Friday, January 22, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 47

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on March 14th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 2 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 2

Hobnobbing with Helen: Angels of excellence


Women of Excellence.

That has a nice sound, doesn’t it?

Truth be told, Santa Maria has a lot of women who qualify for the highly anticipated and prized Women of Excellence Awards given annually by the Santa Maria Women’s Network. In the course of my arduous task of hobnobbing, I encounter a slew of amazing ladies who qualify for Women of Excellence.

But, alas, only four awards are given each year.

This year’s awards were given out on the evening of March 2, at the Santa Maria Country Club, during a lovely dinner with stellar floral centerpieces—all spring-like yellow and white. All that was missing were the butterflies and hummingbirds.

Left to right: Christina Martins Sinco, Sandra Dickerson, and Deborah Blow. Blow and Sinco both won distinctions at the Women of Excellence Awards this year, which was chaired by Dickerson.

The evening was special for two reasons: First, among the 140 attendees, there were way more gents in the room than usual. It is time, perhaps, for a men’s auxiliary?

Secondly, each of the four award recipients made acceptance speech remarks that were thoughtful, substantive, and inspirational.

And the Oscar goes to … Deborah Blow, superintendent of Orcutt schools, who won the award for Women Taking Creative Risks. Christina Martins Sinco, a retired nurse and an activist for cancer education, won in the Women of Spirit category. Winemaker (Riverbench) and all-around cheerleader for women in business, Clarissa Nagy took home the Women Helping Women category award. The Lifetime Achievement award went to volunteer extraordinaire (and bank manager) Marisol Cruz.

It is noteworthy that Sinco was one of the co-founders of The Teal Journey Foundation, which has a fashion show fundraiser at the Santa Maria Inn coming up soon. Her co-founders Jay Conner (with wife Victoria) and Gary McKinsey were at my table along with Bert and Blanche Fugate (she is on the board).

To commemorate the occasion, award recipients were each given a very attractive glass sculpture. All four sculptures were different. Really, you would love to have one on your bookshelf.

Shannon Seifert emceed. This personable lady exudes woman-of-excellence qualities (she was lifetime achievement winner last year) and is totally at home behind a mic. She is an engaging and entertaining speaker who totally connects with her audience. Should she take her show on the road?

Businesswoman Sandra Dickerson chaired the Women of Excellence program this year. Before dinner, she commented (to me) on how everyone on the committee pitched in and worked together to make this dinner happen and to make it happen in a good way.

Left to right: Lisa Murray, Clarissa Nagy, and Marisol Cruz attended the Women of Excellence Awards ceremony held March 2 at the Santa Maria Country Club.

On hand for the occasion were current President Jody Radford and former presidents Michelle Shipmann and Donna Randolph. Former Women’s Network President Amy Curti played the piano during cocktail hour.

Some of those attracted to the event were Rob and Sandy Buchanan, the United Way’s Eddie Taylor, Robert Dickerson, Community Bank CEO Jim Glines, City Councilman Dr. Mike and Susan Moats, Tim Seifert, Phil Sinco, and Ed and Lisa Murray (she is the club’s special events chair).

Pam Johnson and Janine Dunn from the Community Bank of Santa Maria came to cheer on co-worker Marisol Cruz.

The Santa Maria Women’s Network has been around for more than 20 years. During that time it has evolved into a vibrant, dynamic organization with a committed membership that meets, most of the time, on the first Wednesday of every month. They support members with a scholarship for special projects. For more info, visit their website at You don’t have to be a girl to join!

If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at

Weekly Poll
How were you impacted by PG&E's power outage?

I didn't even notice there was a shutoff.
My power was out for a few hours and it wasn't terrible.
My work-from-home flow was disrupted.
I couldn't use my electric medical devices, but I'm OK.

| Poll Results

My 805 Tix - Tickets to upcoming events