“Passion and purpose” – two qualities embodied by Barbara Graham, Community Relations Manager of the Torrance Refining Company LLC, recipient of the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce’s (Chamber) 2019 Inspirational Leader Award. Barbara received the award on January 31st at the Chamber’s Women’s Leadership Luncheon in front of 240 attendees who braved unseasonably stormy weather to celebrate the remarkable achievements and business leadership of five Torrance-area women.

In presenting the award, Torrance Unified School District Director of Curriculum Dr. Ramona Chang spoke of Barbara’s passion for philanthropy and community service demonstrated by her years of leadership in this area. “She [Barbara] has been a champion, advocate, and collaborative partner in supporting innovative teaching and learning. Her efforts have opened the door for professional development for over 100 of our Torrance teachers…Throughout the years, her leadership has built a giving culture and has led hundreds of her colleagues at the Torrance Refinery and their families to personally serve our local community in the areas of STEAM education, environmental biodiversity and conservation, job creation, and supporting veterans.”

Torrance Refinery Manager Steve Steach commented, “We are so happy to see Barbara receive this recognition; it’s a fitting and a well-deserved award. Her work, dedication and leadership style motivates many of our team members to be the best they can be in whatever they do, always encouraging others to be involved and do what’s right for our stakeholders. She has been a champion for our contributions in the community so I’m very proud of her.”

Barbara embodied the spirit of this award as she passionately expressed in her acceptance speech that she believes leadership is about one life influencing another, rather than a title or position. She went on to inspire the room full of community leaders and guests by attributing her success to the support of her colleagues, then asking her co-workers present to stand and be recognized, to receive her gratitude in return. “The Torrance Refinery is celebrating 90 years this year, and I’m privileged to work with an entire refinery filled with smart, skilled, and compassionate people…Leaders who continuously inspire ME,” said Barbara in her remarks.  “They selflessly give of their time and talent to serve our Torrance community at every opportunity. I would not be able to do what I do if not for their dedication and commitment.”

Barbara was amongst four other women who received honors: City Clerk Rebecca Poirier recipient of “Dedicated Leader Award,” Jennifer Olvera, Green Hills Memorial Park, recipient of “Community Catalyst Award,” Pediatric Therapy Network CEO Terri Nishimura, recipient of “South Bay Spirit Award,” and Linda Amato General Manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Torrance-South Bay, recipient of the “Athena Award.”


2019 Women's Leadership Honorees

Honorees at the Women’s Leadership Luncheon for their remarkable achievements and business leadership

Congratulations to Barbara and all the other dedicated women leaders honored at the event!

To view a clip about the event, click here.