Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) announces founder’s retirement and names successor

Kathy Odell is a well known Santa Barbara entrepreneur and business leader.

WEV has announced that its founder and CEO, Marsha Bailey, will retire next year after 30 years at the helm. Her successor will be Kathy Odell, an accomplished entrepreneur and business leader in the region.

Launched under Bailey’s leadership in 1991, WEV has provided business training and consulting to more than 14,000 women and men throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. WEV has made more than $5 million in business loans, and helped 4,500 local businesses start or expand. WEV-supported businesses generate over $300 million in annual sales revenues and have created nearly 9,000 jobs.

“The idea that women’s economic status could be improved by helping them start their own businesses was both innovative and unproven,” Bailey says, “But twenty-eight years later, WEV has proven not only that business ownership can provide a viable pathway to self-sufficiency, but that it can build family wealth and stability and contribute to the economic well-being of our communities.”

“It’s clear that women have more opportunities today than we did thirty years ago,” Bailey says, “But while many things have changed, we still have a long way to go to achieve equal opportunity and economic parity.”

As WEV’s CEO, Bailey has served on many local, state and national boards and has been a consultant as well as mentor to emerging women leaders and women’s organizations nationally and internationally. She is a former member of the National Women’s Business Council, which provides policy guidance to the White House, Congress and the Small Business Administration on issues related to women’s business ownership. She is the former Chair of the National Association of Women’s Business Centers, the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), and Union Bank’s Community Advisory Board.

Kathy Odell, well known Santa Barbara entrepreneur and business leader, has been chosen as Bailey’s successor.

“Over the past 28 years, Marsha’s leadership and steadfast commitment to the mission, has grown WEV into a major economic development engine for both Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties,” says Melissa Livingston, WEV’s Board Chair. “Kathy Odell is an effective leader and visionary who’s been a key supporter and board member since 2010. We couldn’t have found a better person to carry on Marsha’s legacy and guide the organization as we create the next generation of WEV services.”

Odell says, “Women are starting businesses at a higher rate than any time in our history and now run 40% of all small businesses. Under Marsha Bailey’s leadership WEV has become a key resource for women in business on the Central Coast. I am excited and proud to carry her legacy forward.”

WEV provides training, consulting and loans to help entrepreneurs start, grow and thrive in business. While WEV targets its services toward women, it helps men as well. Services are provided in both English and Spanish. Visit WEV at www.wevonline.org.

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