2016 Woman of the Year Honorees Recognized by Senator Tony Mendoza

Congresswoman Janice Hahn Delivers Keynote Address

March 7, 2016

Sacramento - On Friday, March 4 at the Cerritos Library Skyline Room, Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) honored eight distinguished women from the 32nd Senate District as his 2016 Woman of the Year award recipients. The women were recognized for their work in the following fields: business, community service, education, government, health, and non-profit. Congresswoman Janice Hahn (CA-44) delivered an inspirational keynote address. To view photos from the event, please visit: http://bit.ly/1X7BvfS

“I think it is important to recognize and honor women in our communities who have demonstrated the dedication and commitment to improve our neighborhoods and have made a positive impact through their work,” said Senator Tony Mendoza. “All of these women are role models for their family, friends, and the communities they serve. I am humbled and inspired by their personal stories and their professional achievements. I know that they will continue their great endeavors to make a difference in the communities of the 32nd Senate District.”

Every March, in a tradition dating back to 1987, the California State Senate celebrates Women’s History Month by honoring women throughout California whose contributions improve their communities.

In February of this year, Senator Mendoza asked his constituents to submit Woman of the Year nominations from members of the community.

The following women were recognized as a 32nd Senate District Woman of the Year:


Ani Samuelian was nominated by Joe Kaprielian. Ani Samuelian is Vice President of her family’s business, Nationwide Environmental Services, which provides municipal street sweeping services to over 25 municipalities, many of those in the 32nd Senate District.

Mrs. Samuelian started as a filing clerk and worked her way to Vice President. As the second generation at the helm of the family business, Ms. Samuelian wishes to honor the legacy of her father, Joe Samuelian, who emigrated from Syria to fulfill the American Dream. She works tirelessly, day in and day out, to ensure that the company commits to its mission of providing service with passion and a determination to keep the environment clean.

Mrs. Samuelian has made a tremendous impact on various communities through her business ventures and personal support. She is a benevolent, charitable soul and proud board member of Joe’s Organization for Youth, or JOY, a nonprofit organization that assists thousands of underprivileged youth in the 32nd Senate District and beyond. 

Vinita Vineet was nominated by Pat Patnaik. Vinita Vineet started her American Dream by opening the first beauty salon in the City of Cerritos that set the benchmark for opening an additional 7 stores throughout Southern California. Since the inception, this family business paved the way to generate employment opportunities for over 400 beauty and threading specialists in the Los Angeles basin.

Vinita is a founding member of United Federation of Indo-Americans in Southern California (UFICA), and this organization provided her a platform to help in the areas of social cause. As an active member of the organization and past president, Mrs. Vineet constantly engages herself in donating monies to schools for blind children and suppressed woman needing shelter, many of which are based in the City of Artesia. 


Community Service

Rebecca Cline was nominated by City of La Mirada Staff members Tammie Acosta, Susana Hill, and Lisa Montoya. Rebecca Cline has served the La Mirada community for a number of years as a volunteer for several organizations, events and community groups. She performs her service humbly with the goal of making the La Mirada community a better place in which to live and work.

Mrs. Cline currently serves as a member and former President of the Community Services Commission. She is the current President for the La Mirada Meals on Wheels program and is a member of the La Mirada Ebell Club where she previously served as Treasurer. 

Mrs. Cline volunteers and participates in the city’s Neighborhood Watch program, Citizen Task Force, Spring Beautification, and stays actively involved in city-wide events including the Easter Egg Hunt, Mother-Daughter Tea, Summer Concerts, Halloween Fest, Chili Holiday, and others. Mrs. Cline was also very instrumental in the inaugural and highly successful La Mirada Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.  Along with volunteering in her city, Mrs. Cline is dedicated to her church. 

Carmen Miller was nominated by the City of La Habra Heights Mayor Pro Tem Kyle Miller. Mrs. Miller has been very active over the years at local Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) at Macy School, Rancho Starbuck, and Sonora High School. She also served on the board of the Lowell Joint School District Foundation where she was actively involved in the District Turkey Trot and with the golf tournament fundraiser.

Mrs. Miller has volunteered for many years at the Hillcrest Art Festival, a nearly 60-year-old event that serves many cities in the 32nd Senate district. Additionally, Mrs. Miller also works with the cities of La Habra and Whittier to connect businesses with nonprofits.

She joined the La Habra Heights Improvement Association as a board member and launched the first annual Community Christmas gathering. Mrs. Miller also joined the board of the La Habra/La Habra Heights Meals on Wheels program; she helps them grow their fundraising efforts and also delivers meals two times a week to clients of the program. 



Mary Sieu, Ph.D., Superintendent of the ABC Unified School District, was nominated by Ann Griffo and Dr. Rhonda Buss. Dr. Mary Sieu is the daughter of an immigrant family from mainland China; she learned English as her second language and was the first in her family to receive a college education. Dr. Sieu is the first woman to lead the ABC Unified School District (ABCUSD) as Superintendent.

As a district leader for the past 25 years at ABC Unified, she has held various positions and has been a role model for students and staff. Since 2002, Dr. Sieu has been directly responsible for 15 programs that have received a Golden Bell Award by the California School Boards Association (CSBA).

Dr. Sieu has continuously emphasized that “demographics do not determine destiny.”  She has created a culture of innovation and spirit of collaboration. She has led by example and is an outstanding professional in education, and a beacon of integrity and civility.  



Sergeant Maria Ingram, California Highway Patrol was nominated by Captain David Moeller, CHP.

Throughout her 25-year career with the CHP, Sergeant Maria Ingram has advanced through the stages of law enforcement professionals from student, to teacher, to master teacher. 

Among her various assignments, Sergeant Ingram was selected and assigned to the position of Field Training Officer, where she was responsible for the training and development of newly graduated officers.

Sergeant Ingram’s skills and work ethic led her to an assignment with the CHP Applicant Investigation Unit, where she was responsible for the vetting and selection of qualified candidates to attend the CHP Academy. She was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2011, and secured a position in the busiest command in the state of California, the Santa Fe Springs Area. 

Maria has been married to retired CHP motorcycle officer Carl Ingram for 24 years, and the couple has two children. 



Brenda Sandoval, RN, was nominated by Daniela E. Rodriguez. Ms. Sandoval, a registered nurse, has dedicated 20 years to the healthcare nonprofit industry. Ms. Sandoval is the only Latina executive for Wesley Health Centers (JWCH Institute, Inc.) whose goal is to improve the lives of others. 

She has made customer service a priority and has been able to make changes that benefit patients and employees by facilitating the process of patient care.  She has an ability to problem solve the daily demands of the company and cares deeply for all her employees and patients that are served at the health centers. 

She has created programs that contribute to directly to clinics and has dedicated much of her time to HIV clinical research studies on skid row.  



Dr. Nina Smart was nominated by Blanca Rochin. Dr. Nina Smart educates students, community members and service clubs about women’s human rights violations. She raises awareness about the global issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and offers simple and effective solutions to help stop this practice. 

Linking locals in her father’s country of Sierra Leone with our global family, she builds bridges of trust that aid ideological change and promote harmony and non-violence. Dr. Smart shares her empowering story in her memoir, Wild Flower – The True Story of a Romanian Girl in Africa. Through her gentle words, she exposes the horrific practice of FGM that still affects millions of women today.

Dr. Smart contributes to our local communities by volunteering with Soroptimist International of Downey, African Christian Fellowship at St. James and through Romanian and Indian cultural centers that serve immigrants. She was the Winner of the Soroptimist International of Downey, making a difference for Women Award. 


Senator Tony Mendoza, a Los Angeles native and former elementary school teacher in East Los Angeles, represents the 32nd Senate District encompassing portions of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. For more information about Senator Mendoza visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.