State Assemblymember Chris Holden, D-41st District, named South Pasadena resident Laura Farber as his district’s 2019 Woman of the Year.
He selected resident Dr. Diana Cullinane as one of his district’s nine Women of Distinction.
Farber and Cullinane are among 10 women honorees representing Holden’s 41st Assembly District. They are from Altadena on the west to Rancho Cucamonga on the east.
More than 70 nominations were submitted, according to Holden’s website.
Holden presented the awards March 28 during his yearly open house at his Pasadena District Office on Rosemead Boulevard. About 100 attended.
Woman of the Year Laura Farber, the 2020 Pasadena Tournament of Roses (TOR) president, could not attend.
“She is on official duty in Puerto Rico,” Holden told the audience.
“However,” Holden said, “she was able to join us in Sacramento as we celebrated.”
He was referring to the March 4 ceremony that honored Farber and other Women of the Year honorees. They represented the state’s 120 assembly and senatorial districts, he said.
Farber is the first Latina and third woman to serve as TOR President, Holden said when announcing her as the Woman of the Year. She has been a volunteer with the TOR since 1993 and was elected to the Executive Committee in 2012, he said. She is a partner at the Pasadena law firm Hahn & Hahn and a leader in many organizations, according to the firm’s website.
TOR Executive Vice President Bob Miller accepted Farber’s award on her behalf.
“She wanted to bring sincere thanks to Assemblymember Holden and the community,” he said.
“Farber is a woman of great distinction,” he continued. “She believes wholeheartedly in equity and diversity and inclusion. She has done a great deal in our organization to embody those terms.”
Miller said her parade theme for 2020 celebrates optimism and hope. He read her theme statement, which ends with the phrase that “with hope, anything, in fact everything, is possible.”
“She came from very meager means,” he said, “and she and her family left their home country to get away from significant oppression.”
“Laura is a true American story, and she’s a true American hero,” he said. “She is an incredible advocate for our community.”
Because Farber could not attend the March 28 awards ceremony, she explained in an email to The Review her reaction to receiving the award.
“I was honored and quite surprised,” she said by email from Puerto Rico the day following the event. “There are so many amazing women who have done so much in our community. I certainly did not expect this recognition.”
She commented that Holden is a terrific leader and that being recognized by him meant much to her.
Moreover, she said meeting the other honorees in Sacramento was an amazing and memorable experience.
Farber explained that she was in Puerto Rico to visit la Centenaria Banda Colegial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. This band will perform in the 2020 TOR parade.
This is the second year in a row that the 41st Assembly District’s Woman of the Year award has gone to a South Pasadena resident.
Last year, then Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Marina Khubesrian was honored. In 2014, according to the award program, resident Kay Mouradian was honored.
Diane Cullinane, M.D., was Holden’s second honoree this year from South Pasadena. He selected her as a Woman of Distinction representing Pasadena, where her organization is located.
Cullinane is a developmental pediatrician board certified in pediatrics and neurodevelopmental disabilities, according to Holden’s website.
She co-founded Professional Child Development Associates (PCDA). This nonprofit organization provides multidisciplinary services for children with developmental disabilities. She also has served as its Executive Director since its inception in 1997.
Holden referred to Cullinane as a community service provider of distinction.
She has been providing services to children with developmental disabilities for more than two decades, he said.
“In light of severe challenges that these providers face,” he said, “I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with champions like Diane and advocate for a much-needed $25 million in funding…last year.”
“This year,” he added, “we are putting forth an eight-percent increase. This is equivalent to $290 million.” With matching funds from the federal government, he said, it will total nearly $500 million.
Cullinane told The Review that it was a big honor to be named a Woman of Distinction.
“I think very highly of Christopher Holden,” she said. “We’ve worked together over the years on legislation,” she said. “He’s always thinking about how to support children with special needs.”
“It’s especially meaningful to have this recognition from him.”
Other women Holden honored with the Woman of Distinction title were Monica Hubbard (Altadena), Shelly Vander Veen (Claremont), Sabina Sullivan (La Verne) and Christine Geltz (Monrovia). Diane Williams (Rancho Cucamonga), Laurie Brandler (San Dimas), Nancy Shollenberger (Sierra Madre) and Beatrice Casagran (Upland) were also included.