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Turlock women chosen to receive ‘Outstanding’ honors
outstanding women
Turlock residents Dina Brambila, Maria Cortez and Jeani Ferrari are among those who will be honored as Outstanding Women by the Stanislaus County Commission for Women (Photos contributed).

Three Turlockers are among the inspiring local women who will honored this month by the Stanislaus County Commission for Women.

To honor the Women's History Month of March, Outstanding Women and Young Women are selected each year by soliciting nominations from the community.  A panel of Stanislaus County Commission for Women members creates a selection committee to read the nominations and complete the selection.  Emphasis is given to volunteer activities and work that focuses on women and children.  Honorees must be residents of Stanislaus County.

Honorees and their supporters are invited to attend a recognition event.  This year, the event is a brunch on March 25.  Honorees will be recognized at the event and give a short acceptance speech.  The young honorees will receive a scholarship.

The Turlock honorees include:

— Dina Brambila: Brambila believes every child should have the opportunity to live a healthy life and continually educates herself with the most recent information to better her community. She works for Modesto City Schools as Franklin Elementary’s Healthy Start Administrator, developing support services to create a safe and healthy community. She serves as a board member for the Hispanic Leadership Council and Central Valley Hispanic Foundation, is a Soroptimist volunteer, and formerly was a board member of Mujeres Latinas of Stanislaus. Since 2019, Brambila has traveled to Uganda as a missionary volunteer, assisting physicians with medical services, teaching yoga classes and making mental health presentations for refugees.

— Maria Cortez: Cortez is the Central Valley Regional Director for Able Works, a non-profit working for economic justice in Northern California. She has over 18 years of experience working with non-profit and leadership development organizations and has dedicated her career to serving youth and underserved communities. She serves as a board member for City Ministry Network and believes in empowering others to reach their goals. She works closely with its Latino Leadership Initiative to develop the next generation of compassionate, collaborative leaders in the community. Cortez is also a member of Love Stanislaus County’s Community Advisory Committee and was named the 2021 Empowerment Woman of the year by Modesto Junior College.

— Jeani Ferrari: Ferrari has a history of organizing and creating projects to better the entire community, including land use, the arts, Turlock library, and its downtown. In 1999, she started the non-profit Farmland Working Group to share information with the public about the loss of farmland, leading to the passage of Stanislaus County’s Measure E, which protects agricultural land from development. She served on the committee to redesign Turlock’s Main Street, and later assisted with the establishment of the non-profit Turlock Certified Farmers Market. Ferrari was instrumental in remodeling the Carnegie Arts Center by raising funds and revitalizing the work after a serious fire. She also worked to add an oncology unit at Emanuel Medical Center and helped raise funds to create cardiovascular surgery suites there.

Two Turlock High students will also be recognized as Outstanding Young Women — Hannah Sahota and Audrey Smallwood.

Other honorees include:

—                 Patterson resident Ana Andrade, a tireless advocate for women and children in the work she does with Project Sentinel, a non-profit organization that assists individuals with housing discrimination, evictions, and rental issues.

—                 Katie Barber, co-founder of the Modesto Children’s Museum.

—                 Annie Benisch, who grew up in Modesto and works at Boyett Petroleum. She directs the company’s annual Make Dreams Real event, raising $250,000 for distribution to children’s causes in our community and chairing the grants committee to decide how to spend the money.

—                 Modestan Chelsea Foy, a founding board member of Modesto Children’s Museum, serving as its chair of marketing and programming.

—                 Tahmirah Mecca lives in Patterson and graduated from Invest in Me’s first cohort in 2013. She returned to the organization as a volunteer and works to help women collaborate for their personal and professional advancement

—                 Shabnam Mujaddidi is a refugee from Afghanistan who helps others with similar experiences.  She is a student leader in Hambastagizanan (Women United), a group at Modesto Junior College that helps Afghan women refugees recognize and overcome the challenges they experience as new residents and students