MANA to honor 3 women at Las Primeral

October 13, 2001|STAFF REPORT

MANA of Imperial Valley will honor Elsa Quiroz Downs, Norma Kastner-Jauregui and Libby Peraza during the seventh annual Las Primeras Recognition Awards on Saturday at the Barbara Worth Golf Resort near Holtville.

Downs is nursing supervisor at Imperial County Behavioral Health Services, Kastner-Jauregui is manager of the Imperial Valley offices of the state Employment Development Department and Peraza serves as manager of the Calexico branch of Valley Independent Bank.

"As always, it is exciting and an honor for MANA to bring the community's attention to the remarkable contribution Latinas make to improving the quality of life for citizens of all ages," said MANA president Sonia Thompson. "For example, not many people remember that Elsa Downs was the first Mexican-American registered nurse at the Imperial County Health Department and one of the first registered nurses to help organize the Imperial County Nurses Association. This is only one example of the dynamic role this year's Las Primeras have in Imperial Valley."


According to a MANA press release, Downs was the first woman to serve on the local boards of the Mexican-American Political Association and the Employment Opportunities Commission and was a founding member of Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo and the Work Training Center.

Downs also took part in Cesar Chavez's march from Coachella to Calexico, rendering health-care services to those participating in the march, a press release states.

Kastner-Jauregui is the first woman field office manager in the history of the state EDD in Imperial Valley, a press release states. She also was one of the first women sworn in as member of the American Citizens Club in Brawley.

As the EDD manager she oversees the operations of the EDD's Calexico and El Centro offices and recently celebrated 25 years of service with the department.

She serves on the Overall Economic Development Commission, Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program School-to-Career board, Brawley Union High School business advisory panel and county Workforce Investment board.

Peraza has been in banking since 1972 and began her career with VIB in 1992, where she established VIB's Consumer Loan Center at the institution's operations center in Imperial, according to a press release.

In 1995, Libby became the vice president senior branch manager of VIB in Calexico. Peraza, who resides in Calexico, is active in various organizations, including the Calexico Redevelopment Agency's loan advisory board, Calexico Neighborhood House, United Way of Imperial County, Noontimers Lions Club and Soroptimist International of Calexico.

In 1999, Peraza became the first Latina elected president of the Calexico Chamber of Commerce. She was re-elected to a second term earlier this year.

Among Peraza's recognition awards are the LAVA Lamp Award for her outstanding community leadership and the Center for Family Solutions of Imperial Valley "Woman of the Year" for 2000.

Former state Assemblywoman Denise Moreno-Ducheny, a candidate for the 40th state Senate District, will be the keynote speaker and also will present the awards.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch was originally scheduled to be the keynote speaker but notified MANA earlier this week she will not be able to attend the awards due to scheduling conflict.

Said Thompson: "Besides inviting everyone to attend Las Primeras, this year we also want to invite our friends in the community to the first ever ‘Great Menudo Cure!' brunch at Celia's Restaurant the next day. Celia's has proclaimed Oct. 21 as Día de MANA and will be having special menudo for everyone who attends Las Primeras.

"We hope that this will turn into an annual event where friends and families meet to reminisce after a night of celebration," Thompson added.

The Las Primeras Recognition Awards dinner and dance is the organization's annual fund raiser. Proceeds are used for various projects, including workshops and scholarships.

This year's major sponsors are Government Agencies Federal Credit Union, Imperial Irrigation District, Alford Distributing, El Sol del Valle and the Imperial Valley Press.

Mariachi Mixteco will provide the musical entertainment during the no-host cocktail hour from 6 to 7 p.m. Dinner and awards are from 7 to 9 p.m., with dancing from 9 p.m. till midnight to the music of Blanc Image Productions. Tickets are $35 per person and are available from any MANA member or by calling 867-6418.

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