Trailblazers Follow their Dreams
Esther C. Bleuel, MA, MFT, MDR, Tough Talk Coach
Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year
“It is critical to know yourself and be clear about your values and priorities. Autonomy and accountability are important, as is the ability to deal with reality. Be open to sharing with and learning from others. Create a life that you are proud of, that’s meaningful and fulfilling and enjoy the journey.”
A Chamber Ambassador since 2012, Esther Bleuel currently serves as a team captain on the executive committee, sharing her extensive business knowledge and inspiring the group. The founder of Tough Talk Coach, Esther provides executive coaching and training to empower employees to resolve conflict successfully, to have difficult conversations with ease and confidence, and to deal with challenging people effectively.
“I am passionate about helping people become their best selves, to use and share their gifts, to be free and independent, and to live lives of purpose, meaning and joy,” says Esther, whose desire to lead others to their own gifts began in childhood.
“I wanted to be a teacher who would inspire people to become their best selves. To help people discover, use and share their unique gifts and not to waste their talent or potential,” she adds.
“Hard work” and a “love of learning” helped Esther succeed in her career—first as a sales and marketing executive—and later, when she decided to pursue more meaningful work in psychotherapy, teaching/training, writing and problem-solving.
“Getting a good education and having diverse work experiences gave me a deep and broad perspective on life and people,” reflects Esther, who plans to write a book about achieving self-respect and fearlessly handling any situation.
“Being of service and able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others,” drive Esther to maintain her focus and commitment to her passion of helping others gain clarity about their priorities and achieve their goals.
While continuing to learn and deepen her skills and wisdom, Esther enjoys spending time with friends and family, travel adventures and live theater.
Danielle Conner, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley
Youth of the Year
“Be the best you.”
As the winner of the 14 and up Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year award, ninth grader Danielle Conner adds another notch to her list of accolades—she was also named Youth of the Year as a sixth grader!
“I feel extremely honored to be selected and will do my best to represent the organization in a positive way,” says Danielle, a student at Westlake High School who attends the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Anderson Club at Los Cerritos Middle School.
In school, English is Danielle’s favorite subject, because “I enjoy being creative,” she says. Danielle also participates in choir and yoga and enjoys singing, traveling and being with family.
“My family is very important to me and I enjoy spending quality time with them,” says Danielle, who looks up to her brother as a mentor.
“He has always been a positive role model for me,” she says. Family support and a strong resolve will undoubtedly help Danielle achieve her goals to excel in high school and attend a four-year university.
“I do my best to be prepared and not lose determination.”
Natalie Mussi, President & CEO, Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center
Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year
“Make sure you are doing something you love to do. Your passion will help drive your success. Find good mentors who can guide and support you. Always be a student willing to learn. Take the projects/departments no one wants. Work hard.”
In January 2014, Natalie Mussi made history with her appointment as the first female CEO of Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in the organization’s 49 years of operation.
“This career path has been a perfect fit for me,” says Natalie, who pursued a Masters in Health Care Administration after finishing her Bachelor of Science. “I thought I wanted to be a doctor,” she shares, then, “In college, I learned that there was another side to healthcare and a degree for it.”
As president and CEO of Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, Natalie oversees operations on the three campuses, including the main hospital, Thousand Oaks Surgical Hospital and the East Campus.
“It challenges the business side of my brain with finance, operations and strategic planning, but it allows me to practice business around people and in a way that allows me to still help people, which is why I wanted to be a doctor to begin with,” Natalie says.
Natalie attributes much of her professional success—including her leading role in the May 2016 opening of the county’s only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Los Robles and oversight of the only Level II Trauma Center in East Ventura County with 600+ board-certified physicians—to having great mentors “who always believed in me and gave me opportunities to learn” and incredible coworkers.
“In healthcare, it is all about people; when you have great people to work with, it makes a big difference.”
Outside of work, Natalie enjoys spending time with her husband and three beautiful daughters.
Fern Perusse-Filzen, FPF Coaching
NAWBO VC Member of the Year
“There are many methods for achieving success. First and foremost, answer the question: ‘How/Who do you want to be?’ This is different from ‘What do you want to do?’ Being who I am—it’s great to have a plan that can grow with you that outlines business purpose, defines clients, addresses client needs/wants, sets up achievable goals, and considers people as integral as process. Process + People = Prosper.”
Business Change and Transition Coach Fern Perusse-Filzen spent many years in a corporate environment before employing her organizational, creative and leadership skills to inspire and nurture others to learn, grow and prosper.
“Having had a unique experience of working with a company that achieved a wonderful mix of developing people and holding to high production and quality standards, I wanted to work with other organizations to help them develop their own processes and leadership that would contribute to their success,” says Fern.
Today, she reflects on the rewards of striking out on her own and pursuing her passion. “I am most proud of having a legacy with so many businesses and people I’ve worked with over the years. My last company continues with the Vision of Leadership program I facilitated for 15 years, and I still hear from people I’ve mentored regarding the way they approach life using the skills and tools presented to them.”
Fern ascribes her success to “focusing on my purpose, highlighting skills and experience that would benefit others, becoming a certified coach and joining organizations that matched my philosophy and business ethics, such as NAWBO.”
With plans to continue assisting organizations with strategic planning, efficient processes and employee growth, Fern likes working with individuals as well.
“I also love to mentor and will continue with opportunities to connect with emerging leaders.”
World travel, reading and growing a vegetable garden top Fern’s list of free-time activities.