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Garamendi Honors 14 Women from Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, and Yuba Counties at His Annual Women of the Year Awards

October 13, 2016
Press Release

WOODLAND, CA – Today, at his 3rd annual Women of the Year Event, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Yuba City, Davis, CA) honored 44 women who are leaders and inspirations in their communities. The honorees included 14 residents of Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, and Yuba counties, including Donna Critchfield and Terry Rivera of Colusa; Susan Barrett of Maxwell; Carolyn Denton, Jody Meza, and Christine Stifter of Orland; Marsha Krouse-Taylor of Sutter; Mary Lou Byer, Erin Cucchi, Anne Fletcher, Jennifer Jelavich, and Nicole Riley of Yuba City; Debbra Springsteen of Browns Valley; and Nancy Aaberg of Marysville.

The women, from all eight counties in the district, have been trailblazers and advocates in community service, business, education, local government, and the military.

“This may be my favorite day of the year, because it always replenishes my faith in the selflessness and dedication of my constituents, and it inspires me to look within to see what more I can do to help the people I represent,” Congressman Garamendi said.  “In every community of this district, down every valley and up every mountain, there are women making a difference. The women we recognized were nominated by their peers, and they come from every walk of life focused on virtually every major issue our diverse district faces.”

Following the introductory remarks and Congressional Commendation presentations, Congressman Garamendi and the women of the year discussed ways Congress and the federal government can do more to improve quality of life in the 3rd District. This conversation touched on increasing the Alzheimer’s budget, devoting more focus to mental health services, alleviating hunger, and tackling the homelessness crisis.

“Every topic you’ve brought up touches on many of the priorities of the women in this room. There’s an education piece, a community service piece, a research piece, a private sector piece, and a public sector piece. I want you to keep my office informed about your concerns, because you have your fingers on the pulse of your community,” Congressman Garamendi said.

Each year, Congressman Garamendi recognizes outstanding women of California’s 3rd Congressional district who have been nominated by their peers and have demonstrated a clear commitment to their community through their leadership and dedication to public service.


About the Local Women Nominated


Colusa County Residents

Susan Barrett – Susan Barrett grew up in the rural community of Maxwell where she received an excellent education nurtured by teachers who took a special interest in both their work and their students. Susan recently retired after 33 years of teaching Business Education and serving as the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) local Chapter Advisor at Colusa High School.

Donna Critchfield – Donna Critchfield has an impressive record of public service having served as both a Councilwoman and Mayor of the City of Colusa as a Councilwoman from 2007 through 2014. She is a founding member of the Colusa Library Literacy program and still serves today as a tutor and tutoring program instructor. She is also a long time preacher and Eucharistic minister at St. Stephens Episcopal Church.

Terry Rivera – Terry Azevedo Rivera has had a tremendous impact through her Youth Empowerment Services (Y.E.S.) program, a nonprofit helping Colusa County children. Y.E.S. helps families of modest means pay for their children's extracurricular activities. In just two years, Terry and Y.E.S. have served 100 young people, giving Colusa students a chance to pursue their passions and their dreams.


Glenn County Residents

Carolyn Denton – Carolyn Denton is a tireless advocate for Orland, having served in leadership roles in the Orland Women's Improvement Club and the Orland Business Improvement Club. She created the annual Avenue of Lights, a aa one-mile long holiday light show that has received national recognition. She has also led the All Church Bizarre and quilt project to bring warmth to those in need.

Jody Meza – Jody Meza demonstrates true dedication to her work as a public librarian and goes above and beyond her duties to nurture literacy, reading, and culture in her community. She has strengthened the library and computer literacy programs that are so vital to the rural area, and has consistently worked to insure her community has access to quality reading materials.

Christine Stifter – Christine Stifter is a dedicated volunteer who continuously offers her time and talent to serve her community.  Christine is a member of the Orland Women’s Improvement Club where she helps raise funds for local non-profit organizations such as the humane society, the senior center, and the volunteer fire department. Through her volunteer work she also helps raise money for scholarships available to local high school students.


Sutter County Residents

Mary Lou Byer – Mary Lou Byer, more commonly known as Mama Lou, is described as the guiding light at the Yuba-Sutter Food Bank and the mentor to its current President. Mary Lou has been volunteering at the Yuba Sutter Food Bank for 25 years and is one of its Founders. For 20 years, she also operated a bi-county service center for Yuba-Sutter seniors providing education, resources, and food distribution.

Erin Cucchi – Erin Cucchi serves on the Yolo-Sutter Fair Board and has been a 4-H club leader for more than a decade. As the fundraising chair of the annual Jog-a-Thon at Franklin School, she raised $20,000 this year alone. She also coaches sports teams and is an active volunteer at Franklin Elementary, Sutter Arts Association, Sutter Junior Swim Foundation, and Smiles for Kids Foundation.

Anne Fletcher – Anne Fletcher has generously donated her time to many charitable organizations in her community, such as Casa de Esperanza, a shelter for battered women.  Anne has also served as a Director and President for the Yuba Sutter United Way. She is also a is a founding member of the Alliance for Hispanic Advancement, a nonprofit devoted to improving the quality of life for people of Hispanic heritage. 

Jennifer Jelavich – Jennifer Jelavich is an active member of the Sutter County Nutrition Action Plan; a diverse team of 64 partners working to create healthier choices and lifestyles for Sutter County residents. Through Jennifer's leadership, a pilot program was established at Bernard State PreSchool called, 'Food for Thought' aimed a minimizing child hunger over the weekends when the national school lunch program is unavailable and allowed families to take home fresh local fruits and vegetables home to prepare themselves over the weekends.

Marsha Krouse-Taylor – Marsha Krouse-Taylor has served as the founding Executive Director of Casa de Esperanza, which helps women and children who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, or sex trafficking. . Under Marsha's leadership, the shelter was renovated to fully meet ADA standards, increased capacity from 13 to 50 beds, tripled programs, created a culturally diverse staff, and increased its funding 10 fold. This has allowed Casa to serve over 40,000 people. She also serves as a leader in a number of other groups that help women, children, and the victims of domestic abuse.

Nicole Riley – Nicole Riley grew up in Yuba City, California, the daughter of a military family, and became involved with gymnastics at a young age. After high school, she competed for the University of California, Santa Barbara as a NCAA Division I gymnast and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Biological Sciences. Nicole now owns Riley’s Gymnastics Academy (RGA), one of the fastest growing minority owned businesses in the Yuba-Sutter Area.


Yuba County Residents

Nancy Aaberg – Nancy Aaberg has dedicated her career to Education; a career that spans over 44 years. Her career experiences includes over 25 years of teaching mathematics at the high school and community college levels, along with adjunct facility for Brandman University, CSU Chico, CSU Sacramento in education courses; and Yuba College in mathematics.  Nancy currently serves as Superintendent for the Yuba City Unified School District.

Debbra Springsteen – Debbra Springsteen has dedicated her life to serving others both through her career as a Registered Nurse and her many volunteer efforts benefiting the community. Debbra realized her career dreams by becoming a Registered Nurse and has worked as such for over 20 years. She currently works in the cardiology wing at the Rideout Hospital in Marysville. Last year her peers awarded her Nurse of the Year, recognizing her devotion to her work and her patients.

Full biographies can be found here.


Full List of 2016’s Women of the Year from the 3rd Congressional District

Nancy Aaberg, Marysville, Yuba County

Helen Andrews, Fairfield, Solano County

Christina Baird, Vacaville, Solano County

Susan Barrett, Maxwell, Colusa County

Rebecca Belk, Fairfield, Solano County

Nicole Braddock, Vacaville, Solano County

Rosario Burton, Vacaville, Solano County

Mary Lou Byer, Yuba City, Sutter County

Nieckol Cook, Clearlake, Lake County

Donna Critchfield, Colusa, Colusa County

Erin Cucchi, Yuba City, Sutter County

Tara Dacus, Fairfield, Solano County

Carolyn Denton, Orland, Glenn County

Sandra  Esparza, Vacaville, Solano County

Elly Fairclough, Davis, Yolo County

Anne Fletcher, Yuba City, Sutter County

Kay Green, Fairfield, Solano County

M.R.C. Greenwood, Davis, Yolo County

Dilenna Harris, Vacaville, Solano County

Marilyn Hays, Woodland, Yolo County

Linda Hickman, Dixon, Solano County

Lynnette Irlmeier, Woodland, Yolo County

Jennifer Jelavich, Yuba City, Sutter County

Marsha Krouse-Taylor, Sutter, Sutter County

Julia Lopez, Vacaville, Solano County

Betsy Marchand, Davis, Yolo County

Jody Meza, Orland, Glenn County

Sandy Person, Fairfield, Solano County

Laura Petty, Vacaville, Solano County

Patricia Powell, Dixon, Solano County

Carol Pruett, Vacaville, Solano County

Nicole Riley, Yuba City, Sutter County

Terry Rivera, Colusa, Colusa County

Yvonne Robbins, Fairfield, Solano County

Lea Rosenberg, Davis, Yolo County

Estella San Juan, Vacaville, Solano County

Debbra Springsteen, Browns Valley, Yuba County

Christine Stifter, Orland, Glenn County

Jean VanderGheynst, Davis, Yolo County

Sandra  Waterhouse, Walnut Grove, Sacramento County

Keetra  Welling, Fairfield, Solano County

Kristy Wright, Woodland, Yolo County

Mariko Yamada, Davis, Yolo County

Rosalind Young-Reid, Fairfield, Solano County

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