The Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame recently revealed its Class of 2023, a list of 13 female leaders who've made an indelible impact on their communities and the county at large.
This is the first year back in action for the Women's Hall of Fame, which had inducted standout women and girls each year since 1993 until pausing in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic.
The recognition is held in March, which is Women's History Month, a time when the accomplishments and contributions of women past and present are elevated to the forefront in classrooms and community events.
This year's Hall of Fame class, which was determined by a panel of judges who reviewed more than 80 nominations for 13 specific categories, includes one Tri-Valley representative -- Dublin High School senior Noor Dharni.
The 17-year-old was honored in the Youth category for her commitment to advocate for mental health support for young people locally and nationwide, inspired by her own personal experiences, according to county officials.
Dharni, who plans to study psychology or cognitive science at a four-year college after graduating from Dublin High, told me that being selected for the Women's Hall of Fame "is an honor beyond what I ever could have imagined."
"Mental health awareness and advocacy is very close to my heart and an award like this is so meaningful to me, and just another reminder of how important continuing to make efforts about mental health awareness truly is," she said. "One year ago I could have never imagined that I would be where I am now; it truly feels so surreal to have the platform I do and beyond that, to be recognized for it."
"I hope my induction serves as a way to continue normalizing the conversation about mental health and show how important it is to break down the stigmas surrounding it," Dharni added. "I further hope other young girls are inspired to take action for what they believe in and am once again truly honored to be a part of such an empowering event."
Dharni and the other recipients will be formally inducted during a special ceremony next Saturday afternoon (March 25) at the Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland. To purchase a ticket or learn more, visit acgov.org/whof.
The class of 2023 also features...
Business & Professions: Maya Shiroyama, the retired owner of Kitazawa Seed Company in Oakland, which focuses on seeds for people to grow vegetables used in traditional Asian dishes.
Culture & Art: Angela Wellman, founder of the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, which "centers the Black experience in the development of American musical culture," according to county officials.
Community Service: Anna Wang, co-founder and vice president of the nonprofit Friends of Children with Special Needs, which was created by parents of children with developmental disabilities more than 25 years ago.
Education: Elizabeth Shaughnessy, a two-term member of the Berkeley school board and a global chess champion who locally established the Berkeley Chess School 41 years ago.
Emerging Leader: Davida Scott, a teacher at the Hayward Adult School who founded the Raising Leaders program at-promise youth with needed support through life skills workshops and internships.
Environment: Elsa Ortiz, who is honored for championing environmental policy during four terms on the AC Transit Board of Directors.
Health: Dr. Stephanie Y. Brown, an emergency medicine physician at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and clinical lead for the Sutter Health Institute for Advancing Health Equity.
Justice: Corrina Gould, the tribal chair for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan Nation in the Bay Area and co-founder of the Sogorea Te' Land Trust.
Philanthropy: Zuhal Bahaduri, a health care business analyst, creator of the mental health awareness brand Breathe and co-founder of The 5ive Pillars Organization, a volunteer group that helps welcome and resettle Afghan refugees to Alameda County.
Non-Traditional Careers: Patricia Hendricks, a sensei in the Japanese martial arts style of aikido. Her Aikido of San Leandro has been open since 1984.
Sports & Athletics: Darlene "Dar" Vendegna, a longtime coach in Bay Area sports who now serves as Oakland's ambassador to the USA Pickleball Association.
Science, Technology, Engineering: Tanya Moore, Ph.D., founder of Intersecting Lines and a devoted advocate "for broadening participation in STEM fields for BIPOC women ... her love of math and science had influenced many young women to enter the field and succeed," county officials said.
What an inspiring and impactful group of women.
Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh is the editorial director for the Embarcadero Media East Bay Division. His "What a Week" column publishes twice a month in the Pleasanton Weekly.
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