Cerritos Resident to Be Honored as 56th Assembly District Woman of the Year

Aparna Hande of Cerritos and Ernestina Hurtado of Artesia will be among seven others who will be honored for their extraordinary achievements and service to the community at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts tonight.

Tonight Assemblymember Tony Mendoza will celebrate the accomplishments of nine women representing each city within the 56th Assembly District during a special award ceremony at the , with special recognition to the district’s 2012 Woman of the Year, Aparna Hande of Cerritos.

The award recipients were nominated by community members based on their extraordinary achievements, and finalist were chosen from the list of nominees from each of the cities within the 56th Assembly District.

Aparna Hande of Cerritos Named 56th Assembly District Woman of the Year

From the pool of nominees, Cerritos' Aparna Hande was selected as the 56th Assembly District Woman of the Year for her dedicated advocacy on behalf of the Indo-American Community and her commitment to the promotion of health and wellness through nursing. As a registered nurse, Hande came from an underserved community to receive her Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and worked in nursing management.

Her other notable achievements include:

  • working with abused Indian women
  • receiving the National Association of Indian Nurses of America’s Nurse Excellence of the Year Award in 2008
  • Co-Founder of the Indian Nurses Association of Southern California
  • Co–Founder of the Indo-American Universal Senior Association
  • Co-Founder of the Indo-American Optimist Club
  • President of the Federation of Indo-American Associations of Southern California

Along with the honorees from the 79 other Assembly districts in California, Hande will be invited to participate in International Women’s Day at the 2012 Woman of the Year ceremony held on March 26 (*date subject to change) at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

Ernestina Hurtado Also to Be Honored for Her Work in Artesia

Also being honored tonight is Artesia’s Ernestina Hurtado, who has selflessly been serving the community since the mid 1990s. Hurtado, who also works as a part-time Artesia staff member, volunteers extra time and money to assist children in need. She began volunteering in 1995 with the Parent Group as her children Victor and Cindy frequently played at the park. She has served various roles and is a crucial contributor in planning and executing the city of Artesia’s annual community Posada. Over the years she has also volunteered countless hours at and Kennedy Elementary schools as a teacher’s aide and field trip chaperone. After volunteering for nearly five years at A.J. Padelford Park, she accepted a position in 2000 to continue her work as a part-time city Parks and Recreation staff member. Long after her two children successfully complete their Bachelors and Master’s degrees, Hurtado continues to do what she loves best; serving the children and parents of Artesia.

Other Local Women Being Recognized

The district’s other honorees are:

  • Rosa Barragan of Norwalk
  • Josefina Canchola of Santa Fe Springs
  • Winnie Heiss of Lakewood
  • Michiko Oyama-Canada of Hawaiian Gardens
  • Elizabeth Swift of Buena Park
  • Sandra Thorstenson of Whittier
  • Jean Wall of South Whittier

“I am proud to honor such accomplished women,” Assemblymember Mendoza said. “The work they do to improve and represent our community is invaluable.”

The 2012 Women of the Year Celebration will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 2 at the CCPA.


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