The Crowd: Women win key leadership positions at yacht clubs and resorts in Newport Beach

Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club’s 2020 commodores, from left, are Vice Commodore Rhonda Tolar, Commodore Ginny Lombardi and Rear Commodore Kari Konapelsky.
Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club’s 2020 commodores, from left, are Vice Commodore Rhonda Tolar, Commodore Ginny Lombardi and Rear Commodore Kari Konapelsky.
(Bill Long)

Female leadership is taking the helm at tony clubs on the Gold Coast. For the first time in its 75-year history, the iconic Balboa Bay Club and its companion Balboa Bay Resort are led by women executives.

In the general manager role at the BCC, the respected Leticia Rice is taking the reins. She has been with International Bay Clubs (the parent company of the BBC) for many years, rising through the ranks. Rice was recently joined at the end of 2019 by Marina Dutton, a professional hotelier who took the general manager position at the Balboa Bay Resort.

Together they are taking the club and hotel into the 21st century with modern sensibility and a decidedly female perspective.

In Corona del Mar, another legendary institution on the bay, Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, announced that its top three commodore positions will be held by women. They are Commodore Ginny Lombardi, chief executive officer; Rhonda Tolar, vice commodore; and Kari Konapelsky, rear commodore. In the club’s history, there have only been five female commodores.

By coincidence or by design, this news corresponds with National Women’s Month, with March 8 designated National Women’s Day. The celebration marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote.

Women making a difference for neglected children

The Orange County Chapter of Childhelp will host its 35th anniversary Fashion Show and Luncheon March 12 at the Fashion Island Hotel, Newport Beach. Co-chaired by the “terrific trio” of Patti Edwards, Patricia Ford and Shan Vincent, some 400 guests are expected to come and applaud two of their own, Cheryl Ladd and Jen Lilley, the event’s honored guests.

South Coast Plaza will present its latest fashion trends featuring many of its world-class designers for spring and summer. It’s always one of the best spring fashion shows on the coast.

For tickets and information, visit

Women helping women

New Directions For Women will hold its 12th annual Circle of Life Breakfast March 19 at Balboa Bay Resort. The 8 a.m. confab will introduce the crowd to women who have fought and overcome substance abuse and addiction.

New Directions is a nationally recognized residential treatment center in Costa Mesa open to women of any age and background, including mothers seeking to turn around their lives. New Directions Executive Director Tania Bhattacharyya will lead the gathering with the goal of raising significant funds in support of programs and clients of the organization.

New Directions advocate Carole Pickup, matriarch of the Pickup–Martin family that owns the Balboa Bay Rest, will again underwrite the breakfast.

For tickets and information, call (949) 313-1192, Ext. 300, or go to

Women placing children in forever homes

They are calling it “Cocktails For A Cause.” The Adoption Guild of Southern California will welcome the crowd to an evening at Balboa Bay Resort March 5. The auxiliary organization is an adjunct to Holy Family Services Adoption and Foster Care Agency, which for decades has championed the placement of adopted children in loving forever homes as well as assisting the proper placement of foster children.

The cocktail party will take on a magic theme with a magician entertaining. A buffet dinner, wine, whiskey tasting and a major raffle — with support from South Coat Plaza and The Resort at Pelican Hill — will help raise the fund-raising bar.

Pamela Selber and Terry Becker will chair the event with support from Nancy Collins, Christine Johnson, Pam Fossler, Sue Podany, Joyce White, Mary Sargenti and Cindy Davidson.

For tickets and information go to

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.