Fifty women – including several from Yuba, Sutter and Colusa counties – were honored during an annual event Friday in Woodland.
During the fifth annual Women of the Year event, Congressman John Garamendi, a Democrat from Fairfield, honored women from throughout the Third Congressional District as leaders and visionaries in their communities.
“One of the highlights of my year, every year, is hosting this event to recognize the achievements of these distinguished women,” said Garamendi, in a press release. “These leaders come from a variety of backgrounds, but every one of them has made a real difference to their communities and the people around them. It’s a privilege to be able to honor them.”
The women have all made significant contributions to their communities and society through public service, business, education, local advocacy or service in the military.
Women of the Year award recipients from Yuba, Sutter and Colusa counties are:
• Vera Correa, Marysville, serves as vice president of the Alliance for Hispanic Advancement, which works to improve the quality of life for people of Hispanic heritage, community involvement, educational enhancement and economic promotion. She also gives her time organizing numerous community events.
• Jackie Sillman, Marysville, is the public relations manager for Yuba-Sutter Recology, where she educates community organizations, business associations and school classes on topics related to recycling. Outside of work, she is devoted to helping others fundraise for various organizations including Pink October, Relay for Life, LEAD Yuba-Sutter and the Alzheimer’s Foundation. She is also a past President of the Soroptimist International in Yuba-Sutter, is currently the Chair of the Sierra-Nevada Regional Development Retreat and helped organize the Marysville Stampede committee.
• Elta Barber, Yuba City, serves by giving opportunities for young people to succeed both in Sutter County and around the world. Barber created the Youth Explosion event, which gives youth in the community an opportunity to showcase their talents. She also serves on the board of the annual fundraiser To Tanzania with Love, which pays for crucial educational supplies and other essentials to children living in an orphanage in Tanzania.
• Tejinder Kaur, Yuba City, through her work at the Sutter County Library Literacy Services Department she has helped a large immigrant population learn to speak, read and write in English. She was also pivotal in establishing the Sutter County Library’s Literacy Services Citizenship Preparation class, which has helped students pursuing United States Citizenship. The program has helped complete 6,386 applications for naturalization, 740 applications for certificates of citizenship and 4,000 fee waiver requests.
• Sara Sealander, Yuba City, has been promoting women in the arts for decades in Sutter County. As an instructor at Yuba College for 38 years, she has fostered a passion for art in countless students through her classes in both studio and art history. She also brings this passion outside of the classroom as the founder of the local chapter of Guerilla Girls, an international group of feminist activist artists and a key advocate for the National Endowment for the Arts.
• Sally Serger, Yuba City, has devoted more than 25 years of her life to teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing special-needs children in Oroville for the Sutter County Office of Education. Serger also spends time volunteering in a myriad of other capacities throughout her community, such as key positions with California Women for Agriculture, La Porte Snowmobile Club and the local 4-H program. She is also a key advocate for strengthening Sutter County’s levees.
• Heidi Shelton, Yuba City, co-owner of NorCal Assets Solutions, a business founded, owned and operated by women. Shelton is integral to providing seniors and families of the Yuba-Sutter area with information about a range of services, from Medicare planning and long-term care alternatives, to PG&E’s Medical program and safe retirement planning. She also volunteers with the United Way, Alzheimer’s Association, Alliance for Hispanic Advancement, 14Forward and Salvation Army.
• Wendy Zapata, Yuba City, is the co-owner of NorCal Assets Solutions, which she and her sister co-founded in 2012. She works helping individuals throughout her community make informed decisions about their future. Each year she helps organize a Senior Resource Fair where she makes seniors aware of the resources available to them. Zapata volunteers with a number of organizations in her community, including Soroptimist International, United Way, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alliance for Hispanic Advancement and more.
• Barbara Hankins, Meridian, has long helped children as the nurse for the Colusa Unified School District, providing careful medical attention to many who count on her alone for their care. In addition to her busy work, Barbara a steadfast supporter, volunteer, and organizer for various anti-drug groups and programs continuing her care to our children.
• Suzanne Lawry-Hall, Yuba City, oversees the critical CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in five counties, which aims to improve the diet, nutrition, self-sufficiency, and overall health of CalFresh recipients and their families. Under her supervision the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program has made significant gains in its outreach and education to low-income families, increasing youth participation by 10,104 and adult participation by 1,872.
• Pamela DaGrossa, Colusa, serves the most vulnerable. As a court-appointed Special Advocate she mentors foster children during trying times. As an Animal Control Officer and volunteer with the Colusa County Animal Shelter, she helps countless shelter animals by providing foster care, medical treatment, vaccinations and providing transportation to rescue organizations.
• Irmalee Schumacher, Colusa, is an educator and volunteer who is committed to making students in Colusa the best that they can be. For 21 years, she has led the Super Seven Awards Program, recognizing seven Juniors and Seniors at Colusa High School for their scholastic achievement. She has also been instrumental in coordinating the Colusa County Office of Education’s Scholastic Appreciation Day and generously co-funds a scholarship for Williams High School graduates who might otherwise not be able to move into higher education.
• Maryah Stoots, Williams, is a parent advocate with a heart for service and a strong desire to help others. She is vice president of the Williams Parent Teacher Organization where she fundraises for school spirit wear and educational programs. She was instrumental in the introduction of Learning Dynamics, an early learning reading program designed to promote childhood and family literacy. Mayrah Stoots exemplifies the qualities of selfless service and embodies the qualities of a public servant.