On March 22, City Council Member David Ryu announced his annual list of “Wonder Women of the Fourth” – women who live and/or work in CD4 who are “making a positive difference in Council District 4,” and who were honored at a special luncheon during International Women’s Month.
“Across this district, you will find women leading in their communities and improving life for their fellow Angeleno,” Ryu said in a press release announcing this year’s honorees. “These eight women are just a few examples of the incredible women making a difference in Council District Four and across Los Angeles. It is an honor to spend time with these champions, recognize their work, and celebrate their tireless service to the communities and people of Council District Four and the greater City.”
Of the eight women, two are currently very familiar to those in our Greater Wilshire area. According to their profiles in the announcement:
Tammy Rosato, who has lived in the Greater Wilshire area since 1998, currently serves as the Board Member for Area 6 on the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. She is also the Council’s Homeless Liaison, and serves on the LAPD Wilshire Community Police Advisory Board and the Midtown Los Angeles Homeless Coalition Board. She further dedicates her time as the La Brea Hancock Homeowners Association President & Neighborhood Watch Co-Chair. For years, Rosato has dedicated herself to the public safety and quality of life in her neighborhood, as a community leader, dedicated advocate, and strong believer in the power of civic action & engagement.
“I truly appreciate this special honor and recognition. None of my volunteer efforts would be possible without the love & support of my husband, or successful without my amazing partners in the community, which includes the La Brea Hancock HOA Officers — Bob Eisele & Brad Jewett, Co-Vice Presidents and Cathy Roberts, Secretary,” Rosato said.
Julie Stromberg is a civil litigator who lives in the Miracle Mile area with her husband, two sons and rescue dogs. Stromberg serves on several board of directors, including Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, Los Angeles City College Foundation, Miracle Mile Democratic Club, and National Women’s Political Caucus. Stromberg also serves on the Equality Council for Equality California, and is an elected Board Member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) where she founded the GWNC Sustainability Committee. She has also served on Council District Four Discretionary Funds Task Force from 2017-2019. In 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Stromberg to serve on the Community Forest Advisory Committee as the Council District Four representative. That same year, she was recognized as a “Woman of Larchmont” by the Larchmont Chronicle, and in 2016, was named “Member of the Year” by the MIracle Mile Democratic Club and “Power Mom” by Red Tricycle. Among her many other roles, Stromberg is currently serving her second term as a delegate to the California Democratic Party, appointed by State Assemblymember Richard Bloom in 2017.
“I’m honored and grateful to receive this award from Councilman Ryu, a great community advocate. Great responsibilities come with being stewards of our community, but it brings me great joy to be able to fulfill that role and give back to my beloved community.”
A third honoree was once former City Council Member Tom La Bonge’s field deputy for the Greater Wilshire area:
Sheila Irani has decades of experience in local government and community service. Having served as Director of Special Projects for former Councilmember Tom LaBonge and as President of the Lake Hollywood Estates Homeowners Association for nine terms, Irani is a known leader for the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park who brings her experience to solving complex neighborhood issues. She also serves on the Griffith Park Advisory Board and Hollywood United Neighborhood Council. With her private sector experience as an urban economist and transportation planner, she works closely with the City on a range of issues relating to Griffith Park, homelessness, and neighborhood quality of life. She is a native Angeleno, born and raised in Nichols Canyon.
“I feel very blessed that I can give back to the city my Iranian immigrant parents made our home since 1956,” Irani said. “They chose Los Angeles because of its vision as progressive, diverse, and open to opportunities for all. My passion is to solve long-standing issues that help improve the lives of stakeholders of Hollywood United NC, and people experiencing homelessness through A Million Drops. I am very honored to be in the company of so many great women in this district recognized by Councilmember Ryu.”
The five other honorees are similarly busy in other parts of the Fourth District:
Anne-Marie Johnson was born and raised in Silver Lake, where she currently serves as co-chair of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. Today, she is a long-standing community leader in Silver Lake, but when her family first moved to the neighborhood, a petition circulated by neighbors tried to force them out over their race. Refusing to bend to racist pressures, the Johnson family stayed, and in 2016, Anne-Marie was named Silver Lake Woman of the Year. She also received the Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Coalition in the same year. Aside from serving her community, Johnson has also enjoyed a successful acting career over the past 35 years, and served as the Screen Actors Guild first African-American First Vice President in the guild’s 88-year history.
“It’s not enough to say I am honored to be named one of Councilmember Ryu’s Wonder Women of CD4,” Johnson said. “My parents instilled in me the need to serve the neighborhood that I’ve called home my whole life. From once not being welcomed due to our race, to serving on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council since 2011 and now this honor, I know my parents are looking down on me smiling. Thank you.”
Erin Penner is the head teacher of an outdoor, exploration-based preschool, iLA Adventure School, that she founded with the help of her colleague Robyn Pottorff. Penner is also the co-founder of her nonprofit organization,Vibes365, and is the secretary on the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council (HUNC). While being the secretary for the council, she is also the co-chair of the Public Safety Committee and Outreach Committee while also being seated on the Homelessness and Social Services Committee as the homeless liaison for HUNC. Penner also dedicates her time to the LGBTQ community and developing solutions on homelessness, working closely with the The Center of the Blessed Sacrament, The LGBT Center and LA Pride. Penner hopes to host her 3rd annual Women’s Empowerment Day in 2019, where she gathers volunteer makeup artists, clothing & hair stylists and photographers to give makeovers and a day of feeling seen to women experiencing homelessness.
“My heart is so full from being honored by David Ryu and my hardworking friends in the office of CD4 for my work in a community I am endlessly enamored with,” Penner said.
Allison Bajracharya is a resident of Los Feliz dedicated to social justice and education issues. Most recently, Bajracharya was the Chief Operations and Strategy Officer at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, which serves 3600 students across eight schools in the MacArthur Park neighborhood. Bajracharya began her career as a Teach for America teacher in New Orleans, teaching high school English and science at Marion Abramson Senior High School, the largest public school in the city. She then pursued her Master’s in Public Policy and leveraged her policy experience working for LAUSD School Board Member Marlene Canter and then Teach for America Los Angeles. In her various professional and non-profit roles, Bajracharya works to expand educational opportunity for young Angelenos. She is also the Chair of the Board at the Silver Lake Jewish Community Center, and a board member of United Parents and Students.
“I am honored to be recognized by City Councilmember David Ryu. I am grateful for all the wonder women who have inspired me in my life, continue to inspire me today, and who have supported me with their friendship, mentorship, and convictions in the true strength of women,” Bajracharya said. “Thank you to Councilmember Ryu for promoting, celebrating, and fostering even more women leaders in Los Angeles.”
Natasha Lewin currently serves as a board member of the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council where she is the Homeless Liaison to LA City as well as the Co-Chair for the Outreach and Elections Committee. She was instrumental in getting her community involved in the Clean Streets Challenge as well coordinating a yearly Halloween bike ride tour of Toluca Lake. Lewin works within her role on the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council to champion quality of life as well as homelessness issues, and has partnered with the office of Mayor Garcetti to champion supportive housing. She connects her neighbors with experts, advocates and officials on the issue of homelessness to educate and empower Toluca Lake to get involved in the citywide issue of homelessness. In her day job, Lewin helms the creative division of Zuckerberg Media as their Chief Writing Officer.
“Everyone says public service is a thankless job,” Lewin said. “So while I definitely don’t fight to make a difference for the accolades, I am extremely honored to be recognized for my work by Councilman Ryu and CD4. Thank you!”
Robin Noll is a resident of Van Nuys, in the northwestern part of Council District Four. She learned the importance of community service from her mother, who took Robin along to volunteer at battered-women’s shelters when she was young in her hometown of Whidbey Island, Washington. It was through her mother that Noll learned the power of her voice in speaking up for the voiceless. Today, as a mom living in the San Fernando Valley, Noll has been a regular volunteer at the Family Rescue Center (FRC) in Canoga Park for the past nine years, serving on Board of Directors for the past five. She is the current President of the Board at FRC, where she creates awareness on the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and helps families struggling with homelessness feel heard, seen and respected. From Christmas Toy Drives to Back to School events, Noll and her son Austin have dedicated their time and energy to bringing hope and happiness to underprivileged families and children in the San Fernando Valley. Her efforts have helped connect thousands of homeless children to school supplies, food, and a supportive community.
“It really is such a privilege to even have the opportunity to serve our community, so to receive an award for it is something so unexpected, encouraging and even humbling. I honestly don’t feel deserving of this type of acknowledgment, as the things that I get to do for others are simply the things that I think anyone does when they see a need. When it comes to serving those experiencing homelessness, I’ve found that when I help get the word out, others in the community tend to step up and want to help.”
According to Ryu’s office, “The annual luncheon includes certificates for each honoree, and has been held in a different Council District Four restaurant every March since 2017, this year at Republique on La Brea Avenue. This year, however, is the first year recognizing eight women, given a growing list of outstanding nominees. Luncheons in previous years honored four women. Previous Wonder Women of Council District Four honorees include Patty Dryden, Gail Pincus, Anji Williams, and Officer Brenda Nix (2018), as well as Robyn Arnold, Barbara Savage, Audrey Casilas, and Cheryl Chasman (2017).”