04.06.18

Rep. Adam Schiff Honors 2018 Women of the Year

Los Angeles, CA – On Thursday, April 5th, at a luncheon in Echo Park, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) honored a group of inspiring women from communities in the 28th Congressional District – Atwater Village, Burbank, Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Glendale, Hollywood Hills, La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Los Feliz, Pasadena, Silver Lake, Kagel Canyon, Sunland, and West Hollywood.

“Today, I met with thirteen remarkable women who have all worked tirelessly to make our communities a better place. It was an honor to recognize their outstanding work in the 28th District,” said Rep. Schiff. “These women have worked to found or support a myriad of charitable organizations, started multiple businesses and given so much of themselves to improve the common good. They are all pillars of our communities and I thank them for their invaluable service.”

Below is a full list of honorees from this year:

Claudette Nicole Saba Monestime (Atwater Village), Vicky Marachelian (Burbank), Isa-Kae Meksin (Echo Park), Emily Gleicher (Elysian Valley), Lori Hartwell (Glendale), Anastasia Mann (Hollywood Hills), Donna Ford (La Canada Flintridge), Kiljoo Lee Kurumada (La Crescenta), Brenda Levin (Los Feliz), Patricia Anne Kinaga (Pasadena), Nina Sorkin (Silver Lake), Kelly Erin Decker (Kagel Canyon), Medea Kalognomos (Sunland) and Ivy Bottini (West Hollywood).

A Tribute to Claudette Nicole Saba Monestime – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my congressional district. Today I would like to recognize one remarkable woman, Claudette Nicole Saba Monestime of Atwater Village, a unique neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Claudette Nicole Saba Monestime is a Palestinian American who was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, where her father was stationed serving the United States Army during the Vietnam War. Nicole, her parents and two sisters moved from Germany to Anaheim, California after her father’s military service ended. She credits her amazing public school education in the Anaheim school system and the attainment of a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton.

She moved to Atwater Village nearly twenty years ago to expand her career in marketing, and along the way met and married her husband, Rene Monestime, and they had two sons, Reece and Micah. After having a successful career as a marketing manager at Princess Cruises and Cunard Line, she started her own marketing firm and immersed herself in her children’s public school education. 

Ms. Monestime helped create a technology vision for Glenfeliz Boulevard School for Advanced Studies, which has resulted in the consistent use of 75 iPads and 35 laptops by students throughout all grade levels. She continues to volunteer her time in the classroom by helping teach first, second, and third grade students about the intricacies of computer programming. Nicole is the president of the Glenfeliz Boulevard School for Advanced Studies’ non-profit booster organization, Friends of Glenfeliz, which raises much needed funds to help to pay for programs that benefit the entire student body, and also participates in an ongoing community outreach campaign to ensure that local businesses play an integral role at the elementary school. Ms. Monestime serves as the president of the School Site Council, which works with the Los Angeles Unified School District to give parents perspective and feedback regarding decisions made at the district level. 

Nicole’s inspiration comes from the committed parents, administrators, teachers, business and non-profit leaders from the Atwater Village community who work in creative ways to make a difference. When they say, “It takes a village to raise a child,” that is most certainly true and is happening in Atwater Village.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Claudette Nicole Saba Monestime.

A Tribute to Vicky Marachelian – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month.  Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Vicky Marachelian of Burbank, California.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Ms. Marachelian’s dedication to community service and passion to volunteer for humanitarian efforts stems from her childhood. When she moved to the United States with her family at a very young age during the civil war in Lebanon, Vicky realized that she had the opportunity for a better life, and to this day, she strives to give back to the community and support the less fortunate.

Since 1995, Vicky has been an active member of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS), a remarkable organization with thousands of members in dozens of chapters around the world, serving the educational, social, and humanitarian needs of Armenians and non-Armenians alike. Over the years, Vicky has served in many capacities with the organization. She was elected to the ARS Burbank “Araz” Chapter as an executive member for 4 consecutive terms, served on the Regional Executive Board of the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA from 2003-2005, and was reelected in 2008 to serve as Chairperson of the Regional Executive Board. Impressively, only four months later, Vicky was elected as Chairperson of the Armenian Relief Society, Inc. Central Executive Board, the highest international executive position of the global organization, where she served for two terms. During her leadership as Chairperson, a number of projects were undertaken, including the construction of a new building for the ARS “Soseh” Kindergarten in Stepanakert, Artsakh, which was completed in September 2017.

In addition to her tireless advocacy with the Armenian Relief Society, Ms. Marachelian was active at Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Los Angeles, where her children attended, helping to raise funds for the construction of a new gym and library on the campus. 

Currently, Ms. Marachelian continues her service to the community through the ARS Burbank “Araz” Chapter, where she presently serves as an executive member, and is instrumental in fund-raising for the chapter and doing outreach to Armenian and non-Armenian organizations.

Ms. Marachelian’s impressive work has not gone unnoticed as she has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce “Woman in Service” award in 2011 and the "Vachagan Barepasht" medal in 2015, awarded to her by Bako Sahakyan, President of the Artsakh Republic, for her service in the Artsakh Republic.

Vicky has been married to Art Marachelian for 36 years, and they have two children, Chris and Raffi.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Vicky Marachelian.

Below is a photo of Rep. Schiff with Vicky Marachelian at the luncheon:

 

A Tribute to Isa-Kae Meksin – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my congressional district. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Isa-Kae Meksin of Echo Park, a unique neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Isa-Kae’s family immigrated to New York from the Ukraine where her father was a concert pianist and her mother was a homemaker. Growing up, Isa-Kae’s mother taught her to question authority and to think on her feet, guiding her towards her passion for local politics and historic preservation.

While in New York, Ms. Meksin received a Bachelor’s Degree from Hunter College and soon after worked as a secretary for C.L.R. James, the visionary Afro-Trinidadian historian and journalist. It was during this time that she observed how workers, women, African-Americans and youth, were agents of change, and it was this work that led her to Los Angeles to connect with and observe the activities of the local factory workers.

Isa-Kae moved to California in 1953 where she attended California State University, Los Angeles and worked towards her teaching credential. As a teacher in the 1950’s, she dedicated her time to working with students with disabilities, specifically the visually impaired, and she maintains life-long relationships with some of these past students. Ms. Meksin continued this incredible work for many years until she found a new passion: activism.

In 1978, Isa-Kae worked on opposing the discriminatory Briggs Initiative which would have banned gays and lesbians, and anyone who supported Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) rights, from working in California public schools. As someone who fought for and supported the rights of LGBT individuals, Isa-Kae testified to the horrific outcomes of such a potentially divisive initiative and how the legislation perpetuated grossly inaccurate portrayals of homosexuals, and through her dedicated efforts and those of others, the Briggs Initiative was defeated.   

Isa-Kae continues her activist work by volunteering with various organizations like the Watts Gang Task Force, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Central City Action Committee, the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park, the Studio for Southern California History and many others. Among her many accomplishments, Ms. Meksin works with California State University Los Angeles to create opportunities for homeless youth to attend college and in 2017, she was awarded the Distinguished Educator Award from the university for her efforts.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Isa-Kae Meksin.

A Tribute to Emily Gleicher – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year 

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my congressional district. Today I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Emily Gleicher of Elysian Valley, a unique neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Growing up in Queens, New York, Emily saw the need for sustainable living and gardening in major cities. She would walk the streets of New York and see empty parcels of land filled with garbage and dead weeds and she saw an opportunity to enhance urban areas with sustainable farming.

When Emily moved to Los Angeles in 2012, she and her husband, Arlen Jason Wood, decided to convert their front yard into a giant raised lima bean farm where they would later sell their crops to local farmer’s markets. As with New York, Ms. Gleicher saw empty pieces of land around Los Angeles that could easily be transformed into urban sustainable farms.

Emily and Jason decided to harness their passion for gardening and in 2015, they created Farm LA, a local 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to transforming underutilized land in Los Angeles into sustainable energy projects and drought-tolerant agricultural farming. Since its inception, the goal of Farm LA has been to create food access and a cultural appreciation for sustainable living while enhancing the beauty of the city around us. Farm LA’s programming includes: urban farming, fruit shares, sidewalk gardens, educating elementary schools and summer camps on growing food also known as “kindergardening,” and selling their 9th generation lima bean seeds at local health fairs and farmer’s markets.

Through her passion and dedicated service, Emily has created a Farm LA community of over 500 volunteers in the last three years as her organization continues to expand. Ms. Gleicher hopes that her work will help to provide food access in lower income residential neighborhoods while giving people a better understanding of the products they consume in an effort to address the prevalence of childhood obesity. Emily’s passion for sustainable farming has brightened our community and she continues to serve as a role model for the citizens of this district.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Emily Gleicher.

A Tribute to Lori Hartwell – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Lori Hartwell of Glendale, California.

A resilient survivor of chronic kidney disease (CKD), Lori has dedicated her life to the renal field and patients with chronic illness. In her lifelong struggle with CKD, which began when she was two years old, Ms. Hartwell received dialysis treatments for almost 13 years and has had four kidney transplants. Rather than capitulating to the obstacles of this debilitating disease, Ms. Hartwell chose to embrace her circumstances and motivate others like her to lead complete and productive lives. In her book Chronically Happy – Joyful Living in Spite of Chronic Illness, she narrates the challenges she overcame as well as the steps to achieving one’s dreams.

After developing a comprehensive understanding of the American renal patient population as a sales specialist for HemaMetrics and sales manager for Medcomp, Ms. Hartwell became editor of the medical journal Contemporary Dialysis & Nephrology and established Hartwell Communications to consult on patient-related educational materials. In 1993, Lori founded the Renal Support Network (RSN), originally a Southern California-grassroots patient-led organization that has since expanded across the United States. The RSN endeavors to cultivate an emotional support network built on hope, knowledge, and peer connection to provide CKD patients with the tools to thrive despite their illness.

In addition to her work with RSN, Ms. Hartwell gives presentations locally, nationwide and globally at national nephrology conferences and events about patient engagement, overcoming adversity, and achieving goals. She also advises elected officials on the impact of legislative policies on people with chronic illnesses, and serves on multiple councils and boards in the renal field, including the National Quality Renal Forum and the Board of Directors for Kidney Care Partners. She is former chair of the Patient Advisory Committee for the Southern California Renal Disease Council and served on the Governor’s Rehabilitation Council for the State of California.

Ms. Hartwell’s impressive work has not gone unnoticed as she has been recognized with numerous awards, including the National Kidney Registry’s “Patient Advocacy Award” in 2010 and being named “Woman of the Year” in the 21st California Senate District by State Senator Jack Scott in 2005.

Ms. Hartwell’s remarkable efforts on behalf of those diagnosed with kidney disease, as well as her resilience in her own battle, speak for themselves. She is a steadfast community leader with a long record of dedicated service and an inspiration to all.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Lori Hartwell.

A Tribute to Anastasia Mann – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Anastasia Mann of Hollywood Hills, a unique neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Anastasia Mann founded Corniche Travel in 1987 and successfully launched a new division called Anastasia’s Africa in 2004, which specializes in customized trips to southern and eastern Africa. She later established Corniche Entertainment, which provides music and entertainment for private events around the world. Alongside the development of her own company, Anastasia has taken on several leadership roles in the travel industry, locally, state-wide, nationally and internationally. She is the founding chairman of the West Hollywood Visitors and Convention Bureau, and a founding member of the California Travel and Tourism Commission, where she served two terms as the sole representative for all travel management agencies in California and served on the Executive Committee. In addition, she is a member of the California Chamber of Commerce and spent ten years on the international board of directors of the Travel & Tourism Research Association, serving as President and Chair. Ms. Mann served as a California representative to the White House Conference on Tourism during the Clinton Administration and was a keynote speaker at both the 2003 International Conference on Peace through Tourism in Geneva, Switzerland and the 2005 IIPT African Conference in Lusaka, Zambia.

In addition to her impressive achievements in the travel industry, Ms. Mann is also actively involved in the community, serving as President of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council and as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Department’s Board of Rights. She is a long-standing board member of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and was involved with the Hollywood Arts Council. Anastasia and her company support several organizations, including the Fred Jordan Mission in downtown Los Angeles, Program for Torture Victims, OneLegacy Foundation and Disabled American Veterans.

Ms. Mann’s noble deeds have not been overlooked as she has received numerous commendations by the Los Angeles City Council, Los Angeles Mayor, the Governor of California and the United States Senate for philanthropy and business achievements. She also received the Woman of Achievement Award from the Century City Chamber of Commerce in 2006, the prestigious Diamond Award from the Southern California chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents in 2017 and was the first recipient of the Anastasia K. Mann Leadership Award from the Travel and Tourism Marketing Association.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Anastasia Mann.

A Tribute to Donna Ford – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Donna Ford of La Cañada Flintridge, California.

A civil litigator for several years in New York and Pennsylvania, Ms. Ford relocated to La Cañada Flintridge with her family in 2005. Since moving to California, she has been an active member of the local community, serving as a dedicated volunteer and board member of several non-profit organizations. 

Believing that all children have tremendous potential regardless of their background or circumstances, Donna is a passionate advocate for young people and is committed to enriching the lives of children and adolescents.  To that end, for twelve years, she has served on the board of directors of Hillsides, an organization dedicated to fostering a stable, healthy environment for at-risk children and their families by providing a range of innovative services, including residential treatment, individualized education, counseling and adoption assistance. Ms. Ford currently serves as chair of the Hillsides Board of Directors, co-chaired Hillsides’ annual gala in 2011, and has served on several committees over the years.

In addition to her work with Hillsides, Donna is a longtime volunteer of the Cottage Guild at Rosemary Children’s Services in Pasadena, which provides education, therapeutic support and permanency planning to children and adolescents, and residential housing at Rosemary Cottage for young girls between 13 and 18 years of age.

Donna has continued her commendable work with children by mentoring African American girls at John Muir High School in Pasadena and serving as a board member of the Institute for Educational Advancement, a Pasadena organization that assists gifted children in reaching their full potential, for a decade. In addition, she volunteers for the University of Southern California’s Medical Faculty Family and Friends, which raises scholarship funds for medical students, and has served on the diversity committee for the Pasadena Playhouse.

Donna is married to Dr. Henri R. Ford and they have two children.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Donna Ford.

A Tribute to Kiljoo Lee Kurumada – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Kiljoo Lee Kurumada of La Crescenta, California.

Kiljoo was born in China and raised in South Korea. In 1967, she graduated from the Seoul National University College of Music and in 1969, she moved to the United States.

In 1983, Ms. Kurumada co-founded the Korean Resource Center (KRC), an extraordinary non-profit organization, whose goal is to empower immigrant, low-income, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and minority communities in Southern California. By using a holistic approach, this distinguished organization endeavors to support these communities by incorporating culture, services, education, coalition-building and organizing toward improving their lives.

Ms. Kurumada has taken on a prominent leadership role in the Korean-American community. She served as KRC board chair for more than two decades, and also served as founding board chair of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), a grassroots organization that promotes the active and organized participation of Korean and Asian Americans to achieve social and economic justice.

During her long tenure at the Korean Resource Center, where she currently volunteers two days a week helping low-income families and seniors with general inquiries, Ms. Kurumada and her colleagues have championed numerous causes, including access to health insurance, affordable housing, voter registration, senior advocacy, youth education and immigration reform.

Kiljoo has lived in La Crescenta for over four decades. She is married to Stephen Kurumada, and they have two children, Jennifer and Michael, and four grandchildren.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Kiljoo Lee Kurumada.

A Tribute to Brenda Levin – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise to honor Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Brenda Levin of Los Feliz, a unique neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Born in New Jersey, Brenda Levin lived on the East Coast until she was 30 and never expected to leave. After studying graphic design at Carnegie Mellon and earning her undergraduate degree at New York University, she worked for a few years before returning to school to earn a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 1976. There she met her future husband, David Abel, who was determined to go west and convinced Brenda there would be more opportunities for women in male-dominated fields such as architecture. Her first job in California was working with prominent residential architect John Lautner on his design of a Palm Springs house for entertainer Bob Hope.

From that day forward, Ms. Levin has touched the historic and cultural spirit and complexity of Los Angeles, significantly shaping the city skyline as we know it. For over 20 years her architecture and urban planning firmLevin & Associates Architectshas pioneered, in collaboration with innovative developers, the process of historic preservation by the polishing the riches of the city with a new sheen, and her success in this effort has helped to energize the preservation movement in Los Angeles. Among the landmarks she has helped to preserve and revitalize are Grand Central and Chapman markets, the Oviatt, Fine Arts and Bradbury Buildings, the Wiltern Theater and Los Angeles City Hall.  In the revitalization/preservation process are the Griffith Observatory, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings at Barnsdall Art Park and the Japanese American National Museum’s National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, among others.

In the spring of 2000, the Boone Gallery designed by Brenda opened at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino and Art, Design & Architecture Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Ms. Levin’s housing projects include the nationally-recognized Downtown Women’s Center for mentally-ill, homeless women in Los Angeles and the Adams Congress affordable apartments in south Los Angeles.

Ms. Levin’s exceptional work has been recognized with numerous awards. She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and the AIA/LA selected her as recipient of the 2010 Gold Medal for her contributions in the preservation and revitalization movement in Los Angeles. In addition, in 2014, she received the Rose Award from the Los Angeles Parks Foundation, and in 2017, Brenda was the recipient of the Los Angeles Architectural Angel Award from Project Restore.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring an exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Brenda Levin.

A Tribute to Patricia Anne Kinaga – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise to honor Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions made by our nation’s women.  It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Patricia Anne Kinaga, of Pasadena, California.

A third generation Japanese American, Patricia Anne Kinaga was born and raised in Los Angeles County. Her parents, Rose and Thomas Kinaga, met when they were interned during World War II. After the war, her parents moved the family to Palos Verdes Estates, where she experienced discrimination, and it was this negative childhood experience that set Patricia on a life-long path to advocate for the lives of Asian Pacific Islanders everywhere.

Patricia received a B.A. cum laude in urban anthropology at University of California Los Angeles and obtained a Master in City Planning at the University of California Berkeley. Upon graduating from UC Berkeley she secured a position with the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development in Sacramento, where she was selected to participate in a White House sponsored program in the Sierra Nevadas to improve housing and economic conditions for the rural impoverished in that region. She graduated from Georgetown Law in 1984 and moved back to Los Angeles to begin her legal career at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and in this position, she served as a prosecutor specializing in domestic violence and child abuse cases and as a civil trial attorney in the Employee Relations Section.  After working as a partner in serval prestigious law firms including her own, Ms. Kinaga joined LTL Attorneys LLP as a partner.

A community leader for well over thirty years, Patricia served on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood, Los Angeles, is a founding member of the Los Angeles chapter of Asian Pacific Islanders for Choice, Co-Founder of The Center for Asian Pacific American Women, and the Chair and Co-Founder of Asian and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California. She is a former member of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, an alumni of the Japanese Leadership Delegation, past president of the Japanese American Bar Association, and is an appointed member of the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights.

Ms. Kinaga has received numerous awards, including from Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, the State Assembly and Senate Women in Business Award, and the prestigious Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from UC Berkeley. In addition, Patricia is also an award winning writer/producer who received a Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards nomination for the film “About Love” on domestic violence. Other major works include a documentary on the 442 Regimental Combat Team, which has been distributed to schools by the History Channel.

Patricia, her husband Peter Wong and their two children, Brandon and Emily live in Pasadena California.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring an exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Patricia Anne Kinaga. 

A Tribute to Nina Sorkin – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Nina Sorkin of Silver Lake, a unique neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Nina’s parents immigrated from Mexico, so Nina is a proud first generation Californian. She was raised in the San Fernando Valley, until she moved to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake with her beloved husband Al Sorkin 51 years ago. A diehard Bruin, Ms. Sorkin received both her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and her master’s degree in Social Welfare from the University of California Los Angeles.

With over 40 years of service in both the public and non-profit sectors, Nina has an impressive record of giving back to the community, supporting a diverse range of causes that demonstrate her passion for helping women, children, and the homeless.

A steadfast women’s advocate, Ms. Sorkin was appointed to the Los Angeles City Commission for the Status of Women by then-Mayor Bradley, where she served for a decade and was instrumental in developing a city campaign to bring awareness about women and AIDS. As a breast cancer survivor, Nina has been involved with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life for the past 15 years, chaired the Relay For Life of Pasadena, and has been volunteering for the Relay for Life of Griffith Park Communities and Hollywood since its inception over a decade ago; currently she serves as the Luminaria Chair.

During her seventeen-year tenure on the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families, Ms. Sorkin established a Healthy Nutrition program for children in foster care and was a member of the Child Court Committee to improve child visitation. Reinforcing her commitment to enriching the lives of children, she has been reading to three and four year olds at the Bellevue Recreation Center for the last five years, serves on the Bellevue Park Advisory Board, and championed the importance of language development in small children by her involvement with the Children Planning Council and First 5 LA.

Ms. Sorkin is a member of the Griffith Park Lions Club, which administers eye examinations and provides free eye glasses to Ribet Academy students and four elementary schools in the Atwater Village area. In addition, Nina volunteers with the Hollywood SDA Church Homeless Program, is a member of the Griffith Park Adult Community Center Spring Faire planning committee, and is a facilitator for a grief support group.

Married to the late Al Sorkin for 47 years, she has one son, Stephen and four grandchildren.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Nina Sorkin.

A Tribute to Kelly Erin Decker – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Kelly Erin Decker of Kagel Canyon, a unique neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

After graduating from Princeton University with Bachelors of Arts degrees in Politics and in Visual Arts and Art History, Kelly pursued her love for the arts as a regional theater performer on the East Coast. With several years of theater experience under her belt, Kelly took a chance on herself for a future in film and television and embarked on a cross country journey that brought her to Los Angeles, where she enrolled at the Playhouse West School and Repertory Theater in North Hollywood. Ms. Decker has appeared in many stage performances, short films and movies, such as the Ghost of Christmas Past at the Sierra Madre Playhouse and as Michael Madsen’s girlfriend in the movie Devil’s Domain.

In 2009, Ms. Decker and her husband, Jeffrey Leeson, became Kagel Canyon residents and quickly became involved in their community by joining the Kagel Canyon Civic Association. For the last several years, Kelly has served on the Kagel Canyon Civic Association Board, first as Vice President and since 2015 as its President. Her chief mission is to expand community involvement in the association and community engagement in issues affecting the foothills area at large. She works closely with local, county, state and federal offices to advance the concerns of Kagel Canyon residents. Kelly is an ardent preservationist of the last remaining rural and equestrian communities in Los Angeles and serves on the board of Save Angeles Forest for Everyone.

A compassionate advocate for her Kagel Canyon community, Kelly’s dedication to the residents is nothing short of extraordinary. As editor of The Hot Sheet, the Kagel Canyon monthly newsletter that is hand delivered to every home, she keeps residents informed about local issues. During the December 2017 Creek Fire, she quickly responded by serving as Kagel Canyon’s unofficial community information officer, working day and night to provide residents with up-to-date information on the status of evacuations, organizations to reach out to for help and generally assisting with whatever was needed at the time. Ms. Decker’s efforts did not cease after the fire was extinguished; and to this day, she continues to support and be an exceptional resource for all the residents of Kagel Canyon, but in particular for the sixteen Kagel Canyon families who lost their homes in the fire by organizing numerous fundraisers, coordinating efforts to collect food and clothing donations and providing resources to assist with the rebuilding process.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Kelly Erin Decker.

A Tribute to Medea Kalognomos – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month.  Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Medea Kalognomos of Sunland, California.

In 1962, Medea moved to the United States from Iran to pursue her education. After graduating from Belmont High School in Los Angeles, she attended North Carolina State University and Point Loma Nazarene University in California, receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in French and a Master’s Degree in Pupil Personnel Services.

Medea fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a school teacher when she was hired by the Glendale Unified School District, where she worked for a quarter of a century. She taught French and English as a Second Language (ESL) at Eleanor J. Toll Middle School, and then became an ESL Program Specialist at Eleanor J. Toll Middle School and Woodrow Wilson Middle School, and was also a Counselor at Glendale High School, where she patiently and compassionately advised students. She also guided many immigrant students and made a lasting impact in their lives, by instilling in them the importance of civic involvement and education. 

An avid student advocate and civic leader, Ms. Kalognomos has dedicated countless hours to the community, and has served in over sixteen community and academic organizations in the past thirty-five years. Currently, she is a member of the Armenian Educational Foundation, the Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region Education Committee, and co-president of the Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools, which is an organization that has been a positive influence and inspiration to students in public schools. Most recently, Medea served as chairperson of the Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools Leadership Workshop, where Glendale Unified School District and Los Angeles Unified School District high school juniors with a 3.5 and higher grade point average, gathered to learn valuable leadership skills and the importance of volunteering in the community. In addition to her tireless service in the local communities, Medea has volunteered at schools, orphanages and hospitals in Armenia for many years.

Medea’s extraordinary work has not gone unnoticed as she has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Ruby Award from the Soroptimist International of the Verdugos.

Ms. Kalognomos has been married to Sergeant Major Alexander Kalognomos for 50 years, and they have two children, Alex and Helen.  

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Medea Kalognomos.

Below is a photo of Rep. Schiff and Medea Kalognomos at the luncheon:

A Tribute to Ivy Bottini – 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month.  Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women.  It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District.  I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Ivy Bottini, of West Hollywood, California.

Ivy Bottini is a legendary activist, professional artist, mother, award-winning actress, and community leader. Renowned from coast to coast for her feminism and fight for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, she paved the way for many of the advances in civil and human rights we enjoy today.

Ivy was a founding member of the first chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966. She designed the iconic logo for the organization, which is still in use today. In August of 1970 Ivy and over 150 of her fellow activists made headlines by unveiling a banner reading “Women of the World Unite” over the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

Ivy moved to Los Angeles in 1971, and from the time she set foot in the community, she has been working to improve the quality of life for its people. She speaks her mind and amplifies the voices of those in need around her. She founded AIDS Network LA, Los Angeles’ first AIDS organization and the Los Angeles Lesbian/Gay Police Advisory Board, cofounded AIDS Project LA and served for over 15 years on the West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board. In 1981, she was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California Commission on Aging making Ivy the first “out” lesbian or gay person to be appointed to a state board or commission. She was instrumental as an advocate for affordable housing for Gay and Lesbian seniors in the opening of “Triangle Square,” the first in the nation assisted living, affordable income apartment complex for LGBT elders.

Over the years, Ivy has received numerous recognitions for her years of service and most recently, she was recognized as the 2016 Woman of the Year for the 3rd Supervisorial District of the County of Los Angeles and as the 2017 Woman of the Year for the 50th Assembly District of the State of California.

Ivy is an inspiration throughout the country. Her life’s work is an example of finding one’s voice and using it forcefully for the benefit of all Americans.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Ivy Bottini. 

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