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International Women's Day

In past years, I've celebrated International Women's Day by recognizing my former bosses, elected colleagues, and City Commissioners. This year, I want to recognize some of the remarkable women who selflessly make Irvine better by leading non-profit initiatives.

Madelynn Hirneise was named CEO of Families Forward in 2019 succeeding longtime CEO and former Irvine School Board Member Margie Wakeham. Madelynn, a graduate of UC Irvine, began her time at Families Forward as a Housing Resource Specialist in 2012 following service in the U.S. Peace Corps. Established in 1984, Families Forward has assisted thousands of families achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through housing, food, counseling, education, and other support services.

Jerri Rosen began serving women from six domestic violence shelters in 1990, and has grown the efforts of Working Wardrobes to a leading non-profit organization annually serving thousands men, women, veterans and young adults each year re-enter the workforce with career development services and professional wardrobing. Working Wardrobes' Donation Center for clothing drives is located in the Irvine Business Complex.

As Principal and Executive Director, Yulan Chung leads the largest Chinese School in Southern California. The Irvine Chinese School was established in Irvine in 1976, followed by the construction of the South Coast Chinese Cultural Center in Irvine in 2005. Serving more than 700 member-families, the Irvine Chinese School and South Coast Chinese Cultural Center are a resource in our community offering weekend Chinese school programs as well as enriching classes during the week.

Tilly Levine, co-founder of Tilly's retailers, founded Tilly's Life Center in 2012. Recognizing a need for life skills that build confidence, inspire compassion and create lasting changes in the lives of young people, Tilly's Life Center programs are currently empowering teens in high schools, as well as through organizations such as CHOC Hospital, Samueli Academy at Orangewood Children’s Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club, Think Together, and more.

As Executive Director of Irvine Adult Day Health Services, Kimberly Beeson leads a team working tirelessly to offer daytime health monitoring, therapeutic services, resources and support to adults managing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other chronic health conditions. Based at the Lakeview Senior Center at Mike Ward Community Park, Irvine Adult Day Health Services has provide essential assistance, supervision, and the encouragement our participants need to increase their independence and social engagement with others since 1994.

Patricia Wenskunas is Founder and CEO of Crime Survivors Inc. and has gained national renown for her tireless advocacy on behalf of the victims of violent crime. Crime Survivors is dedicated to the proposition that with community support, respectful advocacy and hopeful healing, one can survive a violent crime, and thrive in their personal lives. Ms. Wenskunas stresses the important distinction between being a victim and a survivor, and it is this mindset that forms the basis for the organization’s universally-praised work.

Sharon Wellikson raised her family in College Park before taking the helm of the Irvine Children's Fund, better known as the presenters of the Annual Irvine Junior Games. The Irvine Children's Fund's efforts help the City of Irvine, the Irvine Unified School District, and the Irvine Child Care Project deliver quality, affordable, safe and accessible before- and after-school childcare at each of IUSD's 28 elementary school campuses.

Neda Eaton was named President and CEO of the Irvine Public Schools Foundation in 2009. Under her leadership, the Irvine Public Schools Foundation has set itself apart as one of the leading educational foundations in the nation, working alongside the Irvine Unified School District to ensure high-quality enrichment programs in critical areas such as the arts, music, sciences, health and wellness and math are sustained in Irvine schools.

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