United Way of Ventura County’s Women United Luncheon Raises Funds and Inspires Single Mothers to Reach their Goals

Women United Chair Dr. Leanne Neilson, keynote speaker Dr. Aida Hurtado, incoming Women United Chair Sierra Gutierrez, and Event Chair Erin Simqu at the May 10th Women United Luncheon (photo by Ivonne Cirrincione).

Nearly 300 people gathered on campus at Cal Lutheran University Friday, May 10th for United Way of Ventura County’s (UWVC) Women United 3rd Annual Luncheon, featuring acclaimed social psychologist and author Dr. Aida Hurtado.

Dr. Aida Hurtado’s keynote presentation focused on stories of strong, independent women who have overcome the odds and achieved both educational and career success while raising children as single mothers.

This year, 19 local single mothers received Women United Educational Awards, including $2,000 in financial support that can be used to offset any costs associated with efforts to attain higher education.

“From all of us at United Way of Ventura County and the team at Women United, congratulations to this year’s award recipients,” said United Way of Ventura County CEO Eric Harrison. “Your work ethic, accomplishments, and desire to succeed and build a stronger future for yourselves and your families is inspiring to us all.”

As an integral part of United Way, Women United fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Women United is a diverse, vibrant community, bound together by a powerful sense of belonging – to each other, to the organization’s mission and to the communities we call home. This powerful, global network of women leaders, over 70,000 strong, lives united against the most critical issues facing more than 165 communities in six countries.

Presenting sponsors included Wells Fargo, California Lutheran University, Union Bank, and Sage Publishing.

Below is a list of all 19 Educational Award recipients:


From Moorpark Community College

Ginnella Patterna (Transferring to CSUN or Cal State LA)

Sarah Binsol (CLU)

Sydney Dominguez (CSUN)

Arlene Gutierrez (CSUCI)


Oxnard Community College

Elizabeth Francisco (CSUCI)

Karina Alcazar (CSUCI)

Yesenia Camacho (CLU)

Estefani Ponce (CSUCI)

Ana Juarez (CSUCI)

Elizabeth Loredo (CSUCI)


Ventura Community College

Alma Valdovinos (CSUN)

Jennifer Anderson (CSUCI)

Frances Hart (CSUCI)

Maricela Orozco (CSUCI)


2nd Year Recipients

Alethea Amegadzie (Ventura Community College, now attending CSUN)

Brianna Peterson (Moorpark Community College, CLU)

Cassandra Zingg-Acuna (Oxnard Community College, Oxnard Dental Hygiene)

Michelle Amesquita (Ventura Community College, CSUN)

Sydney Dominguez (Ventura Community College, CSUCI)


About Women United

Women United’s mission is to mobilize the power of women as change-makers, creating a community where women, families and communities thrive. Women United aspires to transform local, organic growth into exponential, enterprise-level growth, by rallying our strong and passionate women leaders around an enthusiastically positive vision of the future.

About United Way of Ventura County

Since 1945, United Way of Ventura County has advanced the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Our focus is on education, income and health, because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life. We support local services and programs that are more than just ‘stop gap’ measures, but rather solutions that help create lasting change. We invite everyone to be part of the change by giving, advocating and volunteering. When we work together in common purpose, we LIVE UNITED. For more information about United Way of Ventura County, visit www.vcunitedway.org.

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