By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun
5:08 PM EDT, August 12, 2012
A growing media and resource company in the city is again shining a light on women who are making a difference in their communities, excelling professionally and offering their lives of service as examples for others to emulate.
Monyka Berrocosa, founder of MyCity4Her Inc., an online business resource for women, is organizing the sixth annual Spirited Women of Baltimore Awards luncheon Wednesday. It will honor five women who have contributed greatly to their companies, communities and families.
"Anyone who was touched by these women in some way, whether it is co-workers, family, board members, can nominate them for the award," Berrocosa said. "My goal is to find people who are doing amazing things. These nominees get better and better each year. What they do in a single day makes most others feel like slackers."
Natalie Villabon-Martz, who shares the Spirited Woman Rising Award with Danielle Torain, embodies that concept. At 30, she manages a staff of 13 at Clemons & Associates Inc., a White Marsh-based management company. The vice president of operations, development and growth, she not only leads her staff, she energizes them with a daily, end-of-day workout.
"We just clear out the conference room, pull down a projector with an exercise program, and leave work behind to focus on health and fitness," she said. "It's great team building."
And, with a black belt and years of practice in tae kwon do — an activity she started at age 5 and mastered at 9, Villabon-Martz is eminently qualified to organize the exercise session. By the time she was 19 and still in college, she bought and managed two exercise studios and honed her business acumen.
"She is just a natural entrepreneur, who is making a powerful mark on the business world and the Baltimore community," Berrocosa said.
Life is not all work and exercise for this executive. Villabon-Martz finds time to volunteer with low-income and culturally diverse students and assist needy Hispanic families through the Latin American Association. She serves on the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board and with numerous other trade associations. For the last two years, she and her husband, Michael Martz, have hosted about 20 young Korean students in their Hamilton home.
"I am very honored to be recognized alongside women who are very far advanced in their careers," she said of her award.
MyCity4Her.com received about 100 nominations this year. A committee of past winners and corporate sponsors went through a blind scoring sheet and remained unaware of the nominees' names until points were tallied, Berrocosa said.
In addition to Villabon-Martz and Torain, an attorney and senior director of strategy and development at the Center for Urban Families, other honorees are Carol Coughlin, founder of a financial advisory company, who was chosen Spirited Woman in Balance. Stephanie Torrible, Spirited Woman in Business, owns a Reisterstown resale boutique with a mission of making fine fashion affordable to all. Maria Johnson Darby, who has raised millions over a 20-year career for the nonprofit community, won the overall Spirited Woman of 2012.
"We have found these rare pearls in the Baltimore community," Berrocosa said. "They are all five service-oriented and willing to share their talent and treasure. Their inspiring stories may make others look within themselves and figure out ways to give back."
Proceeds from the luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore in Harbor East will help aid the American Red Cross. The awards program has already honored 19 women and raised more than $50,000 for Red Cross programs.
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