Back for its second year, American Spa’s Women in Wellness Awards honor the women in our industry for their contributions in making the world a better place. Nominated by their peers and chosen by acclaimed wellness journalists, these women are showing they’re a force with which to be reckoned. Making a profound impact in the industry and beyond, they are leaning in by serving on related industry boards and organizations, discovering untapped opportunities, giving back, and bringing their unique perspective to all that they do.
From September 24 through September 28, American Spa has been announcing two new winners of the 2018 Women in Wellness Awards each day. Today, discover the winner of the Philanthropist Award.
Philanthropist: This award honors a woman who is making an altruistic impact on a charity or cause within the spa and wellness industry.
WINNER: Julie Bach, executive director, Wellness for Cancer
When it comes to making a real difference in the way spa-goers who have been touched by cancer are treated, Julie Bach has had a profound impact. As the founder of Wellness for Cancer (WFC), she has changed the way spas approach those suffering from cancer. A patient advocate, she has been instrumental in creating awareness for the role of spas as her organization has trained in more than 30 countries and is expected to expand to 70 by the end of 2019. Bach also manages cancer outreach programs in Colorado. “Julie has gained global recognition as a beacon for cancer awareness and training within the spa and wellness industry,” says Monica Helmstetter, event director of SPATEC NA, and founder of Spas Pushing Limits. “Bach answers many emails from therapists who are either going through cancer treatment themselves or assisting loved ones undergoing treatment. This became the impetus for the ‘Giving Back to Our Own program, in which she is raising funds and identifying properties willing to host retreats to finance the travel needs of selected professionals to spa where they themselves may reconnect and heal. Julie puts her heart and soul into this mission and deserves to be recognized.”
FINALIST: Monica Helmstetter, founder, Spas Pushing Limits; event director, SPATEC North America
A fitness enthusiast, Monica Helmstetter has been a force for good in the spa industry for more than 15 years. In 2017, she combined her love of exercise with her passion for philanthropy and created #SpasPushingLimits, which enlists likeminded individuals who share her love of fitness and doing good to partner as a team to participate in extreme athletic events and utilize the collective force of their network of spa industry colleagues, family, and friends to raise funds for various causes. The first event for #SpasPushingLimits was a Half Ironman in which Monica and her team raised more than $10,000 for the Eminence Kids Foundation. “It just goes to show there is no fire without a spark,” said Boldijarre Koronczay, president of Eminence Organic Skin Care, as he watched #SpasPushingLimits athletes cross the finish line in Vancouver. “Thank you to Monica for being that spark.” Last fall, the group partnered with Canyon Ranch SpaClub (Las Vegas) and Zappos, raising $1,500 to honor victims of the Las Vegas shooting. The group also joined forces with the International Spa Association (ISPA) leadership and hiked Red Rock Canyon in Nevada, raising more than $8,000 to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Monica and her team are now working closely with Wellness for Cancer and its founder, Julie Bach, to raise money for industry colleagues who are suffering or recovering from cancer. The group has a number of teams that participated in a Half Ironman in Boulder, CO, in August.
FINALIST: Kristina Valiani, CEO, The Beauty of Hope
With a love for spa and wellness, Kristina Valiani began her career as an esthetician. She then went to massage therapy school and began working for professional skincare companies as an educator and eventually a national sales manager. She also served a three-year term on the Washington State Board of Cosmetology representing estheticians and helping with legislation to move estheticians forward. Her true passion, however, was ignited at age 16, when she learned about sex trafficking and the devastation men, women, and children are put through when subjected to such abuse. After volunteering with local organizations to spread awareness and raise money, she came up with the slogan, “Help Light the Way,” and the idea to create a candle brand to help end human trafficking. She has expanded The Beauty of Hope, her startup candle brand from her kitchen stove and now partners with more than 400 resorts and spas around North America. “When The Beauty of Hope was just a thought and a business plan, it was exciting and a little crazy,” says Valiani. Even though she was advised to build the business first before giving back, she knew she didn’t want to wait. “I knew in my heart that giving is a muscle and habit to form,” says Valiani. Earlier this year, she had the opportunity to travel to India and Thailand to see the safe homes The Beauty of Hope has sponsored. Says Valiani, “India and Thailand set a new fire in my heart to get more creative and find additional ways to end modern-day slavery.”