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Chosen from over 200 nominations, these women represent our community.

Source:  Women's Museum of California

January 18, 2017 (San Diego) - Nominations to honor women of accomplishment from our community have flooded the offices of the Women's Hall of Fame since June. The Hall of Fame Selection Committee identified five women who have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of other women and to bring change to their communities.

On March 5, 2017, the dedication of these women will be recognized when they are inducted into the 16th Annual San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame. 

This year's inductees and the Category in which they are being honored, are:

Hon. Irma Gonzalez, TRAILBLAZER

Lilia Velasquez, ACTIVIST

Joyce Nower, EMPOWERER

Carol Rowell-Council, EMPOWERER

Dilkhwaz Ahmed, BRIDGE BUILDER

Darlene Davies, HISTORIAN

The honorees chosen represent and reflect the full depth of the diversity of San Diego County.  "The inductees selflessly dedicated themselves to improving the lives of women, children, and families and created a powerful impact within San Diego communities," says Event Chair Moriah Gonzalez-Meeks.

Awards are granted on the basis of values, empowerment, activism, trailblazing, cultural competency, and historical preservation.  The six selected for induction this year are:

TRAILBLAZER Hon. Irma Gonzalez was the first Mexican American woman to be a federal judge. She was appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in 1992 and served as Chief Judge from 2005 to 2012. Prior to her appointment to the federal bench, Judge Gonzalez also worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Prosecution division for the District of Arizona and in Los Angeles, as well as an attorney in private practice.  She later served as a U.S. Magistrate judge and a San Diego County Superior Court judge. She retired in 2013 after an almost 30-year judicial career.

ACTIVIST Lilia Velasquez is an attorney who assists immigrants, refugees, asylees, and in particular, undocumented women struggling with domestic violence, sexual abuse, and prostitution. As an attorney, she has been a tireless activist for the most vulnerable in our society. Velasquez moved to the United States at age nineteen, and received her degree in Social Work from San Diego State University. As a social worker, she witnessed the power of the law in helping people. Velasquez went back to school and received her law degree from California Western School of Law.  Velasquez frequently makes appearances as an immigration expert on NPR, KPBS, and other media sources.

EMPOWERER Joyce Nower (1932-2010) was a founding member of the Ad Hoc Committee for Women's Studies at San Diego State University and thus co-founder of the first Women's Studies program in the United States. Nower was also a co-founder of the community-based Center for Women's Studies and Services, which was the first Women's Center in Southern California. Today, The Center is the largest provider of prevention and intervention services in San Diego County for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Nower earned her B.A. from Middlebury College, her M.A. from Harvard University, and her Ph.D. from The Union Institute and University, Cincinnati.

EMPOWERER Carol Rowell Council, at age 21, co-founded the Ad Hoc Committee for Women's Studies at San Diego State University (1969) which then became the first Women's Studies program in the United States. Her interest in feminism grew from her participation in antiwar and student rights movements. In 1972 she helped found the Center for Women's Studies and Services (now the Center for Community Solutions), where she was the director for 20 years. Carol Rowell Council has a B.A. in Public Administration from San Diego State University, and an M.F.A. in Art History from Rosary College VIlla Schifanoia in Florence, Italy.

BRIDGE BUILDER Dilkhwaz Ahmed is an immigrant women's rights activist from the Kurdistan region of Iraq. She served as the Executive Director of the Nawa Center, a shelter for abused women in Sulaimanya, Iraq where she provided counseling and support to victims of domestic violence. She coordinated a program in the women's jail, helping women transition to a life in prison and to gain the skills necessary to survive. In 2002, Ahmed was granted asylum in the United States, and settled in San Diego. Since 2003, Ahmed worked at License to Freedom, where she has helped more than 3,000 adult survivors and child victims of domestic violence.

HISTORIAN Darlene Davies has been involved in recording the history of San Diego for many decades. She volunteers her time and skills as the Official Historian of the Old Globe in Balboa Park, volunteers and supports the San Diego History Center, and has written the history on the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women. For Davies, researching and recording history is a responsibility and service she takes on with the utmost care. Davies earned her Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and worked professionally as therapist and professor. 

More about the Hall of Fame:

 The San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame was created in 2001 as a way to bring attention to women's actions and accomplishments in San Diego.  Currently, 83 women have taken their place in the San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame.

In 2001, the four Co-Hosts of the San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame organized the first Hall of Fame event at UC San Diego to honor and acknowledge women who have significantly contributed to the quality of life and have made outstanding volunteer contributions in San Diego County. The Women's Hall of Fame is acollaboration among the Women's Museum of California, the Department of Women's Studies at San Diego State University, The Women's Center at UC San Diego, and the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women. The ongoing goal of the Women's Hall of Fame is to recognize and celebrate women's authentic contributions.

Many prominent local and regional guests will attend.

Event producers are currently seeking underwriters for the event.  The induction ceremony is open to the public and will be held on March 5, 2017, 2:30 - 6:00 pm at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center. 

Tickets and details about the 2017 Women's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner are posted on the Women's Museum Website at:








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