Eighteenth Annual Alameda County
Women's Hall of Fame
Business & Professions
A lifelong activist for justice, Wei-Ling Huber has been a catalyst for improving and expanding economic opportunities for Alameda County workers since 1995 through her work with UNITE Here 2850, the East Bay hospitality workers union. The President of UNITE HERE since 2006, Wei-ling leads a union that represents 2,300 East Bay workers, including hotel housekeepers, banquet and cafeteria workers, cooks, dishwashers and concession workers. Generally, these workers receive low wages and no healthcare, but under Wei-Ling's leadership union members have seen substantial gains in working conditions and compensation and the union's membership has grown by more than 20 percent.
Olis Simmons is Executive Director of Youth Uprising, a not-for-profit center in East Oakland offering programs and services that develop youth leadership in order to transform the community. With a health clinic, digital media center, performance space center, career and education center, restaurant and other offerings, Youth Uprising has helped more than 5,000 young people improve their own lives and contribute to a healthier, more cohesive community. Through Olis's leadership, Youth Uprising has forged powerful partnerships with Alameda County and other supporters, and her renowned fundraising skills will allow Youth Uprising to guide young lives in positive directions for years to come.
Culture & Art
Jacqueline Hairston is an accomplished pianist, composer and vocal coach whose works have been performed by some of the world's leading orchestras and singers, and whose teaching has helped launch some stellar musical careers. As a composer, Jacqueline has an affinity for spirituals and her arrangements have been performed by Leontyne Price, Kathleen Battle and other renowned vocalists. As the longtime head of the music department at Merritt College in Oakland she mentored scores of young musicians. Some went on to international fame, including Dwayne Wiggins of the pop group, Tony, Toni, Tone and Maxine Jones of the female R&B Group, EnVogue.
Dr. Carol Ward Allen
Dr. Carol Ward Allen is a longtime educator who has changed lives through her belief that education opens doors to limitless possibilities. A teacher and administrator with the Peralta Community College District for more than 40 years, Carole continues to teach ethnic studies at Laney College in Oakland and the College of Alameda. She has had a profound impact on many students, some from difficult backgrounds, who have seen their lives transformed through the power of learning. She has served on the BART board of directors, the Oakland Port Commission, and the California Commission on the Status of Women.
Elaine Taylor is Co-Founder and President of the Taylor Family Foundation, which operates Camp Arroyo in Livermore. Each year, the camp offers a back-to-nature summer camp for nearly 3,000 children with life-threatening conditions, as well as at-risk youth and youth coping with bereavement. But Elaine's work is about more than creating opportunities for life-transforming experiences in nature. She also has led efforts to make Camp Arroyo the greenest, most eco-friendly operation of its kind. Its cutting-edge operations make Camp Arroyo the ideal venue for thousands of students from around the Bay Area who go there during the school year to learn how to live sustainably.
Mary Jane Gross
Mary Jane Gross is Founder, President and CEO of Stars Behavioral Health Group, which provides quality mental health care to the poor, homeless, uninsured and underinsured. Mary Jane was an experienced primary health and mental health nurse when she founded Stars Behavioral Health in Oakland more than 23 years ago. At Stars she is an innovator and entrepreneur who has found ways to provide valuable mental health services to adults and youth who probably would have no other way to get them. Mary Jane's determination to provide these services has helped Stars expand to 15 sites throughout California, with more than 1,000 employees.
Julie Rems-Smario is a social worker who has been deaf since birth. In 2002, she created DeafHope, the only Alameda County advocacy program for deaf victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. DeafHope started in her home, but has steadily grown thanks to Julie's determination and tenacious fundraising. Since 2005, DeafHope has operated out of the Alameda County Family Justice Center in Oakland, joining the center's mission to serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Driven by her belief that deaf women and children were not being served by our legal and social services systems, Julie transformed those communities and institutions through her leadership and dedication.
Frances Jefferson is Field Director for SEIU Local 1021, which includes thousands of Alameda County and Alameda County Medical Center employees. In more than 35 years of union work, Fran has provided stalwart labor leadership and helped position the union to be a catalyst for positive change in the community. During the 1980s, Fran became a community leader in AIDS education and awareness, developing education programs for union members and serving on Alameda County's AIDS Advisory Board. As Executive Director of SEIU Local 616, Fran helped the local grow its membership three-fold and was a catalyst in organizing 12,000 Home Care Workers.
Lois De Domenico
For more than 50 years, Lois De Domenico has served many community organizations benefitting Alameda County residents, providing their time, expertise and financial support. As a member of the Girls, Inc. Board of Directors, Lois is co-chair of the $10.25 million capital campaign to fund a new Girls Resource Center in Oakland. She also had helped Girls, Inc. achieve a 33 percent rise in donations, expand its fundraising base and recruit a diverse mix of community leaders to its board. Most importantly, Lois has positively influenced scores of underserved girls in Alameda County, teaching them yoga and helping to develop their self confidence.
Crystal Jaing is a molecular biologist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a central player in developing an award-winning technology that will provide new tools to detect bioterrorism attacks, diagnose disease and verify product safety. The technology, known as the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA), allows for the detection of any bacteria or virus on a tested sample within 24 hours. The technology relies on 388,000 tiny probes that fit in the middle of a one-by-three-inch glass slide. LLMDA has been evaluated for use by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is the subject of interest from 15 companies worldwide examining the technology's potential as a product safety tool.
Sports & Athletics
Lisa Busbee-Young is Program Director and Head Coach of the Starlings Oakland, a volleyball club that provides opportunity for girls aged 9 to 18 to train and compete at the Junior Olympic level. Coach Lisa uses volleyball to empower young women through teamwork and competition, and provides along the way important lessons about health, positive life skills, and academic achievement. The on-court success of the Starlings has helped several players move on to college volleyball programs. Though they come from diverse backgrounds, Coach Lisa tells players that in the heat of competition "it doesn't matter where you're from...you're a team and you really only have each other."
Natassija Jordan-Oliver is a natural leader whose work in the community leaves many adults asking, "Where does she find the time...?" An outstanding student at California College Preparatory High School in Berkeley, Natassija has found numerous ways to help other students. She founded "Chemitastica," to tutor peers in chemistry, and has launched a program to teach earthquake preparedness and public speaking. She has organized fundraisers for victims of Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake, volunteered more than 100 hours in a local Kindergarten classroom and audited classes at UC Berkeley. She is now waiting on applications to colleges including Cal Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard and Cornell.