2019 Women in Wellness Awards: Environmental Leader of the Year

American Spa has announced the winner and finalists of its Environmental Leader of the year. // Graphic courtesy of Kara Magliaro (American Spa)

Back for its third edition, American Spa’s Women in Wellness Awards honor those who are making an impact in the industry and beyond. These exceptional women are transforming the wellness world with their noteworthy contributions such as serving on related industry boards and organizations, discovering untapped opportunities, giving back, and bringing their unique perspective to all that they do. Nominated by their peers and chosen by acclaimed wellness journalists, these women are showing they’re a force with which to be reckoned. 

From August 26 through September 4, American Spa will be announcing one new winner and two finalists of the 2019 Women in Wellness Awards each day. Today, discover the Environmental Leader of the year.

Environmental Leader: This award honors a woman in wellness who is making significant strides in protecting, nourishing, and rejuvenating the planet. 

WINNER: Anna Ayers, cofounder and CEO, Amazon Beauty and Rahua

Anna Ayers

Passionate about reconnecting people with nature, Anna Ayers cofounded Rahua, a sustainable hair and bodycare line made with powerful rainforest ingredients with her husband, hairdresser and salon owner Fabian Lliguin. Together, they traveled to the Amazon rainforest, where Ayers was inspired by the beauty of the untouched forest. Ayers and Lliguin created Ecoagents, a nonprofit organization with a mission to create awareness about the Amazon Rainforest and the importance of protecting it. While working with Ecoagents, Ayers fell in love with the people and plant life. Determined to help the Quichua people develop a sustainable business, she and Lliguin were inspired to create Rahua. Committed to creating a business model with philanthropy built into its DNA, Ayers' approach is to empower the indigenous people to create and sustain an economy based on preserving their traditions. The company also created The Pink Flamingo Project, an ongoing environmental cleanup effort working with locals to clean natural habitat areas of the pink flamingos and other endemic species in the Galapagos Islands. Ayer’s work through the company and Ecoagents has helped preserve 37,500 hectares for pristine and bio-diverse tribal lands deep in the Amazon rainforest, ultimately producing oxygen and offsetting the carbon footprint for every client, retail partner, and more.

FINALIST: Ashley Prange, founder, Au Naturale Cosmetics

Ashley Prange

Ashley Prange left her work as nuclear analyst in Washington, D.C. to solve an even bigger challenge: create a line of bold, long-lasting color cosmetics using highly scrutinized, ethically sound, factually healthy and naturally sourced ingredients, without the harmful chemicals that led to her chronic breakouts, irritation, and toxic load. A trailblazer at heart, Prange saw an opportunity to fill a hole in the market; consumers often wear clean color during the day, but turn to conventional cosmetics when they want full spectrum color payoff and long lasting wear. Finding no clean and ethical color line to meet this need, Prange transformed her coffee grinder into a mineral mixer and set out to create makeup that would prove that clean color is not only possible, but better for the skin and the planet. Her mission was to use exclusively healthy, naturally derived, and ethically sourced ingredients to replace each and every product in her former beauty routine. The success of her initial lab samples (her skin's newfound glow stopped people in their tracks, leading to a waitlist of personalized orders) evolved quickly into a full product range that launched in 2011. Since then, Au Naturale Cosmetics has gone global while remaining local. Prange built a proprietary lab in Wisconsin to ensure the highest standard in quality assurance, and established partnerships with fair-trade farmers across the globe to ensure the highest standard in ingredients and transparency. Coming full circle, Prange heads back to D.C. regularly to lobby for the Personal Care Act, a movement to demand stricter regulation of cosmetic products in the United States. 

FINALIST: Joanna Roche, executive director, GSN Planet

Joanna Roche

Joanna Roche is the executive director of GSN Planet, a non-profit trade association serving the spa, wellness, and hospitality communities in support of a sustainable future. With more than 25 years of experience in executive management, marketing, and spa operations, Roche is a passionate brand and wellness activist. Her mission is to inspire wellness and sustainability as both a personal and business practice. A frequent speaker, contributing writer, and host of a weekly radio program on Nantucket’s NPR affiliate, she highlights the people and practices making the world a better place.    


Congrats to our winner and finalists of the Environmental Leader category. Check back tomorrow for the Industry Insider of the Year. Stay tuned on American Spa online, as well on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for more info about the winners and finalists of the 2019 Women in Wellness Awards as well as upcoming Women in Wellness Leadership Conferences.


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