Woman of the Year Honorees
2018 Kathy Michalak
Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) proudly honored Kathy Michalak, Habitat for Humanity Riverside’s Executive Director, as the 31st Senate District’s Woman of the Year. “Kathy has made a living out of being in touch with her community. Her work at the Los Angeles Times and Press Enterprise allowed Kathy to become intimately familiar with Inland Southern California,” said Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside). “After 35 years in the newspaper industry she could have retired, but Kathy realized she had more to give, which led her to Habitat for Humanity Riverside.” Kathy Michalak first joined Habitat for Humanity Riverside in 2009 – becoming its Executive Director in 2014. Realizing that Habitat had no licensed construction personnel, Kathy earned her Contractor’s License and her EPA Renovators License, eventually becoming Habitat’s Construction Manager. Senator Roth continued: “Kathy is a tireless source of goodness and relief for Riverside County. I could not have picked a better person to be the 31st Senate District’s Woman of the Year."
2019 Estella Acuña
Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) proudly honored Estella Acuña, University of California, Riverside’s Chicano Student Programs Director, as the 31st Senate District’s Woman of the Year. “Estella has been making a measurable difference in people’s lives for more than two decades,” said Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside). “Her remarkable work at UC Riverside has touched the lives of countless students – many of whom are first-generation scholars. Just ask any of the young men and women she has mentored, they’ll tell you without hesitation that Estella is a fighter who never gives up.Estella is a passionate advocate who tirelessly works to provide a sense of community for the students of UCR, making it a home away from home for many. It is her love, not just her dedication, to students and her community that makes her the clear choice for the 31st Senate District’s Woman of the Year. ” Estella Acuña is the first in her family to attend college. Acuña’s work at University of California, Riverside’s Chicano Student Programs has opened opportunities for thousands of people and created structures of support that have helped countless students earn their college degrees and move on to serve their communities.
2020 Michaela Williams
"I have the priviliege of honoring Ms. Michaela Williams, a Senior Community Program Specialist with the Department of Public Social Services in Riverside County as the 31st Senate District’s Woman of the Year. As part of the Adult Services Division and the C.A.R.E. program, Ms. Williams has been instrumental in protecting vulnerable adults and moving our region forward in our fight to end senior homelessness. Ms. Williams is a respected leader, outspoken advocate, and trusted resource who serves as a shining example of the incredible women who work to elevate those in need all throughout our region."
2021 Italia Garcia
2022 Luz Gallegos
"I have the privilege of honoring Ms.Luz Gallegos, the Executive Director of TODEC Legal Center in Perris-- one of Inland Southern California's foremost advocates for immigrant families and their needs as the 31st Senate District’s Woman of the Year. Through her work, Luz has connected countless families and communities to the resources and services they need to become economically, socially, educationally, and civically empowered. Ms. Gallegos is a natural leader and trusted mentor who carries her family's legacy and spirit of commitment to the community in everything she does. She is a shining example of the incredible women who work to elevate those in need all throughout our region--and we can't thank her enough!"
2023 Yolanda Esquivel
Calling her one of the most impressive forces for change in California, Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) recently honored activist Yolanda Esquivel as the 31st Senate District’s 2023 Woman of the Year.
“Yolanda Esquivel is not only a juggernaut of action in our region, she is a trusted friend,” wrote Senator Roth. “It’s often been said, ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person,’ I’d like to amend that to, “If you want something done, ask Yolanda Esquivel.”
Among her many accomplishments as a community activist, Esquivel was instrumental in the founding of the Riverside chapter of LULAC 3190 which was established to help the community in the areas of healthcare, social and political justice. She served as a board member and former President and helped LULAC 3190 develop the most successful free medical health care clinic in Riverside. This free clinic provides dental treatments, vision exams, glasses, and primary care.
Esquivel also serves on the Board of Directors of the Inland Equity Community Land Trust. An organization, which develops and stewards, affordable housing and other community assets in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.