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Life and Arts

On the Town: YWCA event celebrates female leadership opportunities

At the 2019 EmpowHER Brunch, the Glendale YWCA board gathers for a photo op. Tara Peterson, executive director of the YWCA, is fourth from the left. Glendale City Councilman Vrej Agajanian is on the far right.
(Ruth Sowby Rands/Glendale News-Press)

The third annual “EmpowHER” female leadership event brought out some 75 women and a smattering of men filling the auditorium at the Downtown Glendale Central Library. Presented by the YWCA Glendale this past Thursday, the three-hour conference focused on leveraging women’s strengths through holding public office.

Tara Peterson, executive director of the Glendale YWCA, welcomed the attendees.

“We want to empower women to take that next step in leadership, whether it be going into politics or supporting a candidate or simply taking that next step, whatever it is, in their lives,” she said.

Peterson then introduced Glendale City Manager Yasmin Beers, who reminded the audience that “behind every successful woman, there is a tribe of other successful women who have their back.”


Beers had to have her own “tribe” behind her in the years since she arrived in the United States from Iran. She was 8 years old and didn’t speak a word of English.

Beers has worked for the city for more than 30 years. She said her mantra for her office team is “plan, perform and be patient”— all of which she encouraged audience members to follow.

Beers introduced keynote speaker Erin Loos Cutraro, chief executive and founder of the organization She Should Run. Cutraro titled her remarks “Mapping a Courageous Leadership Journey.”

Cutraro said that since founding her nonprofit in 2011, more than 26,000 women from all walks of life have been encouraged to run for office.


“More women’s voices and perspectives should be on the table of leadership,” she said.

Cutraro asked the audience, “How many of you have held an office?” Out of the 75 attendees, one woman announced she had been an officer in student government in high school. There were no other responses from the room.

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” Cutraro said.

The Antaeus Theatre Company may be Glendale’s best-kept secret. It began in 1991 as a project of the Center Theatre Group. After years at its North Hollywood location, Antaeus moved to its present location in downtown Glendale in March 2017, performing in the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center at 110 E. Broadway.

Taking their bow are cast members of “The Abuelas” at the Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale.
(Ruth Sowby Rands/Glendale News-Press)

The actors and actresses in the current production at Antaeus, “The Abuelas,” are performing to sold-out audiences. Known for its classics, this time the theater is presenting the West Coast premier of a contemporary story about an Argentine concert cellist living in Chicago with her American husband and baby son.

A visit from two strangers reveals a secret from the repercussions of Argentina’s “Dirty War,” during which 30,000 people “disappeared” under the country’s military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.


This past Sunday, every seat in the house was filled. Among the audience members were Glendale residents Monica and Jose Sierra, accompanied by daughter Melissa Schwing. Jose Sierra was a former classmate of Denise Blasor, a lead actress in “The Abuelas.” They attended Santa Teresita Academy together in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After finding news of Blasor and the play on Facebook, Jose Sierrra made plans to meet with his former schoolmate after the show.

“The Abuelas” runs through Nov. 25. For more information, visit

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