Three Local Women Honored with Congressional Women of the Year Awards

Published : Saturday, April 14, 2018 | 5:38 AM

Three Outstanding Local Women Honored Today

From Left to Right: Juanita DeVaughn, Lizbeth Mateo, Lena L. Kennedy

U.S. Congresswoman Rep. Judy Chu will be honoring three Pasadena-area women among 11 who will be recognized during her Ninth Annual Congressional Women of the Year Awards ceremony on Saturday, April 14, at the San Marino Center in San Marino.

Among the honorees Saturday are Altadena civil rights activist Juanita DeVaughn, Pasadena community activist and political consultant Lena L. Kennedy, and Pasadena attorney and immigrant rights activist Lizbeth Mateo.

DeVaughn will be honored as a long-time civil rights icon in the Pasadena area with countless awards for her service and activism. Born and raised in Boligee, Alabama, DeVaughn earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Alabama A and M University, worked as a dietician for the Birmingham City school district, and helped organize the first Head Start programs leading to the expansion of the successful social justice program across the south. During the civil rights movement in Birmingham, she prepared and served meals to the out-of-state protesters.

Moving to Pasadena and later to Altadena, DeVaughn spent her career teaching, and upon her retirement dedicated her time to service with her church, community based organizations, and voter registration efforts. In 2015, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich recognized DeVaughn as one of the LA County Commission for Women’s Women of the Year honorees, as “an exemplary community citizen and volunteer – serving as a mentor and role model for youth and adults alike.”

Lena L. Kennedy is the founder and conference director of the Southern California Women’s Health Conference and Expo. She is responsible for bringing together community-based organizations, businesses, and civic leaders to offer a free, annual health and wellness conference for women.

Kennedy leads LL Kennedy and Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in community and consensus-building strategies for political candidates, community coalition-building, philanthropic consulting, corporate advisement and leadership/life coaching initiatives.

Her career as a community activist and political consultant began over thirty years ago, when she assisted with fundraising and campaign activities for Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley for Governor. Since then, she has worked with numerous candidates and elected officials, including President Barack Obama, Congresswoman Diane Watson, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressman Adam Schiff, California State Speaker Karen Bass, State Senator Carol Liu, and Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Kennedy has served several notable organizations including the Pasadena Arts Council, Community Health Alliance of Pasadena, First AME Church Trustee (former) and Pasadena NAACP. She currently serves on the Pasadena Playhouse Diversity Committee, Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Advisory Council and the Pasadena Symphony Advisory Council.

Lizbeth Mateo was recently appointed to the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee in the State Senate, making her the first undocumented resident appointed to a statewide post, according to Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León’s office. The committee advises the California Student Aid Commission on efforts to increase college access for California students from low-income or underserved communities.

Mateo was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and came to the United States with her parents when she was 14. For several years, Mateo has been at the forefront of battles for immigrant rights, housing and community policing.

Mateo graduated from Santa Clara University law School in 2016 and passed the California bar last year.

Last year, Mateo became the face of Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!), leading the group’s efforts in fighting to give the working class community a voice in local government from Southern California to Washington D.C., following a successful grassroots campaign to raise the Pasadena-wide minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020.

The other Women of the Year who will be recognized Saturday include Councilmember Barbara Messina of the City of Alhambra; Tak Lau from Arcadia, Founder of the Tak Lau Charity Foundation; Gabriela Gamiz from Claremont, Director of the Office of Community Engagement at Harvey Mudd College; Lindsey Rehfeld from Glendora, Executive Director at Visiting Angels Senior Homecare; Linda Wong from Monterey Park, Executive Director of SPARK Afterschool Academy; Kit Man Shum of San Gabriel, Chief Consultant at DSC Laser and Skin Care Center; Lucille Norberg, a community volunteer from San Marino; Dr. Suzie Abajian, a School Board Member of the South Pasadena Unified School District; and Reyna Del Haro from Upland, Director of Public Affairs and Brand Communications at Kaiser Permanente and Baldwin Park Medical Center.

Saturday’s ceremony is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the San Marino Center, 1800 Huntington Drive in San Marino.


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