Woman of the Year 2020 - Honoree Program Biographies
Balvinder Kaur, Artesia
From serving communities in Delhi, India, Artesia, Cerritos, and beyond, Balvinder has invested her time and energy into her community. Balvinder began as a Community Health Worker where she connected community members with SAN's services, creating a road for community members to access health insurance, mental health services, and an avenue to US citizenship. Later, Balvinder became an Administrative Assistant at SAN where she has become an agent of change in her community, and an individual that her peers seek out in their time of need. Balvinder brings vibrancy to the SAN team, and approaches each task as a learning opportunity.
Ana Maria Sanchez Flores, Bell Gardens
Ana Maria Sanchez Flores is a resident of Bell Gardens and has been a valuable volunteer for her community and many different organizations. For the past five years her volunteer activities have included: distributing food through the LA Regional Food Bank, providing disaster preparedness training and installing free carbon monoxide detectors in homes through Red Cross, and coordinating senior citizen excursions with her city's Club Latino – just to name a few. Ana has received countless certificates and recognitions because of her time, effort, and dedication to her many civic activities and motivating her neighbors to do the same.
Alana Zion, Bellflower
Alana overcame addiction, and lived in a shelter for a time, but worked hard to get into a home with her two children. When her employer closed its doors without paying its employees, she obtained another job in the field that she loves, helping others. She has helped over 100 people stay in their homes who were at risk of being homeless. She has volunteered for Easter Seals, and assists a neighbor with spina bifida. Additionally, she spends many hours as a Little League mom. Alana has raised two amazing children who now excel in their academic and athletic pursuits.
Janet Beach, Cerritos
Janet Beach has lived in Cerritos for more than 46 years and taught at Cerritos High School for 28 years. She is a very active member in the community, currently serving as Chair of the Cerritos Fine Arts and Historical Commission, President of the 1st CEB Adoption Committee and volunteer editor of the newsletter at the Cerritos Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is also a member and past Secretary of the Cerritos Optimist Club. Janet is truly an unselfish member of the community, who donates much of her time to benefit the residents of the 58th Assembly District.
Norma Velia Williamson, Cerritos
Norma Williamson is a passionate community leader and environmental warrior in Cerritos. She is a member in HHHDC, Neighborhood Watch, and started a grassroots campaign that was successful in banning the use of the toxic herbicide, Round-up in Cerritos. Norma spent 30-years as an educator and administrator at NLMUSD where she was awarded District Teacher of the Year. She and her husband are also passionate environmentalists whom have worked endlessly to retrofit their home to be zero-emission, landing them on the cover story of Solar Today Magazine. Norma continues to make a difference in her community through education, community service, and environmental activism.
Yuri Shelby Nishii, Cerritos & Capitol Woman of the Year
Yuri Shelby Nishii is a junior in High School and resides in the City of Cerritos. At the age of sixteen, she has already earned a reputation as an inspiring young woman dedicated to being of service to her community and beyond. Yuri is a prime example of what it means to be engaged in her community. Her passion and drive has brought so much enrichment to the lives she has touched, and I am eager to witness what her leadership will bring in the years to come.
Jennifer Reyes, Commerce
A resident of Commerce and student at Bell Gardens High School, Jennifer has grown to be a passionate leader who advocates on environmental issues as a member of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and Youth in Action Club. She's taken on a multitude of responsibilities to build a strong community and advance justice with and for underserved communities in South East Los Angeles. She coordinated the largest informational rally in Commerce to spread awareness of pollution, traffic, and the expansion of the I-710 freeway. Jennifer's determination to seek justice is palpable – earning the respect and admiration of her peers.
Lois Buchanan, Downey
Lois Buchanan has a true passion for volunteering and is always willing to lend a helping hand. She serves with numerous volunteer organizations including the Downey Second Century Foundation, Arts Coalition, Coordinating Council, Clergy Council and the Assistance League just to name a few. Lois worked with the Assisteens to deliver hand-knit blankets and prepared hygiene kits to patients at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. She has coordinated city clean-ups to celebrate Keep America Beautiful Month. She has been a resident of Downey since 1963, and will celebrate her 60th wedding anniversary with her husband Jim on May 14th.
Betty Peralta, Montebello
Betty Peralta is a longtime resident of Montebello where she currently serves as President of the Montebello Soroptimist, and has been a devoted member for nine years. As President, she has been responsible for revamping the club's image, authoring a quarterly newsletter, co-chairing many successful community events, and increasing membership. She's also active with the Hearts of Montebello, the Girl Scouts Troop, is an Ambassador for the Montebello Chamber of Commerce and participates in many additional organizations. Betty's kind heart and dedication to being of service to her community has truly had inspiring effect on those around her.
Deborah Martinez, Norwalk
Deborah Martinez has been an active Norwalk community member since childhood, participating in the Norwalk All-City Youth Band, later becoming a booster for the band, and now an advisor for fourteen years. She has organized outings for the band members to enjoy the world beyond city boundaries throughout the state and nation. Deborah also volunteers for several local and international organizations, one of which is the ECE Global Exchange, where she recently conducted workshops in Vietnam and the Philippines on best educational practices. Deborah is currently working on earning her bachelor's degree at both Cerritos College and National University.
Viany Alicia LaFarga, Pico Rivera
Viany A. LaFarga builds effective relationships with school staff, community members and peers. She's responsible and always willing to go the extra mile. For instance, Viany took initiative to help special education students with their social skills and academic work. Once she makes a relationship with students, she shares the importance of doing well in school, and benefits of helping your community. Due to her positive interactions, caring demeanor, and tone, Rio Vista Elementary has seen more student volunteers. Viany's deeds include participation as a Student Council representative, Girl Scouts Troop 1211, karate, and buddy for AYSO's VIP soccer team.