The San Luis Obispo County Commission on the Status of Women honored their nominees for the Women’s Wall of Fame at their annual luncheon March 10. Nominees were selected for their service to the community. This year, Liz Lee was honored for business, Janet Morales was honored for service, and Nancy Fiske was honored for volunteering.
Service nominees earned their nominations through their exemplary work in their roles with community organizations. Business nominees provided vital support and often used their companies to give back to the community. Volunteer nominees were honored for their dedication to the unpaid work they did in their spare time. The commission selected individuals who were not involved with the organization to avoid biases and favoritism. The three women who won will have their pictures hung on the wall in the Government Center.
The Commission on the Status of Women is an organization that promotes the well-being of women through working with city legislators to come up with programs and ordinances that address prominent concerns in the community. They do this with an annual survey sent out to the community to help identify important issues. The last survey showed that access to health services needed the most attention.
“You’ve got women who always are there willing to pitch in, provide not only the elbow grease, but also the mind power to be able to get things moving forward,” commission treasurer Christine Noffz said. “Whether it is through legislation, whether it is in an organization, or even in the home, women have a lot of capability to take on a lot.”
Lee created Heart to Heart Real Estate and donates 50 percent of her commissions to a charity of the client’s choosing. Morales works to help children in the community make sure they have safe places to live and opportunities to succeed, working with Atascadero’s American Association of University Women and as a court-appointed special advocate.
These are some of the nominated women who have worked within the Cal Poly community in addition to the larger San Luis Obispo area.
Karen Jones, business nominee
For the past 20 years, Karen Jones has worked at the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman of San Luis Obispo County. As executive director and program manager, Jones helps provide advocacy and better care for elders and residents of long-term care. This role has provided her with the unique opportunity to work with a community she says holds stories of our history. She works to investigate complaints and promote compliance with safety requirements that are not being met. Jones said she is driven by helping individuals in need, some of whom have incredible stories to share.
“We deal with the not-so-good stuff about care facilities,” Jones said. “But there are so many amazing stories from people who are in these facilities. I mean, they hold our history. I mean, these are our war veterans and people who supported them.”
Jones uses her platform to connect the Cal Poly community to local issues, presenting on campus about her work as an ombudsman and informing students on what they can do to help and to get involved in the line of work. In some cases, Jones helps to tell the stories of the elders she advocates for.
“These are the people who lived the history,” Jones said. “I think there is a way Cal Poly can help capture some of those stories.”
Ashley Aiello, service nominee
Ashley Aiello was a nutrition major at Cal Poly before she decided to go into nursing. Her career as a school nurse has given her a chance to focus on her goal of educating teens on reproductive health. She helped in creating the North County Collaborative, which helps provide young men and women with education on reproductive health and prevention of teen pregnancy, according to Aiello.
“Teen reproductive health is pretty important to me as I was a teen mom,” Aiello said. “I have a grown child now. That really was my inspiration for helping other young women that need help with reproduction, and being a teen parent and providing support for those kids.”
Aiello supports these students by prevention through education and by connecting the students with community resources that have programs to help young parents.
Nancy Fiske, volunteer winner
Nancy Fiske started her career as an occupational therapist and worked her way up to vice president of Community Psychiatric Centers in Pennsylvania. She serves as president on the North County Humane Society and in other community organizations like the Hispanic Business Association and North County Dance and Performing Arts Foundation.
Fiske has been a guest lecturer teaching theories on how to treat mentally disabled patients. The work she does now focuses on helping organizations and individuals within the community through fundraising.
“I believe we all have an obligation to make things as good as we can, to give back in some way in terms of what we’ve been blessed with in terms of our health and our talent,” Fiske said. “We have to do good in the world, it’s the only way we can preserve our world and preserve the good in humanity.”