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Denise Guzman seen as mentor, expert in law field

Members of the South Bay community sent in over 100 nominations for the Daily Breeze People of Distinction awards. Thirty finalists from the South Bay and Harbor Area have been selected. Denise has been chosen as a finalist in the Business/Innovation category. Winners will be announced at the awards gala Thursday, November 10th. Below is Denise's interview that ran in the Daily Breeze:

Denise Guzman seen as mentor, expert in law field

Determination and dedication are just two of the qualities Denise Guzman possesses as a successful businesswoman.

Founding her own law practice when the business world lacked female presence, and giving back to the community through foundations and organizations, Guzman is considered to be a mentor and an expert in her field.

"I don't believe in accolades," Guzman said. "I do this to support other people and see them succeed."

Guzman, a Palos Verdes Peninsula resident, has served as a business and estate planning attorney in the South Bay for more than 25 years.

After earning her bachelor's degree from USC in 1974, she went on to study at UCLA, where she received her law degree. In 1978, she founded her own Manhattan Beach law practice, Guzman Law Group.

Guzman said success came through perseverance.

Bucking the system right after graduating from UCLA, Guzman associated herself with businessmen, attending professional association meetings and networking events throughout the South Bay.

"My father was an accountant at the time so I would attend many chamber of commerce meetings with him," she said. "And I made sure to introduce myself to everyone I came into contact with."

In 1993, Guzman determined that women's success in the corporate sector was stagnant. And in an effort to change this, she founded the South Bay Chapter of the American Business Women's Association - a national association that empowers women personally and professionally.

With a Rolodex in hand, "I called every woman I knew," she said. "It was tough but I am really proud of what I started, bringing businesswomen together from around the local area."

Guzman, who is no longer involved with ABWA, continues to mentor young women, providing them with personal and professional parameters to be successful businesswomen.

In 2003, she was named Woman of the Year by the Switzer Learning Center - an organization that fosters the growth of children with learning disabilities - for her service to its community.

Aside from her professional involvement, Guzman dedicates her time to promoting arts throughout the community.

She is a member of the board of trustees for the Palos Verdes Art Center, where educational art programs are put in place to reach schools, and is a board member on the Joy2Learn Foundation, an organization that brings a variety of free art programs to schools via the Internet.

"I love the arts and I think it is profoundly missing from the schools," said Guzman, who was once an English major, minoring in fine arts. "I want young children to have the opportunity to learn arts and music."

She is also on the board of directors for the foundation P.S. I Love You, a program to help less fortunate children participate in educational and extracurricular activities.

"The one-on-one interaction is such a positive experience for these children," said Guzman.

In 2010, Guzman was awarded the Woman of Entrepreneurship honor by Comerica Bank, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"It is such an honor to be nominated and have the support of other people," she said.

By Ashley Curtin
Staff Writer, Daily Breeze
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