By Arthur Lightbourn
Lynelle Lynch of Rancho Santa Fe was recently elected to the Girl Scouts San Diego-Imperial Council's 29-member board of directors. The council is one of the largest in the country, providing activities for some 30,000 girls, ages 5 to 17.
Lynch's election follows a lifelong path toward enabling women to become their best.
In the past four years, since taking over as president and co-owner of three San Diego beauty schools owned by her husband William Lynch, she has graduated 10,700 students into the cosmetology world as hair stylists, estheticians, manicurists, makeup artists and massage therapists.
Her aim is not only to train her students to get their trade licenses to achieve their career and financial goals, but also to encourage them to reach out to clients who may be caught in abusive relationships.
Lynch's beauty academies in Poway, National City and El Cajon were the first California institutions to participate in the national Cut It Out program that teaches salon professionals how to recognize signs of domestic abuse in their clients and refer them to resources for assistance.
"This [program] was formed in Alabama," Lynch said, "by some very brave women who realized that one out of three women is in an abusive situation. The founders realized that somebody in an abusive situation would tell one of three people: their best friend, their sister or their service provider.
"And beauty and wellness professionals are service providers who have that relationship with clients where they have some private discussions. Our program trains our stylists about the signs of abuse so they can refer clients for assistance through the National Domestic Violence Abuse Hotline, 1-800-799-7233."
Lynch also offers free one-day "beauty camps" to area Girl Scouts.
"I thought what a wonderful thing it would be to bring young women in for beauty camps when they are just starting to learn about their hair and skin, and taking care of themselves," she said.
Her program led to a connection with the Girl Scout council.
Lynch said she has always been a can-do type of person.
When the 49-year-old former beauty queen and high-fashion retail executive, arrived in California from Colorado in 1981, she walked into the Saks Fifth Avenue in La Jolla looking for work.
"The only job they had open was for a telephone operator," she recalled. "I asked 'Do you promote from within?' They said, yes. And I said, 'I'll take the job.' Three days later, I was the assistant office manager, and three months later, I was the assistant general manager."
She went on to manage the Saks store in Mission Valley at age 23, and at age 26, Lynch became Saks' youngest general manager in charge of the Palm Springs store. In 1995, she returned to San Diego to open the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Fashion Valley.
After 16 years with Saks, Lynch was recruited by the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce to serve as chief operating officer. As such, she directed the launching of an innovative benefit program for the chamber's 3,000 members that gave them reduced prices on goods and services from various suppliers while providing royalties to the chamber.
The business model for the profit-producing program was subsequently adopted by chambers throughout California and Arizona.