3rd Annual Women in Tourism and Hospitality (W.I.T.H.) Awards Luncheon

Please join us at our 3rd annual W.I.T.H. Awards Luncheon, March 22, 2018 at the Four Points by Sheraton San Diego, for an afternoon of networking, inspiration and celebration of women leaders and aspiring rising stars. Stay tuned as we announce our 2018 W.I.T.H. Honorees who will share their keys to success in a moderated panel discussion. Guests will enjoy delicious lunch, live entertainment and silent auction with destination gifts; proceeds from W.I.T.H. silent auction, benefit Mt. Miguel High School Matador Business Academy and is tax deductible.


Sponsorship Information: Contact Clara Carter clara@mccsn.com, 619-265-2561.
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Making a difference in the lives of youth – our leaders of tomorrow. Our 501c3 partner, Mt. Miguel High School Matador Business Academy (MBA), is a four-year program and Career Technical Education pathway creating college and career ready students in the underserved communities of Spring Valley and Lemon Grove


About Women History Month

In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month. Traditionally every March San Diego County honors women with events that highlight how women have helped improve the lives of business professionals and impacted the economy, the atmosphere and the lifestyle that is San Diego. MCCSN supports and participates in many of these events and is pleased to culminate San Diego’s celebration by presenting the W.I.T.H. Awards recognizing and honoring six phenomenal women who are Leading the Way in Tourism and Hospitality.

During the luncheon our six honoree executives will share their success journey in a moderated panel discussion focused on challenges and triumphs relating to women in the workplace at all stages of their careers.

2018 W.I.T.H. Award Honorees

2018 W.I.T.H. Honorees to Be Announced

Entrepreneur Sponsor:

Patti Roscoe, Founder of PRA Destination Management

Trailblazer Sponsors:


Friend Sponsors:


Table Sponsors:

  • USS Midway
  • Isabella HansenPurnell
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Diego Convention Center Centerplate
  • Carolyn Johnson
  • US Bank
  • Port of San Diego

Special Thanks to:

  • Wyndham San Diego Bayside
  • San Diego Youth Campaigns
  • Embellishmint Floral & Event Design Studio
  • Exquisite Ventures Event Production
  • Sandra Dryden
  • Carolyn Johnson
  • Angelica Corral
  • Yvonne Mountain
  • Giana Rodriguez

Event Archives

2017 Women in Hospitality and Tourism Luncheon

2017 Honorees

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADenise Jackson, President CEO Balboa Travel Management

Denise Jackson is the President and CEO of Balboa Travel Management, a California based agency ranked in the top 1% nationwide with sales exceeding $200 million. A veteran of more than 34 years in the travel industry, Denise is responsible for all aspects of the strategic direction of its operating division including Corporate Travel Management, On-Line Travel, Meetings & Incentives, Leisure Travel and Technology Consulting. During her 30 year tenure at Balboa Travel she has held various leadership positions in operations, business development and account management. Prior to Balboa Travel, she held strategic operational roles for a cruise line and tour operator in San Francisco.

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Denise has a long history of community service. She serves widely on many governing industry and community boards. Her greatest passion is assisting with educational opportunities for underserved at-risk youth.

Gina 2016Gina Champion-Cain, CEO of American National Investments, Inc.

Ms. Champion-Cain has been responsible for the redevelopment and repositioning of nearly 10 million square feet of commercial space (retail, office and hospitality) as well as over 5,000 residential units. As President and CEO of American National Investments, Inc. (“ANI”), Ms. Champion-Cain’s responsibilities include providing strategic direction to ANI and overseeing all real estate services such as development and acquisition activities, commercial and residential leasing, commercial and residential asset management, as well as the overall management of a lifestyle brand called LuvSurf; a San Diego-based real estate, hospitality and branded merchandise company. LuvSurf is a multi-faceted business, complementing the vacation rental business (www.luv-surf.com) with The Patio Group, a hospitality and restaurant company (The Patio on Lamont, The Patio on Goldfinch, Fireside by The Patio, Saska’s Steakhouse and Sushi, Surf Rider Pizza, Harvest by The Patio and Bao Beach), www.thepatiorestaurants.com), a coffee roasting company called The Swell Coffee Roasting Company, a specialty culinary store called Luxury Farms (www.luxuryfarms.com), a locally hand crafted chocolates company called Andrea’s Truffles, as well as an apparel brand that captures the “sand, sun, and surf” lifestyle of southern California (www.luvsurfapparel.com, www.luvsurfretail.com).

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Ms. Champion-Cain is a recipient of the San Diego Business Journal’s 2001 and 2015 Women Who Mean Business Award, San Diego Metropolitan’s 2001 40 Under Forty Award, San Diego Magazine’s 50 People to Watch for 2002, YWCA’s 2002 Tribute to Women and Industry Award and was nominated by the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Woman Business Owner of the Year Award in 2002. She was also the 2003 recipient of the Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award, accorded by the School of Business Administration at the University of San Diego. Lambda Alpha International, the San Diego Chapter, awarded her an honorary membership for years of leadership and contributions to San Diego’s educational, political and professional communities; and the economic revitalization and redevelopment of San Diego. The former Mayor of San Diego awarded Ms. Champion-Cain for her efforts as a civic leader by reserving June 28th as “Gina Champion-Cain Day”.

pattiPatti Roscoe, Founder of PRA Destination Management Company

Patti Roscoe is happily retired after a lifelong career in the hospitality industry. In 1981, she founded PRA Destination Management Company. In the mid-nineties, expansion plans led her to franchise her five Southern California offices. By 2007, her franchise system consisted of 19 PRA offices nationwide. She decided to sell her growing business to Paris based, Allied International. It is now is a global organization. During her career, Patti has served as a Board member of the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association, and as a Board member and Chair of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, now the San Diego Tourism Authority.

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Patti is also a Board member of SDSU’s Campanile Foundation and chairs the Board of Advisors of SDSU’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, of which she was a co-founder. In 2010, Patti helped create and endow a professorship in an Institute of Meetings and Events, the first of its kind in the nation. The University has recognized her with its prestigious President’s medal for Patti’s commitment to SDSU. In May of 2014, she was conferred with an honorary degree as a Doctor of Humane Letters.

Patti is a trustee with San Diego Zoo Global and is a Plank Owner of the USS Midway, serving on its Foundation. Girl Scouts San Diego has named her as one of their Cool Women. In addition, she was the first female president of the San Diego International Sports Council.

Three organizations have recognized Patti with their Lifetime Achievement Awards: San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, San Diego Rotary Club’s Heilbron Award, and the International Special Events industry. In 2015, Patti was recognized by the Society of Incentive Travel Excellence for embodying integrity and making notable contributions with long-term service to the incentive travel and motivational events industry.

shirleyShirley Hirai, Manager of Equal Opportunity, Port of San Diego

Shirley Hirai began her career at the Port District twenty-seven years ago as an Office Assistant. She was promoted several times, and today, is the Manager of Equal Opportunity and has the role of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator.

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Ms. Hirai is involved in the development and implementation of the equal opportunity contracting, employment, and accessible programs for the Port District. Throughout her twenty-seven year career, she has coordinated Port-wide and community outreach events and workshops for consultants, contractors and vendors. Previously, she served as the Secretary for the Airport Minority Advisory Council and as the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Liaison Officer for the San Diego International Airport. She is actively involved with her counterparts in the equal opportunity industry via the Public Agency Consortium, and has implemented various partnerships with other San Diego regional entities to enhance the Port District’s equal opportunity programs.

As the ADA Coordinator, Ms. Hirai is the staff liaison for the Board of Port Commissioners Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC). The AAC assists the Port District in ensuring that all services, programs, and facilities are accessible to all.

Ms. Hirai has lived overseas in Japan, Okinawa, and Korea, and holds a liberal arts degree in Asian language and literature from The University of Iowa.

RebeccaRebecca Aguilera-Gardiner, VP of Sales and Marketing for Diego and Sons Printing

Rebecca Aguilera-Gardiner is the vice president of sales and marketing at Diego and Son Printing. In this role, she has acquired large contracts with corporations such as MetLife, CVS Caremark, The Ken Blanchard Companies, Karl Strauss Breweries, Metropolitan Water District, and many others. She has also helped the business to become environmentally friendly, as it is now part of the Green Supplier Network and has earned the Forest Stewardship Certification. Rebecca worked for Diego and Son Printing in her youth and, prior to rejoining the company, spent time in the radio industry as on-air talent and in sales.

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Rebecca currently serves as the Executive Director for Veterans In Business (VIB) Network. She was a volunteer for over 13 years with the Elite SDVOB Network, planning outreach events and was on the Board of Directors. She was also the conference chair for several Elite SDVOB National conferences planning and executing soon of their most successful conference. She was also the chair of the San Diego Workforce Investment Board from 2013-2015. She was involved with Crawford High School Advisory Board, San Diego Minority Supplier Diversity Board and is a member of the National Skills Coalition, Business Leaders United, where she attended a bill signing for the long-term unemployed at the White House with President Obama and Vice President Biden.

suebotosSue Botos, VP, Community Relations, S.D. Padres

Sue Botos enters her 18th season with the San Diego Padres in 2016, her sixth in the role of vice president, community relations, overseeing all areas of the Club’s community outreach and philanthropy.

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Since 2012, Botos has overseen the conceptualization and implementation of the Future Padres program, which in 2016 will outfit more than 25,000 local youth baseball and softball players in Padres jerseys and caps – free of charge. Botos has played a part in other milestone programs, including the development of the first college scholarship program in Major League Baseball, Padres Scholars.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Botos is a 1991 graduate of The Ohio State University. She resides in San Diego with her husband, Doug.

Catherine Garcia HeadShotCatherine Garcia, Evening Anchorwoman NBC7 San Diego

W.I.T.H. Mistress of Ceremonies

Catherine Garcia joined NBC7 San Diego 13 years ago as the weekend anchor.  She’s now the evening anchor Monday through Friday at NBC7 San Diego.  You’ll see her on the 4, 6 and 11pm newscasts.  Catherine graduated from USC with a degree in Journalism.  Her first job was behind the scenes at the CNN Bureau in LA, and then at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta.  She landed her first reporting job at the NBC station in El Paso, Texas and went on to report and anchor at FOX in Austin and ABC in Dallas.  After her tour of Texas, she was happy to come home to Southern California and plans to never leave again!

Peggy CooperPeggy Cooper, Senior Community Relations Specialist at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

W.I.T.H. Moderator:

A well- tenured public and community relations specialist, Peggy Cooper a native of Kentucky has served the community of San Diego for 33 years.  She’s had a respected (21 year) political background in San Diego having worked for both United States Congress and City Hall, as well as, maintained a long-term establishment of leaders. Today, she holds the position as Senior Community Relations Specialist at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority where she has been employed for the past 12 years.


Peggy has two days with the City of San Diego proclaimed in her honor under former Mayor’s Dick Murphy and Jerry Sanders for handling a vast amount of protocol issues at the City, County, State and national level.   In February 2013, she was instrumental in coordinating the efforts of an historic dedication and permanent tribute of a five-mile stretch of Interstate 15 “Tuskegee Airmen Highway”, as well as, throughout the years personally raised close to a million dollars to support numerous non-profit agencies and organizations in San Diego.  She enjoys mentoring young adults and has raised funds to send over 15 students to major universities across the country.


Peggy serves on the Board of Directors for the USS Midway Museum and Hotel-Motel Association of San Diego County which keeps her directly involved with some of the biggest power players in the SD Tourism Industry.  In addition, she is a member of International Association of Business Communicators, Executive Women’s International, Friends of Downtown, Public Relations Society of America and serves as Mistress of Ceremony for numerous engagements.


2016 Women in Hospitality and Tourism Luncheon


Sponsored By:

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