Barrington chamber to honor women leaders at luncheon

Posted8/23/2019 10:39 AM

The Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce Women's Biz Net will honor four local women leaders during the chamber's Outstanding Women Leaders Awards Luncheon, set for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 26 at Biltmore Country Club, 160 Biltmore Drive, North Barrington.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at


Outstanding Women Leaders receiving the award this year include: Deborah Rivera, owner of Ambrosia Euro-American Patisserie -- OWL Award for Professional Excellence; Melissa Buckley, founding board president of BStrong Together -- OWL Award for Community Impact; Jodie Diegel, founder and president of SOUL Harbour Ranch Animal Therapy Program -- OWL Award for Nonprofit Leadership; and Susan Lenz, executive director of Conservation for the Barrington Area Conservation Trust -- OWL Award for Mentorship and Education.

"These four amazing women leaders serve as role models, breaking barriers and setting the bar high for their accomplishments professionally and to the community," said BACC President and CEO, Suzanne Corr.

"We developed the OWL awards to thank women leaders who make a tremendous impact on the lives of others. They have important stories that others should hear."

The OWL Awards were created by the BACC WBN Council to recognize women for their inspiring work in one of four categories: Professional Excellence -- excelling in their profession and setting the standard in their field; Community Impact -- giving back and making an impact on the Barrington Area community; Nonprofit Leadership -- working to provide important resources to the community and excelling an important cause; and Mentorship and Education -- mentoring and improving the lives of others through education.

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• Deborah Rivera is the owner of Ambrosia Euro-American Patisserie, which has been serving a daily fresh selection of gourmet pastries, baked goods, confections and beverages to the Barrington area for 30 years.

The successful longevity of her business is a reflection of Rivera's unique vision, out-of-the box imagination, inclusivity, tireless work ethic, support of young staff, and generous contributions to many community efforts over the years.

In partnership with her late husband, chef Richard Rivera, the two established Ambrosia as a top contender and award winner in the art of pastry making.

• Melissa Buckley is the founding board president of BStrong Together, a community coalition that provides programs and resources to support students, parents and others in raising resilient, responsible and self-sufficient youth.


BStrong addresses the issues of substance abuse and suicide prevention, mental health, and a holistic approach to parenting.

Prior to BStrong, Buckley founded LINK (Learn, Inspire, Network, Know) to support area parents and children, and served on the Barrington Input 220 Advisory Council, and as Barrington High School PTO President and Chair of the Barrington 220 Presidents' Council.

• Jodie Diegel founded SOUL (Sharing Of Unconditional Love) Harbour Ranch Animal Therapy Program in 2013 to enrich lives by promoting the unconditional love and healing of the human-animal bond while advocating for animal therapy standards of excellence.

The 501c3 organization is run completely by volunteers whom Diegel recruits and trains. She also schedules free visits with her mini-therapy horses and dogs, partners with other organizations for community events, coordinates fundraisers, and is a legal nurse consultant and adjunct instructor at Harper College.

• Susan Lenz is executive director of Conservation for the Barrington Area Conservation Trust, which was formed to preserve the Barrington community's open lands, natural resources, equestrian character, and scenic beauty.

Lenz directs land preservation initiatives and stewardship, and manages land programs and education. She is passionate about working with local, regional and national organizations to further conservation efforts, and encourage high school conservation leadership.

Prior to her current role, Lenz served as BACT director of community engagement and education, and many know her as "the Nature Lady."

The first class of OWL Award recipients, recognized in September 2018, were: Karen Lambert, president of Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, for professional excellence; Joy Wagner, RN, BSN and founder of fitMS® NeuroBalance Center, for community impact; Susan McConnell, founder and executive director of Let It Be Us, for nonprofit leadership; and Jennifer Prell, founder and president of Paxem, Inc. and Elderwerks, for mentorship and education.

The Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce's Women's Biz Net is a network of women empowering women. WBN offers monthly meetings and programs that bring relevant topics, networking opportunities and a forum for building relationships that can enhance your business aspirations and enrich your life.

The monthly meetings are dedicated "To gather professional women to inspire, enrich, empower and benefit from the unique talents of extraordinary women."

For information, contact the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce at (847) 381-2525 or visit

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