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Life and Arts

On the Town: Luncheon honors those who have supported Glendale YWCA’s important efforts

Honored at the YWCA Glendale’s Legacy Luncheon are, from left, “Heart & Excellence” awardee Sue Wilder; Courtney O’Steen, Mrs. California United States 2019, and “Heart & Excellence” awardee Karen Swan.
(Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

The 22nd annual YWCA Glendale’s Legacy Luncheon held earlier this month was a heartfelt gathering of almost 300 supporters honoring Heart & Excellence award winners, past and present.

Chocolate bunnies were on every place setting, colorful YWCA banners on every corner and big-bloomed daisy centerpieces on every table.

A busy silent auction kicked off the reception. Racking up the bids were items from Los Gringos Locos, the Cheesecake Factory and In-N-Out Burger. Glendalians love their local restaurants.

Ani Adjemian and Jessica First, members of the YWCA Glendale’s board of directors, welcomed guests from the podium in the sunlit ballroom of the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club.


Local dignitaries were introduced, including state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian and Glendale City Council members Vartan Gharpetian and Paula Devine.

Courtney O’Steen, Mrs. California United States 2019, offered words of inspiration. She then introduced Tara Peterson, executive director of the YWCA Glendale, who spoke about the organization’s mission and impact on the community.

“[This luncheon] will raise funds to increase awareness of the needs of women and girls through programs such as this summer’s Camp Rosie and our emergency shelter,” said Peterson.

Then came the highlight of the afternoon’s program — the introduction of the 2019 Heart & Excellence honorees.


First up was Marisol Espinoza, who was introduced to the YWCA Glendale as a child when she took classes in gymnastics and dance there.

Today, she is the public affairs manager for SoCalGas in several cities throughout the western portion of Los Angeles County.

By helping the YWCA, Espinoza paves the way for a partnership among businesses, nonprofits and the community. She is also a member of the Glendale Educational Foundation.

Posing at the Legacy Luncheon are, from left, YWCA Glendale “Heart & Excellence” honoree Elissa
Posing at the Legacy Luncheon are, from left, YWCA Glendale “Heart & Excellence” honoree Elissa Glickman, YWCA Board Member Seda Khojayan, and honoree Stela Fejtek.
(Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

For 25 years, Stela Fejtek has been a speech communication and lip-reading teacher for hearing-impaired adults. Her relationship with the YWCA Glendale started in the 1970s when she initiated the association’s first girls gymnastics program.

Elissa Glickman is chief executive of Glendale Arts, a nonprofit that manages the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

Her organization is involved with several community-based programs, including Taste Walk Glendale, which will be held on Wednesday.

Glickman is also a partner with YWCA Glendale’s summer programs, which expose camp participants to arts and culture.


Linda Offray is the founder of Shepherd’s Door, a local resource center providing assistance and support to victims of domestic violence.

Offray collaborates with community partners such as YWCA Glendale and has helped thousands of individuals in the community.

Karen Swan is a retired elementary school teacher in Glendale Unified.

Her work with YWCA Glendale has included fundraising efforts to help women and children who need safe housing as well as educational, social and emotional support. Swan is also a member of the Glendale Educational Foundation.

Sue Wilder is chair of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital’s board of directors and a member of the hospital’s governing board.

Wilder is also the incoming chair of the Community Advisory Board. In addition, she is an active member of the local Soroptimist organization, which plays a key role in funding YWCA Glendale’s Camp Rosie, a no-cost empowerment camp for girls in seventh through ninth grades.

Another Heart & Excellence award went to the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, which provides support to low-income residents in need of case management, employment assistance and senior services as well as assistance with immigration issues.

It partners with YWCA Glendale to provide services to victims of domestic violence.


Ruth Sowby Rands may be reached at

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