El Camino College News Release

El Camino College Honored “Distinguished Women of 2021”

April 6, 2021 Torrance, CA

El Camino College Honored “Distinguished Women of 2021”

El Camino College wrapped up a month-long celebration of the leadership and contributions made by women with the annual Women’s History Month Awards Recognition, March 31, via Zoom.

In recognition of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, this year’s theme was “Valiant Women of the Vote Refuse to Be Silenced," honoring the women who have fought for women’s right to vote in the United States.

In her welcome remarks, El Camino College President/Superintendent Dr. Dena Maloney, who is also the first female President of the College in its 75-year history, paid tribute to ground-breaking women of the past who made lasting impressions on the female leaders of today.  

“I personally recognize and appreciate that these “firsts” are all happening because we stand on the shoulders of our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters who have carved out the paths that now exist in front of us,” expressed Dr. Maloney. “These courageous women have done their collective parts, and now call upon us to continue shattering the glass ceilings that remain.”

The virtual event also featured a video greeting by California Senator Lena A. Gonzalez, 33rd District, who highlighted the various ways in which women are continuing to change the face of American politics.

Co-sponsored each year since 1997 by ECC’s Women’s History Month Committee, the Women’s History Month main event recognizes “Distinguished Women of the Year,” who have been nominated by El Camino students, faculty, staff and community members for their various achievements, philanthropy and contributions to El Camino and the surrounding community.  Each of the honorees are formally inducted into El Camino College’s Women’s Wall of Fame, which is located on the second floor of the Schauerman Library at the Torrance campus.

The 2021 El Camino College Distinguished Women of the Year are:

Dorene Coles
Yoga Instructor

At the age of 85, Dorene heals and brings peace to the South Bay, one yoga pose at a time. She was awarded the “Dr. Tom Rische Arts Education Award” by the Torrance Cultural Arts Commission for 20 years of teaching. She went back to school in her late 70s to complete a 3-year certificate program in Yoga Therapy at Loyola Marymount University, and is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the IDEA Health and Fitness Association.



Sharonda Barksdale
Homeless and Foster Youth Liaison, El Camino College Financial Aid Office.

In 2018, Sharonda started the “Warrior Closet,” a pop-up shop that provides clothing to students. The closet has been visited by over 500 students and has distributed over 2,500 articles of clothing. She has also established a relationship with Shelter Partnership, which helps supply new clothing to students including Calvin Klein suits and Vans shoes. Sharonda partners with Harbor Interfaith to assist students facing housing insecurity, and she helps students with food insecurity to apply for CalFresh benefits. Sharonda works to ensure that limited food or clothing won’t hold students back from achieving their academic goals.



Colonel Patricia Jackson-Kelly
President of the LA County Veteran’s Commission, the National Black Military Women’s Association, and the American Legion Jackie Robinson Post 252

Col Kelly has served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and U.S. Navy Reserve. She is a proud Viet Nam-era veteran and an advocate for Women veterans and homeless veterans. She has done significant work advocating for women in the family law and custody systems. Col Kelly is a strong believer that the power of women in in their voice and their vote.



Christie Killduff
El Camino Laboratory Technician

Christie is a proud El Camino College alumna and serves on the Workplace Health and Safety Committee. She was a driving force in getting permission for the Life Sciences Department to house dissection specimens that were previously disallowed. These enabled hundreds of pre-nursing students to get hands-on training. Christie is the Natural Science’s Division Party Planner and donated needed equipment to Natural Sciences over the years. She and her husband John, were recognized by former ECC President Schauerman for their contributions.



Cindy Byrne, Linda Reeves and Tina Sarafa
Co-founders of Manhattan Beach/South Bay PFLAG

Cindy (lawyer), Linda (psychotherapist), and Tina (social worker) are proud moms of LGBTQ+ children. Together they founded the nonprofit local chapter of PFLAG chapter in 2018, providing families with easy access to support and services, educates parents and the community on the needs and rights of LGBTQ+ loved ones, and advocates with schools and organizations on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. The work of Cindy, Linda, and Tina have provided a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families. Their work in the South Bay has saved lives by empowering people to live authentically and out loud.



Anna Brochet
Counseling faculty member in the El Camino College Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) Department

Anna has a B.A. degree in Communication Studies from UCLA, an M.A. degree in Counseling—Student Development in Higher Education, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from California State University, Long Beach. She serves low-income, first-generation college students and tirelessly advocates and convinces them that they can succeed. Anna has over 12 years of experience in promoting access and success for historically-excluded students in higher education. El Camino faculty consider Anna a go-to person for students in crisis.