• Women's Empowerment in Business

  • The San Rafael Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Women of Industry Committee welcomes you to the  Women's Empowerment in Business webpage, comprised of empowering blog posts, and a calendar of events which will feature conversations by women that are of interest to women in business.  

    Our goal is to Inform, Empower and Inspire professional women with content and create a community to exchange ideas.  

    Do you have an inspiring story to share? Please submit to Leslie Piper at lpiper@srchamber.com.  

  • 2022 Women of Industry Honorees

    Thank you to all who came out and celebrated our 2022 Women of Industry honorees in October, at the Bill and Adele Jonas Center. We are grateful for our amazing community.  

    Visit our Facebook page to see photos from the event.  

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  • Past and present honorees, (left) Stephanie Plante, Pat Kendall, Leslie Ruhland & Kim Fink.  

  • Our Most Recent Blog

    Our Most Recent Blog

  • Want to feel better in 2023? Want to feel better in 2023?

    One of my mentors in business said if health isn’t one of your top priorities, it’s time to make it one. Because what can you do without your health?

    The first step is to give yourself credit for what you already do that’s good for your health.


    And here are five steps to accelerate your health and well-being:

    1. **Eliminate what’s irritating you. That might be as simple as cleaning out your refrigerator. Or it could be a nagging business project. Other mentors have said to break it into little pieces and do what’s most difficult first. But maybe it’s a relationship that you can’t eliminate. If that’s the case, I have found the Serenity Prayer a helpful guide. “Give me the strength to change the things I can, to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. “
    2. Nourish yourself. That’s not only by eating simple, healthy foods but also in other ways. Listen to music you like. Seek friendship. Notice what feels good in your body, mind, and heart and absorb it into all your cells. Practicing virtue energy, like kindness and gentleness, is also nourishing.
    3. Get comfortable in your body. That might mean a significant overhaul in your fitness program or simply accepting where you are now. One good technique is to notice a part of you that feels good or even just OK. Keep your focus trained on that part until goodness spreads throughout all of you.
    4. Use your natural resources. For instance, you’ve heard the expression, “when you smile, the whole world smiles with you.” It’s also true that when you smile, your muscles relax, your digestion improves, and happy hormones are released that strengthen your immune system to fight off nasty bugs.
    5. Love yourself, as well as others. This is especially important if you have a strong inner critic. Give yourself credit every day for all that you accomplish, even if it’s just resting.

    May all your good dreams come true!


    Written by:

    Dr. Linda Berry

    Chiropractic, Nutrition, and Trauma Healing


  • Women of Industry Event

    Honoring Exceptional Women in Business in Marin County.

    Since 2013 the San Rafael Chamber and the Women of Industry committee have annually recognized a businesswoman demonstrating excellence in her field while significantly impacting the community and beyond. The Women of Industry event supports Marin County women in business and celebrates outstanding leadership.

    Past Women of Industry Honorees

    • 2013 The late Joan Capurro, Bank of Marin
    • 2014 The late Ann Brebner, California Film Institute
    • 2015 Patty Garbarino, Marin Sanitary Service
    • 2016 Melissa Prandi, PRANDI Property Management
    • 2017 Pat Kendall, Kaiser Permanente
    • 2018 Stephanie Plante, CPi Developers & Mary Kay Sweeney, Homeward Bound
    • 2019 Cynthia Murray, North Bay Leadership Council
    • 2021 Helen Russell, Equator Coffees
    • 2022 Kim Fink, Sun First Solar & Leslie Ruhland, Accuchex Payroll & Workforce Management 

    Women's Empowerment in Business Blog

  • Getting into the Reverse Mortgage Business Getting into the Reverse Mortgage Business

    Getting into the Reverse Mortgage Business

    For the past 15 years, I’ve worked exclusively in the Reverse Mortgage business. I began my career 37 years ago in Financial Services and prior to my current position at Mutual of Omaha, I was at Wells Fargo, as a branch manager supporting specific clients with special financial needs. 

    While working at Wells Fargo, I would often refer senior clients to my colleagues in the Reverse Mortgage department. The same clients would come back to me later and thank me for introducing them to Reverse Mortgage products. I became more and more passionate about the business when I realized how perfect this product was for seniors who were close to retirement or already retired and looking for more spending power by eliminating their monthly mortgage. Wells Fargo executive management noticed my approach and offered me a position in the Reverse Mortgage department.

    The skills that have helped me be successful in the reverse mortgage business are extensive financial knowledge and learning how to manage client accounts. In addition, listening to each client to find the best solution for their individual needs is key.  My goal is to provide peace of mind to my aging clients so they can enjoy their golden years without financial worry. 

    Written by: Homa Rassouli, Reverse Mortgage Specialist at Mutual of Omaha 

  • Career Advice That Works Career Advice That Works

    Have you ever had a friend or colleague ask if you would speak with a student or a young adult thinking about a career in your field? I get this request a few times a year, and I always try to connect with young people interested in a career in commercial real estate. A lot of the guidance I share with others is based on my own experiences, and being successful is different for everyone. Here’s my success story.  

    Over 20 years ago, I started my career in real estate, working for a large property management firm in San Francisco. The company was male-dominated, with only one woman on the executive staff. Most of the other females were receptionists, admins, and assistant property managers. My manager, however, was a Senior Property Manager, and she was one of the few at a high level. I learned a lot from her as she opened my eyes to what it takes to be a strong woman in business. This established my foundation in commercial real estate, which leads to some thoughts that have helped me succeed in the business.

    When I first got my real estate license, I worried that people wouldn’t take me seriously because I had no sales experience. However, after a few years, I realized it wasn’t just about sales experience. I was great at listening to my clients and understanding their needs. Also, I was honest, and I had no trouble telling potential clients what I didn’t know. Instead of trying to fake my way through a conversation, I would let them know I’d get the answers and follow up within 12 - 24 hours.

    My motto from day one has always been to be true to myself. Sometimes this means holding to your ideals, even if it hurts your bottom line. I fired a client for giving me long hugs before each meeting. I gently informed him I was uncomfortable with the hugs, but he continued. When I told him that we could not work together anymore, he refused to pay my full commission. Yes, that ticked me off, but I felt empowered because I took care of myself. These days, I focus on business relationships and opportunities that are more meaningful and set boundaries right away. 

    Lastly, I’ve established an incredible network, which has helped me grow personally and professionally. The key to success in any field is to make sure you have an excellent business support group. I’ve built my network by volunteering, joining chambers and networking groups, and finding a few solid businesspeople to refer clients to. In turn, they have referred clients to me. These days, over half of the referrals I receive are professional women looking for a commercial space to purchase or lease. 

    The bottom line is: Honesty, listening, and being true to yourself will help you succeed in any business. 


    Written By: Lynsey Kayser

    Commercial Real Estate Advisor at SVN True Real Estate Partners


  • The Work-Life Puzzle: If there is no balance and there are way too many compartmentalizations, what is there? Life! The Work-Life Puzzle: If there is no balance and there are way too many compartmentalizations, what is there? Life!

    Well being. Work-life balance. Family life. Work-life. Professional aspiration. Mind, body, spirit. Mental health. Stay at home mom. Mom life. Boss lady. Self-care. Boundaries. 

    I could go on with compartments of the places where we are supposed to box up aspects of our lives, but why? Why such separation? If I go back in time, I understand that most of us were taught that our work life and home life were completely separate. And mental life isn’t even supposed to exist. Especially as a working mom or female boss, we were taught that we were somehow weaker if we brought our home life into work. If we brought our assertive work-self home we were somehow bitchy. And, don’t you dare bring any emotions to any of it. It’s exhausting to isolate various aspects of yourself. To keep parts of your life separate as if the other parts didn’t exist. And it’s even more tiring to try to keep all the parts running efficiently and joyfully. How often do we now hear work-life balance? (I think, too much.) 

    Let’s first admit that there is no balance. Things often change quickly, and most often, we have no control over those changes. If nothing else, we have certainly learned that over this past Covid-filled, politically charged, racially challenging year. Work-life balance was a myth before that but has undoubtedly been brought to the forefront these past months. So, if there is no balance and there are way too many compartmentalizations, what is there? Life!Let me suggest that it’s just life. Simply, life. And, it’s how we act, react and judge our life that ultimately balances us and brings us happiness. Sounds simple, and I know it’s not. It may be harder, at first, to just be and to integrate our wholeness than it is to stay divided. In the long game, though, a whole puzzle is stronger than the individual pieces. In our modern, connected, and even somewhat enlightened world, how can this work?


    • Accept. Acceptance of the present is actually relaxing and joyful. That doesn’t mean settling; it just means to live presently and intentionally no matter the situation.
    • Bless. See and appreciate daily blessings. If you cut an apple in half and the core is heart-shaped, be sure to smile. When you’re uber busy finishing your budget for work, and your son asks for homework help, find comfort that he asked and work together to finish both projects even if you’re up past bedtime.
    • Choose. You do have a choice. Seriously, nobody cares about the dust bunnies, so choosing to color with your child is often more important than cleaning. Zooming with your best friend can take priority over cooking a fancy meal; a quick breakfast for dinner can be just as tasty.

    I truly believe it takes a village. I’m encouraged to see many of my sisters coming together to uplift one another.

    As the world continues to change and evolve, I hope that we all continue to strive for wholeness, and we will connect and integrate all parts of ourselves and endeavor to lift up and support other women.


    Written by Lori Pearce

    Bay Area News Group


  • Boost your Energy with Good Nutrition and Feel your Best! Boost your Energy with Good Nutrition and Feel your Best!

    How can you keep your energy high all day long? Getting enough sleep and exercise both play a role. But your eating habits matter too. What we eat has a major impact on how we feel and how much stamina we have to get through the workday.

    Try these five energy-boosting tips:

    1. Start your day with breakfast for an energizing start:

    "No time," "woke up too late," "nothing to eat," or "on a diet" are the most common reasons people skip breakfast. But according to research, a regular morning meal is linked to better overall health and diet quality, cognitive benefits, a healthier body weight, and a lower risk from some chronic diseases. 

    Research suggests that breakfast eaters tend to have better concentration and problem-solving ability, higher productivity in the late morning, better attitudes toward work or school, and better ability to handle tasks that require memory. In addition, eating a morning meal could help reduce cravings later in the day. 

    What makes up a good breakfast? Try choosing foods from at least three food groups: whole grains, lean protein, and produce.

    • Plain greek yogurt with fruit and low sugar granola
    • Overnight oats, made with dairy or non-dairy milk, nuts or nut butter, and fruit 
    • Nut butter on whole-grain toast with sliced banana or strawberries
    • Avocado on a whole-grain English muffin with a sliced hard-boiled egg

    2. Snack Smart

    Try not to rescue yourself with another cup of coffee or pastry to get through the rest of your afternoon. Instead, plan a more substantial snack that will be satisfying and help you finish your workday with more energy. 

    We need to change the meaning of the word snack and think about it as a mini-meal. Try to include protein, fiber, and healthy fat to feel fuller longer and stay off the blood sugar roller coaster. Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit, roasted chickpeas, hummus with whole wheat pita and veggies, or apple slices with peanut butter all make delicious and satiating snacks. 

    Need more ideas? Check out this healthy snack list here.

    Another tip: eating a light snack of carbohydrates right before exercise can give you an energy boost as well! 

    3. Balance your plate

    Is your lunch making you feel sluggish and sleepy in the afternoon? Foods high in fat (think fried food, fast food, etc.) can make you feel overly full, zapping your energy for the next few hours. These foods also slow down your digestion, reducing the speed at which other energy-boosting nutrients enter your body. Balance out your plate with all the food groups for sustained energy.

    Consider these tips for balancing your meal:

    • Make ½ your plate vegetables and fruit (Eat the rainbow!) 
    • Include at least 20g lean protein (chicken, lean meat, eggs, fish, tofu, beans, nuts, etc.) 
    • Choose whole grains like quinoa, farro, brown rice, or sweet potatoes
    • Add a small amount of healthy fat (olive oil, avocado, nuts, or nut butter) 

    4. Avoid the sugar crash

    When we're tired, we turn to sugar because let's be honest, it tastes good, and we are looking for ways to boost our energy. We may get a temporary spike, but the problem is, high sugar foods will likely result in a heavy crash. It is important to clarify these are added sugars, not
    natural sugars found in fruit and plain dairy products. Added sugars refer to sweeteners that provide extra calories but no nutrients.  

    One key to cutting back on sugar is to be prepared by bringing healthy snacks with you to the office, so you're not tempted to grab from the office candy bowl. Here are more ideas for healthy snacks

    5. Stay hydrated with unsweetened beverages. 

    Rethink your drink! Stay hydrated with water throughout the day. Keep a water bottle at your desk. Add citrus, fresh fruit, cucumber, and mint to give it a flavorful boost. 

    Avoid sugary drinks, soda, sweetened teas, and sports drinks, and fancy coffee drinks as they deliver too much sugar and could result in a blood sugar spike and crash. Instead, try sparkling water, low-fat dairy, plant-based milk, and unsweetened coffee or tea for great ways to hydrate.


    Written by Susannah Wallenstrom, MPH, RDN

    Marin Nutrition Consulting


  • Empowering Women in a Job Search Empowering Women in a Job Search

    Women in business face specific challenges. Whether it’s breaking out of what society wants us to be, balancing careers and family, finding representation in executive/leadership roles, or breaking down stereotypes, it can be a challenge. Conducting a job search can highlight all of these challenges and make the process even more difficult than it already is.


    See below five tips for women in a job search:


    1. Be confident in your skills and experience

    Many women interview for jobs and discount their experience, thinking it’s not enough. They point out what they don’t know or haven’t done instead of highlighting what they do know and how their experience can relate to the position.


    When you walk into an interview (or log in to Zoom these days), remember that the potential employer has seen your resume and already knows your work history. And even if you’re missing some type of experience that you think you should have, they still want to interview you because they think you might be a great fit. Be proud of your skills and experience, and go in with confidence in what you can bring to the job. 


    2. Apply to the job even if you don’t match 100% of the qualifications

    Students ask me all the time if they have enough experience to apply for a specific job. According to T.S. Mohr of the Harvard Business Review, “Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.”


    Let’s change this! I would challenge you to take another look at the posting, and instead of seeing if you check all of the boxes under qualifications, ask yourself if you can do the job. Read and understand the job posting (and Google the terms that you don’t know!), and think about your skills to determine if you think you can do it. Not every box needs to be checked, that’s an employer’s wish list, and most candidates don’t meet every single qualification.


    You have nothing to lose by applying, so go for it!


    3. Ask questions to see if the job is right for you.

    Think about what questions and concerns you have about the job. Concerned about Glassdoor reviews that repeatedly mention a toxic culture? Wondering if the company encourages professional and career growth? Curious if the company values work/life balance?


    The end of an interview is your time to ask those questions.


    Now, it’s important to be thoughtful in the wording of these questions, especially for some of the more sticky ones. For example, if you’re concerned about negative company reviews, you could say, “During my research on the company, I came across many reviews on Glassdoor. I read about how the company promotes from within, which is great. I also noticed that many reviews mention a toxic culture. Do you have any thoughts on that?”


    Listen to their answers - do they brush it aside? Or do they speak to it and talk about how they’re aware of that culture and are doing X, Y, Z to make changes within the company? It is then up to you to decide how you feel about their responses and if you still want to move forward in the hiring process.


    Remember that you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.


    4. Negotiate your salary based on your skills, experience, and the value you’ll bring to the company.

    Women earn $0.82 for every $1.00 a man earns. And the gap is even wider for women of color. It’s time to close that gap! How? Ask for more money. How?

    1. Get the job offer. 
    2. Ask if there is flexibility and give your counteroffer.
    3. Explain how your background, skills, and experience will help you quickly get up and running in the position and provide value to the company.


    5. Track your successes and accomplishments

    We all need to manage our own careers. No one else will do it for us (but wouldn’t that be nice?). Everyone should have a running document somewhere on their computer or a journal at the office, where you track your successes, big projects, and accomplishments. It’s easy to forget how amazing we are, especially after a few months go by.


    A big deal that you closed or a project that you completed under budget? Three months later, it starts to fade away. So document it all! When it’s time to prepare for an interview, performance review, or salary review, take a peek at that document to remind yourself (and your employer!) of how amazing you are. 


    Job searching is arduous, but you’ve got this!


    Written by: Courtney Budesa, Director, Internships and Professional Development

    Dominican University of California, Barowsky School of Business