Woman of the Year 2019 - Honoree Program Biographies
Toni Ware, Artesia
Toni learned from her parents’ example to give graciously of her time and abilities. She has continually given throughout her distinguished teaching career and especially enjoys her current ability to contribute to diverse community causes. Toni believes the Artesia Cemetery District, her second graders, and the Artesia Library have all been interesting, creative, and rewarding pursuits.
Barbara Winkler, Bellflower
Barbara Winkler is the coordinator of SoCal Quilts of Valor, a local chapter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. Their mission is to make and award handcrafted quilts to military veterans to honor their service to our country, welcome them home and help in their healing. Since 2005, Barbara has recruited over 100 quilters of all ages, obtained donations of fabric, materials, meeting space and services, established liaisons with many local groups servicing veterans, given speeches to charitable groups and organized volunteer quilting events for local companies. Her team has awarded over 5,200 quilts, 591 of these donated in 2018.
Laura Cortez, Bell Gardens
Laura is a graduate from Bell Gardens High School, an alumna from Cal State Los Angeles, and earned a Masters in Sociology with an emphasis in Community Development from Cal State Long Beach. As an outstanding organizer at East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ), she works with residents across the South East Los Angeles communities and has had a powerful and positive impact through her involvement with issues like the Exide residential clean-up, the I-710 Corridor Project, the Green Zones Program, H2Our Community Water Project, and the Lower LA River Revitalization Plan, just to name a few.
Brinda Gandhi, Cerritos
Brinda is an attorney licensed to practice law in California and India. She joined Chugh LLP in Cerritos in January 2011 and serves as the Family Law Litigation Chair. In addition to her law practice, she has served as an Advisory Board member for the non-profit organization South Asian Helpline and Referral Agency (SAHARA) for two years and is serving as Board Chair and President since May 2017. SAHARA provides services to survivors of domestic violence. Brinda has also devoted countless volunteer hours to other non-profit organizations in the community such as Tie SoCal, Pratham & Isha Foundation.
Serina Yuan, Cerritos
Serina Yuan is a dedicated citizen for her community. She serves as the Chairperson for the ABC Unified School District Strategic Advisory Committee, Treasurer of the ABC School District Education Foundation, and Board Member of JC Culture Foundation. In addition, Serina volunteers in the classroom regularly and participates in reading programs in various schools.
Lettie Jaramillo, Commerce
Lettie is an active community member and a mother of two ambitious children. She has used her adversity brought on from a previous relationship to propel her family to succeed. She earned a Bachelor’s from Grand Canyon University and now working toward her Master’s Degree. Her son is a chef, and her daughter an undergraduate at the University of San Francisco. She dedicates her time participating with the following organizations: National Latino Peace Officers Association, Veterans Resource Center, Bell Shelter, Heart of Compassion, Calvary Church, Lions Club, Democratic Club, Toastmasters Club, American Red Cross, and Red Hat Mamma’s Society.
Blanca Rochin, Downey
Blanca has been involved in adult education since 2003 and has been a member of various organizations including CCAE (California Council for Adult Education) at the chapter, section, and state level. Currently she is the Principal at Downey Adult School and is highly regarded and respected by Downey Adult School and Downey Unified School District administration and staff. Blanca has promoted adult education at Soroptimist, Women’s Club, DAA, ACSA and other organizations which have resulted in thousands of dollars in scholarships for students.
Erika De La Teja, Downey
Erika De La Teja is a proud resident of Downey and the founder of Conscious Hearts Foundation (CHF). Since its inception 12 years ago, CHF serves the hungry, needy, and politically underrepresented children in our community and in bordering cities. For over a decade, Erika has been involved with LA Food Bank as a donor, volunteer, and a community advocate.
Linda Nicklas, Montebello
Linda Nicklas is a long time resident of Montebello and her personal determination, leadership, and knowledge has inspired residents to become more civically engaged in a variety of ways. She has been instrumental in organizing town hall meetings and candidate forums in order to keep the community well informed. Ms. Nicklas encouraged residents to write letters to state officials and traveled to Sacramento, requesting a forensic audit of the City of Montebello before the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee. The Montebello City audit was conducted to due to her efforts.
Cheryl Pope, Norwalk
Cheryl Pope is regarded as a personal life coach by anyone that crosses her path, earning her the nickname Mama Pope. Ms. Pope lost her eldest daughter in a car accident in 2009, and her second daughter to brain cancer in 2010; which led her to become her granddaughter’s primary guardian. Despite these and other life’s hardships, Ms. Pope has persevered gracefully and is currently a campus security guard at Torrance Unified School District and will be sending her granddaughter to Cal State Northridge with a full scholarship.
Staceyy Holidayy, Pico Rivera
Staceyy Holidayy grew-up alongside her parents, three brothers and one sister. By age fourteen, she publicly identified herself as a young transgender woman and officially shared a hidden chapter of her life. As a first step, she changed her name from Robert Valencia to Staceyy Holidayy. As a defender of all LGBT rights, Staceyy stood up for her identity, her rights, and her hope that others fight for what is right. Through Staceyy’s efforts, the Obama administration used El Rancho Unified School District’s policy changes as a model for federal policy in implementing gender identity and bathroom use in 2016.
Xiomara Corpeño, 58th District Woman of the Year
Xiomara, along with other colleagues, formed the Southern California Solidarity Network for the Central American caravan. The network, along with contributing organizations and volunteers, provided direct assistance to migrants in Tijuana by distributing hygiene products, clothing, tents, and sleeping bags. Xiomara also helped provide support to one of the LGBT houses in Tijuana, which served 40 migrants.
Ms. Corpeño is currently the Director of Capacity Building with the Groundswell Fund, which supports grassroots organizations led by women of color throughout the state of California and the U.S. Xiomara Eugenia Corpeño is an admirable and determined leader, whose humanitarian aid and wealth of knowledge has proven beneficial not only to her immediate community, but also across the state and nation. Xiomara’s priority is to continue using her expertise in community organizing and advocacy to support women, youth, and queer leaders in mobilizing for their rights and a more humane and equitable future for everyone.