Marjaree Mason Center honors top women professionals

The Marjaree Mason Center honored 10 women and a business on Friday for serving as role models, giving back to the community and supporting women’s issues.

About 1,200 people gathered at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center in downtown Fresno for the domestic violence agency’s Top Ten Professional Women and Leading Business Awards, now in its 32nd year.

2015 honorees Susan Abundis, managing director, Bank of the West Pat R. Barr, owner, Barr Consulting – Pathways to Work Debra A. Bekerian, educator and psychologist, Alliant University Lisa Bonadelle, vice president, Bonadelle Neighborhoods Connie Clendenan, CEO, Valley Teen Ranch Jami Hamel De La Cerda, founder/CEO, Diamond Learning Center Florence T. Dunn, president, California Health Sciences University Maureen Lewis, CFO, Manco Abbott Sue Mettee, senior mortgage loan officer, Banc Home Loans Mariam Stepanian, president and general manager, Valley Public Radio Meathead Movers (represented by CEO Aaron Steed) as Leading Business honoree

Robin McGraw, philanthropist, entrepreneur, television personality and bestselling author, was the keynote speaker. McGraw, who is the wife of Phil McGraw, host of “Dr. Phil,” has dedicated herself to helping women live better lives. Her foundation – When Georgia Smiled – created and advanced programs to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

This year’s honorees include educators, business owners and leaders. The Leading Business of the Year was Meathead Movers, a San Luis Obispo-based moving company with a Fresno office.

Maureen Lewis, chief financial officer for Manco Abbott, said she was humbled to receive an award when “there are so many women worthy of this honor.”

The Fresno property management company has long partnered with the center and other local organizations. Company managers have served on the board of directors and employees have volunteered to help the women’s shelter. Lewis said the company helps lead the way for employees to do good deeds in the community.

Most of us aren’t doing this to get praised.

Connie Clendenan, CEO, Valley Teen Ranch

“You don’t look at investing” in the community to be honored, Lewis said. “You do it for the love of doing it.”

Connie Clendenan, chief executive officer of Valley Teen Ranch in Fresno, was ecstatic about her award, taking pictures with people who congratulated her on Friday. Clendenan has a passion for helping victims of domestic violence and their families. Her agency serves as a group home, transitional living center, foster family and adoption agency.

The ranch has worked alongside the Marjaree Mason Center, helping to ensure that children who were abused do not become abusers themselves in the future, Clendenan said.

“Most of us aren’t doing this to get praised,” she said with a big grin, but the honor “is awesome.”

BoNhia Lee: 559-441-6495, @bonhialee