Santa Monica’s Commission on the Status of Women honored four dynamic women who have made a difference in the community at City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
Amy Bishop-Dunbar, the Commission’s Vice-Chair, stated that these women have helped make Santa Monica a “remarkable place to live” by working to improve the lives of women and girls.
Ellen Khokha, founder of the Growing Place Child Development Center 25 years ago, was honored for her 35 years of work in early childhood education as both an educator and an advocate for improving the wages and benefits for early childhood education workers. Khokha is also a member of the Santa Monica Child Care & Early Education Task Force, the North Bay Chapter of the Southern California Association for the Education of Young Children, and the California Mentor Program.
Also honored was 30-year Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) child abuse and domestic violence investigator, Cory Ryterrager. Among her other achievements, Ryterrager has initiated several school-based programs to educate teachers, children, and non-English speakers on child abuse. In 2007 she became The California Sexual Assault Investigation Association’s Investigator of the Year.
Another member of the SMPD, Natalie Dewberry, was honored as well. Dewberry was recognized for her work with the Police Activities League (PAL) where she has nurtured, acted as a role model, confidante and friend to many needy children in the community. She was honored for always going the extra mile, even paying for PAL’s children’s needs out of her own pocket. Dewberry will be retiring this December after 20 years with SMPD.
Lastly, college freshman Cristina Callazos was honored for acting as a role model for the youth in Santa Monica. She completed 60 hours of work as a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica Leaders in Training Program and created a workshop for the children at the club on animals and animal shelters. She has also volunteered in her church and in the community.
In his remarks, Santa Monica Police Chief Tim Jackman called the awardees the “best example the community offers of woman leaders.” He also noted that it takes many dynamics to be a leader and “you don’t get to be successful without an outstanding attitude and the desire to go out and help other people.”