Assemblymember Luis A. Alejo announced the 2012 Woman of the Year for the 28th Assembly District.
The winner this year is Anai-i Aranda.
According to Alejo’s announcement:
“The prestigious award recognizes the one constituent who has made the most significant contribution to her community in the past year. Aranda will be recognized on Monday, March 26th at a special ceremony in the State Capitol.
‘Anai-i has personally inspired me with her commitment to preserving her cultural and artistic heritage for future generations,’ says Alejo. ‘She has been a role model to our youth, teaching traditional indigenous music, art and dance for over 40 years. Because of Anai-i’s work, life in the Pajaro Valley has been richer and I am proud to name her the Woman of the Year for 2012.’
A mentor, educator and community activist, in 1969 Aranda was a founding member of Centro Cultural de la Raza, a cultural arts center in the Balboa Park neighborhood of San Diego. The center offered art classes in sculpture, mural painting, photography, silk screening, beadwork, leather work, and folkloric and Aztec dance performance
In 1982, Aranda and her family moved to Watsonville, California, where she co-founded and co-directed the White Hawk Indian Council for Children, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching the traditional indigenous cultural arts, songs, and dances to Pajaro Valley youth.
As part of the White Hawk Indian Council for Children, Aranda held some of the first indigenous rights of passage ceremonies for young women. For 25 years, Aranda has facilitated an annual three-day ceremony, called Xilonen, honoring young women in the community.
Aranda has been an outstanding teacher, mother, mentor, counselor and friend to hundreds of children and adults over the years through art and dance. She has four children: Michelle, Maria Lisa, Javier and Joaquin; twelve grandchildren: Monique, Andre, Desiree, Dominic, Mattias, Mya, Aketzalli, Tizoc, Tlanextli, Aaliyah, Joaquin Jr., Ixchell; and one great grandson: Jeremiah.”