Contra Costa County Commission for Women

Improving the economic status, social welfare, and overall quality of life for women in Contra Costa Count

Contra Costa County Commission for Women

Improving the economic status, social welfare, and overall quality of life for women in Contra Costa Count

Contra Costa County Commission for Women

Improving the economic status, social welfare, and overall quality of life for women in Contra Costa Count

Contra Costa County Commission for Women

Improving the economic status, social welfare, and overall quality of life for women in Contra Costa Count

Women's Hall of Fame - 2014 Honorees

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Women Contributing to the Arts

Lauren Jonas
Diablo Ballet

Lauren Jonas, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of the Diablo Ballet, trained at the Marin Ballet under Maria Vegh and Margaret Swarthout, and then studied under Sally Streets. She performed with the Milwaukee Ballet, the Oakland Ballet, the Southwest Ballet, and toured the United States with the Moscow Ballet, directed by the Bolshoi Ballet's Vaslav Gordeyev. Since Diablo Ballet's premiere on March 10, 1994, Ms. Jonas has recruited dancers from around the world to present the finest in contemporary and classical ballets. A firm believer in the need to stimulate the cultural development of future generations, she has provided programs designed specifically for children, through the Ballet’s PEEK Outreach Program, which she co-created. Ms. Jonas’ awards include the 2005 National Philanthropy Day honor, the 2000 Arts and Culture Commission Award of Contra Costa County, and the1998 Contra Costa County Woman of Achievement Award for the Arts. She has served as an advisor on several non-profit boards, and served on scholarship and dance festival committees. Ms. Jonas has guest taught for various schools and colleges throughout California and nationally.
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Women Contributing to the Arts

Edy Schwartz

For the past six years Edy Schwartz has worked tirelessly to educate the Moraga Community on how the Rheem Theatre, being part of the Arts, contributes significantly to the quality of life and well being of the Town. She has proven to the Chamber of Commerce how having a thriving theatre enhances many of its local businesses and has spoken to the PTA leadership regarding the benefits a local theatre gives to young people by providing a safe place to see movies. Edy has shared with service organizations the value of the theatre to the town and has headed up a fundraising project that raised $200,000 for 3 digital projectors for the Rheem Theatre, in effect keeping it alive. If the digital projectors had not been purchased, the theatre would have been forced to close its doors, because as of October 31, 2013 film is no longer being used by the Hollywood Studios. She has also often spoken in front of the Town Council, rallying for and receiving their support.

Edy has been Director of Community marketing for the California Independent Film Festival for the last four years when the Rheem Theatre became its official home. Last year in preparation for the film festival, she spoke to 13 Moraga organizations (over 500 people) regarding the value of Independent film, shorts and documentaries. In 2008 when the previous managers of the Rheem Theatre threatened to close the theatre, she brought together the movers and shakers of Moraga, and they designed a plan that kept the doors open.

Edy continues to live in Moraga with her husband Jeff, their children and four grandchildren.
Her passion for her Town is the driving force behind all of her community involvement.
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Women Creating Community

Sister Ann Weltz
Bay Area Crisis Nursery

Sister Ann Weltz, the founder and Executive Director, started the Bay Area Crisis Nursery in July of 1981. Sister Ann grew up in Martinez and taught in Bay Area schools. As a teacher, she saw firsthand the situations that could develop when a family was in crisis or under a great deal of stress. Determined to find a way to help these families, she spent two years at Casa de Los Ninos, a crisis nursery in Arizona, working as Assistant Director and learning how to operate a crisis nursery. She returned to the Bay Area, raised $300,000 in donations and loans, and opened the doors to the Bay Area Crisis Nursery. A modest person, she does not like to be in the limelight, but her vision brought to the Bay Area a new way of looking at child abuse prevention.

Sister Ann has a Bachelor's Degree from Mt. St. Mary's College in Los Angeles and a Master's in Non-Profit Administration from the University of San Francisco. Sister Ann received the 1991 Vineyard Award from the National Society of Fundraising Executives (Golden Gate Chapter).
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Women Creating Community

Rita Xavier
Women Creating Community

Rita Xavier is a member of several organizations and an avid volunteer. She is on the West County Senior Coalition Executive Board representing San Pablo, and is Recording Secretary. She has recently been asked to represent the WCSC on the Contra Costa County Advisory Council on Aging. As Vice Chair of the San Pablo Committee on Aging, appointed by the San Pablo City Council, she works on fund raising for Meals on Wheels, and seminars. Ms. Xavier is on the San Pablo Senior Center Advisory Board, an elected position, and is a volunteer at the center. She is active in CARA, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Contra Costa and Solano Counties. Ms. Xavier is on the League of Women Voters West Contra Costa County Board of Directors. Environmental advocacy is one of her endeavors with several organizations. Ms. Xavier is on the San Pablo Planning Commission, appointed by the City Council, and has been on committees under city planning. As a member of the San Pablo Historical Society, she volunteers at the city's museums. Decades ago she worked for the United States Senate, House of Representatives, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Buffalo Board of Education, gaining leadership qualities. Ms. Xavier has four children and seven grandchildren.
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Women Improving Health Care

Janet Frazier
The Network of Care

Janet Frazier is the founder and Executive Director of The Network of Care, which in 2014 celebrates its 10 year anniversary. The Network of Care, a non-profit organization, provides meal support to families of children who are suddenly hospitalized and who are focused on their children’s recovery. Without an office or a paid staff, Janet has built a volunteer base of dedicated students and adults to provide meals to over 135,000 families at 50+ hospitals in California (4 in Colorado).

The Network of Care was born out of Janet’s desire to turn her own family’s personal tragedy into an opportunity to help others. On December 16, 2000, Janet’s two daughters, Stephanie (20) and Lindsey (17) were in a tragic car accident. Stephanie did not survive and Lindsey was in critical condition. Sitting for hours in ICU with Lindsey, Janet nearly fainted – not having eaten in over 24 hours. A kind nurse shared her sandwich, giving Janet the strength to continue to care for her ailing daughter. Through The Network of Care, thousands of families and parents can care for their hospitalized children, while receiving nourishing snacks and meals without having to leave their children’s sides.

Janet is employed full time at Chevron, as a Commercial Marketing and Operations Coordinator in San Ramon, CA. She serves on the board of directors for Our Healing Hearts, a support group for women who have lost children. Janet is very passionate about helping the special needs community. She and her husband were instrumental in bringing the first playground for children of all abilities to East Contra Costa County. At Chevron, she serves on an Employee Network Group that provides resources, support, awareness and education for disability related issues.

Janet’s work in the community has been recognized with many accolades such as the prestigious Jefferson Award, the Woman of Distinction Award and the Threads of Hope Award. In 2007, she was named as Woman of the Year in the 7th Senatorial District by Tom Torlakson. The Network of Care has received awards for their distinguished achievement from Children’s Hospital Oakland and Rady Children’s hospital in San Diego, as well as from the State of California Legislature.

Janet and her husband Jim have been married for 35 years. Their daughter Lindsey is a Neuropsychologist, working with patients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.
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Women Working for Justice

Nati Flores
Working for Justice

Nati Flores came from Mexico at the age of 10 to Concord’s Monument Community. Her mother was a single mother of two girls who did not speak English and all three were undocumented. Nati’s mother earned very little working two to three jobs at a time. They struggled for many years with little or no resources available. This is why Nati has a passion for her work. Nati began as a volunteer over 10 years ago in the Day Labor program, and through her position Nati has built a solid reputation as a problem solver, advocate and a link to resources.

Nati is the Program Director at Monument Impact, a nonprofit organization that has been serving the Monument Community since 2001 where the majority of the residents are non-English speakers and many are new immigrants. Nati directly oversees The Day Labor, Civic Engagement and Health Promotores program as well as the other programs and many activities in the organization. Monument Impact connects people to resources, jobs, provides leadership development and other training opportunities that help people become self-sufficient, working along with the residents to transform their community and fostering volunteerism and civic engagement. Nati’s previous work was with the Hospice Foundation of the East Bay, a non-profit helping provide end-of-life care. Nati was the Assistant to the Director of Retail Operations helping raise funds to cover the care of those who are uninsured or underinsured.
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Women Demonstrating Leadership

Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC
Founder and Executive Director of Eldercare Services

Linda is a Licensed Family Therapist and a certified Professional Care Manager. In 1989 Linda founded Eldercare Services and became a pioneer in care management. Today, Eldercare Services provides a unique blend of services from professional care management, home care and counseling to offering support groups and education.

Eldercare Services became one of two agencies accredited by the Joint Commission for outstanding standards of practice and commitment to quality of client care.

Linda leads a team of 15 Professional Care Managers and over 250 employees. Her vast experience includes:

• Over 30 years’ experience working with older and special needs adults and their families
• Pioneer in developing programs for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease
• Fellow and Past President of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
• Member, Alameda/Contra Costa County Medical Association, California POLST Coalition
• Serving on the Development Team for the Lamorinda Village

Linda advocates for quality of life for older adults and their families through educational workshops, writing and hosting events, on a local and national level. She is recognized nationally as an expert in care management, and has been quoted in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Linda founded an annual educational conference “The Family Circus - Walking the Tightrope of Elder Care and Aging.” This year she has developed a new class for couples dealing with progressive illness in a holistic manner – to bring back joy to what can be a dark journey.
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Women Demonstrating Leadership

Betty Geishirt Cantrell
Women Demonstrating Leadership

Betty Geishirt Cantrell, MSSW, MBA is the Director of SparkPoint Contra Costa. She has been the Director of SparkPoint West Contra Costa in Richmond since it opened in June 2009. She also became Director of SparkPoint East Contra Costa in Bay Point in July 2013. Being the Director of both sites was one of the first steps in the merger of the two sites into SparkPoint Contra Costa. This merger brought together 17 organizations under one Steering Committee to provide free financial empowerment services to the residents of our county from these two centers.

Betty has a varied background in working around the country. She has served as the director of both a rape crisis program (Louisiana) and a sex offenders treatment program (New York) and the Chief of Social Services of a private psychiatric hospital (Tennessee). Since coming to California, she has been the development director and program administrator at nonprofits and the project director of a major NIH-funded research grant.

Betty and her husband have lived in Pleasant Hill since 1995 where they raised their daughter and son, now successful young adults. They have been very active in their community, primarily through the Pleasant Hill Community Foundation and Chamber of Commerce.