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Local women honored during 29th annual Women Achievers luncheon

Business Life magazine honored another group of dedicated women during the publication’s 29th annual Women Achievers luncheon.

Hundreds of community members and leaders gathered at the Castaway restaurant in Burbank on Monday to recognize 28 women for their contributions to their professions and community.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Lynn White-Shelby for her over 50 years of community involvement, which includes the PTA at Balboa Elementary School in Glendale and Hoover High School Booster Club in Glendale, as well as the Glendale National Charity League.

White-Shelby, who has been previously recognized by Business Life, currently serves on the Burbank Senior Citizen Board and the La Providencia Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.


“You need the support of your family first, then your friends — the people who you want to be with and want to be with you,” she said, describing what it takes to be successful. “Probably the most important thing is that you need happiness in your heart. For success, you need to find happiness, and I found my happiness in volunteering through all these years.”

Another past honoree, Glendale Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive Judee Kendall, was recognized during the event and named as this year’s Leadership Honoree.

Kendall, who for many years was the publisher of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and what was then the Foothill Leader, said women are strong individuals who need to be recognized for their work, no matter what type of work that may be.

“Being a woman, I know what we’re capable of and it should be accepted,” she said. “Every single woman has achievements every day no matter what they’re doing. They’re taking care of families, working and serving organizations and nonprofits. It’s wonderful to see them recognized and honored by the community.”


Gloria Salas, president of the Zonta Club of Burbank Area, was also an honoree. She said that any time a woman is able to have an impact on her community, such as provide scholarships for younger girls or leading a march for or against something, she is acting as a role model for future generations.

“It’s showing them that we have a voice and the abilities to go forward and achieve what we want, that we shouldn’t just sit back and let somebody else do it,” Salas said.

Another honoree, Maria Maldonado, owner of Providence Realty Co. and the Filipino American Business Assn. of Glendale, said it is important for women from all backgrounds to stay determined.

“Being independent and having self-determination makes us stronger and successful,” she said.

Sona Ashjian, a microbiologist for the Armenia Bone Marrow Donor Registry and the medical focus program coordinator at Providence High School in Burbank, was also one of the local women honored. She has helped bring awareness about the registry, which has more than 29,000 donors from 29 countries, according to her biography in the event program.

Business Life also honored Jennifer Schultz-Bertolet, president of the property management organization David N. Schultz Inc. Her father, who the business is named after, was her mentor and taught her to put the clients’ best interests first, her biography stated.

Irene Bourdon, president of the Adventist Health Glendale Foundation, was also recognized during the event. She said her goal is to advance the hospital’s mission of providing excellent quality of care.

Deborah Simpkins Bright, vice president and co-owner of Arnol Salon & Spa in Glendale, was also honored by Business Life. She volunteers her time to several organizations, including the Adventist Health Founders Guild Board, the Play to Learn Center in Eagle Rock, Operation Gratitude in Chatsworth and the board of the Campbell Center in Glendale, according to her biography.


A Burbank honoree, Renee Johnson, property manager of the Burbank Senior Apartments for the Cusumano Real Estate Group, was also honored this year. She said her goal is to help her tenants to thrive and live independently.

Taleen Khatchadourian, board president of the Armenian Autism Outreach Project and board adviser to the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, was honored for her work to help build up the donor registry, according to the program biographies.

Burbank Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Gema Sanchez was another local honoree, who was recognized for her work with the organization and helping businesses grow.

Pamela Spiszman, founder, president and chief executive of Pegasus Home Health Care Inc., was honored for her work in the community, by developing a business that aims to treat patients with dignity, according to her biography.

Burbank Vice Mayor Sharon Springer was also an honoree this year. She was recognized for contributions on the Sustainable Burbank Commission, the Burbank Water and Power board and Burbank Farmers’ Market board.

Charlene Tabet, a member of the Burbank Unified school board, was honored by Business Life for her contributions to the school district.

Sandra Thompson, president of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs Inc., was recognized for the work that the organization’s local chapter has done, which includes helping pass legislation that benefits women, her biography states.

Glendale honoree Kathryn Van Houten, president of Soroptimist International of Glendale, was honored for her organization’s goal of providing education and opportunities for women.


Jane A. Viar, a member of the Glendale Library Foundation and Glendale Police Foundation, was recognized for helping others find access to future educational and employment opportunities, according to her biography.

Lara Yeretsian, a criminal defense attorney and founder of Yeretsian Law in Glendale, was honored for her contributions in the legal field.

Twitter: @acocarpio