SACRAMENTO—In celebration of Women’s History Month, Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) honored four San Joaquin County women as the 5th Senate District’s 2011 Women of the Year at a ceremony at her district office in Stockton.
“I am proud to recognize these dynamic women and their contributions to San Joaquin County and the 5th Senate District,” said Wolk, who honored the women as part of the State Senate’s annual celebration of Women’s History Month, a tradition dating back to 1987.
Stockton-resident Van Ha To-Cowell is an educator and active member of the local education community. To-Cowell, who has taught for 27 years, serves as vice president on the Lincoln Unified School District Board of Trustees. She is also an active member of the Lincoln Parent Task Force and the Lincoln Latin Leadership, both of which actively involve parents in the education process with the goal of closing the achievement gap. She also serves as a commissioner of the Stockton Parks and Recreation Commission.
Tracy-resident Mercedes Rea Silveira-Gouveia is a retired educator of 28 years and longtime community advocate for Latino and educational issues. In 1991, Silveira-Gouveia was selected to serve on a statewide team to analyze California’s K-12 education and make recommendations to the California State Legislature. Since becoming an American citizen in 1972, she has also been an active volunteer in races for various local, state, federal offices. She is currently an elected member of the San Joaquin County Democratic Central Committee (District 5), and a member of the Democratic Club of Greater Tracy and Latina Democratic Club of San Joaquin.
Wolk is honoring Manteca-resident Carol Davis for her years of service with numerous community groups on youth, education, and other issues. She is the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Give Every Child A Chance (GECAC), an organization that provides tutoring and mentoring programs at many schools in San Joaquin County. She joined the group after working for 25 years at Kaiser Permanente. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the San Joaquin County Children’s Services Coordinating Commission, as well as the Manteca Sunrise Kiwanis, and is the chief financial officer for Manteca Unified Student Trust.
Mary Kennedy-Bracken, a Tracy resident honored for her work in Lathrop, is the CEO and President of the Lathrop District Chamber of Commerce. She has served three consecutive terms as president, and is recognized for her work with the chamber to encourage economic development in Lathrop. Kennedy-Bracken also works as a motivational speaker and public speaking coach as the owner and CEO of Turn Your Passion into Profit. She is the vice president of the public relations for the Lathrop Talented Talkers, a local Toastmasters club.
“As the state struggles to provide services in the face of a historic budget deficit and economic recession, these women’s ongoing service plays a critical role in the health of our communities,” Wolk concluded.