The Women in Wellness Awards: Visionary Winner

The second category we're announcing of our Women in Wellness Awards is the Visionary. This spa leader inspires others with original ideas and a strong vision for the future of our industry as well as offers effective strategies to help achieve those goals.

WINNER: Tara Grodjesk, president, Tara Spa Therapy; emeritus founder, Green Spa Network

As an entrepreneur with years of experience in holistic health and wellness, Tara Grodjesk is a true visionary in the industry. In addition to developing her successful namesake brand, she was also appointed chairwoman of ISPA’s first Taskforce on Greening and Sustainability and is an emeritus founder of the Green Spa Network (GSN), whose mission is to bring sustainable practices to the hospitality and spa industry. In fact, the GSN Dedicated Contributor Award is named in her honor. A certified massage therapist, a holistic health educator, an Ayurvedic practitioner, and an aromatherapist, Grodjesk has trained more than 3,000 massage therapists and estheticians and helped introduce Ayurveda to the U.S. spa industry. “It is such an honor to be recognized in the industry that I’ve been dedicated to for more than 25 years,” says Grodjesk. “I have been promoting wellness lifestyle in spas way before it was popular, and it is so rewarding to see what I have helped to shepherd in spa, such as Ayurvedic healing, personalized aromatherapy, seasonal wellness, greening and sustainability, and women in leadership.”

FINALIST: Theresa Armour, founder and owner, Burke Williams Day Spa

Dedicated to the concept and action of serving, Theresa Armour has built her life’s work on promoting the physical and emotional wellbeing of others. A graduate of the University of California, Berkley, she traveled internationally as part of a television production team before opening the first Burke Williams Day Spa (multiple locations) in 1984 with her husband, Bill. Together, they created a new landscape for health and wellness, introducing the original urban day spa and pioneering a new market in the U.S. “Theresa is a natural and deserving candidate for this Women in Wellness Award,” says Heidi Darby, public relations coordinator and digital media strategist of The Ace Agency. “Not only is she a founder and owner of Burke Williams but she has also been the creative director since the company’s inception. Her vision of transformation launched the Burke Williams philosophy of ‘We exist to transform your day,’ which is a company-wide mantra that applies to staff and guests.”

FINALIST: Kristi Konieczny, founder, The Spa Buzz

Kristi Konieczny has long been passionate about fitness and wellness. In fact, she ran her first marathon at 17. “Throughout our 32 years of friendship, Kristi has always been a visionary,” says Kendra Webster, director of event partnerships at The Spa Buzz. “She preached sunscreen and substituted water for soda in the 1980s, while the rest of us were gorging on tanning beds and diet sodas.” After getting her B.S. in exercise science and wellness from Ball State University and an M.S. in the same subject from Miami University, she worked in a variety of positions, such as licensed esthetician, group exercise instructor, personal trainer, corporate wellness programming director, and spa director before launching Spa Buzz, an event company that connects spa industry professionals with the intention of creating strong communities. “I often see her visionary elements become mainstream," says Webster. "She is constantly pushing the envelope and planting the seeds for forward thinking, stepping outside of the box, and taking the first risks for something fresh and new.”

FINALIST: Lisa Michaelis, founder and CEO, Live Love Spa

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor’s degree in studio art, Lisa Michaelis worked for a number of companies before launching Live Love Spa, which connects vendor partners to spas through a spa and wellness online B2B marketplace and numerous regional experiential events across the U.S. and Mexico. “I nominated Lisa, because she is the real deal,” says Terry Carter, CEO of Travertine Spa Collection. “She is an experienced, humble, hungry, ambitious, compassionate, generous, focused, and successful entrepreneur. Through her company Live Love Spa, Lisa is redefining wellness and accessibility to the spa industry.” •


FINALIST: Shel Pink, founder, SpaRitual

Ahead of her time, Shel Pink founded SpaRitual, a pioneering and sustainable beauty brand based on the rituals of self care, and launched the forward-thinking idea of Slow Beauty, the guiding principle upon which the company is based. To promote the idea, she also introduced the blog in 2012 as a digital platform to champion the slow beauty movement and provide the tools and guidance to live a balanced and renewed existence. Committed to developing multipurpose, eco-friendly products using vegan, certified organic, and fair- trade ingredients from around the world, Pink is also passionate about advancing the green movement. “Her vision in 2004 was to help women reclaim time needed to incorporate self-care into their beauty practices, creating rituals, not routines—sustainable habits that encourage women to look out for them- selves and take care of themselves,” says Eden Grimaldi, founder and president of MediaCraft. “This means preventing overload and burnout and reclaiming time to nurture one- self. She was a proponent of this long before stress and anxiety became epidemic.”

Congratulations to all of our finalists and our Visionary of 2017, Tara Grodjesk. Check back here on American Spa online tomorrow, September 20, for our finalists and winner of the Mentor Award.


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