Woman of the Year 2021

Linda Grace Gonzalez, City of Artesia

Linda Grace Gonzalez

Linda Grace Gonzalez is an esteemed community member from Artesia and a proud product of Gahr High School.  She has served as the Co-Executive Director of the Miss Artesia Pageant for over 15 years and continues to fulfill her role diligently.

For six years in a row, Linda and Mayor Rene Trevino have co-hosted a Christmas Party for the community children of Artesia and arranged them a warm meal and a gift from Santa Claus. Usually about 200 children benefit from her holiday efforts, but this past 2020 she worked even harder to make Christmas a little more special to 371 children.

Linda meets every opportunity with an open heart and is ready to give to whoever is in need. She regularly provides meals to individuals without housing and shares clothing and toiletries. Over the past year she has gone from providing 30 food baskets a week to 300 a week, for a total of over 8,000 baskets.


Alyssa Johanna De La Cerda, City of Bell Gardens

Alysssa Johanna De La Cerda

Alyssa Johanna De La Cerda is a sixteen-year-old high school student from the City of Bell Gardens. Alyssa learned to use her voice for the benefit of others at an early age and made a trip to Sacramento at nine years old on “Stand for Children Day” to demonstrate her advocacy for childcare access in front of several assembly and senate representatives.

Alyssa’s passion to help wherever possible is evident in her participation in several school organizations ranging from environmental justice, community service, civic engagement, and mental health. She also provides tours to incoming high school students and shares valuable advice to help set other students up for success.

Alyssa is a determined student dedicated to giving back to her peers and community, while also planning for her future undergraduate career in engineering and business.


Sheila LaRue Cotton-Baker, City of Bellflower

Sheila LaRue Cotton-Baker

Sheila LaRue Cotton-Baker is a proud resident of Bellflower, always ready to show up for her fellow community members through acts of appreciation or service. Sheila recognizes the tremendous role teachers for all grades carry out, as a former educator herself, and established an Annual Teacher of the Year celebration, first in Los Angeles and later in Bellflower in 2002. Around the same time, she also helped dedicate the second Sunday of September as Grandparent’s Day at her local church in order to help honor our elders’ impact and contributions in raising future generations. Most recently, Sheila demonstrated her charm and love for her neighbors by decorating an entire apartment complex with Valentine’s Day decorations.

Sheila is passionate about fighting on behalf of children through education and access to resources. She also participates in food drives, clothing giveaways and other opportunities. Sheila understands the power in community building and remains up to date in local decision-making to keep others informed.

Penie Manalo, City of Bellflower

Penie Manalo

Penie Manalo is a local sheroe from the City of Bellflower, working as a registered nurse throughout the current health crisis. Like all registered nurses, she is one of the direct healthcare providers to her patients by interpreting symptoms, conducting assessments, providing medications, and working closely with doctors and other nurses to improve patient’s quality of life. Outside of her job’s premises, Penie helps protect others from the Covid-19 virus by educating them about the best safety practices and sharing her first-hand experience. Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic has put a strain on our state’s healthcare workers. Due to the proven risks from the virus and the fluctuating patient intake, Penie’s routine when she gets home is more tedious, but, she does the extra pre-cautions in order to ensure her family’s own safety.

Penie began her career as a registered nurse in 1996 in the Philippines. When her and her family immigrated to the United States of America, she challenged the NCLEX-RN exam and passed in 2007, eventually allowing her to receive her RN license. She has been with the Whittier Pacific Care Center since, and in 2016 became the Director of Nursing. She is an esteemed nurse, leader and mentor to her colleagues.

Penie’s nursing sacrifices and efforts are deeply appreciated by her family, patients and the 58th Assembly District.


Karen Wilson, City of Cerritos

Karen Wilson

Karen Wilson Is a dynamic resident from Cerritos. She served in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. She also worked with the CA Air National Guard supporting service members and their families.

Karen participated in Cerrito’s City Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, resulting in her nomination to serve in the Safety Committee. In collaboration with other members, she created an Emergency Preparedness program for natural disasters. Karen continues to be engaged with the City of Cerritos as a Fine Arts and Historical Commissioner.

As soon as Karen moved to town, she immediately saw the opportunity to increase her neighborhood’s sense of community by creating a Neighborhood Watch within a two-mile radius.  The Neighborhood Watch now successfully collaborates with the local Cerritos Sheriff Station.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Karen harnessed her relationships and networks to offer a neighborhood food pantry for seniors and members of the community, often making deliveries for those without transportation.

Tatiana Duckworth, City of Commerce

Tatiana Duckworth

Tatiana Duckworth is a dedicated and inspiring student from the City of Commerce. By high school, she demonstrated to be high achieving in the classroom and in her extracurricular activities: marching band and theater. Later, Tatiana earned three associates degrees from Pasadena City College while working in the service sector to fund her education.

Tatiana is now a full-time UCLA student studying political science and philosophy. Despite facing classroom adjustments, she continued to prove her academic excellence by making the UCLA Dean’s Honor List while also balancing her role as a part-time teacher’s assistant to elementary students with LAUSD. Tatiana is also a member of her university’s Bruin Marching Band sorority sisterhood, Tau Beta Sigma, as well as the Solid Gold Sound Club where she plays as a 2nd trumpet.

Ultimately, Tatiana is a multi-talented individual with hopes of attending law school and becoming a federal judge. Regardless of her aspirations and commitments, she manages to participate in local volunteer opportunities and remain attentive to loved ones.

Monica Rivera, City of Downey

Monica Rivera

Monica Rivera is a driven young woman from the City of Downey, focused on further fortifying her leadership in the brokerage industry by strategically training and developing her 100+ agents’ skills. She envisions an improved real estate workforce through technology and inclusion. Monica quickly pivoted her office for remote operations at the beginning of the pandemic and increased training classes, not just her employees but also for other brokerage firms.

In the past, Monica has served as a Board Director for The National Association of Hispanic Realtors, South East Los Angeles Chapter, and in 2020, she served as the Chair of the Downey Association of Realtors Scholarship Committee, and as Director for the California Association of Realtors. Monica’s achievements have earned her several industry accolades and recognition from her hometown, most recently, receiving the 2020 Chairperson of the Year award for her efforts in expanding scholarship eligibility to even more students. 

During these difficult times, Monica has also encouraged her team to be of service to others by participating in food distributions.


Mariela I. Garcia, MD. City of Montebello

Mariela I. Garcia

Mariela García is front-line professional from the City of Montebello. As a dedicated physician for Kaiser Permanente, she treats community members’ healthcare needs despite the present risks. Her desire to educate others about Covid-19 extends outside of her medical office and into her social media circles where she shares information, provides examples and helps answer questions.

Although Dr. García works tirelessly for her patients, she also volunteers at her children’s schools, with the boy scouts, at pet events, and participates in local fundraisers. She is also an esteemed friend and role model for others, often sharing words of encouragement, promoting body positivity, and mental health awareness.

Dr. García’s expertise is both admired and appreciated by her family, patients, and the 58th Assembly District.


Regina Ayala, City of Norwalk

Regina Ayala

Regina Ayala is a lifelong resident of Norwalk, and serves her community through education and volunteerism. Currently, she works as an Intervention Teacher for the Little Lake City School District and continuously motivates her students to stride for improvement. As a passionate youth advocate, she is a member of the Little Lake Educational Advancement Foundation (LLEAF), which help raise funds for schools and educators.

Regina is a member of Soroptimist International Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs and serves as the club’s Delegate Director for Soroptimist Village, a senior citizen section 8 housing community. She ensures the senior residents receive adequate housing and experience special occasions with activities and gifts. Under the club’s “Dream It, Be It” program, Regina also guides young women in developing their education and career goals.

Aside from Regina’s acts of community service, she is also the Chairman of the Historical Heritage Commission for Norwalk and is a docent at the D.D. Johnston Hargitt House Museum, working to preserve and share local history. 

Guadalupe Diaz, City of Pico Rivera

Guadalupe Diaz

Guadalupe Diaz, also known as Lupe, is a proud 35 year resident of Pico Rivera. She worked as registered nurse for the County of Los Angeles for 42 years. In 1999, Lupe met with President Bill Clinton to discuss the Patient’s Bill of Rights and address case management access to specialty services. In 2000, the White House invited Lupe to join Vice President, Al Gore, in the introduction of the Chiefs of Specialty Services at LAC-USC Medical Center for the Healthy Families Bill signing. Later in 2003, Lupe received the Nurse Merit Award, and in 2004, she received the Nurse of the Year recognition for Ambulatory Care. Lupe was a member of SEIU Local 660 for 30 years and served as Vice President for 14 years, helping other RNs with salary negotiations among other responsibilities.

Lupe joined the Pio Pico Woman’s Club in 2012 and served as President of the Club from 2013 to 2017. As president, she saw the opportunity to expand the club’s relationships and carved their presence at national and regional conventions for greater visibility and partnerships. Guadalupe proudly represented the Pio Pico Women’s Club at the 2020 Rose Parade, portraying the suffragists’ voting rights activism.

In between all of her service over the years, Lupe also stepped into the role of foster parenting in 2002. In 2007, she adopted three children, ages two, six, and seven, and raised them along with three children of her own with the most care as a single parent.