AAUW La Palma-Cerritos celebrate new officers

Photo by Edna Ethington Pictured is VP Nancy Kawamura with Francine Rodriguez.

The members of the La Palma-Cerritos American Association of University Women elected their new officers for the 2022-2023 year at their General Meeting on Thursday, April 21, 2022, at the Cerritos Library in Cerritos. Nominating Committee Chair Dorothy Edwards presented the nominated slate of officers who were elected by acclamation by members present at the general meeting. The newly elected officers included the following members: President, Celia Spitzer; Program VP’s, Faith Hershler and Cathleen Niederman; Membership VP’s, Saurabh Deedwania and Jacqueline Shahzadi; AAUW Fund VP’s, Tobi Balma and Sue Solomon; Secretary, Christine Taxier; and Treasurer Marilyn Forsstrom. There is still an opening for the office of President-Elect. If a member is interested in serving on the board in that position, contact Nominating Committee Chair Dorothy Edwards at paulanddorothy@aol.com.

The new Executive Board will be installed at a luncheon on June 4, 2022, by installing officer Tobi Balma, with details to be determined by incoming President Celia Spitzer. Members will be receiving more information about a Planning Meeting for the 2022-2023 year that has been scheduled for June 25, 2022, as plans are finalized. For information regarding the 2022-2023 programs for La Palma-Cerritos AAUW, contact Program Co-VP Cathleen Niederman at 714-826-4374.

Prior to the General Meeting with the Election of Officers and other branch business, members were introduced to guest speaker, Francine Rodriguez. Francine is an author who won the Silver Medal Award at the International Latino Book Awards in 2021,for her anthology, A Woman’s Story. The book depicts the lives of ten Latinas of varying ages and lifestyles living in contemporary Los Angeles who experienced different problems in their lives such as violence, racism, sexism, inner rage, and conflicts with gender identity or family members. Francine said that women shared their experiences with her as she worked in the fields of law and psychology as a Federal Mediator, DOJ Litigation Specialist, and Substance Abuse and HIV Counselor. Francine’s book is based on her experiences, but she said that it is a work of fiction with names, places, and incidents are products of her imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, places, or events are entirely coincidental.

Francine read one chapter from the book, A Woman’s Story, called Smiley and Laughing Girl. In the story, Smiley is a young girl who gets pregnant by a gang member, Chavo, who was shot probably by rival gang members and dies in a crash of his car. Laughing Girl is the child she had, but she is not sure of who was the father. She also has two other boys not knowing which men were their fathers. Smiley was into selling drugs to get money and was involved with the murder of a rival gang member because of Chavo. She was jailed for different times due to her gang involvement. At the end of the story, she was hoping to help her daughter, Laughing Girl, from making bad decisions like she did.

Members of the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW were shocked to hear of all the problems that were described in the story. One member commented that it was an “eye-opener” to learn about the multiple problems that Latinas face with the gangs, and in their own families, in the Los Angeles area as shown in the story about Smiley and Laughing Girl. Francine realistically described the people and the dark events in the story so that people could easily identify with the characters in the story.

All of the stories in Francine Rodriguez’s book, A Woman’s Story, are very interesting to read and are available on Kindle and in paperback. The book has received Five Star ratings on Amazon. For more information about Francine Rodriguez and other books she has written, contact Francine at try.mediation@gmail.com.