Six successful women were honored last week at the 2017 El Camino College Women of Distinction Ceremony. The accomplishments of these award winners will be featured on the El Camino College Women's Wall of Fame (in the Schauerman Library) throughout the year. Congratulations to the 2017 ECC Women of Distinction:
Alexis Estwick is the program coordinator of El Camino College's Foster and Kinship Care Education Department, which provides pre-service and renewal training to prospective foster and adoptive parents, in addition to classes for foster youth. She also leads the college's Guardian Scholars program, which provides support services to ECC students transitioning from foster care to emancipation. Alexis is known as a leader dedicated to her profession of working with transition-age youth, helping them navigate the college system to pursue higher education and build a productive life. In addition, she has served as a counselor for displaced workers, a trainer for foster youth, and a social worker in foster family agencies, among other positions. Alexis is a trailblazer in providing training on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC): Awareness and Identification. CSEC training has been provided to countless caregivers, human service professionals, group home and foster family agency staff, and community partners.
Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga had her high school education interrupted at the outbreak of World War II. At that time, she and her family were sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Authority Center in the Owens Valley and then transferred to the Jerome and Rohwer camps in Arkansas where her father passed away. After her release, Aiko worked as an office clerk and attended night school to obtain her high school diploma. She continued working in clerical positions, learning all about filing systems. This training prepared her for the largest files of them all – those at the National Archives and Records Administration. She went on to collect masses of documents and meticulously created her own index card system to catalog each one. Aiko made it her life's work to obtain information and redress for Japanese-Americans who were sent to relocation camps. Her research resulted in the 1988 Civil Liberties Act, an official apology by the government, and $20,000 paid to each camp survivor.
Naomi McElvain is an ECC alumna who has been a pillar of the El Segundo community for decades, dedicating her life to serving others. Naomi's greatest contribution to her community has been through the Girl Scouts. She has been a troop leader for over 30 years – first for her own daughter, and later for other troops. Naomi co-founded the El Segundo Girl Scouts Day Camp, and has helped run this camp that gives hundreds of girls an amazing camp experience. She has also been the Girl Scout service unit manager for El Segundo for nearly 20 years. She was honored with an Appreciation Award last year by the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. Her service extends to her career, where she has spent more than 30 years as a nurse. She is currently the school nurse for Santa Monica High School. Naomi is also an active member of the United Methodist Women's Church Group in El Segundo, where she participates in numerous charitable activities.
Teresa Palos is a professor of biology, and has been teaching at ECC since 2004. She was the co-project director for the Title III HSI-STEM grant, as well as the ECC/Mount St. Mary's HSI-STEM Grant Activity Coordinator, helping to manage the multi-million dollar grants on campus. Through these grants, Teresa supported activities such as the Net-Tutor program, STEM summer research for ECC students at UCLA, summer and winter chemistry "boot camp," Math Academy, Just-in-Time workshops, tutoring and advising for STEM students, the STEM Ambassador Program, planetarium shows, and the STEM Speaker Series. She also is co-chair of the Human Subjects/Institutional Review Board Committee, she mentored numerous students for the Honors Transfer Council Student Research Conference, she is the club adviser for the Pre-Med Club, and the co-adviser for the SACNAS Club (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science).
Ann Patterson is an adjunct instructor of jazz at ECC. She is the leader of the highly acclaimed all-female jazz big band, Maiden Voyage. Her band has performed at numerous jazz festivals, at the Universal Amphitheater with Billy Crystal, at the Hollywood Bowl in a tribute to American music, and on the "Tonight Show" hosted by Johnny Carson. Ann was named Jazz Educator of the Year in 2000 by the Los Angeles Jazz Society, and she created and leads the educational concert group, JazzAmerica. The program has been showcasing jazz and its history since 1989. Ann is also an active member of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). In the 1980s, she became the youngest person and only the second female elected to the AFM board of directors. She authored a resolution to correct the sexist language in the constitution, bylaws, and contracts. The resolution was narrowly passed, so she no longer receives correspondence that begins with "Dear Sir and Brother."
After graduating from college, Chandra Shaw became a White House intern and U.S. Senate Cloakroom staff member. Her professional career began in Los Angeles where she served as a legislative analyst and lobbyist, then entered the corporate world for a time. The sudden loss of her brother to cancer caused her to re-evaluate her life. Chandra reached back into her Hawaiian roots to open the Hawaiian-themed Trilogy Spa in Hermosa Beach. This award-winning spa business was a success and led to the opening of two more locations. Chandra has employed hundreds of estheticians, massage therapists, and other staff at her spas since 1999. Chandra is a past president and current board member of the Manhattan Beach Downtown Business and Professional Association, and a member of the Business Improvement District. Chandra and the Trilogy Team support numerous children's charities, eco-green projects, and education initiatives, raising more than $350,000 for area organizations.