Elaine Paonessa Named a "Woman of the Year" In the 29th Congressional District

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Friday, March 28, 2008 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Elaine Paonessa Named a “Woman of the Year” In the 29th Congressional District

Washington, D.C. – Today at a reception in Pasadena, Representative Adam Schiff honored Elaine Paonessa for her commitment and service to Burbank by naming her a “Woman of the Year.” 

“With no charitable stone left unturned, Elaine has set a new standard for what it means to be a truly devoted citizen,” said Schiff. “As a resident of Burbank, I can attest to how lucky we are to have Elaine as a member of our community.”

Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and raised in San Diego, Ms. Paonessa briefly attended San Diego State College before leaving to tour nationally with an all-girl orchestra as a trumpet player and a professional singer. Her musical background would return one day in her outreach efforts.

Ms. Paonessa relocated to Burbank with her husband, Bill, in 1952 where she would eventually emerge as one of the Burbank community’s brightest stars. There they raised their daughter, Gay, and their son, Guy, and were together until Bill’s passing in 2006.

It was during her fifteen years as a homemaker that Ms. Paonessa first amassed an impressive roster of volunteer commitments. Ms. Paonessa has worked with the Boy Scouts, led the Emblem Club of Burbank as President, chaired the city’s Women’s Council, founded the local Performing Arts Federation, and supported St. Joseph’s Medical Center. When she returned to work in 1967, Ms. Paonessa blazed professional trails as the first female sales representative for the Automobile Club of Southern California. Never one to shy from community involvement, she served on the Burbank Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Salvation Army Advisory Board.

Ms. Paonessa has not slowed a bit. She continues to lead and volunteer with several community organizations, including the Burbank Farmer’s Market and the Burbank Civitan Club, to name just a few. Ms. Paonessa revisits her roots as a traveling performer as the Musical Director of the Van Bloem Singers, a group that visits and performs at senior residences and healthcare facilities. For her incredible breadth of service, Ms. Paonessa has been recognized by Los Angeles County Commission on Aging and has been honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Every March, during Women’s History Month, Rep. Schiff honors one outstanding woman from each of the communities in the 29th Congressional District.  These women come from all walks of life and represent the thousands of women who make a positive impact in our region.  While there are no specific criteria for nomination, Rep. Schiff looks for women who — through their work or volunteerism — have improved the quality of life for our community.

Rep. Schiff represents California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.