Past Featured Members
IT Maverick Solutions Representative
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.
Owner & Founder, Planet Renu
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.
Broker Associate, Windermere Diablo Realty
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.
Communications Director, CASA of Contra Costa County
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.
Personal Lines Insurance/Group Benefits Broker with R.C. Fischer & Co. Insurance Brokers
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’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.
Rodan + Fields Consultant
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.
Speaker: History of the Flying Tigers
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.
Co-founder of Paleoventures, an outdoor teambuilding company
Trudy Triner is a long-time member of Mt. Diablo Business Women where she has served on the Board for 8+ years, including two terms as the group’s President. Trudy was named MDBW’s Woman of the Year in 2018 for her contributions to the group, the professional world, and her community.
After retiring from Kaiser Permanente as the Director of Leadership Development for Patient Care Services in 2014, Trudy co-founded Paleoventures Outdoor Teambuilding with her son, Jack Foley, an experienced wilderness educator. Her leadership background, combined with her son’s expertise in outdoor skills, made for a unique, multi-generational outdoor experience enjoyed by teams from 7 to 120 teammates from such organizations as Kaiser Permanente, AAA, Marriott, PG&E, Facebook and CASA. Trudy says their goal has always been to help teams become more cohesive and productive and individuals to be happier and more satisfied in their work.
With the advent of COVID-19, when groups could no longer get together indoors or outdoors, Trudy pivoted to doing a variety of activities online with the same goal in mind; to help teams and individuals be more successful as they build relationships and hone communication skills. All this, while enjoying something hard to find during a pandemic-fun!
In addition to her involvement in MDBW, Trudy is also active in The Rotary Club of Walnut Creek where she served as President in 2017-2018 and in her church, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church of Lafayette. She has also been an active volunteer at The Monument Crisis Center, Shelter, Inc., CASA, and Ability Now Bay Area.
For more information about Paleoventures, visit Paleoventures website or call Trudy directly at 925-899-0809. Trudy says she would always be happy to hear from you!
Licensed marriage and family therapist, school therapist, and parent coach
Teresa Currivan is the author of the book, My Differently Tuned-In Child: The Right Place for Strength-Based Solutions. She has developed the Currivan Protocol™, an assessment tool designed to understand the co-occurring symptoms and learning styles of differently tuned-in children. She is a school therapist for the San Francisco Unified School District where she is currently adapting the Currivan Protocol™ to be used in its schools.
Teresa guides parents through a process that includes referrals to appropriate professionals, discussions of outcomes of assessments and services, emotional support, and overall seeing them through to a positive outcome for their family and children. She enjoys helping parents understand and get through difficulties with their child and prides herself on being a go-to person for differently wired families, including the gifted and twice-exceptional (2e), ADHD, dyslexia, autism, Sensory Processing Issues, high sensitivities, and various atypical learning styles. Parents benefit from Teresa’s work because they come to understand their children and themselves from a strength-based approach.
Teresa actively shares her knowledge, giving talks about twice-exceptionality to faculty at San Francisco Bay Area schools, and has educated teachers and therapists on the topic. She offers free support groups to parents of differently wired children. In addition to her book, you can find more of her writing online including on Mother.ly, Filter Free Parents, GHF (Gifted Homeschoolers Forum), and Hoagies Gifted Education Page, and she regularly blogs on her website. She is also co-author of the book, Perspectives on Giftedness.
Teresa appreciates referrals from schools, parent groups, doctors’ offices, psychological testing centers, or anyone who sees an outlier child struggling in school.
Teresa is proud to be the current president of Mt. Diablo Business Women. She welcomes anyone to join who wants a collaborative, supportive group in which to grow their business and/or career, and who would like to gain some friendships along the way.
When not working with schools and families, Teresa enjoys creative writing, hiking, yoga, and parenting her teenage son (most of the time.)
Manya Helgerson Casto
Independent Career Agent, United HealthCare
Manya Helgerson Casto, has 10 years of experience helping people who are aging into Medicare to review the available insurance options and, if still working, determine whether to leave their employer’s insurance coverage. For those who are fearful or confused about navigating Medicare, Manya can advise and counsel them through the process. Clients who work with Manya gain peace of mind knowing that she is an experienced, qualified insurance agent who has helped them make the best choice for their specific situation.
n addition to helping clients, Manya has also counseled those interested in working as a Medicare Plans Insurance Agent. She has trained several women who have retired from previous occupations to find success in the industry.
Manya is a long-time member of Mt. Diablo Business Women and has served on its board of directors, including as the organization’s president. She enjoys MDBW for the friendships she’s made.
A great referral source for her is a benefits manager from a small business who assists employees transitioning into retirement, or anyone going on to Medicare.
When she’s not helping clients work through Medicare options, Manya can be found volunteering at the American Cancer Discovery Thrift shop one afternoon a week.
Prior to COVID, Manya enjoyed traveling, which in years past included seeing new sights, with her husband, a retired attorney, who enjoyed magic as a hobby. Their travels also involved Manya assisting her husband during his magic show performances.
To get in contact with Manya, reach out to her by email.
Business Professor at Diablo Valley College
As a business professor at Diablo Valley College (DVC), a two-year community college in the Contra Costa Community College District, Carolyn teaches a variety of business classes, both on campus and online. She is also the faculty advisor to Phi Beta Lambda, DVC’'s premier business club, which provides her the opportunity to work closely with students, helping them develop their leadership and communication skills.
Students at DVC represent a variety of backgrounds with a variety of goals. Carolyn says this adds value to the classroom and campus life, and she enjoys being able to help students achieve their academic and career goals. Students in DVC’s business administration degree and certificate programs gain the skills and knowledge they need to transfer to four-year universities, to start their own businesses, and to succeed in today's highly competitive and constantly changing global business environment.
Carolyn says she tries to inspire her students by staying up-to-date in her field, showing enthusiasm for the subject matter, displaying professionalism at all times, encouraging students to always strive to do their best work, and instilling in them a passion for lifelong learning and exploration.
Carolyn has been a member of Mt. Diablo Business Women (MDBW) for the past two-and-a-half years, and says it’s one of the best decisions she’s made in her career. She adds, “I have met professional businesswomen in a variety of fields and have learned so much from them that I am able to share with my students in the classroom. Some of the MDBW members have been gracious enough to give presentations to the members of Phi Beta Lambda, and MDBW has also created a special student membership rate for these students.” (The student membership rate is $50/year. For more information, fill out the contact form on the MDBW website stating that you would like to become a student member.)
When not teaching or working with students, Carolyn enjoys reading, photography, and is a budding chef, a history buff, and a worldwide traveler. To date, she and her husband have traveled to 36 countries on five continents, and the next two years will take them to five additional countries and one new continent. Carolyn says, “there's a beautiful world out there just waiting to be explored!”