Past Featured Members
Realtor, Intero Real Estate Services
Founder, Mt. Diablo Business Women
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.
Realtor, Intero Real Estate Services
Founder, Mt. Diablo Business Women
Mary Schulze founded MDBW in 1994 to help local businesswomen build business relationships, referral networks, and partners. Mary credits the group with helping businesses grow and succeed through the sharing of knowledge, referrals, and partnerships. Today the organization’s members represent a variety of business sectors. Mary remains active in the group. She served on the board of directors as program chair, and is currently the historian for the organization.
Mary’s vast network of contacts has helped her to be a successful real estate consultant with Intero Real Estate Services, serving Contra Costa and El Dorado counties. She helps clients sell their houses, and buy a dream home in what is now a very competitive market. She enjoys finding the right home for each buyer, whether they are a first-time homebuyer or a senior who is downsizing.
Clients benefit from Mary’s almost 20 years of experience in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento region, as well as her negotiating experience, which provides clients with the fair price on purchases and closing the deal. As a realtor with Intero Real Estate Services, clients can have worldwide and local exposure and marketing, all of which can result in swift action on multiple offers.
The best referrals for Mary are new business lenders, insurance agents, contractors, handyman services, divorce attorneys and CPAs. She also receives many referrals through word-of-mouth from happy clients, along with the many friends and business contacts she has met through her years as the founder and member of MDBW.
In addition to her work as a realtor, Mary is active in the community. She contributes a portion of her transactions to a nonprofit focused on serving children and the elderly in the community. She is also a member of the Assistance League of the Sierra Foothills, a nonprofit that has helped to support over 1,500 children and adults in the community.
When she’s not working, Mary enjoys cooking, playing the piano, learning to speak Italian, playing with her dog, Maxx, a giant schnoodle, and being with family and friends.
Visit Mary’s website to learn more about her.
Nourish by Jill
Are you looking to manage your nutrition related to changing hormones? Do you need to lose stubborn belly fat, gain muscle, or simply develop a better relationship with food and your changing body? Do you want to be able to confidently wear those clothes you’ve always admired? If you’ve answered, “yes” to any or all of these questions, then Jill Thompson, a certified nutrition coach, credentialed teacher, Crossfit Level 1 Coach, and founder of Nourish by Jill, can help you achieve those goals, and make it your new normal.
One of the programs Jill offers is a “Nourish 90 Day Program” that results in clients losing body fat while maintaining muscle mass. Program participants get to the root of their challenges and habits, and make sustainable changes that they can maintain for life.
Along with helping women manage nutrition around menopause and the resulting changing hormones, Jill teaches women how to advocate for their needs and know what to ask for at their medical appointments. Jill enjoys empowering women to believe they are worth investing the time and resources into their health so that they can feel alive, confident, and unstoppable.
Jill recently joined Mt. Diablo Business Women, and says she is “blown away by the women in this organization,” and has had meetings with several and enjoyed hearing their stories.
She enjoys sharing her knowledge and contributes to the community by offering pop-up classes with local businesses. She recently taught a few classes at a local theater to kids as a way to connect with youth.
When not working with clients, Jill enjoys watching the sunrise, lifting heavy weights, or getting into the flow with yoga. She is a mom to three children, but is now entering the empty nest phase and finds herself enjoying building her business as well as spending more time with friends.
Everyone wants their business to reach its geographic and demographic target market, but many struggle to achieve that. Meet Nivi Jain, CEO Of WSIMLogiX. She helps businesses drive more traffic to their website resulting in what all businesses want—increased awareness of a company’s products or services, increased brand awareness, and increased profits.
Nivi and her team, which includes experts in technology development, project planning execution, QA, business analytics, and marketing specialists help businesses succeed through digital marketing solutions designed for each business’s specific marketing challenges. The team applies its expertise to understand each organization and its customers, and then builds a digital strategy capable of delivering remarkable results within a set budget.
Client’s visions are brought to life through expert strategies that include website development, search engine optimization (SEO), online ad campaigns, Google and social media marketing campaigns, and email marketing.
If your website is not currently achieving the results you hope for, Nivi and her team can help you create a stunning website and craft powerful Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram campaigns that will convert new customers and clients. Campaigns result in an increase in phone calls and leads.
Nivi’s company currently serves those in the following industry sectors: startups, health and wellness, home services, nonprofits, manufacturing, educational services, cosmetics, and much more.
Good referral sources for Nivi are accountants, payroll processors, financial advisors, as well as businesses that serve startups.
Nivi says she has benefited from the many new businesswomen and entrepreneurs she’s met at MDBW, and has also enjoyed learning about their journeys.
Nivi is active in the community and does a lot of volunteering work to help the needy. She is the Bay Area chapter joint coordinator for SEWA International USA, an international nonprofit organization.
When she’s not working, Nivi enjoys hiking, volunteering, and gardening.
Project Manager| Executive & Personal Assistant, Oxford Farm
As a project manager and executive and personal assistant, Diane works with executives, teams, and households in the technical, financial, and equine industry sectors. She works with clients on both an ongoing and project basis providing project, administrative, and personal support. Her focus is in assisting in areas that are in need of organization, research, process development, and customer care. Diane approaches her work with efficiency, commitment, plus a collaborative and supportive spirit along with the idea that no job is too small, too big, or too messy.
The customized solutions she provides to clients are based on over 30 years of experience in tech, event, and residential settings in the roles of production manager, operations manager, and art director. Clients benefit from Diane’s extensive experience, her contacts across many industries, and her eagerness to make things right regardless of the scope of the project.
Diane says that she enjoys her business because it requires her to listen and connect emotionally and on a practical basis with people from all walks of life, and that it challenges her daily to learn, create, and often teach.
To her colleagues, Diane has been an inspiration through simple consistency, focusing on the little things she can do for them, and always rooting for their success. She has assisted many with referrals, research, brainstorming, and practical support for their businesses and families.
As a member of MDBW, Diane says she has enjoyed learning the stories and challenges of local businesswomen, and has enjoyed the advice, contacts, and resources that she’s gained from the group.
Diane is active in the community as a volunteer and docent at John Muir Medical Center where she is responsible for leading tours for new volunteers, employees, and donors.
When not working, Diane’s favorite things to do are reading news and autobiographies, whale watching on Monterey Bay, collecting fountain pens, writing, and cooking. She’s also working on a Bad Novel and hopes to complete it by the end of the year.
Partner, Placemaking Group
If you are a business, organization, or individual seeking new leads and to increase customer engagement, the custom websites built by Barbara Irias and her Placemaking Group team of designers, writers, ecommerce, and programming experts will help you to achieve those goals. From exceptional graphics and smart technology solutions, to surprising yet solid marketing strategies, your experience with Placemaking Group will be a positive, rewarding one. The websites and marketing programs they create generate interest, establish credibility, engage target audiences, and increase revenue and profits. Barbara and her team treat each business they work with as though it is their own, so they are well-vested in the end results.
Placemaking Group serves clients primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area and works with a variety of industries including business-to-business, construction and real estate, governments, including city economic development departments, manufacturing and distribution, nonprofit organizations, and professional services.
Almost any business or individual is a potential referral for Barbara. Companies that have been a good referral source for Placemaking Group include IT professionals and other businesses such as CPAs, consultants, and sales trainers. Other great referral relationships have resulted from creative and multimedia professionals - videographers, photographers, and designers.
Barbara recently joined Mt. Diablo Business Women (MDBW), and has found that it has helped her to expand her network. She enjoys the fact that MDBW members have diverse backgrounds and experiences which helps to fuel new ideas.
As part of her work, Barbara has helped other women understand the need to wear many hats in the web/marketing agency world. She has offered internships to college students, and helped along young new hires to hopefully inspire success in their own future enterprises. She also actively gives back to the community and has volunteered at the Alameda Food Bank, Open Space Groups, and contributed to arts programs
When not working, Barbara enjoys photography, painting, travel, and hiking with friends and family along with her Yorkie, Sophie.
Loan Officer, Envoy Mortgage
Maria Kopf is a loan officer with Envoy Mortgage which provides residential financing for primary, second, and investment properties up to four units, offering some of the most competitive rates in the mortgage industry. The company offers an array of products that include: conventional, FHA, VA, jumbo, down payment assistance, and many more.
As a dedicated mortgage professional whose purpose is to fulfill dreams of homeownership, Maria provides impeccable service from start to close, delivering each borrower a hassle-free mortgage experience by providing breakthrough technology, transparent communication, unparalleled turn-times, and around-the-clock attention to their loan.
Maria understands that the home-buying process can seem challenging and stressful, and she strives to make the process as smooth as possible, providing clients with loan options and personalized service. She believes having the right people and resources by your side can make all the difference and that there is nothing better than helping someone become a homeowner, especially if it’s their first home. Maria says she truly cares about her clients adding that it’s a privilege to serve them, and many have gone on to become friends.
For the past year Maria has been a member of MDBW. She says that she’s “met some wonderful women and looks forward to forging lasting relationships.” A good referral for Maria is someone who is looking to purchase or refinance a home, or thinking about it. .
Volunteering takes up some of Maria’s time including yearly participation in Adopt-a-Family, as well as volunteering for B Walker Ranch, and reading to classes during Read Across America week.
In her free time, Maria enjoys spending time with friends and family, as well as her furbabies. She likes to entertain and cook for those she loves. She also enjoys reading, traveling, and exploring all that the Bay Area has to offer.
Consultant, Health is Wealth
Senya specializes in nutrigenomics for wellness. She is passionate about helping people feel better and do more through supplementation and activation by turning back the clock at a cellular level to age in reverse. Senya says she feels better in her 50s than she did in her 40s and she wants to help others to do the same.
Clients who work with Senya benefit by flipping the switch on anti-aging pathways in the areas of memory, metabolism, energy, hormonal balance, joint health, bone health, as well as skin and scalp, all by reducing oxidative stress.
Senya finds her work rewarding because she is able to offer people solutions that they didn’t know existed, and as a result are able to transform their lives rather than suffer in silence. She also enjoys inspiring others through her wellness column “Activate with Senya” with Contra Costa News.
A good referral for Senya is anyone who wants to be healthy, stay healthy, or get healthy.
Senya joined MDBW last year and is active in the group. She says she feels elated and empowered after leaving the group’s events. “It has given me a renewed sense of hope, that there are so many women out there uplifting each other.” She also adds that she enjoys meeting 1:1. for coffee with the women in the group. This allows her to gain a better understanding of other businesses and in some cases she has found new friends. In addition, she appreciates the referrals and customers that she has gained through MDBW.
Outside of MDBW, Senya has created “The CLUB,” which stands for Community Leaders Uplift Balance. It is a friendly alliance in the spirit of mind, body, and harmony. She is also dedicated to the “Helping One Woman” organization, which honors one woman in need each month, and changes lives one woman at a time.
When not involved in work, Senya loves to try new things and travel. She also enjoys reading and taking walks.
Financial Advisor, Edward Jones
As a financial advisor with Edward Jones, Judith works with both individuals as well as businesses. She works to actively understand and anticipate clients’ needs, building trusting relationships, and solving complex financial challenges. The advice she provides for individuals centers around the following areas: estate considerations and retirement planning; investment strategies; tax smart strategies; insurance and planning for the unexpected; charitable giving; business succession; and retirement plans. She also helps businesses to improve cash flow, employee retention, and business succession. Her work helps people to live the life they want, and to secure a brighter future for those they love.
Judith is also the diversity, equity, and inclusion co-leader in her region, working with women both inside and outside of Edward Jones. She focuses on supporting women in the community through financial literacy and equity education. She believes in the importance of emboldening women executives, business-owners, women on their own, and women in transition by empowering them to make a difference, have a voice, and enable them to be as financially successful as possible.
MDBW member, Diane Kaplowitz, introduced Judith to MDBW. Judith says she knew when she first attended a meeting that it was a good fit for her. “There are so many progressive, supportive, and entrepreneurial women looking to not only move their business forward, but to help others do the same. This is an incredibly dynamic group seeking to understand, build trust, and foster a positive, partnership-led relationship.”
Some good referral sources and partnerships for Judith are tax professionals, estate planning attorneys, business attorneys, HR/payroll professionals, insurance, those in real estate, and mortgage brokers.
When not working, Judith enjoys spending time with her spouse and children as well as cooking, hiking, yoga, travel, and wine tasting.
Financial Advisor, Edward Jones
Belma has always been incredibly passionate about helping others. She grew up in Bosnia during the war in the 1990s and learned so much about life’s unpredictability and appreciating the little things. That’s why as a young adult, she pursued social work, working with women and children who were often fleeing domestic violence.
Now, as a financial advisor, Belma has the same opportunity to help women and other investors – helping them as they gain financial confidence and provide for the people and the things that they love most, while empowering them to take control of their own financial futures. Belma does this by putting herself in her clients’ shoes, learning their fears and what’s important to them well before she starts creating a financial strategy. Once they’ve established a relationship, Belma becomes their lifelong partner, reviewing their plans, making adjustments, and being there for them in times of turmoil and uncertainty.
Just as her clients are all different, Belma believes that no two portfolios should be the same, and she prides herself on the individual attention each of her clients receive. Whether they are men or women, business owners or families, veterans, or civilians, she loves having the opportunity to prove her dedication to her investors and being invited to share in their lives is her greatest reward.
Outside of the office, Belma and her husband stay busy with their two children. They love traveling together, going to the beach and going for walks. As a new mom, she's been having a great time cooking, staying active, and being outdoors. Belma is an active member of the Mt. Diablo Mothers Club and is membership co-chair on Mt Diablo Business Women’s board of directors. She also volunteers whenever she can, especially with groups helping the homeless and serving women and children.
Belma’s Pleasant Hill office serves investors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as out of state. Whether you’re just starting out or a financial pro, you can reach her at 925-293-6531 or send her an email to learn how she can help.
Financial Planner, MassMutual Northern California
As a financial planner with MassMutual Northern California, Carolyne works with families and individuals who are focused on developing good habits to help secure their financial freedom in the future. She provides on-going financial guidance, and along with her team strives to be responsive, creative, and organized. Her goal is to be a lifetime resource for each and every client.
In the financial planning process, there are six key areas of planning and each family tackles each area differently, which personalizes the services provided. Carolyne and her team want each client to feel understood and confident when making a decision or changing their plan.
Carolyne’s ideal clients are individuals or couples who are aiming to grow their income, reduce their debt, increase their savings, and are focused on their careers, possibly starting a family, and are looking for a resource to get their financial house in order. They are curious about different ways to save, how to invest, and how to protect themselves from life’s “what ifs.”
Carolyne joined Mt. Diablo Business Women (MDBW) this year and says she’s benefited from the mentoring and networking that the group offers. She says she joined MDBW because she wanted to learn how other women have grown, or are currently growing their business. She also wanted to learn about women’s journeys, meet new people, and feel uplifted. “MDBW has been all of those things to me,” says Carolyne.
When not working with clients, Carolyne volunteers for Junior Achievement of Northern California. She is helping to establish a Young Professionals group for a local chamber, and loves to give back to the community through volunteering and charity.
In her free time, Carolyne loves to cook and organize dinners, celebrate with friends and family, squeeze in a good workout, and challenge herself to learn something new. She is an avid reader and is currently reading a book on floral arrangements. Carolyne lives in the East Bay with her husband and rescue cat, Caspa, both of whom she enjoys spending time with.
Local firms are sales offices of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and are not subsidiaries of MassMutual or its affiliated companies. Carolyne Charvoz is a registered representative of and offers securities and investment advisory services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. CA Insurance Lic. #4063154 3003 Oak Road, Suite 250 Walnut Creek, CA 94597 925-979-2331 CRN202512-3439896
Owner, Payroll Vault
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.