Bella Sol The Salon was one of the sponsors for the YWCA Pasadena-Foothill Valley’s annual leadership day


Women get encouraged to act #LikeAGirl at YWCA Pasadena-Foothill Valley’s annual leadership day


Nicole Abboud, of the GenWhy Lawyers Podcast, speaks to the crowd at the YWCA Pasadena-Foothill Valley’s fourth annual Women´s Leadership & Networking Day on Friday, May 29, at the Pasadena Senior Center. (Photos by Claudia S. Palma/Staff) 

By Claudia Palma, The Pasadena Star-News

PASADENA>>June 1, 2015. “We are mentors to little girls. They don’t do what you say, they do what you do.”

That was Deborah Deras’ message to a group of women at the YWCA Pasadena-Foothill Valley’s fourth annual Women’s Leadership and Networking Day on Friday at the Pasadena Senior Center.

Deras, a motivational speaker and principal of Synergy Unlimited, energized the crowd of women — business owners, business leaders, students, community leaders and others.

“We wanted to feature women that were in leadership roles and can connect women to build a leadership and business network,” said Jessica Kubel, associate director of the YWCA Pasadena.

With the theme #LikeAGirl, guest speakers touched on intellectual property, business development, campaign management, career coaching, brand marketing, and more.

“Our speakers talked about what it’s like for women in their fields and what ‘#likeagirl’ means to them,” Kubel said. “To share mentorship and leadership, and what the younger generation might see coming down the line. And building the connection between the two, as well.”

Speakers included Linda LoRe, co-founder of Injoy Global; Ana Guerrero, chief of staff to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Azucena Maldonado, founder of Latina Golfers Association; Nicole Abboud, lawyer and with the GenWhy Lawyers Podcast; Marla Bleavins, chief financial officerand deputy executive director of the Port of Los Angeles; and Deras. Susanne Whatley of KPCC 89.3 emceed.

Abboud talked about community — why it’s important and how to create one — and why women have been shown to be natural leaders.

“There’s strength in numbers,” she said.

The young lawyer said she came across a study published in the Harvard Review in 2010, that shows women are more nurturing, “but women in the study far exceeded men in leadership competency, in the areas of taking initiative, displaying integrity and honest, and driving for results.”

Bleavins noted she experienced some struggles as she rose to her position in the city of L.A., as a minority and woman, but she made sure to take advantage of the opportunities her mother, who attended a segregated school, didn’t have.

“There are a lot of women at the top,” she said. “But it’s still deficient; that’s what I see.”

The Los Angeles native encouraged the crowd to take risks and find extracurricular activities.

“Find something else completely unrelated (to your field), and get good at it or enjoy it,” Bleavins said.

She admitted to learning how to manage panic after training and participating in triathlons despite her lack of swimming skills.

“I like the diverse group of speakers,” said Bianca Lepe, a Caltech student. ”It’s lovely to see someone like me, a minority and see that there’s always a way to succeed.”

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