April 6, 2001

Women's Hall of Fame: Giving Local Latinas the Chance to Be Counted

By Yvette tenBerge

(From left to right) Ashley Gardner, Dr. Susan Gonda, Olivia Puentes-Reynolds, Sarah Hurd, Marcella Ellis and Catherine Kineavy kick off the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame at the Women’s History Reclamation Project.

Members of four, local women's organizations met on Friday, March 30 to launch the formation of the San Diego Women's Hall of Fame and to announce their hopes that the community will participate in nominating the first five women to be inducted.

The Commission on the Status of Women, the San Diego Women's History Reclamation Project, the Women's Studies Department at San Diego State University and the Women's Center at UCSD have collaborated to acknowledge and honor women who have "made a difference in the county of San Diego throughout the centuries."

"The work of women has traditionally been invisible. We feel it is important to change this by making these women and their work visible. We want to mainstream their accomplishments, not make them the exception," says Susan Gonda, Ph.D., a professor of Women's History at Grossmont College and the President of the Women's History Reclamation Project, a nonprofit organization that will temporarily house the Hall of Fame.

Of the five women who will be inducted annually to the Hall of Fame, one must be a posthumous inductee and one must be a woman under the age of 25. The judges will select women whose lives fit into one of the following five categories: Trailblazers (women who have paved the way for other women or who were first in their fields), activists, (leaders or professionals who have created structural change to better women's lives), women who have significantly improved the lives of other women in San Diego County, women who are multi-culturally competent and who are integrally involved in building bridges, coalitions and understanding within the community, and women who have kept their culture and history alive within their communities (these women may also act as mentors, counselors, grandmothers, godmothers, etc.).

"We know that there are stories that have not been told. With the San Diego Women's Hall of Fame, we want to recognize all women, not just those who have traditionally been leaders or who have been married to leaders within the community," says Ms. Gonda, whose work with the Reclamation Project has allowed her to begin to showcase the contributions of Hispanic women with the exhibit "Women of Chicana Park" as well as the contributions of African-American women with the exhibit "Moments of Truth."

Nominations for the Hall of Fame must be hand delivered, mailed or e-mailed no later than January 18, 2002. Nominees will be informed by the end of January and then honored in ceremonies held during Women's History month in March, 2002. The user-friendly, two page nomination form can be downloaded at three websites: www.sandiegowomen.net, www.statusofwomen.org and www.whrp.net.

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