Past Featured Members

Cindy Thompson
Owner, Payroll Vault

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Cindy Thompson is the owner of Payroll Vault in Danville, a boutique-style local payroll service provider that designs customized payroll services and HR solutions for small businesses. Payroll Vault provides cutting-edge technology solutions to ensure that your payroll processing is simple, secure, and compliant. 

For those businesses with anywhere between five and 30 employees, Payroll Vault is a perfect solution because it provides white-glove customer service and support that the big box payroll providers are not set up to offer. Payroll Vault provides complete outsourcing of back office functions so business owners can focus on growing their business. 

Cindy says she enjoys supporting local small business and helping owners focus on their core competency and growth. She finds it rewarding to put to use her many years of sales, management, and business experience, (she previously worked for such well-known companies as Cisco, Microsoft, and Salesforce), in a way that helps the local economy. Another way she supports area businesses is by shopping locally when possible, and often sponsors, attends, or donates to events in the community.

Good referral sources for Cindy are accountants, CPAs, bankers, attorneys, financial advisors, HR professionals, and insurance brokers.

 

Cindy joined MDBW this year, and says she looks forward to the events, and finds everyone to be upbeat, supportive, and enjoys having a women's only group. She adds, “There is a kindred spirit and camaraderie.”

In her leisure time, Cindy enjoys cooking, gardening, entertaining, good wines, the outdoors, exercising, including walking (where she helps the environment by picking up garbage), as well as spending time with her seven grandchildren and her miniature schnauzer, Schatzi.

Visit Cindy’s website to learn more about her company, Payroll Vault.

Sarah Bradford
Recruitment & Outreach Coordinator, CASA Of Contra Costa County

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Sarah is the Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Contra Costa County, the nonprofit organization that Mt. Diablo Business Women (MDBW) proudly supports. CASA recruits, trains, and supports volunteers to work with local children and youth in foster care to make sure they do not get lost in the over-burdened legal system or languish in an inappropriate placement. 

Volunteers are the voice of the youth in court, speaking up for their best interests during the dependency process. Volunteers help reduce delays and continuances and stay with each case until it is closed, and the child or youth is placed in a safe, stable, and permanent home.

CASA’s mission is what drew Sarah to the organization first as a volunteer, and now as a staff member. Her prior career was in education where she constantly observed the difference that a caring, stable adult can make in the life of a child, which is something CASA volunteers do every day and that Sarah says she feels incredibly privileged to be a part of. 

Sarah says a good referral source for her are people interested in volunteering for CASA. She looks for volunteers who are emotionally strong, collaborative, responsible, flexible, and culturally sensitive. Volunteer Advocates (of which Sarah is one, in addition to being a CASA staff member) spend approximately 15-20 hours a month on their case, and volunteer tutors spend approximately 6-12 hours a month in their role. All volunteers are asked to commit to a minimum of one year, though many volunteers choose to stay much longer.

As a new member of MDBW, Sarah says she has been impressed by how welcoming and supportive everyone is, and that she is incredibly grateful for the support the group shows to CASA.

In her free time Sarah enjoys hiking and exploring local trails with her rescue pup, Boone, kayaking at Lake Chabot, and visiting the coast or Tahoe with her family.

For more info on CASA visit its FacebookLinkedInInstagram, and Twitter pages. 

Lily Dong
Lily Dong Photography

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Lily Dong, of Lily Dong Photography, is able to bring out the inner model in everyone she photographs. Her understanding of people on an intuitive level results in photos that capture a person’s essence and energy. Her skill at creating headshots and portraits results in her clients feeling confident about themselves and their business and puts them on the path to attracting new customers.

Lily has an innate sense of how her clients want to be portrayed. It is her keen observation of little mannerisms, attitudes, and body language that gives her a sense of how they want to be portrayed and results in all her clients looking like experienced models. ​During photo sessions, all objections are addressed and overcome with Lily's soft knowledge in posing as well as her technical knowledge about lighting and equipment, in the end, turning complaints into assets and self acceptance for even the most self critical person. ​“Prepare to fall in love with your image!” is something Lily tells her clients.

Lily has been a professional photographer for over 10 years. She was previously a designer of couture wedding gowns and was known as the “local Vera Wang.”

A good referral source for Lily are men and women entrepreneurs that have a high need to be seen, such as a realtor, or need an update on their headshot older than three years.

Lily recently joined Mt. Diablo Business Women, and is already doing a great job serving on the Board as secretary. She says she enjoys the group because she loves “how each woman she’s met is powerful in what they do, open to connect with others and help each other.” 

In addition to being involved with MDBW, Lily is also active in the community. She is soon to be a board member with the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and has previously volunteered with CASA and Assistance League. 

To learn more about Lily, visit her website, and check out her Facebook, and Instagram

Diane Salmon
Diane Salmon Writing & Consulting

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Do you have a business plan, Request for Proposal (RFP) submission, email newsletter, donation letter, or web content that you need to write? Has it been lingering on your to-do list, either because you don’t have the time, or you simply don’t like to write? If this sounds familiar, then no worries! Delegate your writing projects to Diane Salmon, owner of Diane Salmon Writing & Consulting.​

Diane can help you clearly communicate your ideas and information to your customers, business partners, a grantor, or other decision-makers to influence them to respond to a call to action to move your business forward. The content Diane produces will steer your audience to make a donation, purchase a product, award a grant, or click a link for a free trial.

Delivering results is what motivates Diane. She enjoys using words to organize, craft, and deliver projects, and feels especially rewarded when her work delivers top results for clients. She also enjoys each project’s discovery process — meeting new people, understanding how the project supports their goals, and learning about their business and areas of expertise.

A good referral for Diane is someone who has a specific writing need, whether a one-time project or routine needs such as an email newsletter, an annual business plan, or using a company’s business results to create RFP proposals. She is currently writing grant applications and RFPs for B-Corporations, and various non-profits, including Yours Humanly, a global education nonprofit.

Diane also writes Mt. Diablo Business Women’s email newsletter as part of her role as Publicity Chair on our Board of Directors. Being a MDBW member for several years, Diane says it’s the friendships, encouragement, and creative ideas she gains from the members that she most appreciates. She values the inner personal benefits of a support group combined with the outer business benefits of networking and education.

When she’s not working, Diane can be found outdoors walking, running, hiking and backpacking. She also loves reading and doing “just for fun” writing, which she sometimes pairs with her husband’s great photos. 

To learn more about Diane, visit her LinkedIn page.

JoAnn Adams
IT Maverick Solutions Representative 

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JoAnn Adams represents Erick Martinez of IT Maverick Solutions. Erick is expert at helping with and/or solving problems with the technological devices and systems that we cannot manage without these days: computers, tablets, mobile phones, and other technical systems/devices, including irrigation systems so critical in these days of drought. 

His 20-plus years of IT experience and five years of experience with landscaping/maintenance issues give him the knowledge and skills to help with solving many of our problems. Erick will come to you to provide support and critical advice for keeping your technical universe manageable and running smoothly.

Erick provides training for you so that you are comfortable with your digital systems and devices; he can communicate with you in English, Spanish, or Tagalog to help make you much more knowledgeable about your devices and systems.

Services Erick provides include help with making your internet connections) stable and dependable, consolidating many devices into a system, recovering data and security, training visually impaired people, dealing with video and audio-visual issues, setting up and troubleshooting camera and security systems, integrating high tech into water conservation, preventing future tech problems.

JoAnn is happy to represent IT Maverick Solutions; she is pleased to connect people who need help with their technical systems with Erick. You will find him realistic, helpful, and providing easy-to-understand explanations. 

As an active member of Mt Diablo Business Women since the late 1990’s, JoAnn looks to MDBW for information and assistance. She spends much time spreading the good word about the organization. 

When taking time for herself, JoAnn enjoys reading from the many books in her personal library, especially nonfiction.

For more information about Erick Martinez and IT Maverick Solutions, contact JoAnn (you can find her contact information on our member directory) and when you work with Erick, be sure to mention that JoAnn referred you. 

Amy Golan
Owner & Founder, Planet Renu

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Amy Golan’s inspiration and vision for starting Planet Renu began when she started to look at her carbon footprint and realized that she could make many improvements related to her buying decisions and reliance on plastic. She began researching plastic alternatives and found great eco-friendly products that she not only started using, but also wanted to offer to other consumers. The brainstorm for Planet Renu happened while Amy was traveling (and had free time), and she officially launched her online store in 2018. Today, Amy has physical stores in Walnut Creek and on the UC Berkeley campus.

Planet Renu offers a myriad of plastic alternatives as well as high quality organic refills. The products help consumers reduce their reliance and purchases of single-use plastics or products housed in plastics. These changes in buying behavior have a positive exponential effect on our environment and eco-systems.

In addition to the stores, Planet Renu offers its private label products wholesale, has an online store and works with schools and businesses providing education on how to live more sustainably. Some of its efforts include working with schools on zero-waste lunch programs, providing farmer’s markets with reusable produce bags, and offering eco-friendly promotional products to corporations. Amy says she “loves educating people and watching them make changes that are geared more towards a sustainable, less-wasteful lifestyle.”

As a member of Mt. Diablo Business Women, Amy says that she has enjoyed learning more about fellow female entrepreneurs and looks forward to getting to know everyone better now that the group is meeting in person. 

A good referral for Amy is any business interested in sustainability or individuals wanting to purchase better, more sustainable products.

When not in one of her stores or managing Planet Renu’s online presence, Amy enjoys volunteering at homeless shelters and food kitchens as well as at the Walnut Creek schools her children attend.  She also enjoys yoga, spending time hiking, dancing, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

To learn more about Amy, visit Planet Renu’s website , or follow Amy on LinkedIn, or @planetrenu on Instagram

Ellen Osmundson
Broker Associate, Windermere Diablo Realty

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Ellen represents real estate sellers and buyers in what for many is their most important transaction in life.  A real estate transaction is complex, especially in today’s ever-changing market. Many find it challenging to navigate through the various pieces of a transaction. Ellen is able to put clients at ease and guide them through the process with confidence and minimal stress. 

Ellen connects well with all consumers, including seniors, and holds the Senior Real Estate Specialist designation issued by the National Association of Realtors.

 

“It is often overwhelming and emotional for seniors to have to part with their home that they have been in for decades,” says Ellen. “According to some of my past clients, my presence is their calming factor throughout a transaction.”

Plan-Action-Results is Ellen’s business motto. She listens to her clients to understand their needs and wants, helps them to come up with a plan, and following that, achieves results.

For Ellen, Mt. Diablo Business Women (MDBW) has been an organization that’s expanded her horizons by introducing her to many driven business women in various professions who are strong, successful, compassionate, and leaders in their own right. She feels that the caring and support in the organization goes beyond business successes.

Within the community, Ellen has been active having previously served on the board of the Contra Costa Association of Realtors, and was the president of the Real Estate Association of America Greater East Bay Chapter. She even led a U.S. real estate delegation to Hong Kong and Macau for a real estate summit.

Ellen is currently on the board of the Diablo Symphony Orchestra and is chairing its Diamond Jubilee Committee, which is rolling out a series of programs and events to celebrate 60 years of providing high quality classical music in the community. ​

For more information about Ellen, visit her LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and Instagram pages and check out her website

Gordana Zura
Communications Director, CASA of Contra Costa County

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Gordana Zura is Communications Director for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Contra Costa County.  She sets and guides the strategy for digital communications, marketing, website, social media and collateral media to consistently articulate, promote, enhance and advance the mission, vision, and goals of CASA. The organization recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers who work with children and youth in foster care who are the victims of abuse and neglect. CASA volunteers are ordinary people willing to make an extraordinary difference in the life of a child that has experienced distress and mistreatment. 

Volunteers are highly trained by CASA, and appointed by judges to advocate for foster children, and to help them move out of foster care into a safe home environment, whether reuniting them with their family of origin, or through adoption. They make sure kids don’t get lost in the overburdened system.

Gordana enjoys working at CASA because it contributes to good in the world. The organization’s work impacts the lives of children and youth, making their lives better, as well as less scary and lonely. She also loves the entire CASA team who she describes as great, hard-working, knowledgeable people who all work really well together. 

Gordana was named MDBW’s Woman of the Year in 2021, and she is an integral part of the organization. She has been on the organization’s Board of Directors for several years as director of digital technology and works diligently to keep the MDBW website current.  She says she’s benefitted from being involved with the group and that it’s helped her understand how to find solutions for business problems, build meaningful relationships with business women, and boost her energy and motivation. The group’s camaraderie and support is what she sees as one of MDBW’s best features. 

When not working at CASA or making improvements and updates to MDBW’s website, Gordana enjoys roller skating, hiking, website design, and singing. She also makes beautiful and unique jewelry pieces that are often popular raffle items at MDBW events. 

Learn more about Gordana by connecting with her on LinkedIn.

Diane Kaplowitz
Personal Lines Insurance/Group Benefits Broker with R.C. Fischer & Co. Insurance Brokers

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Diane has been a member and highly involved with Mount Diablo Business Women (MDBW) for the last three years. She has served as hospitality chair and during the 2020 pandemic served as president of MDBW, helping our group transition from meeting in a restaurant to meeting via Zoom.  

Diane is licensed in property, casualty, life and health as a broker. She is your subject matter expert in the insurance industry. Diane and her team at R.C. Fischer have a combined experience of over 100 years in the insurance industry.

 

She is appointed with many different insurance companies and provides clients with solutions to protect assets and minimize loss. She enjoys developing relationships with the people and businesses that she provides insurance solutions for. Diane works with only the best interests in mind for her clients and prospective clients. She is able to go to many different markets and build a policy portfolio that will provide the best protection for the least amount of premium. 

 

Good referrals for Diane include attorneys, CPAs, bookkeepers who work with partnerships, and business owners with 10-50 employees and are wanting personal attention during open enrollment season for their employee benefits. Other good referrals are a new home buyer, a mortgage lender, a financial planner or wealth manager, a trust attorney, or anyone who wants a review of their current insurance policies or as Diane calls it, “a second pair of eyes.”

Being involved in the community is important to Diane and her husband. She and her husband open their home for respite care to the foster care community, and financially support many non-profits including ARF, the RESTORE ministry for the homeless and recovery program for the addicted in Concord and Walnut Creek, and Compassion International.

Having a passion for small businesses, Diane mentors and coaches many younger new business entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, helping put together business and marketing plans as well as introducing them to the art of networking. 

When not working, Diane enjoys working on a book she hopes to publish in 2023, reading, gardening, hiking, golf, and wine tasting. 

Visit Diane on LinkedIn to learn more about her. 

Monica Stein
Omthentic You

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Monica Stein’s company is Omthentic You. She is a lifestyle engineer helping women reconnect to their wisest Self so they feel happier, healthier and more confident in their body, mind, and spirit. Once that occurs, good choices for oneself and others can be made.

Monica’s journey to becoming a lifestyle engineer began as a child when her father taught her how to meditate. She also discovered that she was intuitive but not knowing how to cope with her intuition, blocked it off completely. 

While in college, she studied civil engineering and a few years after graduating received an MBA while working at The Boeing Company. During this time she studied different types of meditation and rediscovered her connection to her intuition and to her wisest Self.

Over the years, as she was coaching her co-workers in life and at work, she was inspired to start her own business so she could help others connect to their authentic Self.  She became a Chopra Center certified instructor and Total Well-Being Coach as well as learning many other healing modalities. 

Today, those who work with Monica feel happier in mind, body, and spirit; women are feeling mindful, empowered and grounded. Monica enjoys seeing the results in those she helps, especially the change in their face and overall demeanor. 

A good referral for Monica is women who are sleep deprived, stressed and at a crossroads in life.

Monica is a newer member of Mt. Diablo Business Women and is currently Secretary of the Board. She says the women she’s met have been an inspiration for her. In describing the group’s members she says, the women “show up, they have integrity, they are kind and purposeful.”  

She gives back to the community by volunteering with animal rescues—something she has been involved in for more than 20 years. She also has given free yoga and meditation classes.

When not working, Monica enjoys her dog rescue volunteer work, walking her own dogs, reading, walking in nature, learning, practicing yoga, and meditating. 

If you are seeking intentional change in your life, Monica has a beautifully wrapped box of wonderful tools and techniques to help you. You can learn more about her by visiting her Facebook page, or connecting with her on LinkedIn.

Andrea Burnett
Rodan + Fields Consultant

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Andrea Burnett is a Level V Circle Consultant with Rodan + Fields, which provides innovative skincare products and tools addressing common skincare concerns, including aging skin, sun damaged skin, sensitive skin, and acne.

Helping her customers find the right products to address their skincare concerns, is what Andrea enjoys about her business. She says, “Our company is known for the great results our skincare regimens and tools produce.” As a personal consultant to her customers, Andrea helps them each step of the way, from purchasing their products to teaching them how to use the products, to making sure the products are working for them.

She also enjoys mentoring the women who join her team as independent consultants, giving them the business tools and personal development skills to create a successful business.  

A good customer referral for Andrea is someone with skincare issues they want to resolve. Interested in joining her team? Andrea is looking for enthusiastic, coachable women who will enjoy sharing the products they love with their networks. Women currently on Andrea’s team represent various professions including doctors, nurses, teachers, stay-at-home moms, makeup artists, realtors, and insurance agents.

Andrea says she finds Mt. Diablo Business Women to be a group of professional businesswomen at the top of their fields who are welcoming, supportive, and caring. She says, “I know that I can confidently refer any woman in this group to my network of friends and family.”

When not working, Andrea enjoys cooking for friends and family, getting outdoors to hike, and spa retreats with girlfriends! She also gives back to the community by donating to a number of different charities, holding Great Skin for a Great Cause events each quarter, and by volunteering her time to mentor young women.

Visit Andrea’s website to learn more about her, and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Leslie Pfeifer
Speaker: History of the Flying Tigers

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Leslie Pfeifer speaks to audiences on her role as a flight attendant during the Vietnam War with Flying Tigers. She made over 75 trips into and out of Vietnam. The transport planes carried troops from all branches of the military. Flights departed various Air Force bases along the West coast and flew the polar route to different bases throughout Vietnam. The process was reversed on return flights, bringing back soldiers who had completed their tour of duty. 

Leslie shares how the mood going over to Vietnam was one of somber fear, and what it was like for her to face the reality as a 21-year old of taking young men to war. She says that the job was emotional and life changing, but she looks back on her experience and recalls that her fellow flight attendants were a hearty bunch with adventurous spirits and the experience resulted in friendships that have lasted 50 years. 

Leslie enjoys sharing her experience with Flying Tigers during the Vietnam War as well as providing audiences with knowledge of the history and bravery of the original Flying Tiger pilots during the Sino Japanese War and WWII.  

Leslie says she welcomes the opportunity to publicly thank Vietnam vets who are in her audiences “I acknowledge and thank veterans through my programs and encourage everyone to remember and honor those who served and those who gave their lives in service to America.”

A good business referral for Leslie is any organization that needs a speaker on a historical topic, has interest in airline or fighter pilot history, or interest in the status of women in the airline industry in the 1960s.

Leslie has been a long-time member of MDBW and was previously the group’s president, which she credits with giving her recognition and self-confidence. When not speaking to groups, Leslie enjoys reading, walking, travel, and history.

For Leslie’s contact information, please visit Mt. Diablo Business Women’s Member Directory