intellectual property and life science groups on issues pertaining to trade secrets and confidentiality. Outside her downtown high-rise, Kearns has spent 25 years volunteering with Mama’s Kitchen, which delivers free meals to San Diego County residents affected by illness. She has long held leadership positions on the service organization’s board. On the award: “I believe the award was largely linked to Mama’s Kitchen, a sign the business community really appreciates community service.” Plans for 2019: “I will continue my commitment to Mama’s Kitchen – I’m secretary – and I’m looking forward to a very packed year with wage and hour class actions.”

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Marie Kenny
Partner & Labor and Employment Law Team Leader
Procopio

In addition to serving clients at the Procopio law firm and being a mother to six school-age children, Marie Kenny has carved out time for two other jobs: leading a team of Procopio’s labor and employment lawyers, and serving as an elected member of the management committee that makes major decisions for the 170-attorney firm. An associate noted that the symbolism of the latter – having a woman in leadership – spoke volumes. The same associate noted Kenny is generous with her time, understands work-life balance and goes out of her way to ensure that attorneys can step away from a client matter when needed. In 2017, Kenny anticipated the #MeToo movement by writing about the significant harm of, and prevention of, sexual harassment in the workplace. Plans for 2019: “Continue to represent my clients well in litigation. [Within Procopio,] we’re really going to focus on employee engagement and culture. I’m very excited.”

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Cecilia Kucharski
Vice President - Preconstruction and Estimating
Balfour Beatty Construction

Cecilia has charted a course of success that has impacted the skylines throughout the state of California,” wrote the person who nominated Cecilia Kucharski for the award. Women comprise some 8.9 percent of the U.S. construction workforce. A vice president with Balfour Beatty Construction, Kucharski has noted the lack of women role models in the industry, and has set to work, making time and effort to change that. She is described as the backbone of Balfour Beatty’s Connecting Women employee resource group. She has successfully mentored four female interns during the last five years. She is designing a five-year strategic plan with measurable diversity and inclusion goals. Outside of work, she is a Girl Scout troop leader. “With fortitude and determination, she is controlling her own destiny and motivating many others,” her nominator wrote. Plans for 2019: “Continue to grow women within the construction industry. They make up 9 percent. We have to give them opportunities equal to men.”

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Kalyn Maher-Walker
Senior Vice President - Wealth Management UBS Financial Services

Kalyn Maher-Walker has an uncanny ability to connect with clients on the financial, intellectual and emotional levels, an associate noted. In the space of three years, the 32-year-old Maher-Walker grew from being support staff to lead financial adviser on multimillion-dollar accounts, with staff of her own. Today, she works with and has inspired three women assistants who report seeing significant differences in tone and the connection that Maher-Walker forges with clients – especially with women who have not been included in conversations previously. Maher-Walker and other women advisers at UBS share best practices. And like her accomplished peers in other vertical markets, she exhibits clear direction, efficiency, knowledge of her specialty (financial services), compassion and understanding of both her clients’ financial growth and revenue growth.

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Cindy Marten
Superintendent San Diego Unified School District Duane Morris LLP

Cindy Marten came to her chief administrator’s job having worked as a teacher in San Diego County and as a principal at Central Elementary School in City Heights, a neighborhood marked by poverty. Five and a half years ago she stepped into the superintendent’s position. Today, the school district has an enviable graduation rate and above-average test scores for an urban district. Marten’s charitable work, however, prompted the American Heart Association to nominate her for Business Women of the Year, and label her a hero. A hands-only CPR training program that she instituted at the schools two years ago has so far helped a third-grader and an eighth-grader save lives. “Cindy inspires people every day,” her nomination form says, adding that she is deeply committed, leads by positive example and practices what she preaches.

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Patty Mayer
Director - Not-For-Profit Practice Moss Adams

Patty Mayer advises not-for-profit entities on tax issues, overseeing the cases of 60 organizations in San Diego and beyond. She is passionate about her specialty. Mayer knows the technicalities of her subject, is well-versed in emerging issues, and communicates effectively with clients. She possesses a keen ability to explain complex issues in an easily understood manner. In addition to providing quality service to clients, she is an excellent mentor, teacher, collaborator and team player. She is highly regarded as a role model by the younger professionals throughout the firm. A sought-after speaker and trainer, Mayer has inspired many of her firm’s employees to develop their technical and soft skills. Mayer has been integral in building a strong team in San Diego and in other Moss Adams offices.

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Jeanne McAlister
CEO McAlister Institute

It’s not often that you can say your boss saved your life. Jeanne McAlister helps people struggling with addiction. Her McAlister Institute employs more than 200 people, including many who have been through the program. McAlister is 86 and is celebrating 62 years of sobriety. She treats her clients with dignity, respect, compassion and humor. In television appearances, she has given out her cellphone number so she can direct people to the resources they need. As she serves her clients, she trains the next generation of leaders by offering students and certified individuals a place to learn, grow and practice. “She has produced a company of people who have a heart for what they do,” her nominator said. On the award: “I am humbled and grateful to be recognized.” Plans for 2019: “Get the message out that recovery works.”

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Kim Perell
CEO Amobee

Kim Perell has been an angel investor in 70 startups, 14 of which have been successfully acquired. She is currently CEO of Amobee. A subsidiary of telecom company Singtel, Amobee stands in the place where digital and television advertising converge. In 2017, Perell oversaw the $310 million acquisition of the technology platform Turn; in 2018, she oversaw the $101 million acquisition of the assets of software provider Videology. Perell oversees 1,000 employees in 25 offices and is on the road 70 percent of the time. At a time when less than 3 percent of ad-tech CEOs are women, and female founders get less than 2 percent of venture capital, Perell is a role model. Some 48 percent of Amobee’s new hires in 2018 were women, and 35 percent of its C-level executives are women.

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