Marjaree Mason Center top 10 professional women of Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Marjaree Mason Center honored its top ten professional women and a leading business Tuesday during a special event.

The event pays tribute to ten women who have excelled professionally, served as role models and given back to their communities. One business is also honored as the Leading Business of the Year for its support of women and women's issues.

One by one, each of the honorees were escorted up to the stage.

"I was completely surprised when I got the phone call about being honored about this. I didn't know that I had been nominated by one of my incredible staff members," said honoree, Dr. Amanda Nicolson.

Dr. Amanda Nicolson was one of 10 women honored. She is the founder and CEO of Swan Consulting, an organization that helps kids on the Autism Spectrum. Getting the award has opened her eyes to the amazing work of the Marjaree Mason Center.

"Our goal today is that we will lift that lens a little bit, on that lid of domestic violence and give people a greater glimpse into what healthy relationships look like and truly some things that are actually very unhealthy and how we can recognize those red flags and what to do if you acknowledge it," said Nicole Linder with the Marjaree Mason Center.

This year's keynote speaker was Rosie Hildalgo, who has worked to try to end domestic violence for years. Hildalgo said she's glad Fresno has the Marjaree Mason Center for those in need trying to break the cycle of violence.

"I just hope to celebrate the tremendous work of Marjaree as a program in this community and providing really critical services and support but also to lift up that the only way we are really going to end domestic violence is to involved all of the community," she said.

The ten women were nominated by a community member, and all nominations were reviewed by a committee of judges.

The honorees recognized were:

Raine Bumatay, Principal, Fresno Adult School, Fresno Unified School District

Lindsay Callahan, President and CEO, United Way of Fresno and Madera Counties

Nené Casares, Board President, Central California Women's Conference

Kathryn Catania, Ed.D., Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools

Tara Lynn Gray, President and CEO, Fresno Metro Black Chamber, Fresno Metro Black Chamber Foundation

Beverly Hayden-Pugh, Senior Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Transformation Officer, Valley Children's Healthcare

Kamaljit Kaur, Community Organizer, Jakara Movement

Amanda Nicolson, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Founder and CEO, Swan Consulting

Brandi Orth, Fresno County Clerk and Registrar of Voters

Raj Sodhi-Layne, Vice President and Branch Manager, California Bank and Trust

2019 Leading Business recognized:

DiBuduo & DeFendis Insurance Brokers, LLC, Matt DeFendis and Mike DeFendis, Principals
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