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Sen. Archuleta Recognizes 2022 Women of Achievement for the 32nd Senate District

32nd District’s Woman of the Year, with them is Se. Bob Archuleta (D) Pico Rivera.


March 28, 2022

WHITTIER, CA – As Women’s History Month comes to a close, Senator Bob Archuleta (D- Pico Rivera) hosted the 2022 Women of Achievement of the 32nd Senate District on Saturday, March 26, 2022 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Whittier.

This event, which is the first hosted by the senator’s office in more than two years, celebrated the accomplishments of 11 women who have contributed to the well-being of their respective communities within the district.

“These women were nominated for their outstanding hard work and dedication to the district during the ongoing public health crisis,” Senator Archuleta said. “Our district is fortunate to call home to a great number of women who make considerable contributions to their families, professions and individual communities, and we are honored to recognize these leaders for exemplifying the strength and abilities of all women in our Senate district.”

The 2022 Women of Achievement of the 32nd Senate District are:

Virginia “Ginny” Ball, nominated by City of Whittier Business Development Manager Katie Galvin-Surbatovic.

Ginny serves as a board member for a wide array of local non-profit organizations, including her ongoing work on behalf of Whittier First Day, a transitional living facility in Whittier. First Day serves approximately 2,300 individuals with critical social services, making them a beacon of hope for many who were displaced during the covid-19 pandemic. During her time on the Whittier Area Chamber Board of Directors, Ginny founded the Whittier Apartment Owners Association, which brings landlords and tenants together to better understand their rights, discuss impactful legislation, and identify local resources. As such, she became a resource for people dealing with housing issues during thepandemic.

Blanca Curiel, nominated by daughter Okxana Vega.

Blanca enlisted in the United States Army in 1983 when she was just 17 years old, and rose through the ranks and became a Master Sergeant where she served as the Battalion First Sergeant, overseeing a battalion of 400 soldiers. After a 33-year military career serving her country, Blanca now works in the healthcare system. She sees it as a continuation of her military service, using the organizational skills she learned in the Army, to provide for the seniors in her care. Her work was even more critical during the pandemic, as Blanca aided seniors with their daily care, as well as providing companionship.

Dr. Rosalba González, nominated by Los Angeles Unified School District Teacher James Ng

Rosalba exemplifies the American Dream, having immigrated from Mexico as a young adult, while overcame barriers and obstacles to become an educator.

Her career in education includes being a teacher, a counselor, a vice principal, and is currently a principal at Hilda L. Solis Learning Academy, where she is deeply committed to making a positive difference in the lives of her students. During the pandemic, Rosalba has made it a priority to continue focusing on a positive school culture, setting high expectations for administrators, teachers, and students, while engaging the community.

Cathy Houwen, nominated by Puente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority Executive Director Andrea Gullo.

During the pandemic, Cathy’s work as a funeral director at Community Funeral Service in La Habra were filled with ensuring grieving families were treated with dignity as they said goodbye to their loved ones. She and her colleagues worked long hours with rare days off to meet the demands of funeral services during the height of the pandemic. Cathy has volunteered her time on the Puente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority’s Community Advisory Committee for 10 years representing the City of La Habra Heights, serving as the Chair for three years.

Isis Huckins, nominated by Rose Hills Director of Community Relations & Communications Antoinette Lou.

Throughout her career, Isis has worked quietly behind the scenes while bringing loved ones into the Professional Service’s care at Rose Hills. She and her team ensure each family’s loved one is treated with the utmost respect and care. Over the past two years, Isis and her team were extremely challenged to meet the demands of the community during the pandemic. She and her team worked 24 hours a day to ensure every loved one was appropriately cared for and each family could proceed with a dignified funeral.

Shannon Kolbjornsen, nominated by Rose Hills Director of Community Relations & Communications Antoinette Lou.

Shannon has served families in the funeral industry for over 15 years. Throughout her career, she has assisted families in making funeral arrangements, and providing visitation/funeral services for their loved ones. Over the past couple of years, her team at Rose Hills, while adhering to the various covid requirements, continued to serve families to the best of their abilities. As our community required an increasing demand for funeral services, Shannon coached her team to meet the demands without lowering the honor or respect given to each family.

Michelle Lynch, nominated by City of La Mirada Mayor Ed Eng.

During the many challenges presented by the continued covid-19 pandemic, Michelle has led by example, showing the community that this is the time to come together and help each other. As Neighborhood Watch Block Captain since 2011, she has continued to play a pivotal role in keeping the community safe by hosting virtual Neighborhood Watch meetings and safe in-person meetings. She also hosted the La Mirada Heroes Dinner in appreciation of first responders’ work through the pandemic.

Dr. Irella Perez, nominated by Education Activists Dr. James Vigil and Polly Vigil.

Irella’s journey from non-English speaking immigrant to school administrator, education advocate, environmentalist and children’s book author, is an all-American story of self-reliance fueled by perseverance, passion and conviction. Irella has been one of many community leaders providing vital support to parents and students during the pandemic. Irella provided leadership, along with her colleagues on the Whittier City School Board, to ensure quality education and mental health services to students during remote learning.

Katrina Rodriguez, RN BSN, nominated by PIH Health Whittier Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Ramona Pratt.

Katrina serves as clinical director of PIH Health Whittier Hospital’s general medicine/respiratory unit. Through her exemplary leadership, Katrina spearheaded the primary covid-19 unit through the last three pandemic surges, collaborating with multidisciplinary teams to ensure that patients’ needs are always at the forefront of care. She led efforts to establish communication plans for PIH Health’s primary covid-19 unit. The plan ensures families can keep in contact and are kept up to date regarding the condition of their loved ones through Zoom visiting and daily update calls to a designated patient representative.

Sarah Templeton, nominated by Biola University Vice President for Student Development Andre Stephens, Ph.D.

Sarah serves as the Director of the Biola University Student Health Center. During her 20-plus years at Biola, she has forged strong working relationships with those inside and outside of the university. As a member of Biola’s covid-19 compliance team, she has kept the campus informed of the emerging data, research and changing protocols throughout the pandemic. Sarah put in place health and safety protocols for quarantining infected and exposed students, while working with county officials to manage outbreaks, obtain testing supplies and to help clarify protocols. When vaccines became available, Sarah was able to secure them and offer vaccine clinics on campus for students and employees, and eventually for community members.

Echo Tsai, nominated by Venerable Hui Dung.

Echo devotes a great deal of time volunteering at Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple since 1997 and Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) since 2001. Echo’s primary practice in life is to help others and serve the needs of the community by organizing and coordinating activities and events. They include senior programs, a student scholarship event, and the distribution of personal protective equipment to hospitals, law enforcement, fire stations, nursing homes, churches, schools, homeless shelters and non-profit organizations.

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