The San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame, established in 1984, is an important and lasting way to recognize the incredible work of women of all ages and walks of life in our community. Every two years a new slate of *women, including outstanding high school students, join the ranks of some of San Mateo County’s greatest contributors, an honor roll that today reaches 288 individuals. This year we are celebrating our 40th Anniversary and are proud to hold our ceremony on International Women's Day.
35th San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame Inductees Announced
Check out the official press release here!
Thank you to the following 2024 Sponsors: California Commission on the Status of Women & Girls, Stanford University's Office of Government Affairs, the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and Skyline College.
We are excited to announce the Honorees for the 2024 Women's Hall of Fame and Young Women of Excellence!
Rosanne Foust, President and CEO of San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA), has built SAMCEDA into an influential and highly regarded inclusive association with membership of Fortune 500 corporations including technology, life sciences, financial services, energy, construction, as well as healthcare, education and non-profits. She facilitates, directs, and encourages conversations important to maintaining a strong local and regional economy, attracting and retaining major employers and good jobs, and creating partnerships between business, government, education, labor and non-profits to address the critical issues of an economy that lifts everyone.
Ms. Foust had a twenty-year career with Alsace Development International USA, Inc., where she formed partnerships through business development activities resulting in billions of dollars in investments to this region in France. Ms. Foust also served for twelve years on the City Council in Redwood City, including as Mayor and Vice Mayor. During her time in elected office, Ms. Foust served for 10 years on the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (five years as Chair) and as an inaugural board member for 7 years on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority.
Ms. Foust holds a Master of Public Administration, Bachelors of Arts in International Studies and Economics, has completed multiple Executive Education programs at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business (including the Entrepreneurial Boot Camp), as well as completing the year-long Executive Management program at UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management.
The Silicon Valley Business Journal recently recognized Ms. Foust as one of the “Women of Influence 2023,” and the San Francisco Business Times has named Ms. Foust as one of the “Most Influential Women in Business in the Bay Area and to its Forever Influential List.”
Dr. Maria Lorente-Foresti is a bilingual, bicultural woman who immigrated to the United States from Argentina. Building a new home in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1978, Dr. Lorente-Foresti pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from Palo Alto University. With a rich professional history spanning three decades, Dr. Lorente-Foresti has stepped into many roles, including psychologist, Behavioral Mental Health Program Director, parent education program coordinator, and behavioral health equity director. Dr. Lorente-Foresti's most recent notable achievements in the San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) include the implementation of the Spirituality Policy, optimizing the Parent Project Program, the establishment of the Health Ambassador Program & Stop Bullying Program, active participation in Health Equity Initiatives, being a founding member of the Native & Indigenous Peoples Initiative, and receiving recognition for her work in student training with a focus on diversity and inclusion. Currently serving as the Director of the Office of Diversity & Equity at San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services. In her current role as the BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity Director, Dr. Lorente-Foresti spearheads efforts to enhance the County’s public behavioral health system to be more culturally responsive and inclusive for San Mateo County workforce and community members. Driven by a passion for equity, advocacy, collaboration, compassion, and cultural humility, Dr. Lorente-Foresti feels honored and privileged to contribute to advancing behavioral health equity for marginalized communities in San Mateo County. Beyond her professional achievements, Dr. Lorente Foresti enjoys getting to know our local cities and takes pride in being a single mother and living in a multigenerational home.
Christine Padilla, born and raised in San Mateo County, is a leader who has earned the respect of her peers in our county and beyond. Her contributions and achievements, at the intersection of service and government, have seeded greater opportunities for other women to represent and lead their communities. As Commissioner on the Status of Women from 2011 through 2022, she played a pivotal role in widening access to past Women’s Leadership Conferences and served as its Vice President in 2012 and then President in 2013. Throughout her tenure with the Commission, she worked for a future where all women in San Mateo County have fundamental human rights, and all girls are able to lead extraordinary lives. As Co-Chair of KQED’s Community Advisory Panel, she continues her passion for public service by steering the group’s mandate of amplifying and uplifting the stories of diverse communities.
As the Director of Build Up San Mateo County since its founding in 2018, she has made it her mission to ensure that high-quality early care and learning is accessible and affordable for working families while supporting and advocating for those who teach and care for their children. This work leverages her skills and experience facilitating complex multi-sector and cross-agency initiatives, collaborating with local government, real estate developers, housing advocates and the child-care sector. Christine’s work in San Mateo County has been so effective that it helped inspire the establishment Build Up California in 2020, a statewide network dedicated to sustaining, improving, and expanding the supply of early learning facilities - to which she serves as an advisor. In addition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation did a case study on her work in San Mateo County citing it as an example for other counties to replicate across the country.
Christine is a transformational leader who leads by example, and values kindness above all. In everything that she does or has done, as a nonprofit executive director, former senior congressional staff member, corporate government relations director, and mentor, she brings her whole self, her expertise, her dedication, and her lived experience. She passionately advocates the equitable representation of overlooked voices, and has positively impacted not just local governance, but also our culture of belonging and social justice. Her community footprint can be seen across all intersections and institutions, from the family and child-care sector to women’s rights, arts and culture, housing justice, race relations, to all levels of government, and even diplomacy. She previously served as Senior Field Representative for the Office of Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo, and Senior Field Representative to the late Congressman Tom Lantos, who served as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. She was a delegate to the Philippines with the Honorable Gavin Newsom further strengthening cultural, social, historical, and economic ties between our two countries. She was also a founding organizer for the Asian Heritage Street Celebration and served on the boards of the Women’s Intercultural Network, the San Francisco-Manila Sister City Committee, and CORA-Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse Kumares’ Domestic Violence Awareness Taskforce. In 2008, she received the Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition’s (PAAWBAC) Monarch Leadership Award and continues to devote her time to community organizations and campaigns focused on social justice issues.
In the San Francisco Bay Area’s interconnected social structures and infrastructures, Christine’s voice has been consistently strong, inclusive, outstanding, unparalleled, and unimpeachable. She has contributed greatly to the overall well-being of San Mateo County and is proud to call it home.
Jenny Walter is a founding member and former board president of CoastPride, serving Pescadero through Pacifica. She was the first co-chair of the San Mateo County LGBTQ Commission and during her five-year service, the Commission conducted a county-wide needs assessment of LGBTQ+ residents and promoted the establishment of the San Mateo County Pride Center. She served as a task force member on the Coastside Recovery Initiative. She served as counsel to the California Tribal Court-State Court Forum at the Judicial Council. Before that she was directing attorney of Legal Advocates for Children and Youth in San Jose and staff attorney at Legal Services for Children in San Francisco. She presently serves as a tribal appellate judge for the Northern California Tribal Court Coalition and law partner at Hedger & Walter, LLP, which is committed to helping tribal courts and nonprofits achieve their vision to serve their communities. Jenny graduated with a degree in linguistics from UC Berkeley in 1982 and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law. She lives with her wife, Deb, and daughter Jessie, along with two dogs, one chicken, one canary, and one mini-pig in Half Moon Bay, California.
Catalina Gonzalez Johnston is a senior at Half Moon Bay High School and she lives in Pescadero, California. She has been member of the leadership team since her sophomore year and has served two years on the Cabrillo Unified School District Board. She also has been a volunteer member of the school site board. She really loves interacting with students from different social groups and backgrounds. One of her roles is to learn what they want to see in their school environment and culture and bring it back to the board. She strives to integrate their feedback into the planning of events and other community-based activities for the students in the district. She loves to learn more about representation and was able to go to Girls State last summer. There, she spent a week as part of a big group reenacting California legislation. She also participated in the city hall educational seminars focused on local politics. Catalina comes from a bilingual bicultural home with her dad, who is from Guatemala, and her mother, who is from California and her 16-year-old younger sister. She has three dogs, three cats and a cow. She would like to learn more about policy and immigration so that she can grow to become an advocate for immigrant rights.
Maya Thompson is a senior at El Camino High School. She recently received the National African American Recognition Award for her strong academic performance on the PSAT and AP Exams. Outside of school, she has volunteered as a tutor for Project Speak Together, an online tutoring program that helps Ukrainian students learn conversational English skills. Through her volunteer work, she improved her students’ English literacy and worked to foster an environment where students felt comfortable sharing their experiences during the war. Currently, she volunteers for the organization Cancer Kids First, which aids child cancer patients globally. She is a part of their arts program where she creates and decorates cards for child/teen cancer patients. Over the past eight years, Maya has studied piano technique and performs for the community annually at Golden Gate Park’s Flower Piano event. She also works as a gymnastics instructor for preschool students where she teaches them gymnastics skills and helps improve their motor development. In the coming year, Maya plans to continue her efforts giving back to her community as she completes her senior year and enters college in the fall.
* “Women / Girls” refers to gender expansive adults & youth (cis, trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and gender queer).
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Women's Hall of Fame & Young Woman of Excellence Celebration!
Save the Date: March 8, 2024, 4-6pm
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