NEWS RELEASE: San Diego Unified School District Receives "Women in Business Champions of the Year" Award

Posted: Monday, May 8th 2017

Alma Banuelos and Karen Linehan hold up their SBA awards

SAN DIEGO (May 4, 2017) – The rate of women-owned business enterprises participating in San Diego Unified School District’s capital improvement projects reached new heights as a result of a multi-year effort by the district’s business outreach team to attract and contract with women-owned business enterprises (WBEs). For their work championing women in business, the San Diego Small Business Administration recognized Karen Linehan, manager, and Alma Banuelos, coordinator, from the district’s Facilities Planning and Construction Business Outreach unit. 

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten and the Board of Education laud the success of the district’s Business Outreach efforts. 

“This is fantastic,” said Superintendent Marten. “Our district has two hard-working women increasing the participation rate of women in the construction field. As both a woman and district leader, I’m very proud.”

The district’s Business Outreach team spends the majority of its time connecting with, and supporting, new contractors, including women-owned business enterprises. The team works with small, emerging businesses to give them the tools and resources they need to develop and submit qualified bids on projects funded by San Diego Unified’s Propositions S and Z capital bond program.     

“San Diego voters approved Propositions S and Z in 2008 and 2012, respectively,” said Lee Dulgeroff, chief facilities planning and construction officer. The school facility construction program gives our district an opportunity to reinforce its commitment to diversity and equity.”

Many contractors, including women-owned business enterprises, went out of business during the recession, resulting in a WBE participation rate of 1.5 percent in 2013. Three years later, the rate of women-owned business enterprises participating in capital improvement construction projects increased to 5.17 percent as a result of the district’s Business Outreach team partnering with the Women’s Business Enterprise Council and Women’s Construction Coalition to develop a strategic outreach effort targeting WBEs. They identified, engaged, developed, and assisted women-owned business enterprises to increase their participation. By 2016, women-owned business enterprises were awarded nearly $7,000,000 in construction contracts. The Facilities Planning and Construction Business Outreach team worked hard to reach these milestones. 

“It is hard work, but it is labor of love,” Banuelos said. “Both Karen and I are passionate about engaging emerging business enterprises.  As women, it’s especially rewarding when we help women-owned businesses.” 

“We are grateful to the Small Business Administration for recognizing our progress so far, but Karen and I look forward to engaging many more WBEs in San Diego Unified’s future construction projects,” Banuelos added. 


Contact: Shari Winet, Communications Director, (619-725-5568),



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