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Rep. Chu Honors Distinguished Women of the 32nd District

April 4, 2011
Press Release
EL MONTE, CA – Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., today recognized outstanding women from the 32nd Congressional District during her second annual Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony in El Monte.

The event, which took place at the Grace T. Black Auditorium, honored women educators, entrepreneurs, volunteers and civil servants from throughout East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. Each honoree was chosen from nominations submitted by people in their respective communities.

"Every day, right here in our district, warriors such as our honorees here today are fighting countless battles on behalf of women, and indeed on behalf of our entire communities. Whether it is in the classroom or on the police beat, in the business arena or on the PTA council,  you are each doing your part to set a bright, guiding example for our daughters," said Rep. Chu in presenting the awards. "You are proving to every young girl out there that no matter what the job is, a woman can do it, and in some cases, she can do it better than a man. And in the process you are bringing a woman’s compassion, perspective, perseverance and empathy to bear on the problems facing our society, and improving the lives of your fellow citizens."

Below are brief biographies of each of the 32nd Congressional District’s Women of Distinction of 2011.

Maricela Cueva, Azusa

Maricela Cueva had the courage to envision a city void of graffiti and blight.  A city filled with trees and flowers and open spaces where people could congregate, exercise or relax. 

As an outstanding community leader who had spearheaded many positive and productive projects in Azusa, it was no surprise when Maricela Cueva made that vision a reality, when she spearheaded the creation of Azusa Beautiful, a non-profit organization aimed at making the City of Azusa more appealing.  Cleaning up the City of Azusa would not only help attract new businesses and residents, but it would also give existing residents and businesses a new sense of pride. 

During her time with the program, Maricela has planted hundreds of trees and has cleaned up many blighted areas in Azusa.  Maricela currently serves as President of the non-profit in addition to working for Valencia, Perez and Echevest Public Relations.  In addition to her work with Azusa Beautiful, Maricela remains active in other philanthropic and advocacy organizations, serving on the board of the Latino Diabetes Association and as a member of the Hispanic Public Relations Association. 

Beverly Gonzalez, Baldwin Park

Beverly Gonzalez has dedicated herself to developing the best methods and strategies to help her students realize their full potential. Beverly has likened her teaching style to a gardener who carefully tends to her plants, nurturing their growth every step of the way until they blossom to their final stage of maturity.

Beverly received her B.S from La Verne and earned her Master’s in Educational Administration from Azusa Pacific University. She has taught at Murray, Baldy View, Valleydale and Central Elementary and currently teaches at Sante Fe School in the Baldwin Park Unified School District. She has put her expertise to use by organizing staff development activities such as a two-week Literacy Camp for Middle School Teachers. Beverly has also served as the Teacher Effectiveness Consultant for Murray School and as a Master Teacher for over a dozen student teachers at AUSD and BPUSD.

Beverly’s commitment to excellence in teaching is reflected by the sheer volume of awards and recognitions she has received over her career. In 2010 , Beverly received the LA County, BPUD, Santa Fe School and California State Teacher of the Year Award. And in 1998 Beverly received the AUSD, Wal-Mart Area and Valleydale School Teacher of the Year Award.  

Wendy Carrillo, City Terrace

Wendy Carrillo is a multi media broadcast journalist with a passion for story-telling. Every Sunday morning at 6am, you can hear her on Los Angeles radio station Power 106 FM, discussing issues that matter most to our community. 

During the historic presidential election of 2008, Wendy Carrillo won a national competition to represent young Latinos by receiving more than 7,000 online votes to report from the Democratic National Convention for SiTV and Voto Latino.  In 2009, Wendy won the coveted San Francisco based Elfen Award for Social Justice in Poverty for a short film on Homeboy Industries, an organization with solutions to end gang violence and inspiring hope. Adding her viewpoints to the online community, Wendy’s blog was recognized by Hispanic Business as a leading voice influencing culture and politics. 

Wendy emigrated from El Salvador as a child and grew up in the community of East Los Angeles. She is a proud graduate of East Los Angeles College, which is in my district and where I taught for many years, and she went on to receive a B.A. in Rhetorical Communication & Chicano Studies from Cal State Los Angeles, also in my district! She recently completed a Masters in Specialized Journalism from the University of Southern California and was the keynote student speaker at the Chicano/Latino Graduation Ceremony.  She is currently an online editor for Voto Latino.

Darby Mangen, Covina

For the past 30 years Darby Mangen has dedicated her energies to insuring women's rights and supporting women's issues. She has worked tirelessly on everything from pay equity, reproductive rights, and gay and lesbian issues, to passing of the ERA amendment, stopping domestic violence, and eliminating racism by incorporating diversity into the San Gabriel Valley/Whittier Chapter of NOW and San Gabriel Valley Coalitions.       

Darby Mangen is the current President of the San Gabriel Valley/Whittier Chapter of NOW.  Since 1983 she has served multiple terms as President, or as an elected officer of the chapter, and now serves on the California NOW Board.  Darby worked with HUD in a Mentoring program, "Project Self Sufficiency," and with the YWCA as a consultant for their Women of Achievement Award luncheon.    
For many years Darby has been an advocate for domestic violence victims and their families. She is currently part of the Covina Domestic Violence Action Coalition.  In 1999 Darby spearheaded a Community Coalition that reversed a decision by eight judges to close the special, award winning Domestic Violence Court at Citrus Court in West Covina.  She was also instrumental in the process to acquire a Domestic Violence Advocate for Baldwin Park.  

Mary Barrow, Duarte

A longtime public relations expert, Mary Barrow founded Barrow/Hoffman Public Relations in 1983 and she continues to serve as the company’s principal.  She is an ever present force in her community, having  served as the Founding Director of Duarte Public Access Television (DCTV) where she currently serves as Board Vice President. 

In addition to all this, Mary used her talents as a public relations consultant to spread the good word about Duarte, promoting the city as a diverse place to live, work and raise children. Among her many public relations achievements for the city, she came up with the now ubiquitous slogan, “Duarte, My Kind of Town.” Mary has also volunteered her time and talents to organize several successful city and school sponsored programs such as the Route 66 Parade and SAT Preparation.  Mary’s work has helped to uplift entire communities as well as improve the lives of her clients; St. John’s Health Center Foundation and Duarte Schools to name a few. Mary has truly become not only a model citizen, but a Duarte legend.

Liliana Garcia, East Los Angeles

Liliana Garcia is a dedicated community servant who has been a Community Center Director with the County of Los Angeles Department of Community and Senior Services since November 1999.  Liliana Garcia is responsible for managing Centro Maravilla Service Center, and has been a gracious host for our congressional district satellite office in East LA!  The Center is a multipurpose community center designed to provide community residents with social, recreational and educational activities.  Liliana has been responsible for coordinating numerous successful fairs, informational seminars, trainings, and special events during the holidays for our traditionally underserved East LA community.

Before becoming Center Director, Liliana was the Program Coordinator for the County of Los Angeles Citizenship Assistance Campaign, Public Charge Task Force, LIFE Act Outreach Campaign and the Traffic and Safety Program.  Prior to this, she was the Director of Naturalization for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

Liliana holds a B. A. in Chicana/o Studies from California State University, Northridge.

Lillian Rey, El Monte

As both a working professional and a community activist Lillian Rey has devoted herself to enriching the lives of residents of her community. Prior to serving as the Executive Director of the El Monte/South El Monte Emergency Resources Association, Lillian worked for Hope House in El Monte, where she cared for autistic children and clients with mental disabilities.

Since 1983, Lillian has donated her time to El Monte/South El Monte Meals on Wheels, which helps to feed the disabled and elderly. For over 15 years, Lillian has assisted in preparing the “Special Olympics” for Civitan , an organization committed to creating worthwhile projects in the community. Lillian has also found the time to serve the VCAP, Lion’s Club and the City of El Monte-Commissioner for Veterans and Homeless Affairs.

In 1992, Lillian was awarded the Citizen of the Year award by the Kiwanis Club of El Monte. More recently in 2004, Lillian received the outstanding Woman of the 24th District by Senator Gloria Romero.  Lillian was able to accomplish all that she has while raising six beautiful children as a single mother and being deeply involved regularly PTA meetings, Little League and ESL after school programs. 

Elsa Torres, El Sereno

Elsa Torres was born and raised in East Los Angeles. In 2005 Elsa Torres helped her husband, Rudy Torres, establish their family business.  They own and operate a Farmers Insurance Agency in El Sereno.  Elsa and Rudy love helping their clients protect their assets and make sure they have continuous peace of mind.  But they also wanted to contribute to making their In 2009 Elsa was part of the effort in El Sereno re-start the Greater El Sereno Chamber of Commerce.  Successful in this, Elsa went on to become the Chair of the Chamber Ambassadors Program and helped organize events such as “Coffee with The Chamber,” “Business Mixers,” and the Chamber’s participation in Councilman Huizar’s “Winter Wonderland” in 2009.  Elsa enjoys helping business owners get ahead in their businesses especially in these trying times. 

 Lisa Bailey, Irwindale

Lisa Bailey is the always cheerful and hard working President/CEO of the Irwindale Chamber of Commerce.  Since 2003, Lisa Bailey has been instrumental in growing and maintaining the chamber’s membership to the highest levels; ensuring a positive financial picture, organizing programs and events that show an increase in participation, and creating new programs to reflect the needs of the business community.

Lisa has 14 years of experience with Chambers of Commerce.  She earned the IOM designation from the U.S. Chamber Institute for Organizational Management in 2006.  In 2009, she was named Environmental Hero by Southern California Edison, and the under her the Irwindale Chamber was recognized by the California Air Resources Board as Organization of the Year.  Lisa was a featured speaker at the “Walk of Gold Line” Press Conference with U.S Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and was part of a delegation that went to Sacramento to lobby State legislators to support funding the Foothill Extension.  She also assisted in forming the San Gabriel Valley Legislative Coalition of Chambers to better represent the needs of business in the region.  

Lisa also serves on the Boards of Directors for: The Irwindale Educational Foundation (IEF), San Gabriel Valley Public Affairs Network (PAN) and the Southern California Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (SCACCE).  Lisa and her husband own and operate Empire Mobile Home Service, a mobile home repair and remodeling company that has been in business since 1993.  

 America Tang, Monterey Park

America Tang Park has a colorful and varied career as a business entrepreneur, a singer and a philanthropist. America Tang is currently the CEO of Ace Fence Company, which fabricates and installs chain link fencing and ornamental iron fencing for public works construction.  Ace Fence Company has been listed on the “Top 100 Women Owned Businesses in Los Angeles County” since 1990.

In 1982, she established Handfore Realty in the City of Monterey Park, a Real Estate company that continues to thrive to this day.  In 2005, she obtained a Real Estate Broker’s License in Arizona, Utah and Colorado and and expanded throughout the Southwest with her new company New Age Realty, which operates in all three States. 

But business isn’t America’s only passion. In 2008, America Tang recorded her own CD of music titled “In My Life.” The album features  original music arrangements of classic songs from the 60s and 70s that were re-made by famous musician and composer Marc Ellis, who worked alongside his even more famous father, Ray Ellis.  

America Tang is also the Founder and CEO of Lending Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed to help entrepreneurs by giving them free business workshops and helping them with a micro-loan to start or improve their small business.

Lynn C. Chen, Rosemead

Lynn Chen is a proud mother of four who has overcome many obstacles since her arrival in the United States in 1979.  With diligence and perseverance, Lynn Chen became a licensed contractor and  alarm-company operator, and founded EARL Security, Inc. in 1988.  

Today, the company, based in Rosemead, has six full-time employees and subcontractor teams that offer a full suite of security alarm, fire alarm and close-circuit TV camera systems.  In addition, EARL Security became certified as a minority business enterprise by Southern California Minority Business Development Council in 1996.  This certification was a direct result of Lynn’s strong work ethic, which led her to take several council workshops to help her business grow.  And she didn’t stop with her business. She also  participated in SCMBDC’s Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee to provide strategies to improve the effectiveness of council program and activities.

Her tireless efforts in assisting the marginalized has lead her to become a proactive spokesperson for the Center for Pacific Asian Families, which provides shelter for domestic abuse victims.  The determination that Lynn illustrates as an independent and strong leader truly demonstrates a Woman of Distinction.

Ruth Gonzales, South El Monte

Ruth Gonzales lists her first involvement with the Democratic Party as being the election of President John F. Kennedy.  Ruth Gonzales’ first local political experience was helping her husband John get elected to the City Council in South El Monte, and that tradition of public service has been handed down to her son, South El Monte Councilman Joseph Gonzales. She was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in San Francisco in 1984 and Denver in 2008.  She voted for Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to be on a presidential ticket and in Denver she voted for Barack Obama, the first successful African-American presidential candidate.  

A dedicated public servant herself, Ruth has been a member of the Valle Lindo School Board for fifteen years.  But before that, she was an committed educator. She taught school for twelve years, earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree and Teaching Credential from Cal Poly Pomona. As a teacher at West Covina Unified School District, she was chosen Teacher of the Year in 2001.  

She continues her community and political involvement to this day. In 2010 Ruth was chosen for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Democrat of the Year Award.  She has been a member of numerous local clubs since 1980. Ruth has been married to her husband John for fifty-one years and they have three children, David, Juanita and Joseph. They also have three grandchildren, Dominic, Deanna and Donovan. 

Audrey Lynberg, West Covina

Audrey Lynberg is a native Iowan, but has risen to become one of West Covina’s most prominent residents. For the last eight years Audrey Lynberg has served both as the legislative chairperson for the West Covina Chamber, as well as one of its directors. Prior to her service as legislative chairperson, Audrey served as President of the Chamber’s Women’s Division. Audrey’s service to the people and city of West Covina earned her a Citizen of the Year Award in 2004.

Having worked as a registered nurse for 11 years in the Department of Surgery, Audrey developed a profound concern for the welfare of victims of domestic violence. Audrey has since served as President for the YWCA, in which she helped to develop the Wings Shelter Program, as well as raised funds for the SGV Domestic Violence Program. In addition, Audrey has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Victims Rights. 

Understanding that learning is a continuous process of building skills and knowledge throughout life, Audrey returned to college and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s from Azusa Pacific University at age 62! Audrey helped to develop the Children and Family Center Program while enrolled at Azusa Pacific, which continues to provide training for graduate students as a service to families in the community.  She continued to expand on her impressive achievements by helping to develop a training program for newly selected grand jurors with the California Grand Jurors Organization and La Verne College of Law. For her outstanding service Audrey received the Rolando award from the California Grand Juror’s Association.