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60.9 F
San Diego
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Where There’s a WILL There’s a Way

COMMUNITY: Women In Leadership Luncheon Fetes County Leaders

Jamul Indian Village Chairwoman Erica M. Pinto, this summer appointed by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to serve on the DOI’s Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee, will be the keynote speaker at the 20th annual Women In Leadership Luncheon.

Erica M. Pinto
Jamul Indian Village

The WILL event on Friday (Oct. 21) at Sycuan Casino Resort is held by the San Diego Regional East County Chamber of Commerce to honor women across San Diego County who excel professionally and are community leaders.

WILL chairwoman Kristine Costa said that for 20 years, the group has been honoring hundreds of nominees and feting winners from all lines of work — women who demonstrate exemplary character, integrity and leadership.

The roster of awardees over the past 19 years is a San Diego County honor roll and includes Pinto (in 2015); Bobbi Brink of Lions, Tigers & Bears, the wild animal sanctuary in Alpine; and former San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

Pinto has been involved with the JIV Tribal Council since 1997. In 2015, she was the first woman elected chairwoman. Since then, she has led the Jamul Tribe into making significant economic progress on its path to self-reliance.

Under Pinto’s leadership, the JIV oversaw the groundbreaking of a world-class gaming facility on its reservation in February 2014.  The $430 million casino opened in October 2016, creating nearly 1,000 permanent jobs.

“I’m thrilled and honored to serve as the keynote speaker for the 20th anniversary,” Pinto said. “For 20 years, the San Diego East County Chamber has been honoring and inspiring Women in Leadership, and I serve this year amongst the county’s most impactful leaders. We all appreciate how critical mentorship is to women in leading roles, and how all of us can inspire and support each other.”

“I’m excited to share my personal journey – how my mother, my greatest role model, inspired me to rise above adversity and take on new challenges,” added Pinto, who continues working to expand the Tribe’s land base and increase economic opportunities.  She is also co-founder of the Acorns to Oaks Tribal program, which organizes activities designed to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse, prevent teen pregnancy and promote education.

Pinto follows a long line of engaging keynote speakers. The 2021 speaker was Holocaust survivor and public speaker Rose Schindler, a San Diego resident. Schindler and her husband, the late Max Schindler, were the subjects of a 2020 memoir written by M. Lee Connolly, “Two Who Survived: Keeping Hope Alive While Surviving the Holocaust.”

Winners Honored at WILL Every Year

Costa, a longtime employee of Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE: WM), and a WILL award winner in 2017, said that typically five to seven winners are honored annually.

Kristine Costa
Women In Leadership Luncheon

“There are so many incredible women out there going the extra mile, in leadership roles, doing extraordinary things,” Costa said. “This event allows us to recognize deserving women leaders for selfless acts, leadership achievements, community contributions and dedication to their profession. We showcase women from around the county, leaders throughout the region who influence other women, encourage them to take on more and inspire the next generation of leaders, including those in the business community in San Diego.”

This year’s nominees are Adriana Brunner of MyPoint Credit Union; Amanda Matti of Matti Realty; Angela May of Stoney Oaks Ranch; Betty Mohlenbrock of Reading Legacies; Carol Hubbard of St. Paul’s PACE; Claudia Rempel of American Medical Response; Claudia Sanchez of Alpine Taco Shop; Dawn Meyers of Guided Leadership Solutions; Debbie Justeson of Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District; Eileeen Bagg-Rizzo of Grossmont Union High School District; Hilary Ward of Backcountry Communities Thriving; Jan Adams of Home of Guiding Hands; Jennifer Pillsbury of The Water Conservation Garden; Kara Lee of The Well Community for Women; Marcia Fox of Noah Homes and of Sharp Healthcare; Marisol Thorn of the city of El Cajon; Michelle Ball of Virtual Work Wife; Michelle Sweetman of Hair it is and Hot Heads Salon; Molly Nocon of Noah Homes; Rebecca Louie of Wakeland House and Development; Shirley Nakawatase of HNK, CPAs; Stacey Coleman of Sharp Rees-Stealy; and Tammy Wahl of Denim is the New Black.

Rick Wilson
San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce

The San Diego Regional East County Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event, has been a strong voice for business, education and community issues of interest to the East County region of San Diego County for 110 years.

While based in El Cajon, the chamber partners with communities and businesses from the entire county. The WILL event is something the entire county can get behind and champion, says San Diego Regional East County Chamber of Commerce CEO Rick Wilson.

“This event is incredible,” Wilson said. “We are so proud that in our 20th year, (WILL) continues to grow every year, recognizing women throughout the county and lifting up the entire community. Not just East County, but North County, South County and central San Diego as well. There are some incredible women out there, all around San Diego County.”


San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce

CEO: Rick Wilson
BUSINESS: Business advocacy with foundation
REVENUE: $500,000
CONTACT: 619-440-6161
SOCIAL IMPACT: The San Diego Regional East County Chamber of Commerce is the respected voice of and advocate for improving business opportunities, public policy and business resources throughout San Diego County.  Celebrating over 110 years serving the business community helping create a great place to work, live and play in East County.
NOTABLE: Chamber will be holding 20th Women In Leadership Luncheon on Oct. 21 at Sycuan Casino Resort.


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