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Women’s History Month Reception Honors Local Influential & Inspirational Women

Women’s History Month Reception Honors Local Influential & Inspirational Women

Organizers and Honorees of the 1st Annual Women’s History Month Reception

On Monday, March 25, a Women’s History Month reception recognized over 40 of our city’s most influential and inspirational women. From real estate agents and teachers to board members and business owners, the evening was filled with joy as women celebrated one another in honor of those who have pioneered the way throughout history. The event, which was not sponsored by the City of Elk Grove,  was sponsored and hosted by City Council Member Stephanie Nguyen, along with Elk Grove Unified School District Board Trustees Bobbie Singh-Allen, Dr. Crystal Martinez-Alire, Beth Albiani, and Nancy Chaires Espinoza. All women honored during the event were recognized for outstanding service and dedication to the City of Elk Grove and also received an award of recognition from the California State Senate and signed by Assemblymember Jim Cooper and Senator Dr. Richard Pan.

Honorees Koi Rivers, Angela Spease, Joy Yip, Jinky Dolar, & Judy Cuong
Photo Credit: Koi Rivers

Origins of Women’s History Month

The legacy of Women’s History Month can be traced back to the first Women’s Day held internationally in 1911. This would mark the beginning of the fight for women to no longer be overlooked or undervalued in their contribution to society. Additionally, women would rightfully receive recognition due for their extraordinary achievements. What was once considered not socially accepted would become a movement of empowerment and history being made.

City Council Member Stephanie Nguyen & EGUSD Board Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen
Photo Credit: Yajahira Bolanos

The Event

The event itself began with individuals walking in and helping themselves to some food and snacks. The reception served crackers, salami, cheese, fruit, egg rolls. There was also a whole table with delectable donuts and donut holes.

All of the women being honored had their picture displayed on a poster board along with their biography. Stephanie Nguyen, Bobbie Singh-Allen, and Dr. Crystal Martinez-Alire all spoke. One by one, each woman’s name was read. As each woman’s name was read, the people present clapped and cheered for that individual. All of the women we spoke to mentioned that they felt honored. It was a positive affirmation for many influential women in Elk Grove.

Rosanna Herber, Director of SMUD Board, EGUSD Board Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen, & Los Rios Community College District Board Trustee Tami Nelson

Women Who Make an Impact

Elk Grove has had the honor of witnessing a large collective of women around the city contribute to their community in ways unprecedented. Among them is City Council Member and one of the organizers behind the reception honoring women in Elk Grove for Women’s History Month, Stephanie Nguyen. Stephanie herself put together the event and was assisted by EGUSD Board Trustees Bobbie Singh-Allen, Dr. Crystal Martinez-Alire, Beth Albiani, and Nancy Chiares Espinoza..

It was amazing to see the sheer diversity of the women honored as well as the power impact of women. There were some historians such as Marielle Tsukamoto who lived through Japanese internment camp during World War II.  Also being honored was Elaine Wright who has served in the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, Cosumnes CSD Board, and Rhoads School Board and was 2017 Citizen of the Year. The women featured in this particular event are a small yet powerful representation of the whole.

We highlight just a handful of the incredible women who were honored at this event.

Judy Cuong, Owner of Umai Bar & Grill & Portfolio Real Estate & Dr. Jacqueline “Jax” Cheung, Editor-In-Chief of Elk Grove Tribune & Owner of Jax Chronicles Blog & Adoption Ministry

Judy Cuong

Judy Cuong was one of the diverse and dynamic group of women featured. She nears 40 years of combined contribution in both real estate and the restaurant business. Through commitment and intentionality, Judy aims the majority of her efforts toward making the city economically strong. She recognizes the importance of a hard work ethic and places value on remaining steadfast in spite of resistance.

Judy’s desire to see others succeed is what drives her to devote herself to the Elk Grove community and her family alike. “You can be a mother, run a terrific business, and be self-sufficient. I want my kids to see that I am dedicated and devoted to my community so they can grow up and be powerful people too.” Judy has never felt so humbled as she received recognition for her outstanding achievements. She plans to see her ambitions through by building more centers in Elk Grove and make a lasting impact on her community.

Los Rios Community College District Board Trustee Tami Nelson
Photo Credit: Daljit Singh Sandhu

Tami Nelson

Tami Nelson, who represents Elk Grove as an elected Trustee with the Los Rios Community College District was also among those featured at the event. With her major sphere of influence within the educational realm, it is her greatest ambition to be a role model for students. Tami seeks to empower and educate them towards a good, bright future. She believes they can do anything they put their minds too and considers it an honor to stand in the gap on their behalf.

Dr. Jacqueline “Jax” Cheung, Editor-In-Chief of Elk Grove Tribune & Owner of Jax Chronicles Blog & Adoption Ministry

Dr. Jacqueline “Jax” Cheung

Dr. Jacqueline “Jax” Cheung is the Editor-In-Chief of Elk Grove Tribune and owner of Jax Chronicles Blog & Adoption Ministry. Jax has a bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies from University of California San Diego, an MBA from University of California Davis, and a DrPH (doctorate in Public Health) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Jax Chronicles Blog won Sacramento Area A-List Best Local Blogger in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018, and Best of Elk Grove Best Blogger consecutively in 2016 and 2017.

Jax Chronicles Adoption Ministry reviews medical files of children being considered for adoption and provides Cantonese Chinese translations for free. Jax also writes for Sacramento4kids, a free online resource for Sacramento area families with children. Writing is her forte and she has a passionate devotion to using her writing and networking skills to uplift others, help local businesses, and share the stories of our community.

Jax complimented the organizers of the event and said they did a good job. She graciously explained how she felt about the event and the fact that this event involved women supporting each other.  “I’m so honored and flattered that I’m in the company of such amazing women. I think it’s really important for other women to lift each other up and empower each other. This is definitely one of the highlights of my career so far. The future of Elk Grove looks bright. I’m inspired.”

Cosumnes Community Services District Board Director Jaclyn Moreno
Photo Credit: Bobbie Singh-Allen

Jaclyn Moreno

Jaclyn Moreno and her family have lived in the Elk Grove community for 15 years. She engages in a variety of community service projects and owns and operates a local small-business as a school psychologist supporting special education students in public schools. Jaclyn has two young daughters who actively participate in Cosumnes CSD programs and have blossomed because of their involvement. From sports to arts to special events, Cosumnes CSD has had a profound impact in shaping her daughters into the adults they will become and Jaclyn would like to ensure every resident has the opportunity to benefit from high-quality fire, parks, and recreation services, just like her family has.

Jaclyn was honored by her inclusion into this event. “I’m proud to have been included at this year’s Women’s History event. I love the community and it’s an honor to be recognized alongside so many influential women.”

Internment Survivor Marielle Tsukamoto, Former EGUSD Board Trustee Priscilla Cox,
Former EGUSD Board & Los Rios Community College District Board Trustee Kay Albiani, & EGUSD Board Trustee Beth Albiani
Photo Credit: Yajahira Bolanos

Kay Albiani 

Kay Albiani served many years on the Los Rios Community College District Board of Trustees, having served as President in 1998 and 2004 and Vice President in 1997 and 2003. Kay also has served as President, Vice President, and Board Representative to the Association of Community College Trustees. Prior to joining the Los Rios Community College District Board, she served for 18 years on the Elk Grove Unified School District Board.

In 2004, Kay was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and served as President in 2007. She has been a member of the California Community Colleges Trustees association since 2000 and served as President in 2005. She was President of the California School Boards Association in 1985. In 2006, the Elk Grove Unified School District opened the Katherine L. Albiani Middle School, and she was honored by Elk Grove as Woman of the Year.

Communications Director of EGUSD & EGUSD Spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton

Xanthi Pinkerton

Xanthi Pinkerton commands audiences with her passion for life-long learning and educating our youth. Her unique multi-language skills and cultural perspectives serve her well as the voice of the Elk Grove Unified School District. Ms. Pinkerton began her career in Hispanic advertising  after graduating from UC Irvine in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in Drama and another in History. While in advertising, she worked on a number of state and national retail, food industry
and utility accounts as a media buyer. Upon moving to the Sacramento area, Pinkerton expanded her career to include regional marketing with McDonald’s Corporation and after several years in the fast food industry, she transitioned to corporate communications with Siemens Mobility, a U.S. division of Siemens AG in Germany.

With two children in elementary school, in 2010, Pinkerton decided to shift careers and become a teacher where she could better monitor her own children’s progress. Within a year, she had completed a dual credential to teach at both the elementary and secondary school levels with authorizations to teach English, French, Spanish, social science and physical education including passing the RICA and obtaining a B-CLAD certificate. After 4 years of teaching and
gaining valuable experience in Title I schools, Pinkerton chose to develop her leadership and management skills further and completed the USC Price Public Policy M.P.A. program graduating in 2015. In winter of 2014, Pinkerton combined her talents of marketing and communications with her experience as a teacher and accepted the position of District
spokesperson as the Director of Communications for the Elk Grove Unified School District.

With a love for dance, language acquisition, and traveling, Pinkerton also enjoys writing and photography. She is an avid ballroom dancer, holds a 2nd degree Black Belt in Taekwondo and taught Zumba for four years for the community to promote wellness, fitness and family engagement.

Xanthi emphasized the caring nature of our community and is optimistic about the future of Elk Grove. “Being recognized as an honorable woman leader in Elk Grove by other prominent women leaders and locally elected officials demonstrates how our amazingly abundant community cares. Reading the biographies of other women’s accomplishments, education, careers and love for families and children gave me great inspiration and hope for the future growth of our city and for the advancement of many more women.”

Bryan Stafford next to his wife Tracie Stafford’s displayed picture

Tracie Stafford

Tracie Stafford, a small business owner and philanthropist, devoted countless hours to the Girl Scouts of America as a scout, leader and service unit manager volunteer. She also chaired boards such as The National Association of Women Business Owners, The Sacramento Small Business Board and leant her talents to the boards of The Birthing Project International, The Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce, The Relationship Skill Center, among others. In addition, she was honored to have been appointed by the Governor to the California Small Business Board.

However, her life truly began to have meaning when she broke her lifelong silence, before the California State Legislature in 2007, disclosing the abuse that she had suffered as a third-generation domestic violence survivor.  Inspired by the need to heal herself and others, she took her dedication to public service sharing her journey from a past of poverty, domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault, to a life of love, joy and limitless possibility.

She began speaking and advocating for organizations such as the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, The National Institute on the Prosecution of Domestic Violence and City Departments, Correctional Facilities, Social Change Groups, The California Partnership for Domestic Violence and was crowned Mrs. California Globe, state spokesperson for the Women in Need Foundation.

After a decade of this work, Tracie realized that many legislators did not have the lens through which to view their constituents, let alone govern for them. To that end, she launched her political career and is now an Assembly District Delegate, DPSC Central Committee and California E-board member, President of the Women Democrats of Sacramento County,  founder of Indivisible Women of California, PAC Chair for the Sacramento NAACP and recently to run for the office of Mayor.

Privately, Tracie resides happily with her husband and one of her four children in Elk Grove. Two children are in college at Long Beach State and the University of San Francisco and eldest daughter is a Sailor in the United States Navy. In her spare time, Tracie serves as a Laguna Sunrise Rotary Member, is authoring a book and enjoys playing the piano, sketching and watching her children soar.

Tracie was out of state and could not attend the reception. Her husband Bryan Stafford attended in her place. However, she expressed gratitude for the recognition and stated, “I am honored to be among the leaders recognized in this first annual Elk Grove Women’s Month celebration and look forward to future events elevating women in our beloved city.”

Koi Rivers, Owner of The Koi Rivers Experience & Soroptimist

Koi Rivers

Koi Rivers is a leader who aspires today to inspire tomorrow. After nearly a decade as a market and communications manager with VSP Global, she started a strategy consultancy, The Koi Rivers Experience, where she directs C-level marketing and communications for major corporations, works with non-profits on business development and marketing execution, speaks on national platforms, and produces signature events.

An honoree of the Sacramento Business Journal’s 2017 40 Under 40 list for business and leadership, Koi served on the Board of Directors for TLCS, Inc., which provides housing and resources to those struggling with mental illness; and Sacramento Theatre Company, where she applied her commitment to diversity and equity through arts education and unique programming.

Koi has a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communications from CSU, Sacramento, is a senior fellow of the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program, and is a member of Soroptimist of Elk Grove.

Former President of Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, Former Soroptimist President, Former Cosumnes CSD Board President & Director, & 2007 Elk Grove Citizen of the Year Elaine Wright
Photo Credit: Yajahira Bolanos

The Future of Women

Empowered Women Empower Women. This statement became more of a declaration as remarks were given throughout the evening. A local leadership consultant, who was an attendee said, “When one woman wins, we all win,” and considered it a privilege to be a part of this historical event. Women in the City of Elk Grove are making a difference and will continue to in the years to come.

To the women in our community: We thank you for your contribution to history, culture, and society, and we celebrate your achievements and partner with you as you continue to pioneer the way for women around the world. A rising tide lifts all boats, and the City of Elk Grove and our community is better for it.

Congratulations to all the incredible women honored for your outstanding service and dedication to the City of Elk Grove and for your award of recognition from the California State Senate! Congratulations to to the hosts of this incredibly well-executed and empowering event!

Owners of Spease Bee’s: Honoree Angela Spease with her husband Kevin Spease

Sponsors & Host Committee:

Elk Grove City Council Member Stephanie Nguyen
EGUSD Board Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen
EGUSD Trustee Beth Albiani
EGUSD Trustee Dr. Crystal Martinez-Alire
EGUSD Trustee Nancy Chaires Espinoza

Women Honored:

Amy Tong
Angela Spease
Brenda Haggard
Caroline Patti
Carolyn Hill Cohen
Cassandra Murphy
Chelsea Mejia
Connie Conley
Delfina Franco
Elaine Wright
Elizabeth Pinkerton
Heather Davis
Inez Whitlow
Janine Bera
Jaclyn Moreno
Dr. Jacqueline “Jax” Cheung
Jennifer Ablog
Jennifer Alves
Jinky Dolar
Joy Yip
Judy Cuong
Kara Joseph
Kara Reddig
Kay Albiani
Koi Rivers
Kristyn Laurence
Lili DeVaney
Mackenzie Wieser
Marie Jachino
Mariel Black
Marielle Tsukamoto
Marsha Ley
Maureen Craft
Monica Patel
Nicole Guttridge
Priscilla Cox
Rachael Brown
Rosa Tapia
Rosanna Herber
Samantha Tov
Sarah Bontrager
Sharie Wilson
Sophia Scherman
Suzanne Kennedy
Tami Nelson
Tiffany Childress
Tracie Stafford
Xanthi Pinkerton

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About The Author

Monica Fitzpatrick

Monica Fitzpatrick, MA enjoys combining her love for writing and passion for mental health to not only inspire but activate movement in others. Drinking copious amounts of coffee, writing to her hearts content and speaking life are just a few of the many things that keep her world going round.

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