Ornelas, CEO of Visionary Homebuilders, was recognized for her leadership in the business community as well as her record for building neighborhoods in low-income areas.
“Stockton is better because of Carol,” said Debbie Armstrong when she introduced Ornelas.
Ornelas started in the construction industry 30 years ago, building homes for farm workers. She said discrimination against Hispanics and women were barriers she had to overcome.
Visionary Homebuilders is known for not just building low-income housing but for supporting communities with services such as Head Start education.
“My success is making sure we have jobs, early education and housing,” Ornelas said when she accepted her award.
Her company has built and rehabilitated more than 1,200 units of rental housing and more than 700 single-family homes for first-time homebuyers within San Joaquin, Sacramento, Stanislaus, Fresno and Merced counties.
The Athena award is part of an international program and is presented annually by chambers of commerce, women’s organizations and universities. Awards are given to women in the community who have shown professional excellence and made significant contributions to their communities.
The Chamber also recognized attorney Erin Guy Castillo with the Athena Young Professional Leadership award.
She is a partner in the law firm, Parish Guy Castillo PLC. Guy Castillo serves on the board of governors of the San Joaquin Bar Association, and she previously chaired the organization’s Women Lawyers Section and co-chaired the Young Lawyers Section. She also serves on the board of directors for the Leadership Stockton Alumni Association.