May 12, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Up Front With 2015 OWL Award Recipients: Mallika Chopra & Denita Willoughby:

The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women, will present an International Women’s Day breakfast in honor of Women’s History Month on Monday.

Each year the event celebrates women who challenge, empower, and inspire.

The annual breakfast gathers professionals from throughout the community to network and celebrate women leaders in the Santa Monica community.

This year’s event will honor authors Mallika Chopra and Denita Willoughby with the Chamber’s “Owlie Award” for enhancing women’s lives everywhere through inspirational storytelling.

“Four years ago the Organization of Women Leaders (OWL) was formed by the Chamber to support local business women in the community,” said Laurel Rosen, President and CEO of the Santa Monica Chamber. “Partnering with the Commission on the Status of Women has given us the opportunity to showcase and celebrate incredible women who inspire and make a difference in women’s lives.”

The OWL International Women’s Day breakfast will be held Monday, March 2, from 7 am to 9 am at the Le Meridien Delfina, 530 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica.

The event’s top sponsors are The Water Garden, SOCAL Gas Company, and Chase Bank. Tickets are $50 for Chamber members, $65 for non-members, and $75 at the door. For more information, visit www.smchamber.com/owl.

Mallika Chopra

As one of the honorees and speakers at the upcoming International Women’s Day networking breakfast in Santa Monica on March 2, why do you think it is important for women to come together at an event like this?

I am incredibly humbled to be an honoree at this event! I love that women are celebrating each other at events like the International Women’s Day breakfast. We have so much to learn from each other, and networks of support give us hope, confidence, and inspiration. I also appreciate the local aspect of this event – connecting with other women in our community so that we can build connections and nurture ideas that uplift where we live.

Can you touch on a couple of the points that you will be speaking about at the event?

I will be share some of my ideas about what it means to live with intent, to live a life of purpose and meaning. Like so many other women, I find myself stretched balancing my family, friends, and professional activities. Often in the midst of our to-do lists and commitments, we lose sense of who we are, what we want, and what will make us happy. When we gain some insight into our intents, we also are best able to serve others.

Why are you so passionate about this event/cause?

I like this year’s theme of sharing our stories. I believe that when we share our stories, we connect on a more authentic level. We also learn how we can support one another in a real and practical way.

Do you have any advice for young women who are trying to move ahead in their careers?

I was given tremendous professional opportunity when I was young – a combination of luck, good fortune, but also hard work. At Intent, I have been blessed to have some incredibly talented and smart young women work with us. Part of their journey has been to think about their own intentions and dreams, and move on to do incredible things. Their success is one of the things I am most proud of in my own work. My advice to young women today is to not be fearful of dreaming big and finding a career that nurtures your mind and soul. The path may not be clear in the early days, but setting intentions about who you aspire to be helps anchor your decisions and actions for success. Also, I believe that a curious mind and hard work will always help you move ahead.

Who was the most influential woman in your life and what lessons did she teach you?

My mother is the most influential woman in my life. My mom was a stay-at-home mom who nurtured and supported my father, my brother, me, as well as our entire extended family. She made sure we got a stellar education and could pursue opportunities that sometimes seemed impossible. My mother never apologized for who she was or that she didn’t work in a formal workplace – she was proud to be a mother in every sense of the word. She taught me to always embrace who you are with pride and conviction, no matter what role you play.

Denita Willoughby

As one of the honorees and speakers at the upcoming International Women’s Day networking breakfast in Santa Monica on March 2, why do you think it is important for women to come together at an event like this?

Women are always taking care of others, it is important for us to pause, enjoy and inspire each other.

Can you touch on a couple of the points that you will be speaking about at the event?

I will stress the power of goal setting, supporting each other and how to make your come backs, not your setbacks, be your defining moments.

Why are you so passionate about this event/cause?

I really enjoy inspiring others to achieve excellence. So many people have helped me along the way and I love sharing stories of inspiration that may help someone achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle.

Do you have any advice for young women who are trying to move ahead in their careers?

Be focused and develop a plan, ask for help/seek mentors, and always bring your “A Game.”

Who was the most influential woman in your life and what lessons did she teach you?

My mother was the most influential person in my life. She taught me to set goals, never give up and she would stress…when you fall, and you will, get right back up!

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