Women from the Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena were recognized for displaying courage, strength and determination on the job and with local organizations during the Women Extraordinaire: Celebrating 20th Anniversary on Wednesday night at the Hilton Glendale.
The annual tradition is presented by the family-run Business Life magazine and leading the salute to more than 325 women was Executive Vice President Greg Krikorian, who served as master of ceremonies.
"When we first came to California from Connecticut, we came up with the concept of saluting women — women in business and leaders of organizations," Krikorian said. "It's been our foundation, saluting women in companies, small businesses and nonprofit organizations, and for 20 years we tirelessly supported women's organizations such as Zonta and Soroptimist International."
What made this year's celebration unique was that one woman from each past year, 1990 to 2010, was chosen to be among the top 20 achievers honored. And another 19 women were announced as the top achievers for 2010.
Attendance was expected to reach 350, but sold out at 600.
Mercy Velazquez of Glendale, who was honored in 2004, was one of the top 20 honorees.
"I am so appreciative and honored to be one of the 20," she said. "It's a big plus that [the magazine] is helping all our organizations. Community service is a circle. First, the community is good to you, and you have to pay it back by giving service. And you teach your children to give service to the community, and they will teach their children to do the same."
Brenda Lantieri, a Burbank resident and president of the Zonta Club of Burbank, was one of the 2010 honorees.
"I'm extremely excited, honored and humbled to receive the award," she said.
She is a past president of the Burbank Noon Lions, a member of the Cabrini Literary Guild and Eucharistic minister and past prayer group leader at St. Robert Bellarmine Church.
Zonta past President Grace Farenbaugh came to support Lantieri and Donna Anderson, named as one of the top 20 women achievers. Anderson is also the city treasurer of Burbank.
"I could not be prouder for all that Donna and Brenda have done for the community," Farenbaugh said. "You can feel the big energy in this room tonight. I didn't expect that."
Three past achievers recognized in memoriam were Mary Hamilton of Glendale (honored in 1990); Katie Nack of Pasadena (2000) and Sue Stamper of Burbank (2003). Also remembered was Bruce Ackerman, president and chief executive officer of the Valley Economic Alliance.
Guest speakers were Michele M. Memmott, governor for the Camino Real Region of Soroptimist International of the Americas; and Wendy Greuel, city controller of Los Angeles.
Memmott noted that she completes her Sunday evening by talking about the TV show "Mad Men" with phone calls with her three daughters.
"They are incredulous at the treatment women received by society and at the office in the 1960s and 1970s," she said. "You had to suffer in silence. Times have changed, but it is important to remember from where we've come."
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Unsung Hero Award. Greg Krikorian presented it to his mother, Elsie. She is in her 10th year as a breast cancer survivor.
"She is the most amazing mother-in-law," said Christine Krikorian. "She cooks and cleans, and is the office administrator. She raised eight kids — six boys and two girls. She has 22 grandchildren who absolutely adore her. She's an inspiration!"
Top 20 Woman Achievers 1990-2010
Burbank: Donna Anderson, 2005; TJ Baptie, 1991; Pam Corradi, 1990/2009; Brandi Hackitt, 2009; and Marsha Ramos, 1997; Glendale: Mary Boger, 2009; Edith Fuentes, 1996; Dr. Frieda Jordan, 2007; Kathy Lefkovits, 2003; Adel Luzuriaga, 2001; Elizabeth Manasserian, 2006; Mercy Velazquez, 2004; and Cathy Zappala, 1990/2005; Pasadena: Phyllis Currie, 2001; Gerda Govine, 1992-1999; Nell Hollomand, 1997; Ruthie Hopkins, 1999; and Jaylene Moseley, 2006; La Crescenta: Leslie Lesh, 2008; and Los Angeles: Ruby De Vera, 2002.
Woman Achievers of 2010
Paula Devine, Anita Quinonez Gabrielian, Louisa Gourgian, Alice Griselle, Julie A. Gutierrez, Stacie Olivares-Howard, Aleen Boladian-Kaypekian, Judee B. Kendall, Debbie Kukta, Brenda Lantieri, Gail Lara, Dr. Dawn Lindsay, Sandra Mejia, Kim Milstien, Liz Mirzaian, Anja Reinke, Marsha V. Rood, Rima Abedi-Sagherian and Juanita West Tillman.