Woman of the Year
Miriam Schaffer, College Counselor
Since joining MDBW in 2012, Miriam has fostered the success and growth of our organization. She has served as Publicity Chair, Marketing and Social Media Chair, President-Elect, and is currently our President. Miriam has gone above and beyond in every position. Miriam greatly enhanced our presence in email, social media, and through our website. As President-Elect, she stepped in when our then-President experienced a significant job change that conflicted with many board and monthly meetings. Miriam handled these responsibilities for more than half the year before transitioning into her current tenure as President, where she has guided our board decision-making with great efficiency and effectiveness. She initiated a warm welcome message before each monthly meeting, with valuable information on what members and guests can expect.
MDBW has greatly benefitted from the professional skills that Miriam honed throughout a very interesting career. Early on, she was a producer for television news and talk show programming, both on the east coast and locally, including San Francisco station KRON. She then held leadership roles in advertising, promotions, and PR/publicity firms, most recently at The Placemaking Group. Currently, Miriam’s career focus is helping high schoolers and other young adults with the college application process, including essay writing. Miriam works with them to target schools that fit their needs, and to articulate the unique value they can add to the student body.
Miriam has also supported education among younger children, particularly as a volunteer for many years with the Oakland non-profit Reading Partners. Her ongoing work with MDBW has involved many activities supporting each year’s selected non-profit cause, the organization we currently support, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Contra Costa County.
Miriam is greatly appreciated for her kindness, genuine interest in everyone, level-headed thinking, and sense of humor. She is open, honest with her thoughts and opinions, collaborative, and inclusive. Miriam is wonderfully creative with ideas to serve the diverse needs of our growing organization. Congratulations to our very special 2023 Woman of the Year! Connect with Miriam on LinkedIn or at our next meeting.
Mary Schulze, Realtor, Intero Real Estate Services
Mary Schulze is the recipient of Mt. Diablo Business Women’s 2022 Woman of the Year award for being a role model for MDBW members and others-as a businesswoman, community supporter and as the founder and ongoing contributor to the mission of the group.
In 1994, Mary pioneered MDBW with the goal of creating an organization that values women helping one another rather than having a focus on being competitive. She founded the group at a time when there were very few networks of business women helping other business women. Mary has held various roles within the organization over the years. Most recently, she has done an impressive job as our Program chair, bringing a wide variety of knowledgeable, articulate, and relevant speakers to our monthly meetings.
Mary’s skill at connecting with others has helped her to build relationships that have benefited and helped MDBW members to grow connections, and served as a model for how to build a successful business network. Her connections extend to many local Chambers of Commerce through which she has not only expanded her network as a realtor with Intero Real Estate Services, serving Contra Costa and El Dorado counties, but also helped to promote MDBW.
An important aspect of Mary’s concept for MDBW was to include support for a community cause. Throughout its existence, MDBW has chosen a non-profit to support. Currently, the group is providing support to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Contra Costa County.
Mary is greatly valued by the MDBW board of directors as well as the group’s members. She is phenomenal with giving gratitude, recognition and respect to others. She keeps things positive and has a very encouraging attitude that can mean a lot, and she’s always willing to learn new things.
The poet Maya Angelou’s statement is especially relevant to Mary’s impact on people: “People may not remember exactly what you said or what you did, but they will remember exactly how you made them feel.” How Mary makes other women feel is skillful, unique, important, successful, appreciated and loved. It is that and more that makes Mary deserving of the 2022 Woman of the Year award.
Visit Mary’s website and connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more about her.
Gordana Zura, CASA of Contra Costa County
Gordana is the recipient of MDBW’s 2020-2021 Woman of the Year award for her professional achievements and as a contributor to MDBW and the community at large.
MDBW has benefited greatly from Gordana’s talents. Since joining the organization in 2016, she has been the Digital Technology chairperson, improving the group’s outbound marketing, including building a new website from ground up which has resulted in transforming the group’s digital face. She continually enhances the site’s content and the user experience. This has been especially impactful during this year’s pandemic when events are held online.
As a MDBW board member, Gordana always speaks up for what is fair, equitable, and inclusive. At the group’s events, she is welcoming to everyone, and sensitive to the needs of newcomers, whether new to the Bay Area, or just new to the organization. Her connection and outreach to newcomers is genuine and stems from the fact that she emigrated to the U.S. from Croatia many years ago, having lived through that country’s war for independence. To help her through that dangerous and frightening time, Gordana turned to art. She makes unique, custom jewelry pieces and often donates them as raffle prizes at MDBW events.
In addition to her contributions to MDBW, the Woman of the Year award recognizes Gordana for her professional achievements in her role as the Director of Communications for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Contra Costa County. Her work drives CASA’s community outreach, identifying volunteers who will support children on the administrative issues that arise in the foster care system. This is a very challenging communication task, since volunteers must make a one-year commitment. Gordana’s work recruiting top-notch volunteers has been crucial to CASA’s success, and has helped ensure the health, wellbeing, and ongoing education of foster children. Even in this COVID year, when everyone’s instinct is to keep isolated and minimize new commitments, CASA has held its own in gaining new volunteers.
For her professional achievements, her commitment and support of MDBW, and for being a great role model as a businesswoman and member of our community, we congratulate Gordana as MDBW Woman of the Year.
Laura Lawrence, L.G. Lawrence Insurance Services
Laura has earned the Woman of the Year award for her consistent participation and commitment to Mt. Diablo Business Women (MDBW), her trustworthy reputation in her professional life, as well as her dedication to volunteerism.
Members and guests consistently experience Laura’s dedication to MDBW. She is welcoming to all and easily embraces those who are new to the group. Laura is always encouraging women in the group to take the time to get to know one another outside of the monthly meetings. She knows that building business relationships are “where the magic happens” to help a business grow.
Her helpfulness and enthusiastic spirit has resulted in making MDBW the strong group it is today. Her commitment to the organization is evident in the Board roles she has held as a past president and serving for several years as treasurer.
Laura is highly respected in her profession as a Medicare specialist, earning her the title of the “go-to-lady in Medicare insurance.” As an excellent resource for those who need to navigate the Medicare system, she is knowledgeable, confident, and capable at explaining the complex Medicare system in easy-to-understand terms.
Laura’s outgoing personality and great sense of style, along with her care and support for others is evident in her community service work at the Martinez VA Hospital where she volunteers weekly driving vets on the campus. She is easy to spot and often referred to as the lady with the crazy hat.
Laura’s many contributions in the professional world and in the community epitomize the values of MDBW and represent the best of who we are as women and business professionals. We applaud Laura’s contributions and proudly recognize her as MDBW Woman of the Year.
Trudy Triner, Paleoventures
Trudy has distinguished herself in our organization, as well as in her career and in community service activities. Her outstanding professional and civic achievements have earned her the honor of the MDBW Woman of the Year award.
Trudy has been an active and valued member of MDBW, regularly attending meetings and helping to market the organization through local Chambers of Commerce. She served on the Board of Directors for several years and was president for two years. Her innovative leadership increased awareness of MDBW throughout the business community.
Trudy is widely regarded and respected in the business community. When she joined MDBW, she was Director of Leadership Development for Kaiser Permanente in the Northern California region. In 2014, she and her son founded Paleoventures, an outdoor teambuilding company. The company’s mission includes “To do good for those doing good in the world.” To that end, Paleoventures provides some pro bono teambuilding sessions. This year, the company is supporting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), with a pro bono teambuilding offsite for its staff. It was because of MDBW that Trudy made a connection with CASA.
When it comes to community service, Trudy is extremely active. Since 2013, she has been in the Rotary Club of Walnut Creek, an organization whose motto is “Service Above Self.” Her involvement in Rotary includes serving on its board of directors and as president. Her Rotary involvement provides her with many volunteer opportunities with local organizations. She also raised funds for Rotary’s Wheelchair Foundation, which sent 220 wheelchairs to Costa Rica in 2017, and currently continues in those efforts, collecting enough money to send over one hundred wheelchairs to Honduras.
Trudy’s many contributions to the business and civic communities epitomize the values of MDBW and represents the best of who we are as women and business professionals. We applaud Trudy’s contributions and proudly recognize her as MDBW Woman of the Year.