First-ever Women of Courage Award Honors Young Women of Promise

 In Community Initiative, customized giving, grantmaking, philanthropy, PVF Donors, PVF News, PVF news, Women of Courage

Philanthropic Ventures Foundation has announced the awardees of the inaugural Women of Courage Award this January.

The community initiative was inspired by the lifetime work of Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D – 14, Burlingame), to highlight and support outstanding young women in San Mateo County. The initiative is sponsored by Cynthia Schuman, a longtime Peninsula resident and noted artist, in honor of her friend Jackie Speier. The winners have demonstrated the same energy, integrity, and determination shown by Congresswoman Jackie Speier throughout her nearly fifty years in public service.

“I imagined this award to honor my friend Jackie Speier, who in her roles as a mother, elected official, attorney, and congressional staffer has shown incredible resilience in overcoming tragedy and life threatening situations. Jackie is unafraid — she takes on powerful political issues with passion and integrity. As a role model for young women, Jackie offers a shining example of what is possible, even in the face of enormous challenges. This award is a way to encourage promising young women in San Mateo County to be motivated and inspired by our own local hero, Jackie.”

The initiative acknowledges the courageous character and impactful community service of young women age 18-30 who live or work in San Mateo County. These young women demonstrate courage in their life choices and circumstances, make a significant contribution to others, and exemplify the characteristics of compassion, resilience and integrity in their professional and personal lives.

The $25,000 award is intended to celebrate the awardees’ accomplishments and contributions, often in the face of enormous obstacles, and to encourage their service into the future.

The 2020 Women of Courage Awardees are:

“Women who are courageous also need support and community. This award creates an intentional path to help us move forward together. It’s about teamwork and collaboration!”

Felicia Lee-Cardenas, 27, San Martin

Felicia works as a community services officer in San Mateo County. Overcoming a traumatic childhood, the loss of both parents and leaving home when she was 19, Felicia worked multiple jobs to complete her college education, earning a Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies from San Jose State. She is committed to helping underserved children in her community as a positive, engaged role model. As the first to attend college in her family of 7 siblings, she is determined to show what is possible.

“There are so many worker issues to address: income inequality, social stigma, health care. I want to make sure people have enough information to make an informed choice about their own lives. A lot of change can happen just by sharing what already exists.”

Juliana Franco, 28, San Bruno

Juliana is a nonprofit attorney specializing in pregnant and postpartum workers’ rights, particularly those of farmworkers. She created a clinic for day laborers to help workers reclaim owed wages, and has been a tireless champion for the underserved. At the beginning of the Covid shutdown, she worked with colleagues to quickly assemble a free national legal hotline to help workers understand and secure their legal rights.

“Women who are courageous also need support and community. This award creates an intentional path to help us move forward together. It’s about teamwork and collaboration!”

Noelia Corzo, 30, Foster City

Noelia is a social worker for children and adults with developmental disabilities, twice-elected member and former President of the San Mateo-Foster City School District Board of Trustees, and a single mother of a 9 year old son. Noelia’s work in the district where she grew up makes her eager to address unmet needs in the community. Her family emigrated from Guatemala, and she was the first in her family to attend college.

The Women of Courage Award will hold a second call for nominations in the Spring. Keep an eye on our website for up-to-date information!

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