Press Release

Senator Newman Presents Women of the Year Awards for Senate District 29

Sacramento, CalifSenator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) is proud to announce the recipients of his "Woman of the Year" awards for Senate District 29, honoring six extraordinary women whose tireless efforts have profoundly impacted our communities.

In recognition of their outstanding contributions and unwavering dedication to their respective fields, Senator Newman is presenting "Woman of the Year" awards to Dr. Amy Choi-Won, Dr. Cathleen Greiner, Dr. Julie Mitchell, Romarilyn Ralston, Lacy Schoen, and Cathy Steele. All of these exceptional women have demonstrated exemplary levels of leadership, innovation, and advocacy, significantly impacting education, entrepreneurship, justice reform, workforce development, and community engagement.

"It's an honor and a privilege to have this opportunity to recognize some of my senate district's most innovative community leaders as part of our annual SD29 'Woman of the Year' celebration," said Senator Newman. "We should all be deeply appreciative of the many contributions this year's honorees have made, which have bettered their respective communities while earning them this well-deserved distinction. Their commitment to service and their positive impact on the lives of others are examples for us all, and we thank them."

Their collective achievements reflect a deep commitment to empowering others and fostering positive change within their communities. From pioneering educational programs and advancing social justice initiatives to championing diversity and supporting women in the workforce, each honoree has had an immensely positive impact in Senate District 29 and beyond.

Amy Choi-Won, Ph.D., Partner Engagement Specialist at North OC Regional Occupational Program:
Dr. Choi-Won has dedicated over a decade to advocating for students and families across Orange County. With her expertise in strategic planning and partnership development, she has been instrumental in forging crucial collaborations between educational institutions, industries, and government stakeholders. Her work at the North Orange County Regional Occupational Program has not only addressed workforce needs but has also empowered students to thrive in an ever-evolving employment landscape. Dr. Choi-Won's dedication to preparing students for success underscores her contribution to the community.

Cathleen Greiner, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at North Orange County Community College District:
Dr. Greiner is a visionary leader committed to fostering innovation and economic growth in the community. With a distinguished career spanning roles in academia and regional leadership, she brings extensive expertise and a deep commitment to collaboration between entrepreneurs, employers, and educational institutions. Dr. Greiner actively engages with multiple boards and leverages her experience as a small business owner to bring a practical understanding of the economy to her roles. Through the Center for Entrepreneurship, she has championed initiatives empowering aspiring entrepreneurs and driving positive change in the local economy.

"I'm deeply honored to be recognized as one of the Women of the Year by Senator Newman. This award underscores our commitment to supporting a social enterprise zone in Orange County, facilitating entrepreneurial and economic access and opportunity across the region. I'm excited to serve the diverse workforce and array of businesses across the district as we unite to bolster, support, and expand solo and small business economic development. Ultimately, it's always about our students and community members! With heartfelt appreciation, I gratefully accept this award and thank my NorthSTAR and NOCCCD colleagues."

Julie Mitchell, Ed.D., Superintendent of Rowland Unified School District:
Dr. Mitchell is a champion of educational equity and excellence. With three decades of experience in public education, she has served at nearly every level of K-12 instruction and administration, from instructional aide to superintendent, demonstrating unwavering dedication to student success. Under her leadership, Rowland Unified School District has implemented innovative programs like the College Connect initiative, ensuring all students have access to the resources and support needed to achieve their academic and career goals. Additionally, the district's vocational programs, like the Automotive Technology program and the newly launched Cybersecurity program, have garnered acclaim for providing students with technical certifications essential for their future careers. Dr. Mitchell's dedication and innovative approach have transformed the educational landscape, leaving a lasting impact on students and the community.

Romarilyn Ralston, M.L.A., Senior Director of the Justice Education Center at the Claremont Colleges:
Ms. Ralston has dedicated her life to advocating for the formerly incarcerated, including playing a pivotal role in the establishment and expansion of Project Rebound, which has since become a beacon of hope for reentry college students across California providing vital support and resources to individuals seeking to rebuild their lives after incarceration. Despite facing significant challenges, including 23 years of incarceration, she went on to earn degrees from Pitzer College and Washington University (Mo.). Ms. Ralston's commitment to education and community accountability is reflected in her numerous fellowships and accolades. Her remarkable journey, culminating in a full pardon from Governor Gavin Newsom in 2022, is a testament to her resilience and her dedication to social justice.

Lacy Schoen, President/CEO of the Brea Chamber of Commerce:
Ms. Schoen is a trailblazer in addressing gender disparities in organizational leadership. Recognizing the challenges women face in the workforce, she spearheaded the creation of the Women Rising Leadership Academy (WRLA), offering valuable resources and support to empower women to advance in their careers. WRLA is a pioneering professional development program designed to address the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles. Ms. Schoen ensures that cost and affordability aren't obstacles for underrepresented groups, making the program accessible to all participants and employers. Through her visionary leadership, she has made significant strides in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the business community.

"I greatly appreciate being recognized for founding the Women Rising Leadership Academy because it acknowledges the importance of gender equity in business. I've devoted the bulk of my career to studying the research and science underlying the underrepresentation of women to employ practical solutions. This award validates my work and shines a light on this highly critical issue."

Cathy Steele, Community Volunteer:
Ms. Steele has been a driving force in bringing together Orange County's Black community and is active in the Anaheim community, including membership on local boards and advisory councils. As a respected leader and advocate, she has played a pivotal role in coordinating initiatives such as the annual OC Black History Parade & Unity Festival, which celebrates the community's rich heritage and contributions. Ms. Steele founded the outreach program Saving Our Sisters (SOS) and has been recognized for her numerous contributions, including being awarded the 2019 Business Person of the Year by the Orange County Black Chamber of Commerce. Her tireless commitment to community service and outreach has touched the lives of countless individuals, fostering unity and empowerment.

To schedule an interview with Senator Newman, contact Brian Wheatley at 916.651.4029.


State Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which is comprised of portions of Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County. The 29th District includes all or parts of the cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, City of Industry, Cypress, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Stanton, Walnut, West Covina and Yorba Linda. Senator Newman is a former United States Army officer, businessperson, and veterans’ advocate, and lives in Fullerton with his wife and daughter.