20th Annual NAWBO-OC
Remarkable Women Awards presents
This year, NAWBO Orange County’s Signature Event will celebrate three Remarkable Women at our 20th Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, May 19, 2016 from 5pm-9pm at the Doubletree Hilton in Santa Ana. This year’s event will feature three finalists in the following categories, with the winners announced at the event!
Lifetime Achievement – Entrepreneur to Watch
Business Owner of the Year
We will also recognize our Remarkable Women Honorees
from the past 19 years with a tribute on stage.
With over 400 in attendance comprised of influential business owners, senior business executives and rising stars, it is the perfect opportunity for celebrating. Since 1996, NAWBO-OC’s Remarkable Women Awards has recognized local businesswomen, women business owners, and women entrepreneurs who have dared to step out, follow their dreams, and inspire others by their commitment to what is possible. Join us for a celebration like no other!
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NAWBO-OC’s Remarkable Women Awards allows our organization to showcase remarkable women and to learn from their journeys, lessons, and triumphs and is an inspirational evening of celebration, one you will not want to miss!
About our Honorees
Lifetime Achievement Award
Accomplished and respected CEO, mentor, and generous volunteer to numerous professional and community organizations for decades, Debbie Dickson is well deserving of NAWBO-OC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Debbie is founder and president of Smith Dickson, an Irvine-based CPA firm specializing in litigation support services, accounting, taxation, and business consulting. She has earned a reputation as a formidable forensic accounting expert witness and is considered a dynamic leader in her field.
When she began her career as a CPA, Debbie was one of the few women in the profession. In the 1980s, after many years with Big 8 firms, she started Smith Dickson, an Accountancy Corporation. Taking care of her 12 employees is of the utmost importance to her, not only for the success of Smith Dickson but for the well-being of each employee’s personal concerns. For example, she shares her business sense and leadership skills as a mentor to those just starting their careers. Through her efforts, dozens of accountants have earned CPA certifications. Debbie regularly volunteers for boards and as president of groups such as the Forensic Expert Witness Association, Orange County Management Association, J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and Orange County Performing Arts Corporate Council. She also speaks before business organizations and women’s groups, and for three years ran a program that counseled teenage girls to develop their abilities. She’s a talented concert organist and pianist, donating her performances as a service to the arts.
Perhaps if you asked her about her greatest accomplishment, Debbie would say that being a wife and Mom to her six children is at the top of the list. NAWBO-OC is pleased and proud to present Debbie Dickson with our Remarkable Women Lifetime Achievement Award.
Business Owner of the Year
NAWBO-OC is honored to present this year’s award for Business Owner of the Year to Loreen Gilbert. Her high energy, clarity of vision, and passion for helping others have brought her to the top of her field. When Loreen hit the glass ceiling in her corporate investment job in 1997, instead of accepting the limits, she embraced it as an opportunity and launched her own company, WealthWise Financial Services. The firm offers securities and investment advice to individuals and businesses. Loreen has met the challenge in a male-dominated industry, and has achieved a level of excellence through hard work and the support and encouragement of other women. Loreen has led the firm in remarkable growth of 100% over the past three years.
Loreen has been an active member of the National Organization of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), serving as president of the O.C. Chapter, as a board member of NAWBO California, and as a Mentor in NAWBO’s acclaimed Mentoring Program. Her philanthropic work includes serving on the board of HOPE International, Segerstrom Corporate Council, Tocqueville Society Cabinet, and Concordia University Dean’s Advisory Board for the School of Business. She has generously given time to The Women’s Philanthropy Fund, Opportunity International, Women Helping Women, International Princess Project and Impact Giving.
Going into her second two-year term, as a member of NAWBO’s National Board of Directors, Loreen continues to be a voice for women business owners, inspiring them to pursue their dreams and reach their goals. Congratulations to Loreen Gilbert for all these accomplishments, and those yet to come.
Entrepreneur to Watch
From her days as a teenager, working as a clerk in a local law firm, to putting herself through college and then law school, Cynthia Hackler Flynn has demonstrated the drive and determination that earn her a place among NAWBO-OC’s Remarkable Women. She is this year’s Entrepreneur to Watch. She earned her Juris Doctorate Degree in 2010, after nearly a decade in the legal profession. She worked for several Los Angeles and Orange County firms, before starting her own practice, Hackler Flynn & Associates in 2014. Cynthia wanted to give more personal attention to her clients and to create a culture in which clients feel supported, phone calls are returned the same day, and strong relationships are fostered.
In the two short years since its founding, Hackler Flynn & Associates has grown from a sole proprietorship to a firm that employs 12 people and has taken on 150 new clients. The firm works closely with the office of the City Attorney of L.A. and was awarded a contract for pursuing judgments under a new program aimed at reducing drug and gang activity.
Cynthia’s charitable contributions include running in the Long Beach Marathon to raise thousands of dollars for Leukemia and Lymphoma research and offering free procedural assistance at the O.C. Courthouse. She also provides legal aid to the indigent through the L.A. Public Legal Counsel. As a member of NAWBO-OC, Cynthia heads the Mentoring Program. Keep an eye on Cynthia, and expect to see more remarkable achievements in her bright future.