Jackson To Honor 'Women of the Year' in Santa Barbara and Oxnard

Posted on 22 Mar 2016 for representative Hannah-Beth Jackson

SANTA BARBARA and OXNARD – To commemorate Women’s History Month, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) will honor eight women from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties as her 19th Senate District’s 2016 ‘Women of the Year’ in two separate ceremonies held in Santa Barbara and Oxnard. The women, chosen for the contributions they make to their communities, will be recognized at events held on March 23 and April 1. Female elected officials have been invited to attend the Women of the Year events in their respective counties. “Whether they work to improve education, the environment, to advance justice or improve our safety, these women remind us of the diverse contributions, incredible talents and extraordinary leadership skills that women bring to the table,” said Jackson, who is chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. “They are leaders and visionaries who make our communities stronger and our futures brighter." Jackson’s Santa Barbara County Women of the Year will be honored at a reception on Wednesday, March 23 from 5-7 p.m. at the Orfalea Downtown Center, 1221 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara. Due to limited space, the reception is closed to the public. However, members of the press are invited to cover the event. The Santa Barbara County Women of the Year honorees are: Dominga Cepeda Ceja has spent a lifetime fighting for workers’ rights, helping troubled families and at-risk youth. She is an advocate for civil rights who fought alongside Cesar E. Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union, empowering farm workers toward self-sufficiency. In 1977, she began working with the youth of the Santa Maria Valley, developing programs to address poverty, the lack of education and low self-esteem. She has served on many commissions that strive to better the lives young people, including The Juvenile Justice Commission and The School SARB Board. She currently serves with the local Restorative Justice Group. Linda Krop is chief counsel of the Environmental Defense Center, a public interest environmental law firm, where she specializes in open space protection and offshore energy issues. In 1994, she helped craft the California Coastal Sanctuary Act, which prohibits new oil leasing off the coast of California. She has won court victories leading to the unprecedented termination of 40 federal oil leases off our coast, and has represented clients in successfully blocking several offshore oil development and liquefied natural gas proposals. She has helped save important open spaces, including Hearst Ranch, Carpinteria Bluffs, Ellwood Shores, East-West Ranch, and Sedgwick Ranch. She also teaches environmental law at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt recently retired as the chief investigator for the Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office, where she was the first African-American to ever hold such a position in California. She is a founding member of the Defense Investigator Training Accreditation Academy, the first college-accredited program in California and the nation for defense investigators. In addition, she is the current president of the Santa Maria/Lompoc NAACP, a position she has held since 2007. Dr. Victoria Riskin is a writer and television producer whose credits include The Last Best Year, The Member of the Wedding, My Antonia, A Town Torn Apart, and World War II: When Lions Roared. She is the past president of the Writers Guild of America West, the union representing 8,500 screen and television writers, and has won numerous awards for her advocacy work and her contributions to the entertainment industry and the community. She is also a founding member of Human Rights Watch/California and serves as co-chair of the Santa Barbara Committee of Human Rights Watch. She is a director emerita of the International Board of Human Rights Watch and was chair of the Hellman-Hammett Committee that oversaw the distribution of funds from the estate of Lillian Hellman to writers persecuted around the world. She also serves on the board of KCRW, the NPR station in Santa Barbara and is also chair of the board of Antioch University in Santa Barbara. Jackson’s 2016 Ventura County Women of the Year will be honored at a reception on Friday, April 1 from 5-7 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriot Oxnard, 600 E. Esplanade Drive, Oxnard. Given limited space, the reception is closed to the public. However, members of the press are invited to cover the event. The honorees are: Barbara Meister is one of Ventura’s most visible and generous art patrons, and a major supporter of many initiatives and non-profits. Retired from her roles as an educator and CEO/President of Barber Ford-Volkswagen-Subaru-RV in Ventura, she has received numerous awards for her tireless community activism and philanthropy in the arts, culture, education and healthcare. Not only is she a patron of Rubicon Theatre and serves on their board, she also produces plays on Broadway – most recently, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – and as far away as London, where she produced Pippin. Dr. Kim Marra Stephenson is the principal of Adolfo Camarillo High School and has worked in education for over 25 years, starting as a bilingual aide in Los Angeles, and teaching at every level from preschool through graduate school, from Oakland to Thousand Oaks. Her tasks as principal include overseeing the transition of Camarillo High’s agriculture, business and technology academies into National Academy Foundation academies, and overseeing the school’s transition to meet new Common Core state standards. She also serves as a founding member of Ventura County Women's Forum Collaborative and as a member of the American Association of University Women Camarillo. Maricela Morales serves as executive director of Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, working to build grassroots power for social, economic and environmental justice through policy research, leadership development, community organizing and advocacy. She was the first Latina elected to the Port Hueneme City Council in 2002. In 2007, she became the city’s first Latina Mayor. Her commitment to working collaboratively on issues of local, regional and state concern has been recognized by the California Association of Leadership Programs, National Women’s Political Caucus of Ventura County, Pacific Coast Business Times 40 Under 40, Soroptomist Club of Oxnard, and the Ventura County Leadership Academy. Chief Jeri Williams is the chief of police with the Oxnard Police Department, the largest municipal agency in Ventura County, where she has demonstrated strong, accountable and transparent leadership in the face of adversity and has increased the accessibility of the police department in challenging times. She is known for her community-based policing experience and has worked to establish partnerships with various members, businesses and stakeholders in Oxnard. Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County. ###