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Culture and Identity

Female leaders honored for contributions to San Luis Obispo County

Courtesy of CSWSLOCO

180 people gathered Saturday to honor three inductees into San Luis Obispo County’s Women’s Wall of Fame, local women celebrated as impressive and effective county leaders. The annual awards are sponsored by the County Commission on the Status of Women and the South Bay Women's Network.

This year’s inductees are Eloisa Medina, a lay patient navigator at French Hospital Medical Center, Jill Bolster-White, executive director of Transitions-Mental Health and longtime Atascadero-based community builder Shirley Summers.

Commissioner Paula McCambridge said the nominees spanned three walks of life: service, volunteer and business.

“It was such a subtle difference between the winners and the other nominees, and their lists were just a little longer," McCambridge said.

McCambridge said the local commission was established from John F. Kennedy’s 1961 executive order on issues concerning women. The San Luis Obispo County Commission on the Status of Women became an official advisory group to county officials in 1975.


A total of 15 women were honored as nominees for the Women’s Wall of Fame:

  • Candace Gammons of Paso Robles is a bank branch manager, volunteers all while attending college.
  • Debra Balke of San Luis Obispo is the Central Coast’s one-and-only pediatric neurologist.
  • Cathy Ahearn of San Luis Obispo is a teacher and as a community volunteer.
  • Jessica Lorance of San Luis Obispo is the MASH (Mobile Assistance and Services Addressing Homelessness) event coordinator with the County of San Luis Obispo Department of Social Services.
  • Jill Bolster-White of San Luis Obispo has been the executive director of Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA) for 25 years.
  • Kaila Dettman of San Luis Obispo is involved in community service through her work at the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County.
  • Marie Wilson of San Luis Obispo has been a member of RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) since 1988.
  • Mila Vujovich-La Barre of San Luis Obispo has served in the SLCUSD as a Spanish teacher for 33 years at SLO High School and Laguna Middle School.
  • Shirley Summers, MSW, LCSW of Atascadero has a lifelong commitment to volunteerism and community-building.
  • Ann Fryer of San Luis Obispo is a teacher, girl’s basketball coach, and a coach to children with learning disabilities.
  • Diane Marchetti of San Luis Obispo is a volunteer for the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum and has served that organization in the capacity of museum manager for over three years.
  • Eloisa Medina of San Luis Obispo began as a Lay Patient Navigator at French Hospital Medical Center; mammography screenings alone experienced a 118% increase in 2015.
  • Maria Garcia of Paso Robles helped found the Hispanic Business Association in Paso Robles. In her time as president, she has helped to award many students with scholarships, helped business owners succeed, and assisted the Mexican Consulate.
  • Vera Wallen, Ph.D. of Cambria and Cayucos was superintendent of schools for the Coast Union, Cambria, and Cayucos school districts from 1988 through 1997.
  • Sue Benitez of Paso Robles is involved with Paso Robles Library, Friends of the Library, County Grand Jury, Traditions Home Owners Association, SESLOC Supervisory Committee, and the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation.