Paso Chamber hosts Women who Mean Business luncheon

Longtime business owner Dee Lacey was a lively city girl who fell into the ranching life — a move that ultimately brought her years of hard work she grew to love and a focus on family and friends.

“It becomes about choices — who needs you most at any given time,” she said of the priorities women face while raising children, being wives and staying involved outside the home.

Lacey was one of four panel speakers at Friday’s Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce Women who Mean Business luncheon. They discussed life balance, motivation and careers.

Lacey is co-owner of Lacey Livestock in Paso Robles. She joined Maggie Cox, chief executive officer of Barnett, Cox & Associates in San Luis Obispo; Noreen Martin, chief executive officer of Martin Resorts in San Luis Obispo; and Debbie Arnold, San Luis Obispo County supervisor-elect.

The event drew 200 people to the Paso Robles Inn ballroom.

Martin, who is one of the area’s largest hoteliers, had to shift her focus several times throughout her career, which has spanned from creating her A&R Furniture and Interiors business to taking the helm of her late husband’s enterprise.

She focused on “how to make the hotel industry meaningful to me,” she said. That soon became focusing on economic vitality and creating jobs for others.

Arnold said living the rural ranch life, with five miles to the nearest neighbor, gave her a certain appreciation for developing relationships, which helped immensely while raising children. She also helped her husband and owned a preschool business.

“It was very important to me to have a network of women,” she said.

Cox reflected on memories of her late mother, someone who supported her unwaveringly through life’s big changes. When Cox was a little girl, her mother had a brain tumor. The years of illness rocked the family, but also bonded them, keeping them close.

“It was profoundly shaping for me. (We learned) to become very resourceful — you figure it out.” That lesson has stuck with Cox, a mom, wife and CEO, who ended her talk with the sentiment, “appreciate your time.”