Letter from Kathy Odell, CEO-elect

Dear Friends of WEV,

I am honored to have been selected as the next CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures and proud to accept the baton from Marsha Bailey, whose visionary leadership has created this outstanding organization.

As Marsha said in her letter, we have come a long way since 1991 in creating economic opportunity for women. But we are still a very long way from achieving a level playing field. We can be gratified by the fact that there are 114% more female entrepreneurs/business owners than 20 years ago, but rightfully dismayed that investment in businesses founded by women is less than half the investment received by male founders despite the fact that start-ups founded by women provide higher return on investment. We can be happy we have narrowed the gap in pay equity from 69.9% in 1991 to 80.5% in 2018, and discouraged that without an acceleration in pace, it will take us another 40 years to achieve parity!

Patience may be a virtue, but it is clearly not an economic benefit, either for individuals or society.   Which is why we need to maintain a relentless dedication to our mission – creating an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women.

Thankfully, due to Marsha’s leadership, the dedication of our board and staff, and your support, WEV is prepared to enter the next decade stronger and more vital than ever with next-generation services to meet the needs of today’s women. We are developing new entrepreneurial training programs to accompany our current SET and Thrive offerings. We are increasing the capacity of our loan fund to provide more and larger loans. And we will be expanding our services to support women working inside local corporations to improve their access to leadership positions.

We believe that a key component necessary for economic success, business and community leadership is a supportive network of role models and mentors who provide knowledge, inspiration and connection to help guide the journey. WEV’s League of Extraordinary Women is helping us build that network. The interactions between the League members and WEV’s clients have been extremely positive and productive. Expansion of League membership is a core component of our goal to create an accessible, vital, connected women’s community on the Central Coast.

So, while there still is a long way to go on our path, we are excited at the possibilities for the next leg of the journey. Marsha’s vision and guidance for the last 30 years has positioned WEV well to continue improving economic opportunity for the women of the Central Coast.

Over the next year, we sincerely hope you will join us to honor Marsha’s extraordinary legacy and pledge your support to our mission as we carry it into the future.


Kathy Odell