Local businesses support International Women’s Day

Photo by Braydon Russell Pictured, from left, are Mary Kennett, head of people and experience at Deckers Brands; Kerri Murray, president of ShelterBox USA; Lena Requist, president of Ontraport; and Jennifer Somer, vice president of UGG Women’s & Lifestyle and general manager of Koolaburra at Deckers Brands.

Staff Report

Santa Barbara-based companies Deckers Brands, Ontraport, and ShelterBox USA recently co-hosted the second annual International Women’s Day event at Ontraport headquarters in Santa Barbara.

More than 100 guests attended the event, which featured nine local female leaders who discussed working toward gender equality, women in technology, and how to overcome challenges women face in business.

The speakers included Ashe Kelly-Brown and Cristin Brown, owners of Pura Luna Women’s Apothecary; Michelle Greer, senior VP of People at Procore Technologies; Mary Kennett, head of people and experience at Deckers Brands; Kerri Murray, president of ShelterBox USA; Diana Pereira, co-founder of Impact Hub; Lena Requist, president of Ontraport; Jennifer Somer, Global vice president of UGG Women’s & Lifestyle at Decker’s Brands; and Leslie Zemeckis, actress, author and award-winning documentarian.

Murray discussed how ShelterBox helps empower women and enable their self-recovery. She told the audience that 85 million people around the world are displaced by disaster or conflict and 75 percent of those are women and children.

The organization launched its She campaign at the event, which seeks to shed light on gender disparities in disasters and conflict and highlight ShelterBox’s support of the most vulnerable.

Zemeckis shared inspiring stories of the women she highlights in her movies and books. She left the audience with the empowering statement that has pushed her through her career: Turn every “no” into “know” — Know what you need to do to pursue your dreams.

A theme throughout the night was pursuing dreams while balancing work and life. Human resources initiatives by tech and lifestyle brands Ontraport, Deckers and Procore include policies for additional parental leave and on-campus childcare. Lena Requist, president of Ontraport, noted that these policies help retain employees.

Business owners and wife duo Ashe and Christin Brown talked about following their dreams, bringing them to Santa Barbara to start a business. Meanwhile, co-owner of Impact Hub Diana Pereira discussed the troubles she faces as a leader in a male-based industry. Both businesses were started to provide a space for women to thrive.

Girls Rock SB, a local nonprofit organization, performed music during the event and food was provided by Jack’s Bistro, Anna’s Bakery and Berry Man.