A few years ago, Minta Jack and Carol Murrel faced a similar problem: How do you establish a career after being out of the work force for more than 20 years while raising a family?
They both found the help they needed--career counseling, aptitude tests, classes and a lot of encouragement--at the Women's Opportunity Center at UC Irvine.
Today, Jack is director of volunteer services at United Western Medical Centers in Santa Ana, and Murrel is a specialist in financial planning with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance in Newport Beach.
Both are among seven women who will be honored by the women's center at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Tennis Club next Thursday. These women have been named the first recipients of the center's Amelia Awards in recognition of achievement in their careers and their dedication to helping other women find their own paths to success.
Also being honored with Amelias are Pat Herzog of Corona del Mar, an attorney; Diane D. Kaufmann of Irvine, a telemarketing and sales consultant; Jean Pond of Irvine, executive director of Adult Careers Inc.; Jeanne Golding of Laguna Beach, family counselor, and Sylvia Lenhoff of Costa Mesa, director of the Office of Relations of Schools and Colleges at UCI.
The 6 p.m. awards dinner will also be a celebration of a drive that has raised $1.2 million for a new building to house the Women's Opportunity Center on the UCI campus. (Tickets to the dinner, which is open to the public, are $50 each. For information, call (714) 856-7128.)
The women's center has provided services to more than 100,000 people, averaging about 500 clients a month, since it opened in 1970, according to Elaine Hart, WOC director. About 80 volunteers from the business community provide career and personal counseling and teach such classes as "Job Seeker's Clinic," "Exploring New Career Options," "Skill Building for Self Worth," "Life Careering" and "Financial Strategies Related to Divorce."
A management skills certification course, vocational and career aptitude testing, seminars on job interview techniques, classes in resume preparation and assertiveness training are also available.
The name for the awards was selected in honor of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, because she "was independent and daring and pioneering, and she really provides a kind of a lasting, inspirational role model for women," says Eleanor Burg, who co-chairs the dinner event with Barbara Roppolo.
Amelia honorees will receive specially designed gold pins inspired by the Distinguished Flying Cross because Earhart was the first woman to receive that award. "It symbolizes what we see happening here," Hart says. The analogy with flying works, she says, because volunteers at the center strive to help "women to try their wings."
The Amelia in the category of employee of a nonprofit organization will be awarded to Jack, who lives in Orange. "Minta has made significant contributions to United Western Medical Centers beyond her job description, providing an excellent role model for others," says Margot Stuart, a member of the awards committee.
Jack coordinates the work of more than 500 volunteers at the hospital and also serves on the board of the American Society of Directors of Volunteer Services.
Murrel, a Newport Beach resident, will receive the Amelia for her success as a Women's Opportunity Center graduate. She now is a volunteer guest speaker for the "Job Seeker's Clinic," which is the very class that helped her start on the road to a career as a specialist in insurance and investment planning. Murrel has also distinguished herself in her field by placing in the top 20 in a five-year competition among 4,500 Massachusetts Mutual agents for the most premiums collected.
Lenhoff is being honored with an Amelia in the lifetime achievement category because she helped found the center along with the late Lou Anderson. Lenhoff is "a longtime activist in human issues, but specifically in feminist issues" and "a mentor and role model for other women," Hart says. She says Lenhoff and Anderson started the center to help women who were returning to school and "needed a place where they could meet one another for encouragement."
Herzog will receive an Amelia in the advocate category for her 10-year involvement with women's center, for which she teaches workshops on the legal aspects of divorce. She is active in the Orange County Women Lawyers Assn., California Women Lawyers Assn., the American Civil Liberties Union, the Orange County Bar Assn. and the Legal Aid Society.
Kaufmann is the winner of the Amelia in the entrepreneur category. She owns Effective Telemarketing & Profitable Prospecting in Laguna Niguel and works with major corporations to produce customized telemarketing sales programs. Kaufmann is a volunteer speaker for the Women's Opportunity Center "Job Seekers Clinic" and the management certificate program and also does individual counseling.