Carbajal Announces 2024 Women of the Year Award Winners

Carbajal Announces 2024 Women of the Year Award Winners (Courtesy)

[On] April 15, 2024, Congressman Salud Carbajal announced the six winners of the 2024 Congressional Women of the Year award from the Central Coast.

“This year’s recipients of the Women of the Year Award are making exceptional strides to improve the quality of life on the Central Coast. Their remarkable efforts often go unnoticed, yet they continue to make a significant impact. It is my honor to highlight these six extraordinary women for their contributions to our community.” said Congressman Carbajal. “This year has been exceptionally competitive, with nearly 100 nominations spanning across our region. I feel honored to have received numerous remarkable stories of service and dedication and I look forward to honoring and celebrating each of these women!”

The six winners of this year’s award are: Marian Shapiro from Goleta, Violet Sage Walker from Guadalupe, Rosalyn Rivera from Santa Maria, Gail Crawford from San Luis Obispo, Elaine Yin from Arroyo Grande, and Karen Flock from Ventura.

The Congressional Women of the Year Award honors exceptional women across the 24th Congressional District who have made a positive impact on their communities. Winners span a variety of backgrounds and professions and represent the thousands of women working tirelessly to improve the quality of life on the Central Coast.

Carbajal will recognize the winners by permanently entering the accomplishments of each woman into the official Congressional Record, preserving their stories and their impact on the community. An award ceremony will be held at a later date where each honoree will also receive a special congressional pin.

Below are the biographies for this year’s honorees:

Marian Shapiro, Goleta

Marian Shapiro’s journey began in Berkeley, where she was shaped by the progressive spirit of the 1960s. Her time at UC Santa Barbara marked the start of a lifelong commitment to activism, especially for women’s and LGBTQ rights. In rural Kansas, while raising her children, she continued her advocacy, organizing workshops and lobbying for important causes.

Marian returned to Goleta to begin a new chapter of teaching, community service, and political engagement, leaving a lasting impact on her students and peers. At 81, her passion for activism and creativity maintains, bridging generations and causes through her photography and lifelong work.

Violet Sage Walker, Guadalupe

As Tribal Chair of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Violet Sage Walker is an influential leader and activist, spearheading the historic nomination of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, a groundbreaking Indigenous-led initiative. Through her role as chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council (NCTC), she continues the legacy of her father, Tribal Chief Fred Collins, in working to preserve Chumash heritage and culture. Collaborating with a diverse network of tribal allies, conservation organizations, and community members, Violet has garnered overwhelming public support for the sanctuary’s designation.

Rosalyn Rivera, Santa Maria

Rosalyn Rivera’s life is a testament to compassion, resilience, and selflessness as she navigates the role of a long-distance caregiver for her father with dementia in Puerto Rico. Her dedication extends beyond her personal journey, as she champions awareness and education about Alzheimer’s and dementia in Santa Maria and the broader Central Coast area. Rosalyn’s commitment shows through her volunteer work and advocacy with the Alzheimer’s Association, where she leads efforts to support and educate the community, particularly focusing on Spanish-speaking audiences. She takes knowledge and skills gained from her involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association back to her home community in Puerto Rico, to bring awareness to those impacted by this disease.

Gail Crawford, San Luis Obispo

Gail Crawford, a retired Commander from the US Navy Nurse Corps with 22 years of service, has left an incredible mark on the Central Coast community. Her tenure at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, particularly during the Boston Marathon bombing, showcased her dedication to caring for trauma victims. Gail raised two daughters as a single mom, and now is enjoying her well-earned retirement in San Luis Obispo.

Gail’s tireless efforts in organizing community initiatives, fundraisers, and events for veterans reflect her unwavering dedication to their well-being and success. Her role in the Veterans Collaborative and supporting various veteran organizations shows her impact on improving access to services and support. Gail’s humility, diligence, and passion for serving others make her a true inspiration to her community.

Dr. Elaine Yin, Arroyo Grande

Dr. Elaine K. Yin, an obstetrician-gynecologist based in Santa Maria, California, is affiliated with hospitals like French Hospital Medical Center and Marian Regional Medical Center. Her medical journey began at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, specializing in robotic surgery and high-risk obstetrics. Beyond her medical practice, Dr. Yin collaborates with researchers at California Polytechnic State University, focusing on nutrition’s impact on maternal and neonatal outcomes for patients.

Furthermore, she is a dedicated supporter of the arts, actively sponsoring the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo. With over two decades of community service, Dr. Yin pioneered an OBGYN residency program that has significantly improved women’s healthcare accessibility in Santa Barbara County. Her advocacy extends to underserved populations, particularly the Mixteco people, showcasing her commitment to cultural understanding.

Karen Flock, Ventura

Karen Flock is a dedicated advocate and champion for communities on the Central Coast, with a lifelong commitment to affordable housing and social justice. Her journey began with the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) during her college years, leading to a career focused on supporting farm workers, low-wage workers, seniors, and the disabled. Over the years, Karen’s work with organizations like Channel Counties Legal Services and Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) has made a significant impact, earning her recognition for excellence in community development.

As the Real Estate Development Deputy Director at the San Buenaventura Housing Authority, Karen continues to lead efforts in creating new affordable housing developments, embodying her passion and expertise in the field. Karen has also received numerous accolades, including the first annual Carmen Ramirez Housing Advocacy Award and the El Concilio del Condado de Ventura 16th Annual Latino Leadership Award.

Rep. Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th Congressional District, encompassing Santa Barbara County and portions of San Luis Obispo County and Ventura County. He is a member of the Agriculture and Armed Services Committees, as well as the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as the top Democrat on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.


Written by Rep.SaludCarbajal

Press releases from the office of Rep. Salud Carbajal. He represents California’s 24th Congressional District, encompassing Santa Barbara County and portions of San Luis Obispo County and Ventura County. Learn more at

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