There are nearly 100 PBA Ambassadors across all membership sections who volunteer every month to call and welcome new members to the association. A PBA Ambassador may be the first voice you hear representing the association after you’ve become a member.

Who are they? Why do they do it?  We’d like to introduce you to a handful of these individuals who support the industry and PBA because they love it, and believe in it.

Look for your PBA Ambassadors at PBA Beauty Week 2012 in Las Vegas, July 21-24. They will have a silver ribbon attached to their event badges to help you identify them!

Jean DeWinter, Hair Crafters, South Bend, IN – Salon/Spa Section Ambassador

Jean says that her family’s salon, owned since 1976, has always been a part of her life. She remembers playing with perm papers and taking on more serious tasks, including towel folding, inventory and cleaning. She accompanied her dad to beauty shows when she was a teenager and worked as a stage model, finding it an incredible experience to see what happens “behind the scenes.” After college, Jean expanded her knowledge of business and marketing through various positions in other industries before formally joining Hair Crafters in 2007.

Jean finds The List (PBA’s email network of salon/spa owners) instrumental in keeping her enthusiasm and excitement for this industry high and finds the passion of other salon owners and managers infectious. She appreciates all the information shared freely on The List, along with the encouragement and sense of connection she receives.  Jean enjoys talking with new members as a PBA Ambassador because of the unique perspectives each individual brings: just when she thinks she’s heard it all, someone has another story that sheds a new light on things.

To be successful in this industry and in life, Jean shares lessons learned from her parents: “Don’t be afraid to hire someone better than you. Train everyone as if s/he will take over your job. Run your business ethically. Do no harm. Keep an open mind. Learn from everyone around you. Fuel your passion through ongoing education.”

Melanie Koroyan-Kopeikin, People in Beauty®, Woodland Hills, CA – Distributor Section Ambassador

Melanie has always loved beauty and remembers being intrigued by cosmetics as a child. During college, she worked as a department store makeup artist, then later as manager of a full-service salon before starting her career as a distributor for top professional brands for nearly 20 years. In 2006, Melanie founded People in Beauty®, a consulting and executive search firm for the beauty industry. She credits incredible mentors like Jheri Redding and other coaches as instrumental in her success, and believes that hard work, lifelong learning, networking and staying involved are keys to success – no matter what industry you choose.

Melanie, a current member of PBA’s Distributor Leadership Council, finds her PBA leadership peers to be not only some of the most successful in the beauty business, but also open and giving of their time and mentorship. PBA is her best source of information and key performance indicators in the industry. Melanie enjoys talking to other members in her ambassador role and sharing their experiences, triumphs and challenges, along with connecting on a professional level. She encourages members to “Get involved and connected!”

Ron Kothari, ADI-American Dawn, Compton, CA – Manufacturer Section Ambassador

Ron arrived in the U.S. in 1983 to expand a company’s U.S. branch and saw opportunity and a need for salon towels. “Ron the Ragman,” fondly referred to as “RTR,” has been in the beauty business for 28 years, experienced its evolution and weathered its ups and downs. He attributes his success to providing a consistent, quality product line featuring true and vibrant colors, better packaging and a strong dedication to delivering complete and accurate shipments to his customers every time.

Ron says PBA looks after its members and provides him with excellent networking opportunities. Through the years, he’s listened and learned from mentors such as PBA board member Bruce Selan and PBA staffers Steve Sleeper and Eric Horn. He also credits Elizabeth Fantetti, PBA membership director, as the inspiration for maintaining his high level of association involvement. Ron enjoys PBA Beauty Week and Cosmoprof North America, and has exhibited at ISSE Long Beach. Talking with new members in his role as a PBA Ambassador is another way he can connect and share the great opportunities PBA has to offer. He says, “It’s not what you get… what are you willing to give? It’s not just about paying dues; you have to give something to get something in return.”  Ron has a deep commitment and love for this industry and shows it through his involvement and support.

Russell ‘Rusty’ Phillips, Belle Epoque, Kansas City, MO – Salon/Spa Section Ambassador

Rusty was 18 and working as a sales clerk in a department store when he looked around and began contemplating his future: What he saw wasn’t too exciting. He loved to visit salons and get his hair styled and thought it would be fun to cut hair… and he’s being enjoying it ever since! This salon owner and TIGI educator believes in training – for himself and his staff – and conducts weekly sessions open to all. Rusty believes success grows by staying inspired and always striving for your best. He finds great energy and inspiration behind the chair and says he plans to work there, “until I fall over!”

Rusty says the steady communication and industry statistics from PBA help him stay connected.  He volunteered to be a PBA Ambassador because he believes in learning from others’ experiences and that giving others a boost inspires them to give it back. He advises, “Share what you know with others, as we all need to continue growing. It is the best way to make a difference in this industry.”

And, if you are attending the North American Hairstyling Awards in Las Vegas on July 22, be sure to celebrate with Rusty – he is a 2012 finalist!

Manuel “Manny” Zapata Jr., Pflugerville, TX – Beauty Professionals/NCA Section Ambassador

Manny describes himself as a “midlife-crisis-career-change stylist” and has been doing hair for just seven years. While working on his daughter’s hair, he had an epiphany and realized, “I’d be great at this!” and enrolled in cosmetology school in midlife.  But this isn’t his only gig. He also holds a position as a DSC representing the Paul Mitchell brand. Manny says he is addicted to classes and believes strongly in continuing education. Since joining PBA, he has for the first time become involved in the local political landscape. Through his participation in PBA webinars, he became aware of cosmetology licensing deregulation issues and began communicating with his state officials. As a result, he has a real appreciation for PBA’s advocacy efforts.

Manny enjoys volunteering as a PBA Ambassador because he likes meeting new people and believes in the value of the ambassador service to new members. Serving as an ambassador gives him the opportunity to give back to the industry, too. Manny observes that some people hesitate to share their experiences, but he believes strongly that each one of us should pass on our knowledge freely. His best advice to anyone working in cosmetology is to use what they’ve learned, be innovative and, “Don’t let ‘em tell you that you can’t do it!”

For more information about the PBA Ambassador Program, please contact Teena Austin at 480.455.3442 or email