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She Makes History 2024

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Founder & CEO of Bucket list

Cindy Lee

Cindy is such a giver and has a heart as Gold. She is involved with Surf Rider Foundation to give back to her community. She is always reminding us to acknowledge each other, to call or send messages telling each other we care, we are here for you and that they are not forgotten. She started the Bucket List Coaching, She had her Bucket List Travel and always helping organizations with fundraising, Ruffles and more. She's very inspiring and motivating. 

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President & CEO of Dowitcher Designs Inc.

Amber Wallace

Amber Wallace is President & CEO of Dowitcher Designs Inc., an award-winning integrated marketing agency helping purpose-driven organizations and public agencies thrive. A certified diverse supplier with over 50 design and marketing awards, Dowitcher leverages more than 17 years in business to create solutions to complex marketing, advertising, and technology challenges.

Amber holds a Bachelor’s in Creative Studies and an MBA from UC Irvine. In addition to running Dowitcher, she taught marketing and digital technologies at UC Santa Barbara for more than a decade and is passionate about educating and encouraging women to start and grow businesses. 

Amber is a Past President of NAWBO California, Past President of the NAWBO Santa Barbara Chapter, served nationally on the Presidents Assembly Steering Committee, and is currently a Director for NAWBO California, the NAWBO California Education Fund, and joining the NAWBO National board. Additional board experience and community involvement includes the International Women’s Festivals, Executive Committee for the Santa Barbara Equality Project, UC Irvine’s Deans Leadership Circle, Advisory Board for Santa Barbara City College’s School of Media Arts, Advisory Board for Women’s Economic Ventures, SCORE, and more. She’s received numerous awards, including Woman Business Owner of the Year from NAWBO, 40 under 40 from the Pacific Coast Business Times and Top 10 Best CEOS in 2021 from Industry Era Magazine. 

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Elizabeth Carmichael

Elizabeth Carmichael, a California Licensed Architect and the visionary founder of ECOhouse, is dedicated to pioneering ecologically responsible architecture and development. Her commitment to minimizing environmental impact while maximizing benefits for occupants, communities, and developers defines ECOhouse's ethos. With a career marked by remarkable accomplishments and unwavering dedication, Elizabeth has left an indelible mark on both her field and her community.

From an early age, Elizabeth's nomadic upbringing, having lived in eight states, instilled in her a sense of adaptability and resilience. Embracing change, she thrived as the "new kid," cultivating an outgoing nature and the ability to forge connections effortlessly. This early experience laid the foundation for her career as a trailblazer in sustainable architecture.

As the founding Principal Architect of ECOhouse, Elizabeth has steered the firm to excellence in sustainable design, specializing in mixed-use spaces, infill multi-family projects, affordable housing, micro-units, and upscale custom residences. Her designs are ambitious yet grounded in a deep understanding of technical requirements and regulatory landscapes, including Development and Discretionary Permits, and California Coastal Commission guidelines.

Elizabeth's influence extends beyond the confines of her firm. Her expertise has been showcased at esteemed conferences like AIA National and The Living Future Conference, where she shares insights and best practices in sustainable architecture and biophilic design. Her commitment to advancing sustainability is further demonstrated by her role as President of the Board of Directors for the San Diego Green Building Council and now transitioning to USGBC-California a state wide organization, where she spearheads initiatives to promote environmentally conscious practices in the industry.

In addition to her professional achievements, Elizabeth is deeply engaged in mentoring programs, including the High Tech High mentorship program and the San Diego Green Building Council mentorship program. Currently in training to mentor in the Promises 4 Kids Guardian Scholar mentorship program for former foster youth, she is committed to empowering the next generation of leaders in architecture and beyond.

Through ECOhouse, Elizabeth envisions ECOlogical Habitats Of Urban Sustainable Experiences(TM), weaving a sustainable future for generations to come. Her story is one of inspiration, resilience, and unwavering commitment to creating a positive impact.  Elizabeth hopes to ignite a spark in others, particularly young women and girls, encouraging them to pursue their dreams fearlessly and make a meaningful difference in the world.

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Coach and Consult 

Candi Lee

Trained in Neuro Change Solutions, Emotional Release, Energy Work, and Business and Organizational Development, she has been working with some of the most prominent business owners, executives, entrepreneurs and organizations in the world for over 30 years to help them reach massive levels of success. 

She has authored 4 books, worked with fortune 50 companies and is an international transformational thought leader. 

She believes that to be truly Full-filled, you need to be living at a 10 in every area of your life. . . having the career that makes you jump out of bed each morning, making the money that supports your desired lifestyle, having the free time to enjoy your life, being in optimal health to get through your day with energy and vitality, and having supportive loving relationships with deep and meaningful connection.

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President of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County

Geraldine Larson

Geraldine is the president of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County. Although born in the Philippines, Geraldine is a California girl at heart, having been raised in Orange County. Growing up, Geraldine’s parents owned a small security guard and alarm company, hard work was instilled in her at an early age, working as her mother's assistant from the age of 12.

Geraldine has 30 years in the insurance industry and after many years in Corporate America, she has finally taken a step towards independence by starting her own insurance agency in 2017. As an independent broker, she helps individuals and business owners like you achieve their bottom-line, while still providing best in class service. Geraldine specializes in group employee benefits, individual medical including Covered CA, Medicare, and financial services products. Whether individual or business, Geraldine takes a holistic approach to help you prioritize both your fiscal and physical wellness today to help protect your tomorrow.

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CFO & Founding Partner at Singh Automation and Singh Vision Systems

Karen Vuong

An Orange County resident since 1995, Karen is goal-driven, award-winning, mission oriented, customer-obsessed account manager-banking leader with over 17 years of enterprise class sales, commercial lending & E-Commerce.  Karen became a certified NNA/LSS and graduated from the highly esteemed National Notary Association & Loan Signing System-America's #1 Notary Public Loan Signing Agent Training Courses.  With experience in general notary work and all types of real estate transactions, Karen provides excellent customer service, attention to detail, superior communication and presentation skills to all levels of well-established organizations and business centers across Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties.

Karen’s education background in business management and her professional experiences in retail and commercial banking industry for almost 2 decades is the strong foundation for her notary signing work.
The ability to provide solutions with problem-solving skill and customer service are built right into her fundamental makeup.
In her tenure as a California notary public, Karen continually keeps updated on all notary laws and best practices.  Karen is insured, bonded, and is happy to provide any credentials upon request.

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Lacey Taylorcole - She Makes History Awardee

Director of Operations for a PE Backed Dermatology Company

Lacey Taylorcole

I oversee the clinic operations for 42 clinics. I have been doing this for almost 4 years. What makes me unique is I have proven my worth and smiles and moved up the leadership ladder quickly. I am outgoing and persistent, I speak up when others won’t.

Bella Samul She Makes History Awardee
 Founder of Bella Lending

Bella E Samel

Since 2005, Bella has made dreams come true by helping borrowers achieve creative financing and real estate goals. Her strong communication skills and attention to detail guide clients to desired results with consistency and organization throughout the entire process from introductions to funding.

With the flood of information in today’s world, it is easy to get overwhelmed and misdirected. She specializes in simplifying the complex. Bella is passionate about protecting her clients to ensure they can make informed decisions.

No matter where you are on your journey, Bella can help you build a personal road map for your mortgage needs.

I’m here to answer any questions.


Feel free to reach me at:

Phone: (949)436-8686

Serena Li She Makes History Awardee
Living Benefits life Insurance Agent

Serena Li

I am a dedicated Living Benefits life insurance agent with a passion for helping individuals and families protect their financial futures. When I was 1 year old, my mother suffered with cancer, so I understand the pain & stress of major illnesses and the importance of planning for the unexpected. With 10 years of experience in the industry, I am committed to delivering exceptional service and building long-term relationships to ensure my clients' ongoing protection.

Lynn Summers She Makes History Awardee
Farmer, Entrepreneur, and Owner of Summersprep LLC

Lynn Summers

He has volunteered with San Bernardino County Master Gardener, and Master Food Preserver where she shares Research base knowledge of food growing and preserving with the community through education. She believes in the integrated approach to the food web, which uses the whole product to reduce as much waste as possible.
Before she started Summersprep, she retired from Kaiser Hospital where she worked for 30 years as an emergency room tech (EMS) and Safety Officer plus a Shop Steward and Union Organizer with the United Steelworkers. There she was FEMA trained and honed her skills in federal, state, and local regulation on emergency processes and how to prepare for disasters.
Lynn has turned her EMS skills and her passion and certification as a San Bernardino County Master Food Preserver and Master Gardener into a fully integrated business that brings together farming, preserving, and survival skills. She is a county fair blue ribbon winner for her jams and jellies and teaches regular classes in gardening and preserving and small husbandry and teach at the local community garden.
She is the VP of the newly rebuilding of Rialto Chamber, a participant in the Caravanserai Project’s SEED Lab for social entrepreneurs, and is currently studying entrepreneurship at California State University, San Bernardino, and Permaculture Certification Program through Cal State San Bernardino in the Desert.
Lynn and her husband have made it their life’s mission to teach and empower the community in self-resiliency as a lifestyle.

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Janelle Guerrero She Makes History Awardee
Global Educator of Abbott Published Author
Veteran, US Army

Janelle Guerrero

Janelle is from the Midwest, specifically outside Chicago on the northwest border of Indiana. She moved to CA in 2005 after finishing her Kinesiology BS and MS at Indiana University. She is very well-traveled and multi-cultured, lending a global perspective to important conversations about progressive change. As a Californian, her home is Redlands. She served two years as commissioner on the City of Redlands Human Relations Committee (2020-2022) and invests a great deal of time in culturally significant events that center around engaging the community in inclusive ways. Janelle is a single mama with a career and nonprofit, she dances salsa and writes poetry. She is a published author.
Janelle’s career is quite extensive. She served in the US Army as a medic, which began her medical career. Her move to CA allowed her to work as a clinical therapist in cardiopulmonary rehab at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Eight years later she was offered a role with Loma Linda University as an educator. She founded/directed the Cardiac Electrophysiology Technician program (CEPT). She maintained this role for 4 years before being hired by St.Jude Medical (now Abbott) as a Field Clinical Engineer. Janelle is a mapper and medical device certified and covered all of the IE as a clinical rep for four years. This role allowed much insight as to how local hospitals serve the community and how they meet the high acuity levels of patients in the IE.
A brief sabbatical on the heels of the pandemic allowed her to connect more to the community and its needs, which is why she and Kai founded STN as an organization on Aug 14th, 2020. Janelle initiated and was the lead on it becoming a nonprofit. She also had a brief bout as a West Coast Distributor for a Women’s Clothing line, which helped her gain an appreciation for local vendors. Janelle graduated from the IEWBC program for women entrepreneurs & was a fellow of Caravanserai’s Seed Lab alongside Kai. In November 2021 she was selected by Abbott for a Global Education role with the EP Institute, where she currently serves as the primary Curriculum Architect.
Janelle’s role as CEO of STN is everything operational, overseeing and guiding many business-led decisions, establishing contracts, coordinating events, and engaging leaders and potential sponsors/investors. She is action-driven, so she serves with a committed heart and leads with a relationship focus. Janelle’s main focus as an abolitionist is creating safe spaces of collective care and empowerment for women and youth.

Ramya Harishankar She Makes History Awardee
Award-Winning Artistic Director of the Arpana Dance Company (ADC)

Ramya Harishankar

She is an Award-Winner Artistic director of the Arpana Dance Company (ADC), a premier school of Bharata Natyam in California celebrated 40 years in 2022. Recognized as a ‘Distinguished citizen’ and Wall of recognition honoree (2022) by the city of Irvine, she is also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award (Soorya Foundation, 2022), Kala Seva Bharathi (Bharat Kalachar, India 2012) and the Helene Modjeska Cultural Legacy award (Arts OC 2007), the countywide arts organization.

Recipient of several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Harishankar is a 2-time National Endowment of the Arts Choreographic Fellow. Her solo career has taken her all over the world, performing extensively in India, Asia, Europe, Australia, and N. America.  

For her dedicated commitment and constant efforts, she has been recognized as one of the icons of Indian dance in the US. She co-created a nonprofit in 1989 to bring Indian classical dance to SoCal which morphed into the Ektaa Center in 2004 serving the greater community. As perhaps the first artiste of Indian origin in the area her contributions have been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally and added color and depth to the cultural landscape of SoCal.

Mariam Tariq - She Makes History Awardee
Chief of Staff  | Mayor Farrah N. Khan | City of Irvine

Mariam Tariq 

Mariam Tariq is an Irvine native who turned her passion for social justice into a career in public service. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelors in Political Science in 2018. Since then she has served as Council Executive Assistant for Councilmember Farrah Khan, Finance Deputy for Dave Min for State Senate, Member of the Youth Advisory Board for Congresswoman Katie Porter, APAICS Fellow in the Office of Congresswoman Judy Chu, and is currently Chief of Staff to Mayor Farrah Khan.


She is a founding member of Irvine Democratic Club and supports their mission to create awareness on local issues and advocate for Irvine’s vulnerable communities. She also serves on the Board for the Islamic Center of Irvine (ICOI) Young Professionals in an effort to create a safe space for professional development and community engagement for Muslims. Her vision is to make Irvine a more inclusive and welcoming community.

Taja Marbley She Makes History Awardee
Career Coach 

Taja Marbley

Hi everyone, my name is Taja, and I am born and raised here in San Diego. I have worked with individuals experiencing homelessness for the last 17 years. I currently work as an advocate for one position and I work as a career coach for another. I am 34 years old I am currently updating my master's degree in social work. I believe that God gives us all blessings and resources and we have to share those with everybody and show his love at the same time. Thank you so much for reading my bio

Caelie Fish She Makes History Awardee
Climate Action Corps Fellow with Tree San Diego

Caelie Fish

Caelie is a California Climate Action Corps Fellow with Tree San Diego, a non profit focused on urban greening and environmental justice. Her professional interests are in ESG, impact evaluation and communications in the field of biodiversity conservation. She continues to expand her expertise in social innovation to better understand how businesses, governments and non profits can work together to make the human experience a more sustainable one.

Bernice Corona  She Makes History Awardee
Broker. Investor

Bernice Corona

As an entrepreneur, my greatest blessing has been the ability to work from home while raising my three children, who are now adults. Along my journey, I've come to understand that aiming for significance is more important than success. While I'm grateful for my numerous achievements in sales, banking, and real estate, what truly fills me with joy is having managed a real estate brokerage where I helped agents, loan officers, and staff members achieve their dreams. I've built lifelong relationships with clients and have helped both buyers and sellers in times of financial hardship. Additionally, I'm now investing in real estate myself.

However, the most important aspect of my life is my faith in Christ, which I've shared with those I've come across in the marketplace. It's been incredible to see God work in the lives of the people He's placed in my path. Spending time with my family, especially my grandchildren, is also one of my greatest joys. When I have some personal time, you'll find me playing chess, tennis, or dancing. Taking a drive down Highway 101 and admiring the ocean is also a fantastic way for me to reflect on life.

As a woman, I believe in leading with love and serving others. I have so much more I could say, but I wanted to leave you with this note. 

caroline She Makes History Awardee
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lead- Caravanserai Project

Carolina Rosas-Saavedra

Carolina is a startup mentor and business advisor with more than 10 years of experience in entrepreneurship.


Carolina is passionate about business model innovation and the application of complex business theories and strategies into the day-to-day operations of early-stage startups, “small” but powerful (as she always likes to highlight) businesses, and nonprofit organizations.


She has a strong background in research and innovation as a Molecular Biotechnology Engineer with a master's in Biological Sciences from the University of Chile. Carolina is also a former panel reviewer for the Chilean National Agency for Research and Development and a former Innovation and Entrepreneurship Specialist at the hub of technology APTA (Andes Pacific Technology Access) in Chile, where she mentored entrepreneurs and connected with several tech-based companies across the country.


Carolina is the founder of Vitrotech SpA and co-founder of Klein Biotecnología Ltda, two Chilean start-up companies actively focused on consulting services and translational research respectively. Carolina has been Director and Co-director of several R&D and innovation grants as a result of her fundraising skills and business acumen.


She worked for 3 years as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of California Riverside. In this capacity, she mentored entrepreneurs and supported the development of small businesses and scalable start-ups in the Inland Empire. Carolina was also responsible for outreach activities to promote entrepreneurship within the faculty and student base at UCR.


Nowadays, Carolina is the Senior Lead of Business Innovation and Research at Caravanserai Project, a hybrid social impact venture where she supports several businesses in Southern California.

Emily Jacobs She Makes History Awardee
Executive Vice President San Diego Housing Commission

Emily Jacobs 

With 25 years of experience in the affordable housing industry, Emily Jacobs oversees a diverse property portfolio, multifamily and single-family lending, real estate development, and acquisitions for the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC). She also leads a team of professionals in Acquisitions, Development, Loans and Grant Programs, Rehabilitation, Portfolio Management, Property Management, and Real Estate Budget and Finance. Her experience includes real estate development, asset management, property management, and resident services. Ms. Jacobs has a strong background in the development and oversight of tax credit and bond-financed developments. Prior to her current role, she served as the Vice President of SDHC’s nonprofit affiliate and development arm, Housing Development Partners. Prior to joining SDHC, Ms. Jacobs worked for nearly seven years for Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation, a San Diego nonprofit developer, overseeing company and portfolio operations. She also worked for several years as a real estate development coordinator for a national nonprofit developer in Central California. Ms. Jacobs holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Science from Humboldt State University and a National Tax Credit Compliance designation.

Vicki Estrada She Makes History Awardee
President and Founder of Estrada Land Planning

Vicki Estrada

Vicki Estrada is the President and Founder of Estrada Land Planning.  Her responsibilities include running the office, land planning, urban design, and landscape architecture for a variety of projects including community planning, master-planned communities, infill, parks, and streetscapes for public and private entities.  She is particularly skilled in providing community facilitation services and strives to make all of her projects sustainable, context-sensitive, unique, and responsive to community and client needs.  Vicki understands diverse community values, natural values as well as the creative and technical aspects of design.  Reconnecting with the natural aspects of a site is a key objective for each of her projects.  She is known for developing design solutions that lead to consensus on difficult issues.  Vicki is fluent in Spanish.

Melissa Northway She Makes History Awardee

Financial Services Professional

Million Dollar Roundtable Member

NAWBO – OC President 

Melissa Northway, MDRT

How many people do you know who has taught English as a second language in Japan; started a campaign to bicycle across Vietnam to fight poverty; served as a champion for women in business; portrayed the first woman to become a dentist in the United States; worked in international cosmetics; sold medicinal mushrooms; written a series of acclaimed children’s books; run a blog called Dandelion Women; and made their living as a financial services professional and insurance agent? If you were at Chico State in the late ’80s and early ’90s you might have met such a person. Her name is Melissa Northway, and yes, these are just some of her credits. She’s also mom to Kate, an aspiring musician, and wife to Lou for over 25 years.

Melissa is fearless, and her strong entrepreneurial spirit has motivated many of her choices. When she came back to the United States after studying abroad, she started exploring companies she thought might be successful in Japan.


“I’m open to trying new things even if I’ve never done them before,” said Melissa. “It’s important to push ourselves.”


Combining her love for business and exploration, she moved into the import-export market with cosmetics and skin-care products. Then she met someone who was knowledgeable about medicinal mushrooms, for which there was a huge market in Japan. Just like that, another one of Melissa’s business ventures took off.

While her focus is on insurance and retirement planning, Melissa says “my reward is helping people get their plans together and feel secure.” She especially wants to help young women with goal setting, particularly as an offset to the financial constraints that have traditionally been put on women. “People don’t recall that until the law was changed in 1988, women weren’t able to sign a business loan without a man,” she observed.

Helen Woo She Makes History Awardee
R & D Tax Credit and the ambassador of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce and RBN

Helen Woo

Helen Woo, An Excellent R & D Tax Credit and the ambassador of the Irvine chamber of commerce and RBN. She is also a single mom and a member of the Filipino American Chamber of OC. She always goes the extra mile for her clients and has an excellent referral program for her business-to-business connection. She is always juggling a million things at a time which makes her an incredible woman.

Sartteka Am Ab Nefer- She Makes History Awardee

Sartteka Am Ab Nefer

I was born and raised here in Sunny San Diego and though I have traveled often, I only lived outside of San Diego for three years when I moved to Denver after my undergraduate studies. I attended Grossmont Community College where I studied Psychology with an emphasis on Human Sexuality and Child Development. I transferred to San Diego State University with a major in Psychology and minors in LGBT Studies and Women’s Studies. While doing my undergrad, I was a McNair Scholar and spent much of my time doing research in Sexuality Education, Intimate Partner Violence, and Psychology. I did an internship with San Diego Family Justice Center, Dress for Success Program, and License to Freedom. After my graduation, I moved to Denver for a bit, where I did internships at the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Gender Identity Center of Colorado. Ultimately, the cold, and the desire to connect with the community, brought me home. I was accepted into San Diego State University’s Women’s Studies Master’s Program and moved back to San Diego. I elevated my edible gardening from a few potted porch plants and a tower garden to a plot at Mt. Hope Community Garden. One plot turned into three and before you know it, I was adding “farmer” to my bag of tools and participating in the conversation around sustainability, regenerative agriculture, food justice, and environmental justice and bringing my kinda-radical intersectional views to the tables and spaces I occupied. I worked as an Associate and credentialed substitute teacher for about three years after my MA and started to study birth work in my spare time. I became a certified doula with For the Village and began supporting families during their prenatal period, birth, and postpartum. I have a passion for learning and believe in holistic, traditional healing, so I decided to add to my toolbox by taking certification training programs such as Grandma’s Hands Herbal Postpartum Healing from the Black southern perspective, The Nafsa Project School traditional Moroccan postpartum healing, Milk Magic Educators from Nurturely and a Childbirth Education from Birthing From Within. I became a Climate Ambassador for Environmental Justice and started an organization called P.H.A.T.C.R.O.P.S. an acronym for Providing Healthier Alternatives to Communities Reclaiming Our People’s Sustainability and I took a permaculture design certification program with San Diego Sustainable Living Institute. If all that wasn’t enough, I run a spiritual-based home business, Asha Nia, where I handcraft gemstone jewelry and other spiritual tools, and an organization called Resilience Building Knowledge which focuses on safety, rescue, and defense training in our communities. Where do I plan to go from here?? Well, one goal of PHATCROPS is to establish local food forests in communities living under food apartheid and to continue to educate folks on the significance of growing their own food and collective permaculture. Asha Nia would love to have a brick and-mortar to showcase the jewelry and spiritual crafts we make with enough room for a yoga class. I will continue to work with For the Village while also building up my birth work business Nefer Het Ankh which translates to Beautiful House of Life, where I offer full-spectrum doula services, childbirth education, and lactation education classes as well as some traditional cultural birth and postpartum practices such as the Hamam bath (traditional practice in Morocco). Nefer Het Ankh will one day become a holistic birth center. My love for learning will only push me to continue from here.

Gail Young - She Makes History Awardee
Financial Coach/Hydration Specialist

Gail Young

From a Catholic nun to a financial coach entrepreneur, I must say, it sparks interest in people by asking me a lot of questions! I have two businesses, I help people as a 1) Financial Coach and a 2) Hydration Specialist. The financial coaching came over eight years ago when I left the Catholic order of Sisters in 2014. They gave me my old car and $6000! How long does $6000 last in California?! I heard in my spirit that “you better learn something about money, or it is going to manage you.” I was blessed to find an entrepreneur at the time- my new business partner, Mike, who had lost his left leg and his right eye in the Afghanistan war, he was building his business in the financial services industry! Mike was helping people save money, get out of debt, and plan for retirement. How many people do you know who need financial education these days? So I was encouraged and got my State license in 2015. I began receiving valuable financial training in this industry. I reach out to friends and social media, along with meeting people through networking. Mike soon went off to disability retirement, but my other business partner Karlo, the CEO of Innergy Financial, gave me an opportunity in this business