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Outstanding Women of 2015: Four Turlockers honored by county commission
Itzel Villalobos, a senior at Stanislaus Military Academy where she is a Staff Sergeant, was awarded an Outstanding Young Woman award by the Stanislaus County Commission for Women. - photo by Journal file photo

2015 Outstanding Women

Cindy Duenas
Britta Foster
Marian Kaanon
Reina Lopez-Negrete
Lynne Meredith
Kaye Osborn
Sharon Silva
Stacy P. Speiller
Arlene Vilas
Gillian Wegener

2015 Outstanding Young Women

Brianna Addington
Krupa Modi
Makenzie Salyer
Selena Thomas
Itzel Villalobos


What makes a woman outstanding?

Judging by the result of the Stanislaus County Commission for Women’s Outstanding Women Award recipients there are many things: being a good student, volunteering to help others, blazing a trail for women in business, and rallying for those who can’t stand up for themselves to name a few.

The Stanislaus County Commission for Women is an independent organization committed to promoting an awareness of issues pertaining to women. Since 1980 each year a handful of local women receive the Outstanding Woman award which recognizes them for their significant achievements.

“There are many women who do great things, but fly under the radar, and this is a great opportunity to highlight what they do for the community and for others,” said the Commission's president of the board Nancy Fisher when the nomination period was announced in December. “We really encourage people to nominate women that have had a positive impact on women and children’s rights. Those who have gone above and beyond what their job requires.”

This year four of the 15 women selected represent Turlock and their diverse backgrounds and contributions are a testament to the individuality of all women.

One of these young women is Itzel Villalobos, a senior at Stanislaus Military Academy where she is a Staff Sergeant. When she isn’t studying for her good grades, she spends her time mentoring students at Osborn Elementary School and teaching Sunday school through her church EQUIP. She has also utilized her leadership skills by taking a petition around to Westside residents to help reinstate a restroom facility at Columbia Park.

“I was just so happy and so honored,” said Villalobos of her award.

Across town at Turlock High School another Outstanding Young Woman, Mackenzie Salyer, has shown her peers the power of positive focus. Salyer has participated in two varsity sports each year while at THS and volunteered her time in several capacities: helping to pack food at local homeless shelters, hosting a trick or treat for canned food donations, volunteering at Delta Blood Bank, helping with junior high school athletics, and more.

While Sharon Silva’s high school days are behind her, she has made significant strides in the community as a business woman. Serving as the President and CEO of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, Silva is well versed in helping businesses find community amongst other businesses. She herself has also found community in Turlock by serving on several boards of causes she is passionate about including the Prodigal Sons and Daughters, the Stanislaus Business Alliance, the Stanislaus County Economic Development Committee, and California State University, Stanislaus President Sheley’s Advisory Council, to name a few.

“I am humbled, I am really humbled, that when I see what these other women have given and accomplished that my name would be among them,” said Silva.

Turlock resident Arlene Vilas was also recognized for her contributions, namely for her membership of the Soroptimist International of Ceres since 1991, the mission of which is to improve the lives of women and girls through programs that lead to social and economic empowerment. She has triumphed this society’s cause by helping establish programs like Soroptimists Encouraging Women which offers female clients of the Stanislaus Recovery Center monthly presentations on positive self esteem. For the younger set she has helped establish Soroptimists Empowering Teens, a mentoring program targeted for junior high age girls who are not socially inclined. Three times a year these programs are available at all Ceres junior high campuses and include speakers, crafts, and a mentoring session.

The awards banquet for the Stanislaus Outstanding Women Award will take place at 6 p.m. March 14 at the Assyrian Cultural Center of Bet-Nahrain located at 3119 Central Ave. in Ceres. Tickets are $40 each and reservations are due by March 10. For more information, visit or contact Belinda Rolicheck at 988-6674 or