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Local Businesswomen Honored by Portantino

Glendale and La Crescenta businesswomen Jenny Choi, Marvel Ford, Robin Goldsworthy, Kora Guoyavatin, Judee Kendall, Seda Khojayan, Corky O’Rourke, Lilit Odabashian, Anahid Oshagan, Christy Schilling, Josefina Solomonson and Yvette Vartanian Davis, were among the honorees at state Sen. Anthony Portantino’s annual Women in Business Legislative Update & Awards Luncheon on Dec. 6 at the Castaway in Burbank.
Portantino recognized 41 women from his state senate district “whose professional skills and commitment to their community have made them outstanding leaders and role models.” Honorees’ credentials and achievements spanned a broad spectrum of professions, including science and technology, environment and sustainability, and nonprofit organizations.
“It is my privilege to recognize the accomplished women of the great 25th Senate District,” Portantino said in a statement. “I look forward to honoring our deserving honorees for their successful service that touches all of us in such a positive way.”
Those honored were:

Choi is a dynamic entrepreneur and the proud founder and owner of Alpha Co., an afterschool business that inspires young minds to think big and aspire to attend their dream universities. Her passion for fostering educational opportunities stems from her transformative years at UCLA.
In particular, she learned about the late John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success and was inspired to use this philosophy to steer the next generation of students toward academic and personal excellence. In addition to her work, Choi is an avid traveler who enjoys immersing herself in different cultures.

Ford is the Senior Vice President of Community and Legislative Advocacy for the California Credit Union and has worked with nonprofits over the last 34 years.
She served on Glendale Educational Foundation board, Ascencia board, Connections for Children, the Greater Valley Network board, and as Committee Chair for the Annual PAC Campaign Fundraiser, which comprises more than 100 credit unions in Southern California. Ford received California Credit Union League’s High Honors Award for her dedication and commitment to legislative advocacy.

Goldsworthy is the publisher of the “Crescenta Valley Weekly” who, with her devoted staff, has produced and distributed the “CV Weekly” every Thursday since Sept. 10, 2009. Today, “CV Weekly” is recognized as a reliable, honest source of information for readers in the Crescenta Valley and surrounding areas.
An active community member, Goldsworthy also sits on the boards of the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army, the Kiwanis of Glendale and Prom Plus. Goldsworthy has lived in La Crescenta since 1980.

Guoyavatin is the chief financial officer at Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital, where she has been a driving force behind the institution’s financial strategies aligned with both short- and long-term operational goals.
Her negotiation skills and strategic foresight have been pivotal in cultivating partnerships with insurance entities and sustainable alliances, bolstering the hospital’s fiscal health.
Guoyavatin’s notable achievements include spearheading successful system conversions and actively participating in corporate initiatives focused on cost containment and process enhancement.
As a CPA and an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, she seamlessly integrates academic excellence with extensive hands-on experience.

Kendall is the President and CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. She was previously at the Glendale News-Press and Los Angeles Times as publisher of the News-Press and vice president/general manager of Times Community News. She was the first female publisher of Glendale News-Press and first female president of the Southern California Newspaper Publishers Association.
Kendall currently serves on the Greater Downtown Glendale Association and Glendale Fire Foundation boards and has led for many years on the boards of a host of other nonprofit and business organizations.

Khojayan currently serves on the board of the Armenian Relief Society Western Region. She has served in the past on various regional committees of the ARS and the ARS Glendale chapter in several leadership positions Her volunteer work has contributed to the important humanitarian work of the ARS Western Region through fundraising and various philanthropic, educational and social projects for low-income families, including for women who are victims of domestic abuse.
Khojayan serves as a commissioner at the city of Glendale Commission on the Status of Women and the board of directors of the YWCA of Glendale. She is a member of Soroptimist International of Glendale.

During the 2020 Artsakh war, Odabashian founded the Buy Armenian movement to help Armenian vendors sell products to the diaspora community and sustain their businesses during a time of brutal conflict and uncertainty. What started as a regional Facebook group has quickly become one of the largest marketplaces for Armenian products.
Odabashian was recognized as an ambassador of women entrepreneurs by the Armenian Young Women’s Association, and Buy Armenian has been uplifted as a model for developing nations to improve their economic vitality by the European International Entrepreneurs’ Committee.

O’Rourke has been a general and special educator for 40 years, the last 33 of which have been spent in Glendale. She specializes in elementary education for at-risk students. She is currently the Private School Coordinator for private schools within the Glendale Unified School District, working with teachers and administrators to support students with IEPs and learning challenges.
O’Rourke co-founded the nonprofit organization Team Project RISE to advocate for nationwide mental health training for educators. She is an ardent supporter of caring for mental health issues in school-age children with disabilities that we see and those we cannot.

Oshagan considers herself fortunate to be able to combine her passion for advocacy, art and social justice in her professional life as an attorney in private practice as well as a co-curator of ReflectSpace Gallery. Since her student activism days, Oshagan has passionately championed human and women’s rights and empowerment, tolerance and community building.
Oshagan has served on the boards of YWCA Glendale and the Glendale Library Arts and Culture Trust. She currently serves on the board of the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region and is a strong advocate for justice for marginalized groups.

Driven by a love for animals, people, and giving back, Schilling has dedicated her life to advocating for those overlooked by society. Schilling’s career has taken her from domestic violence shelters, working with those suffering mental illness and counseling pregnant/parenting teenagers to animal rescue, legislation and providing support for the unhoused and people living in poverty with pets.
Schilling believes in multispecies justice and was one of the pioneers in prohibiting the sale of mill animals. As co-founder of betterTogether Forever, she is committed to keeping pets with the people who love them through collaboration and partnerships and advocates for transforming animal shelters into community centers.

Solomonson has served as principal at Immaculate Conception in Monrovia and St. Stephen Martyr School in Monterey Park. As an educator, she has provided effective and strong instructional leadership.
For four years, Solomonson directed the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Academic Junio High Decathlon and initiated projects that created strong partnerships between school and community.
Solomonson volunteers her time in various community projects, including serving on the executive board of the Filipino American Business Association of Glendale/Greater Los Angeles County, and is the immediate past president of the Filipino Catholics of Holy Name of Mary in San Dimas. She believes in educating the mind and heart of students; her passion to teach the youth is very much a part of her core values.

Vartanian Davis is the founder of The Counting House LLC, a 100% woman-owned business that fosters a workplace of mentorship, leadership and growth. Through the guidance of many women mentors from family to business colleagues, she has led her life and business with honesty and resilience.
Vartanian Davis currently serves as the elected trustee at Glendale Community College for Area 4. She has also had the privilege of serving as the past president of the Glendale Sunrise Rotary Club, treasurer of the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce Board, and treasurer of the Vincent Price Art Museum Foundation.
In addition to the awards portion of the program, Portantino gave a legislative update of the 25th district while keynote speaker Laurie Leshin shared about the unexpected career opportunities which led her to become the first female director at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

First published in the December 16 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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