Each ABWA member has the opportunity to recognize a key individual who has supported this chapter, women in business, and local charities. 

Congratulations to Chris Sehman of Helen Back, the ABWA 2007 Business Associate of the Year Award.

Chris Sehman grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and he got two college degrees from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. After a season long stay in Vail, Colorado, he accidentally moved to Destin in the spring of 1992. The following spring he opened his first business, Woody’s Local Safe Sex Bar.
Woody’s catered to the employees of the bar and restaurant industry. The business thrived until 2000 when it was closed for the makings of another 

Ginger Walker - Business Associate Chair (L), 2007 Business Associate of the Year Winner Chris Sehman, and Sherry Marcolongo - Nominated Winner (R).

condominium. That fall, in a hidden spot on Okaloosa Island, he acquired the location now home to Helen Back Café. Still focusing upon the hard workers of the hospitality industry, he began to expand his clientele to the numerous and diverse members of the military. Today, Helen Back Café is a true melting pot of locals and tourists alike who are here to enjoy the Emerald Coast.

Over that fifteen-year period, Chris has opened numerous other small businesses. That list has included two sandwich shops, a mortgage company, a property management company, and a successful home based business. In 2005, he grew even more diverse with the opening of Emerald Beach Land & Title in downtown Fort Walton Beach.

From the beginning, Chris has understood and believed the importance of women in the success of his businesses. In 1997, he recruited the owner of his favorite sandwich shop to be the day manager at Woody’s. Not long after, he and Yente Stemetzki were married raising her son Damian, now thirteen. In 1999, Alyssa Leeann was born, soon followed by Lauren Christen, now five.

Record of Support and Involvement Within the Community: 
  • Current president of the Emerald Coast Foundation, which donates raised funds to various children’s organizations

  • Planner for Pandora’s Auction & Golf Tournament, which raises funds for scholarships

  • Supports Shelter House, the Special Olympics, the Krewe of Chameleons, and ABWA with food donations for their organizational fundraisers

  • Volunteers and works with the FWB Downtown Merchants Association and the Restaurant Association

  • Member of the FWB Chamber of Commerce

  • Holds multiple Board of Directors positions with different charities/organizations

  • Supports most charities located within Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties
Pam White (L), 2007 Business Associate Chris Sehman of Helen Back, Lisa Jo Spencer,  President-Elect, Business Associate Nominee Matt Ritter of Edward Jones (R).  Not pictured: Lisa Sturt of Brava Hair Studio and Day Spa.


Other Business Associates:

American Business Women's Association
Emerald Coast Chapter #1579
P.O. Box 731 
Fort Walton Beach, FL  32549