Deborah Naybor, a land surveyor from Alden, N.Y., will be awarded $10,000 and a trip to the National Association of Women Business Owners' conference in Dallas this June.

Mirassou Winery and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) have selected the winner of its first NAWBO/Mirassou Winery Business Optimist Award. The award was established this year to recognize businesswomen who have overcome adversity and remained optimistic. Deborah Naybor, a land surveyor from Alden, NY, was selected from more than 120 entries, and will be awarded $10,000 and a trip to the NAWBO national conference in Dallas this June.

Naybor exemplifies the spirit of the award, which recognizes businesswomen who have overcome adversity and credit their success to their optimistic outlook of always "viewing the glass half-full." Naybor faced challenges at an early age. She grew up in a suburb in New York, but at 13 her father died and left no provisions for the family. She went to work to help support her family, and put herself through college. In 1985, she became only the 12th woman in New York to receive her professional surveyor's license. She opened her company with $1,000 and an old pick-up truck that often had to be pushed to job sites.

"No bank in the world would loan me the money because the field was considered a "˜man's job'," said Naybor. "I bought used tools and taught a woman who milked cows in the morning how to help me measure out project sites. We worked in 40-degrees-below-zero that first winter, and took on jobs nobody else wanted, yet I never had any doubts that I could succeed."

The first-ever NAWBO/Mirassou Winery award was created to celebrate 150 years of winemaking by the Mirassous. As America's oldest winemaking family, the Mirassous have depended on the optimistic vision of the family matriarchs.

"I am so proud to be associated with NAWBO, and this award that honors the optimistic spirit of my great great grandmother, Henrietta Mirassou," said David Mirassou, sixth generation family member. "Our family business was maintained through adversity by the tenacity, intelligence and optimism. I am thrilled to have Deborah as our first recipient of this very worthwhile award."

Today, Naybor's firm employs 16 people and works on the largest commercial and construction projects in New York, invoicing approximately $1 million a year.

As a worldwide expert in land surveying, Naybor is using her skills to help others. She has created programs in Uganda and Senegal for poor women farmers, raised funds for training women in construction jobs in South Africa and built the first secondary school in a Malawi village. Naybor will use her award to start a grassroots nonprofit organization that helps create self-sustaining income for destitute villages.

"Deborah really symbolizes the growing trend in today's business environment," said Erin Fuller, NAWBO executive director. "The fastest-growing industries for female business owners are traditionally male-dominated ones, such as construction, manufacturing, and janitorial services. At NAWBO, we are seeing many women, like Deborah, succeeding in these fields. Deborah is an inspiration and a great role model to all of us, and we are very proud to have her as a NAWBO member."

David Mirassou will present the NAWBO/Mirassou Winery Business Optimist Award at a gala dinner during NAWBO's annual conference in Dallas on June 5.

Source: Fleishman-Hillard, May 26, 2004