Power Players

Palm Springs Life celebrates three successful women in business whose work benefits the Coachella Valley community

Cynthia Rubin Social Scene 0 Comments

The three winners of Palm Springs Life’s third annual Women in Business Awards, presented by SBEMP Attorneys (from left): Jan Harnik, Teresa Whipple, and Marcie Madain.
Photos by Ethan Kaminsky


What moves a person to step outside her personal sphere and apply her talents in the wider world? For the three winners of Palm Springs Life’s third annual Women in Business Awards, presented by SBEMP Attorneys, it was the desire to connect — to link more community members through transportation, to offer cohesive and humane healthcare, to serve all-natural concoctions that nourish body and soul.

Four female judges, each a powerhouse in her own right, picked an exemplary high achiever in three categories: Leader in the Community, Corporate Leader, and Entrepreneur/Startup.

This year’s awardees speak enthusiastically about how they came to their line of work, expound on the many ways to make a difference, and are quick to praise the Coachella Valley’s remarkably female-friendly business climate and growing regional sense of place.

Introducing the winners as keynote speaker at a May 5 luncheon is New York–based clothing designer Nina McLemore, whose subtle and timeless styles are the prized asset of some of the nation’s most powerful women, helping the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Janet Yellen, and Elena Kagan dress their personal best and get the job done. Read on for more about this year’s awardees and the celebratory luncheon at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage.


Luncheon Details

Date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Location: The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage 68900 Frank Sinatra Drive, Rancho Mirage
Agenda: 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: Reception, 12:30-2 p.m.: Welcome, introduction of keynote speaker, and awards
Cost: $75 per person; $650 for table of 10. RSVP to Palm Springs Life at 760-325-2333, ext. 202
Presented by: SBEMP Attorneys; The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage; Wink Lash & Beauty Bar; Just Blow Drys; and Rum Chata Benefiting Women Leaders Forum of the Coachella Valley


Award Winners


Leader in the Community: Jan C. Harnik

Jan Harnik, Palm Desert City Council member and former mayor.


Jan Harnik’s life is alphabet soup — and not just from raising four kids. “I live in a world of acronyms,” says the Palm Desert City Council member and former mayor.

These days, the main ones are RCTC (Riverside County Transportation Commission), CVAG (Coachella Valley Association of Governments), and ATP (Active Transportation Program) — all part of her job as chief champion of the CV Link, a 52-mile bike, pedestrian, and electric-vehicle route being built to connect Coachella Valley cities.

It’s not a path she’d planned (so to speak) when migrating here from Manhattan Beach 38 years ago. “I thought, ‘Transportation. Great,’ ” she drolly recalls of her first commission assignment. Nor was running for office itself: “I thought, ‘No, I’m better in the background.’ ”

But Harnik now sees sustainable and two-legged transit as a socially vital connecting force. “It’s breaking barriers across our community, increasing everyone’s access to health, education, all the things we in America want — for our underserved population, too.”

And it boosts the locally crucial tourist dollar: “The No. 1 question visitors here ask their concierge is, ‘Where do I exercise?’ ”

And it cements this region’s growing identity and pride. “Nowadays the attitude I hear is no longer ‘I live in Palm Springs’ but ‘I live in the Coachella Valley,’ ” she notes. “I don’t care which city the pothole is in, let’s fix it. Success or failure does not know an ink line on a map.”


Corporate Leader: Teresa Whipple

Terea Whipple is executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.


Teresa Whipple knew she was ultimately college-bound when she left her hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan, to join the army in 1979. She didn’t know she’d meet her future husband overseas, return stateside to major in business, become a hospital CFO/CPA — and learn that “healthcare is where the action is.”

Today, Whipple is executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where more than 12,000 patients get everything from screening to treatment under one roof.

Her job may be backstage administrator rather than hands-on clinician, but it’s far from a secondary role: “Not being a clinician, my responsibility is to help the organization be successful,” she says, “to support the physicians, and to lead the decisions on buying equipment and expanding space to provide the most healing environment possible.”

It’s work she’s performed passionately since becoming the center’s financial director two decades ago. “Healthcare is so important,” Whipple says. “No other industry matters more.”

As a Desert Cancer Foundation board member, she also raises funds to help cover patient mammograms and out-of-pocket costs. The cancer center itself is “not a sad place to work,” she adds. “The patients are fortunate they found us, and our team of specialists is fortunate to be able to offer them the best care. I love being a part of all that.”


Entrepreneur/Startup: Marcie Madain

Marcie Madain has opened four Fresh Juice Bar locations since 2013.


Owner of Fresh Juice Bar Marcie Madain thought green smoothies might be something of a sell — so how well they did sell was staggering to her.

In 2013, in Palm Desert, Madain opened her first location, blending all-natural fruits and veggies into ingenious creations — and the valley drank it up. In 2014, with fans clamoring for additional places to purchase her juices, she opened three more (four, including her BNP Paribas Open store).

“I thought, ‘You’re driving from Palm Springs … for a smoothie?’ ” she recalls. “But then I thought, ‘If I have this amazing product, I’d better make it easier to get.’ ” Years earlier, Madain and her husband started drinking their greens for breakfast, “and it transformed our lives — in five years, he didn’t get sick once,” she says of her husband.

Foisting her concoctions on friends, Madain saw them get healthier too. “I realized this beautiful desert had a lot of fast food,” but not much fast nutrition, she says. Fresh’s beverages deliver just that, because the body assimilates nutrients quicker in liquid form.

For Madain, a busy mom, nutrition is admittedly a mission — and she’s converting kids. Recently, “a Brownie troop came in, and it was cute to see them first turn up their noses but then go, ‘Not bad,’ ” she says.

Of course, some blends are kid-friendlier than others: her Black Forest — with cherries, cacao, and almonds — is “kind of chocolaty,” she allows. “You don’t taste the kale so much.”


Keynote: A Strong Voice for Women

Nina McLemore is the keynote speaker at the Women in Business luncheon.


On May 5, Nina McLemore — a nationally recognized women’s clothing designer — will be the keynote speaker for the Women in Business luncheon at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage.

McLemore’s self-titled fashion collection is known for its understated yet powerful and timeless jackets and separates that “take you where you want to go,” from day to evening, in luxurious fabrics created to flatter all shapes and sizes. The collection is sold through her 14 stores, including one in Palm Desert, and at private trunk shows throughout the country.

McLemore — who served on the executive committee of Liz Claiborne Inc. and founded Liz Claiborne Accessories — has dressed some of the most powerful women in the world, including CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, senior government officials, prominent lawyers, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit leaders.

From an early age McLemore took an interest in fashion, designing and making her own clothes in her home state of Mississippi. She went on to earn an MBA from Columbia Business School and completed the executive program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

She also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Her lesson from that experience, she says, is that “you can get through anything if you just breathe very deeply and keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
McLemore is a strong supporter of women entrepreneurs and economic independence for women. “Without the ability to support oneself and family, options and the ability to make the best decisions are limited at best,” she says.

She also believes that philanthropy and support of the community are important, and she partners with nonprofits to help raise money for projects focusing on women, children, healthcare, and the arts. Some of her volunteer work includes serving as former chair of the Center for Women’s Business Research; board member of the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York; and co-founder of the annual Columbia Women in Business Conference.

Visit www.ninamclemore.com to see her fashion collection.


                           Meet the Panel of Judges                                   






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