By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) has honored Elena Rivera of Barstow as his 33rd Assembly District 2019 Woman of the Year.
The Woman of the Year ceremony is held annually and celebrates California’s extraordinary women. The first ceremony was held in 1987 to help commemorate Women’s History Month. The event has become an annual Capitol tradition to salute women who have done outstanding community service. Honorees are presented with a framed certificate from the State Assembly recognizing their outstanding contributions during a ceremony in the Assembly chambers.
“Elena’s pursuit of life-long learning is admirable, especially as she continues to share her passion for knowledge and education to serve those around her,” said Assemblyman Obernolte. “Elena has spent her career advocating for our youth and helping them realize their fullest potential. She has spent countless hours of her personal time to make a difference in our community and it’s, therefore, an honor and privilege to recognize Elena Rivera for her outstanding achievements.”
Elena has always been passionate about education and counted herself fortunate to have received a Career Ladder scholarship from Barstow Unified School District that allowed her to attend Cal State San Bernardino and later transfer to Cal State Hayward where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies and Spanish. She also obtained her multiple-subject and bilingual teaching credentials from Cal State Monterey Bay. She continued her education and received a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership and Administration from Cal State East Bay in 2001. After receiving her teaching credentials, she taught all grade levels at elementary schools for the Hayward Unified School District where she later became a school Principal.
Elena missed the small town in which she grew up and in 2014 she returned to Barstow and became the Executive Director for the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce. She quickly became known for her networking abilities and bringing people together for the greater good. Elena left the Barstow Chamber to become the Administrator and Director of Development for Greater Hope Foundation, a local Foster Family Agency and Adoption Services, where she could return to advocating for children. At Greater Hope Foundation, she worked closely with the California Department of Social Services and used her connections to bring awareness about foster children and to obtain resources for these youth.
Her dedication to education and knowing that children are our future prompted Elena to become the Instructional Specialist at Barstow Community College where she is currently coordinating the Foster & Kinship Care Education program. Elena has expanded the program into the community where she helps parents gain better skills and teaches families to be self-sufficient. Additionally, she teaches that education provides a better quality of life and is a way to fulfill dreams.
“I feel extremely honored that I was selected to be this year’s Woman of the Year,” said Elena Rivera. “I am thrilled that Assemblyman Obernolte is recognizing Barstow, the small community with a big heart. There are so many unsung heroes who have inspired and motivated me to pursue my dreams. The least I can do is try to pay it forward.”
In addition to her long list of professional accomplishments, she is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce (2nd year) and is involved with supporting several service clubs and non-profits in the community. Recently she was President of the Rotary Club of Barstow. With Rotary Club, Elena is the coordinator of the Youth Services where she spearheads the Rotary Teen Leadership Camp (TLC) and the Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).