American Spa’s Women in Wellness Awards has returned for its fourth edition to honor those who are making an impact in the industry and beyond. Meet the winners and finalists who are transforming the wellness world with their contributions
Industry Icon: This award honors a longtime female spa leader who sees the potential of our industry and has influenced its growth and success.
WINNER: Barbara Close, founder, Naturopathica
A lifelong practitioner of the healing arts, Barbara Close has a master’s degree in therapeutic herbalism and credentials in esthetics, advanced massage, and aromatherapy. An author of several books, including The Naturopathica Effect: A Holistic Approach to Skin Care (Blurb, Incorporated, 2018), Close is regarded as a pioneer in the wellness movement and draws on her expertise to illustrate the connection between skin health and wellbeing. As an early adapter and now leader in holistic skincare, Close created Naturopathica as a way to encourage people to be active participants in the health of their own skin.
Finalist: Anna Bjurstam, wellness pioneer, Six Senses and Raison d'Etre
Owner & Operator: This award honors the female owner of a spa or wellness facility who makes an impact by successfully managing with business acumen, creativity, integrity, and grace.
WINNER: Sue Glasscock, cofounder and chief creative director, The Ranch (Malibu, CA)
Sue Glasscock founded The Ranch (Malibu, CA) in September 2010 with her husband, Alex. The couple’s passion for healthy and balanced living through outdoor activities and appreciation for nature were the guiding principles in creating this fitness and wellness retreat. Glasscock’s vision for The Ranch was to create a luxurious environment where guests can find relaxation and serenity after an intensive day of physical activity. As cofounder and chief creative director, Glasscock oversees all aspects of the guest experience outside of the program itself, including the interior design of all rooms and common areas of The Ranch, curation of amenities, and the landscape design throughout the property. She also manages the development and design of The Ranch-branded beauty and apparel lines and develops the packaging for all branded products. She provides crucial direction on the design of all marketing and branding materials for The Ranch and relevant collateral to ensure a consistency in aesthetic across all platforms.
Finalist: Diana Stobo, founder and owner, The Retreat Costa Rica
Brand Founder: This award honors the female founder of a wellness-centric product or equipment company who makes an impact by managing with business acumen, creativity, integrity, and grace.
WINNER: Tammy Fender, esthetician, spa owner, and brand founder, Tammy Fender
More than 25 years ago, brand founder Tammy Fender pioneered a movement toward natural, plant-based luxury skin-care and holistic living, recognizing the interconnected nature of wellness and guiding clients toward lifestyle choices that enhance vitality. Working as an esthetician, Fender began creating her own custom-made natural skincare formulas to treat clients. Using the most exquisite and pure natural remedies—from herbs and plant butters to refined marine clays and precious floral essences—her uniquely active, proprietary blends have had a remarkable effect. And thanks to the overwhelming success of Fender’s formulations and holistic treatments, her spa, Tammy Fender Holistic Skincare Spa (West Palm Beach, FL), has a devoted following. Fender works hands-on every day both in the laboratory and in the treatment room. Each of her holistic skincare formulas carries the wisdom of her direct experience in restoring and replenishing the skin and supports a renewal of vibrancy for the whole being—in body, mind, and spirit.
Finalist: Noel Asmar, president and CEO, Noel Asmar Group of Companies
Spa Director: This award honors a female spa director who leads a successful team and inspires her staff, her employer, and her clients with savvy business skills, courage, integrity, fairness, and creativity.
WINNER: Kristi Dickinson, general manager, Canyon Ranch Woodside (CA)
Kristi Dickinson possesses more than two decades of luxury hospitality experience, including her current role as general manager at Canyon Ranch Woodside (CA). Prior to joining Canyon Ranch, she held key executive positions at the five-star, five-diamond Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa (Rancho Santa Fe, CA), Mayflower Inn & Spa (Washington, CT), Spa Montage Deer Valley at the Montage Deer Valley Resort (Park City, UT), and the Golden Door Spa at The Peaks Resort (Telluride, CO). As an executive board member for the Advanced Spa Therapy Education Certification Council (ASTECC), Dickinson upholds the highest standards in wellness education. She offers a wide-angle perspective as a massage therapist, yoga instructor, and operator. Dickinson is a WELL Accredited Professional through the International WELL Building Institute, a Fitwel Ambassador through the Center for Active Design, and a mentor for the Global Wellness Institute's mentorship program. She is passionate about creating transformative guest experiences, exemplifying and inspiring the wellness lifestyle in others, and developing the future leaders of the hospitality and experience industry.
Finalist: Karina Chung, director of spa and retail, Rosewood Miramar Beach (Montecito, CA)
Spa Consultant: This award honors a spa consultant who helps create unique, meaningful, effective, and expertly crafted wellness spaces.
WINNER: Peaches McCahill, president, The McCahill Group
Peaches McCahill is the president of The McCahill Group, a health, fitness, and beauty consulting practice. Her unique entrepreneurial, education, and bottom-line orientation has provided her clients with a full range of services from initial idea conception through full-scale buildout, implementation, and turnkey staffing. She is a pioneer in the beauty industry, creating more than 50 health and beauty properties. Her business partnership model is reflected by numerous long-term relationships, some spanning more than 30 years. McCahill instills a passion for excellence in every member of her growing organization, which consists of approximately 80 percent women. She has a proven track record of designing, developing, and operating profitable health and fitness programs and spas in a wide variety of both corporate and private environments. Her hands-on approach keeps her involved, aware, and in touch with the latest trends in the wellbeing industry. As an author and speaker, McCahill enjoys sharing her expertise on wellness and resiliency with organizations throughout the nation.
Finalist: Bernadette Izzo, president and consultant/independent contractor, Olijo Beauty and Skin Care Distributor/Pevonia International Skin Care
Educator and Trainer: This award honors a woman who is making a difference in education and sharing her knowledge of industry topics, products, equipment, and more.
WINNER: Cecily J. Braden, founder, CJB Beauty Secrets
Cecily J. Braden is the founder of CJB Beauty Secrets and a recognized leader in the wellness industry who has been educating spa professionals in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Asia, and Europe since 1994. CJB Beauty Secrets was started as a result of her passion for Southeast Asia and desire to offer unique products and services that maintain the traditional techniques and philosophies of international cultures. Braden’s down-to-earth approach to learning helps students easily interpret complex theory and master a vast range of techniques, enabling them to excel in the treatment room and provide fundamentally positive shifts in the health of their clients' skin and bodies. Her goal is to inspire and guide wellness professionals on how to mindfully take their treatments to the next level and achieve long-term results by working with the natural functions of the skin. Braden's training efforts focus on the whole of the treatment, which embrace the technical as well as the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects for both the therapist and guest, creating a deeper connection for increased health and wellness benefits. She believes the spa experience should be equal to the results.
Finalist: Kim Collier, founder, practitioner, and educator, Jamu & Organic Spa Rituals
Industry Insider: This award honors a woman known as a powerful connector, serving as an inspirational mentor due to her networking prowess and for connecting members of the wellness world.
WINNER: Christi Cano, president and founder, Innovative Spa Productions and Onward We Rise
Christi Cano in the president and founder of Innovative Spa Productions, a boutique consulting company based on 30 years of firsthand development, operations, management, and technician experience. Her hospitality management career began with Hyatt Resorts Hawaii, opening and managing resorts on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island. A love for spas and being of service translated into a career in spa management, development, and openings with the launch of Spa Ojai followed by the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Wynn Las Vegas. Cano’s unique combination of skills combines experiences as a resort spa director, hotel manager, consultant, product sales representative, and trainer. She graduated from massage school and is a reiki practitioner. A professional educator at U.S. and inter-national spa conferences and events, she has served on the board of directors of the Washington (D.C.) Spa Alliance and task forces for the International Spa Association. With a passion for supporting vendor partners that is equal to her love of helping spas and small businesses, she is currently on the board of directors and leading vendor relations for the Southeast Spa Wellness Association.
Finalist: Jessica Wadley, vice president of integrative health and wellness, Oakworks
Philanthropist: This award honors a woman who is making an altruistic impact on a charity or cause within the spa and wellness industry.
WINNER: Ann Marie Brown, founder and CEO, Saltability
With more than 25 years of experience in the resort spa business, Ann Marie Brown is an industry veteran whose roles have extended from licensed cosmetologist, esthetician, nail technician, and massage therapist to accomplished spa director and business manager. In 2014, she founded Saltability and conceived a line of pure Himalayan salt products. Dedicated to educating others about the value of spa wellness and salt therapy, Brown serves as vice chair of the Global Wellness Salt & Halotherapy Initiative and is involved in the Global Wellness Institute Mentor-ship Program. She was also a founding member of the American Spa Therapy Education and Certification Council. Brown serves her community in several ways, including service through Rotary International, the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, and the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, Brown supports key nonprofit organizations through Saltability, giving back to The Citizens Foundation USA, the Hunar Foundation, Charity:water, and Seagull Services. Through The Citizens Foundation USA and the Hunar Foundation, she supports education and work opportunities for the people of Pakistan to give back to the area where Saltability sources its pure Himalayan salt. By partnering with Seagull Services, Saltability supports its mission to provide meaningful employment for individuals with disabilities.
Finalist: Sara Dickie, M.D., medical director, One Magnificent Medspa (Winnetka, IL)
Environmental Leader: This award honors a woman in wellness who is making significant strides in protecting, nourishing, and rejuvenating the planet.
WINNER: Rona Berg, editorial director, Organic Spa Media
Editorial director of Organic Spa Media, longtime journalist, digital content director, and bestselling author Rona Berg is the former editorial director of Elle, deputy lifestyle editor for The New York Times Magazine, contributing editor to Spa and Self, and advisory board member of Shape. Berg was on the board of directors of the Green Spa Network, where she has been active in leadership roles for more than 11 years, and has been cited as an industry expert in spa, sustainability, and wellness travel. Berg gives voice to environmental issues, from climate change to plastic pollution, and is a leading pioneer in natural, organic, and clean beauty. She leads the industry with her commitment to covering zero-waste fashion, non-toxic beauty, sustainable travel, water and energy conservation, ocean pollution, and more. For 12 years, she served on the executive board of Project Cicero, a literacy nonprofit that recycles children’s books in New York City each year. She also spoke on wellness and sustainability at The New York Times Travel Show, was a judge for Global Wellness Summit Travel Awards, World Travel Awards’s first Sustainability Awards, Green Spa Network Sustainability Awards, and was a recipi-ent of the Green Spa Network 2015 Tara Grodjesk Dedicated Contributor Award.
Finalist: Tracie Ridder Wertz, corporate accounts director, HydraFacial
PR & Marketing Guru: This award honors a woman in public relations and marketing who manages, creates, and shares the message of wellness-related locations, products, equipment, and more.
WINNER: Debra Locker, president, Debra Locker Group
For nearly three decades, Debra Locker has successfully held leadership positions in public relations and journalism that have involved creating a boutique communications firm, securing key placements in major media outlets, leading media tours in cities around the world, co-authoring a book, and being nominated for three Emmy Awards. Locker's eponymous agency, Debra Locker Group, specializes in the lifestyle, wellness, spa, and beauty markets. Prior to launching DLG, Locker was the public relations director for the International Spa Association. An avid writer, Locker is a co-author of Women of Courage (Professional Woman Publishing, 2018).
Finalist: Dana Buchman, chief marketing officer, Burke Williams Day Spa
Be sure to check out American Spa's October issue for the full story of winners, finalists, and judges.