Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank)
May 31, 2022
Today, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) presented fourteen outstanding women in California’s 28th congressional district with the annual Woman of the Year Award, recognizing their myriad contributions to education, health, housing, homelessness, and arts initiatives in their communities.
“I am proud my district is home to so many incredible women – brilliant and hardworking individuals, many of them leaders in their fields, who go above and beyond to share their wisdom and passions with their neighbors, and to enrich our communities day in and day out,” said Schiff. “Each of these women has made a profound impact on the people and places they love. We all benefit from their dedication and expertise, and we can only hope to emulate their spirit of service in our daily lives.”
Schiff celebrated the honorees at a luncheon this afternoon in Atwater Village, where he thanked them for their exemplary volunteerism and service to communities in his district. See photos from the luncheon here.
The 2022 honorees are Mariam Barnes (La Crescenta), Lucy Levinsohn Berman (Sunland), Nancy Beyda (Hollywood Hills), Ruth Cislowski (West Hollywood), Jennie Cook (Silver Lake), Becky Gelhaar (La Cañada Flintridge), Jackie Goldberg (Echo Park), Carmenita Helligar (Burbank), Dr. Irene Kim (Hollywood), Dr. Ramella Markarian (Glendale), Courtney Morris (Atwater Village), Patricia Peréz (Elysian Valley), Standolyn Robertson (Los Feliz), and Janice Segall (Pasadena).
2022 Women of the Year Honorees
Mariam Barnes, La Crescenta
Mariam was born and raised in La Crescenta, and devotes her spare time giving back to youth in the community. She served on the Crescenta Valley Town Council for two terms where she focused on creating opportunities for local students, helping launch the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow program which gives students a booth to sell their products at the Montrose Harvest Market, as well as planning workshops that focus on building self-esteem, providing information on vocational schools, interview coaching, and helping students with their college applications. Mariam has also participated in local drug awareness efforts and volunteered as a mentor to young women.
Lucy Levinsohn Berman, Sunland
Lucy has been a well-known leader in the Sunland-Tujunga Jewish community for nearly a decade. As an enthusiastic member of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council’s Arts, Recreation and Culture Committee, she founded Hanukkah in the Foothills, an annual inclusive celebration open to everyone that features traditional Hanukkah music, food, and the Hanukkah story, and volunteered for Love The Neighborhood, a Sunland-Tujunga community beautification group. Lucy is also a songwriter, singer, and recording artist, whose music has been featured in film and television.
Nancy Beyda, Hollywood Hills
Nancy is a midwife who spends her free time giving back to the community, especially in support of individuals who are unhoused and food-insecure. She established FoodCycle LA, which picks up excess food from businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores and delivers it to organizations serving people in need, and has grown to serve nearly 70,000 meals every week. She also serves on the Board of Directors at The Center in Hollywood, a resource center focused on ending homelessness and isolation, and has led a gift drive every year for the children of the women living in Good Shepherd shelter.
Ruth Cislowski, West Hollywood
Ruth, a West Hollywood resident for more than twenty years, is a Clinical Associate Professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and is a frequent presenter nationwide on innovative social work education practices. Her volunteerism began over three decades ago when she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria, teaching English and developing instructional materials and curricula for students after the fall of communism. She served on the staff of Community Partners, where she supported youth development, violence prevention, and access to technology initiatives. Ruth helped launch the largest interconnected educational access channel in the U.S., creating the Los Angeles Times’ school literacy volunteer program, establishing a west Los Angeles consortium of social service agencies partnering to increase youth academic achievement and family incomes, and developing the California State University, Northridge Department of Social Work.
Jennie Cook, Silver Lake
Jennie is the owner and executive chef of Jennie Cook’s Catering and Plant-Based Parties, which she has operated for nearly four decades. She has also spent years sharing her passion for sustainable cooking with local youth, establishing the 24th Street Garden School Foundation, which provides a cooking class for third-grade students, and The Mystery Lunch Box Challenge, a cooking competition class at Crenshaw and Jefferson High Schools. Jennie was also Chairwoman of the Board of RootDownLA, which educates children on how to grow, cook, share, and sell vegetables, and is a founding member of Food for Lunch!, which lobbied for healthier foods in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Jennie has also volunteered for the Silverlake Conservatory of Music’s scholarship fund and the LA Chapter of Moms Demand Action, and has been active in her children’s schools.
Becky Gelhaar, La Cañada Flintridge
Becky and her husband moved to La Cañada Flintridge in the mid-1960s, and she has been active in the community ever since. She co-founded the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club and became involved with American Red Cross, serving as president of the La Cañada Flintridge chapter and on the board of the Pasadena chapter. Becky has also held several Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) chairmanships, served on the board of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, and as a Girl Scout leader and on the Girl Scout Council. Other organizations Ms. Gelhaar has participated in include Chapter OM, P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization), La Cañada Valley Beautiful, the Assistance League of Flintridge, and the La Cañada Flintridge Coordinating Council.
Jackie Goldberg, Echo Park
Jackie, a native of Los Angeles, is a lifelong educator and public servant. A product of local public schools, she was first elected to office in 1983 to serve two terms on the LAUSD Board of Education, including two years as president. Under her leadership, the board enhanced curriculums in reading, science, and math and created a district-wide K-12 dual language education program. In 1993, she was elected to the L.A. City Council, where she was the first openly gay city councilmember, and in 2000 was elected to the California State Assembly, where she served for six years. In 2019, Jackie returned to the LAUSD Board of Education serving the 5th District, and is currently focused on upgrading reading growth support for under-achieving readers and the upgrade of school facilities.
Carmenita Helligar, Burbank
Carmenita is a successful business owner, and activist, as well as a dedicated volunteer in the Burbank community. She serves on the Board of Library Trustees for the City of Burbank and on the BUSD’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, which fosters inclusive curriculum and equity of college prep classes for all students. Carmenita is one of the founders of The Destiny Education Project, a non-profit BIPOC-led organization, that strives for every student to feel safe as well as learn in an inclusive and supported educational environment. An avid supporter of small businesses, Carmenita is the founder and CEO of Local As Can Bee, an e-commerce marketplace for small business owners.
Dr. Irene Kim, Hollywood
Irene serves as the Director of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Comprehensive Transplant Center and Assistant Professor at UCLA’s Department of Surgery, and as a leader and member of numerous medical societies. She has authored many scientific and research publications and editorials and has been a lecturer and speaker on numerous occasions at seminars and symposiums, and in addition to her dedicated service in the healthcare arena, also serves on the board of the Foundation for The AIDS Monument. Some of the many honors she has received include the Leslie B. Brent Award from The Transplantation Society for best scientific manuscript, the Tufts Department of Surgery Chairman Award, the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Department of Surgery Kenneth W. Adashek Award, and the American Liver Foundation “Outstanding Women in Healthcare Award.”
Dr. Ramella Markarian, Glendale
Ramella is a skilled healthcare professional who has served as Vice President of Business Development at Adventist Health Glendale since 2012. In addition to leading Adventist Health Glendale’s strategic growth and development and overseeing various clinical and non-clinical departments, since 2015 she has helped organize annual medical missions to Armenia, bringing dozens of physicians, clinicians, and surgeons together to provide surgeries and medical consults to many Armenians living in Armenia and Artsakh. Ramella is also the founder of Glendale Healthy Woman, a program that provides free mammograms to uninsured and underinsured women in the community, as well as one of the founders of the annual Glendale Health Festival, which has been serving the healthcare needs of many underinsured and uninsured people in Glendale and neighboring communities for over a decade. Ramella also serves as a guest speaker at local high schools, colleges, and universities, where she avidly shares her expertise and knowledge to inspire youth.
Courtney Morris, Atwater Village
Courtney served on the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council for four consecutive terms and was Board Co-Chair for nearly nine years, and was instrumental in organizing several events during her tenure including the Atwater Village Car Show, the Equestrian District Open House, Movie Nights, Trick or Treat on the Boolevard, and Summer Nights on the Boulevard. Courtney continues to Co-Chair the Atwater Village Tree Lighting Committee and is also a member of the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council Equine Committee. An avid animal lover, Ms. Morris often rescues cats and dogs and serves the Neighborhood Council as the Animal Services Liaison. When not volunteering in her community, Ms. Morris is part of the Warner Bros. Discovery Talent Management Team.
Patricia Peréz, Elysian Valley
Patricia was born and raised in L.A., and is a multi-medium artist. In addition to having studied art in the Southwest and in Los Angeles, including at LACC, she has also spent years teaching art classes in her community, as well as fostering the creation and advancement of artworks by Chicana/o and Latinx artists. Patricia has been a long-time volunteer judge for the 28th Congressional District Art Competition, and is an active volunteer in Elysian Valley – or “Frogtown.” She is Vice President of the Elysian Valley Arts Collective and opens up her home as a gallery during the annual Frogtown Artwalk.
Standolyn Robertson, Los Feliz
Standolyn has lived in Los Angeles since 2012, and is a professional organizer and coach who founded Things In Place in 2000 to help individuals take back control of their values, lives, and happiness. She has served in several roles within the Los Feliz Improvement Association and presently serves as a Greek Theatre Advisory Committee board member. She has also participated in a wide array of L.A.-based community initiatives such as AIDS/LifeCycle, Homeboy Industries, and African Americans for LA Opera. Further, Standolyn is involved in local efforts to improve the LA River and Griffith Park and assists individuals experiencing homelessness.
Janice Segall, Pasadena
Before her recent retirement, Janice was an LAUSD elementary school teacher in east Los Angeles for nearly three decades. During that time, she also coordinated the Gifted and Talented programs, worked for UCLA’s Writing Project, and was a math instructional coach for seven years. Janice was also one of the first teachers in the young children’s art programs, a collaborative effort with the Museum of Contemporary Art and LAUSD. Her volunteer activities have included serving the Ronald McDonald House Pasadena and as an after-school tutor at 826LA in Echo Park, as well as preparing lunches for Union Station Pasadena and fostering a puppy with Guide Dogs for the Blind. She is also Past President of the San Rafael Library Associates and currently President of The Friends of the Pasadena Public Library.