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‘Women of Distinction’ awards doled out by Soroptimists
• Selected due to community service deeds
Women of Distinction 2024
These women were recognized as “Women of Distinction” Thursday evening at a special ceremony of the Soroptimist International of Ceres. Left to right are Sophie Pallios, Pat Massetti, Brandy Meyer, Linda Stubbs, Irene Ortiz, Tanveer Kaur-Young, guest speaker Mary Kelly, Leilah Elsumeri, Gloria Blakeslee, Sherrill Petersen, Denise Wickham and Kiashira Ortiz. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Soroptimist International of Ceres last week recognized a number of women inside and outside of its organization who make the Ceres community a better place.

Club President Emily Harry welcomed guests to its annual “Women of Distinction” Awards ceremony on Thursday evening at the Ceres Unified School District’s board room.

The guest speaker for the event was Mary Kelly who is the principal of Westport Elementary School.

The club singled out a number of women who routinely devote much of their time in serving the community, including recent Ceres Chamber awardees in Brandy Meyer, who was honored as “Citizen of the Year” in January along with Tanveer Kaur-Young who was honored as “Young Citizen of the Year.”

Meyer and her husband of 33 years Keith Meyer co-chaired the “Love Ceres” event in 2023.

She has volunteered for numerous committees, including the Ceres Street Faire Committee, Ceres Hot Air Balloon Festival Committee, Tuolumne River Regional Park Advisory Committee and Ceres Unified School District Stakeholders Committee as well as the ad hoc committee looking into refurbishing the Ceres water tower.

Meyer is a member of the Soroptimist club, and volunteers for Youth for Christ and National Night Out. She is both an elder and youth director at Harvest Presbyterian Church in Ceres.

Other groups she’s help out are the Ceres Relay for Life, the Ceres Centennial Committee, Ceres Beautification Committee, Ceres High School Boosters and Measure H Committee.

Kaur is a Central Valley High School student where she has been a member of SHSS, a campus club that encourages student engagement in school activities; and also the STEM Club, the Health and Medicine Club, Leadership Club, WOWE (Women Empowerment) Club and AP Spanish Lit Club. She also volunteers at the UC Davis Medical Center where she donates care packages to babies and families. Three years ago she also organized an event for special education students. With her Sikh Temple Kaur organized a food drive for the homeless and families in need, teaches martial arts and helped the church plant trees in the park. Kaur has also volunteered at the Modesto Gospel Mission youth center, spent time at a Ceres convalescent hospital and babysat children while their parents attended college workshops at CVHS.

Honored as “Women of Distinction” were four businesswomen in Ceres – Sherrill Petersen of Sam’s Café, Irene Ortiz of Ground Up Productions and Lindsay Curry of Footnotes Dance Studio.

Ceres Police Department School Resource Officers Gloria Blakeslee and Kiashira Ortiz were also recognized.

Kudos were offered two female students who serve as non-voting student representatives to the Ceres Unified School District Board of Trustees. They are Central Valley High School student Natalia Armas and Leilah Elsumeri who attends Ceres High School.

The award presentations turned to two “influential retirees” of the Ceres Unified School District – Linda Stubbs and Dr. Denise Wickham.

Wickham, who has served as superintendent since 2021 when she replaced Scott Siegel, is retiring this summer. Wickham has been in education for 33 years, nearly 20 in Ceres. She came to CUSD in 2005 as supervisor of Projects & Assessment; served as Director of Curriculum & Instruction from 2006-2008, and led the Personnel division from 2008-2021. During her time in Personnel, she launched the CUSD Leadership Academy to support employees interested in developing their leadership capacity.

Stubbs is also wrapping up her career in education. Stubbs, CUSD’s 2023 Administrator of the Year, has served as principal of Argus/Endeavor since 2019. Stubbs has worked for the district for 19 years. She was principal of Ceres High School for 10 years (2009-2019), associate principal from 2006-09 and assistant principal from 2005-06.

Several longtime members of the Soroptimist International of Ceres were also honored as “Women of Distinction.” They included charter member Sophie Pallios and life members Wilma Elliot, Sophie Pallios and Jo Ann Haglund.

The club ceremony also honored Pat Massetti, the past governor of the Soroptimist’s Sierra Pacific Region.