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The Women Who Help Shape Santa Monica:

There are many people in the Santa Monica community who have made a difference. With this in mind, the Santa Monica League of Women Voters decided to honor four women who have helped shape Santa Monica into the city it is today. The women were recognized on March 12 because the month of March is Women’s History Month.Linda Gross was recognized for her work as the Executive Director of the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation. The Education Foundation is a non-profit that helps raise funds to support the arts, academics, and athletics programs in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. During Gross’ seven years of leadership, the Foundation has raised Academic and Arts Endowments in excess of $2.5 million and has awarded grants totaling close to $1 million. Gross has also served on numerous school district and community committees including the Measure BB school bond campaign, the Community for Excellent Public Schools, the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, and the Arts For All committee. Another honoree was Joanne Leavitt who has been advocating for children and families in Santa Monica for almost 30 years. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Santa Monica League of Women Voters, the Board of Directors of Community Corporation of Santa Monica, a member of the Virginia Avenue Park Advisory Board and a member of the City of Santa Monica’s Child Care and Early Education Task Force.Also honored was the President/CEO of the Santa Monica’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (SMCVB), Misti Kerns. Kerns has been with the SMCVB since 1997 and became its CEO in 2001. As CEO, Kerns has helped initiate Santa Monica’s branding program, helped launch the “I Am Santa Monica” program and expanded the SMCVB visitor services.Kerns also serves on the Board of Directors for Meals on Wheels, The Santa Monica Historical Society, and the Human Relations Council.Lastly, Jean McNeil Wyner was recognized because of her work as a Physician and Community Liaison for the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopedic Hospital. Her Community Liaison role has led to her participation as a board member on 15 non-profit Boards of Directors. Wyner stated that her community involvement began in earnest after her dad encouraged her “give back to the community.” Wyner’s duties as a Physician Liaison include acclimating new physicians to the hospital, making office visits to physicians, and arranging quarterly luncheons for physician office staff. She also has worked with the City of Santa Monica to help facilitate the medical center’s ongoing rebuilding project.Gross, Kerns, and Wyner received Certificates of Recognition from Julia Brownley who is the State Assemblywoman for the 41st District. Leavitt received the Christabel Pankhurst Award. Pankhurst was a British feminist activist who was instrumental in getting voting rights for women in England.

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