The Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) hosts its 22nd annual Leadership and Legacy Awards luncheon Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, and several local women will receive honors.

The event pays tribute to top achievers among women leaders, who have established a legacy of entrepreneurial excellence and contributed to their community. At the luncheon, NAWBO will induct Mary Ann Mitchell into its hall of fame and honor Natalie Cole with its Rising Star Award.

Mitchell is one of three women who will be inducted into the hall of fame in 2008, and is being given the honor because she represents the quintessential entrepreneur striving for excellence in everything she does and has given back extensively to her community.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Computer Consulting Operations Specialists (CC OPS), Mitchell heads a company with more than $40 million in sales and 325 employees.

The Culver City-based company was founded in 1985 in Mitchell’s home and today is a technology consulting firm that provides such services as help desk assistance, call center solutions, video conferencing, computer technology integration and computer security.

After years of paying her dues as a subcontractor, Mitchell has now positioned her firm to serve as a prime contractor to such government clients as the United States Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Treasury.

Mitchell is also chair of the National Black Business Council and the Institute of the National Black Business, an organization to support growth of minority-owned businesses, enhance economic development and improve the financial literacy of underserved youth in disproportionately poor and minority parts of the greater Los Angeles area.

Cole is CEO and publisher of Our Weekly Newspaper and was selected as the rising star awardee because she displays high potential for enduring entrepreneurial success.

Launched in 2004, Our Weekly within six months had become the largest verified distribution African American newspaper in Southern California putting 50,000 issues on the streets every Thursday via home subscription and free copies.

The key to her success in life and business has been perseverance said the veteran media industry official. It was perseverance that helped her battle environmental cancerl; and it was perseverance that helped her complete college and climb the corporate ladder at the Los Angeles Times to reach the high point of being the only person at the company to hold dual-director titles–director of classified sales for the Recycler and director of inside sales for the Times (she managed an annual revenue portfolio of about $100 million.)

Others being honored include: Mimi Song (Leadership Award); Renee White Fraser, (Legacy Award); Southern California Edison (Corporate Partner Award); Maria Contreras-Sweet (Advocate Award); Gisselle Acevedo (Inspiration Award); and Marilyn Lewis and Valerie Red-Horse, who are also being inducted into the hall of fame.

NAWBO is the only dues-based national organization representing the interesst of all women entrepreneurs across industries. It was founded in 1975 and has chapters in almost every metropolitan area in the nation, and is represented in 33 countries.

The Los Angeles chapter began in 1979 and has as its mission to propel women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power by strengthening the wealth creating capacity of members and promoting economic development within the entrepreneurial community. The organization also focuses on helping women build strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations and advocates transforming public policy and influencing opinion makers.