The United Chambers of Commerce has named their 2021 Inspirational Women of the Year.

The honor is bestowed on  outstanding women who have made a significant contribution to life in the San Fernando Valley.

Six women will be honored at the seventh annual  event on September 30.

The 2021 honorees are Natalie Cortez, Mona Curry, Waltona Manion, Pegi Matsuda, Carolyn Rose and Nora Ross.

Commander Natalie Cortez is a Southern California native who joined the LAPD in 1993 and serves as a Commander of the LAPD Valley Bureau. During her career with the LAPD, Commander Cortez has put a primary focus on reaching at-risk youths through the LAPD Cadets and PALS programs. Commander Cortez’ efforts with events like a toy drive, Easter egg hunt, Adopt a Family, and Ice Cream with a Captain, have contributed to a 23% decrease of crime by youths in her areas of command.

Mona Curry worked with the City of Los Angeles, Emergency Management Department, as an emergency manager.  Curry’s top goals include creating community resilience and developing partnerships. She speaks locally and nationally on emergency preparedness concepts and strategies. 

In 2012 her vision led to the development of the award winning 5 Steps to Neighborhood Preparedness program, through which neighborhoods receive guidance on developing their own disaster plans. This program has become the City’s primary method used to engage the “whole community” concept in creating neighborhood emergency plans to provide a more resilient Los Angeles. The 5 Steps program is also being implemented in jurisdictions across the nation and has become a FEMA Best Practice.

Pegi Matsuda is an experienced and enthusiastic business and community leader with more than 30 years’ experience during times of significant industry challenge.  

She’s led change in several industries including telecommunications, natural gas, a membership association, publishing and health care. She served, or currently serves, as a board member of many organizations including the Fernando Award Foundation, VICA, the Valley Economic Alliance, ACG-101 Corridor, Woodbury University, Southern California Association for Healthcare Development, Valley Presbyterian Hospital, West Hills Hospital and the Community Foundation of the Valley.

A public relations consultant with more than two decades experience in advising clients, Waltona Manion’s diverse client work has included American Express, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Tutor Saliba, Price Waterhouse, California First Bank, Grubb & Ellis and Ringling Brothers. 

Named among Who’s Who of Business Women,  Manion chaired the Business Advisory Council for SDSU’s School of Business Administration. She was awarded the Public Relations Society of America’s most prestigious national honor – the Silver Anvil award. The International Special Events Society also recognized Manion with major awards in logistics, marketing events and invitation design. She has also been honored by the National Indian Gaming Association and in California for her work in protecting tribal gaming rights.

Carolyn Rose is the founder of MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity), which she started in 1971. Now in its 50th year, MEND has not had a year without the active volunteerism of Carolyn Rose. Rose has been board president, volunteer nurse, and lead organizer of the Christmas Family Adoption Program. Throughout the years, Carolyn has been known to refer to herself as a volunteer. She has mentored countless volunteers, employees, and clients, helping them attain college degrees or advance their careers.

Nora Ross is the CEO of the Valley Cultural Foundation. She has been an integral part of the West San Fernando Valley for nearly 20 years, first, by helping small businesses grow and thrive as Executive Director at the Canoga Park-West Hills Chamber of Commerce, and now by promoting  the arts by organizing  free summer concert series throughout the SFV that provide a venue for young emerging artists to make their mark. 

Ross is known for her noted concern of others and willingness to take time to help those she has met along the way to achieve their dreams and goals.

The venue for the event will be announced. 

For more information call United Chambers at (818) 981-4491 or visit unitedchambers.org.