Our Vision: "Women and girls have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and live their dreams."

Virtual Conference Program

Welcome to the Virtual Conference Program.

Below you will find information that would normally appear in the program

 booklet  and a bit more.  A new feature on our website are the "Slides",

which are the horizontal pages you can scroll through in some of the

 sections, indicated by the arrows on either side. We hope you take the time

to read about the upcoming events and celebrations we have planned for

   the 2021 Founder Region Conference and we'll see you there!


6:00pm - 7:30pm

Fellows Reception

Fellowship President Cheryl Poncini & the Fellowship Board

Please join us for a reception honoring our Founder Region Fellows.
All paperwork and payment must be received by Fellowship Treasurer Teresa by Monday, April 26 to be included in the Wednesday evening Fellow Reception


6:00pm - 8:00pm

Legislative Advocacy Presentation

Linda Witong, Chair

Linda Witong, Chair
Phyllis Gordon
Madalienne Peters
Rachel Farac
Laura Middlemiss
Angie Haramoto

“We’ve come a long way...but nearly not far enough!”

Topics include: Equality in the Workplace, Pay Equity, Inequity of Women of Color, Title IX


Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, California State Senate
Surina Khan, CEO Women's Foundation California
 Honorable Sandra A. Simms, State of Hawaii
Freda Powell, Amarillo, TX City Council Member

Click on the arrow to view speaker bios.

Hannah-Beth Jackson
Former State Senator of California

Former Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson recently completed her 14 year legislative career, having represented the Santa Barbara Ventura County areas. She has recently announced the establishment of her consulting practice which will focus on continuing the policy efforts and accomplishments of her work in the California State Senate. During her legislative career, Jackson served as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and received national recognition as a champion for women’s equality. She authored the California Fair Pay Act, landmark legislation that strengthens the state’s equal pay law, and Senate Bill 826, the first law in the nation that requires publicly-held corporations to include women on their board of directors. She is a joint author of legislation that created the nation’s first affirmative consent standard (“Yes Means Yes”) for the state’s college and university campuses. In response to the #MeToo movement, she authored significant legislation to prevent and respond to sexual harassment. Jackson also authored legislation to ensure victim-centered processes for responding to sexual harassment and assault on college campuses. In addition, she is the author of laws that strengthened and expanded California’s Paid Family Leave program and protect survivors of domestic violence.  
To learn more, visit www.hbjackson.com.

Surina Khan
CEO Women's Foundation California

Surina first became involved with WFC as a volunteer in 2004. Now, as CEO Surina oversees the Foundation’s strategic direction which is focused on building community-based power through investing in effective community-based organizations, training community leaders in policy advocacy, connecting key partners, and mobilizing significant financial resources. Surina has worked at the Ford Foundation where she designed and launched Ford’s LGBT Rights Initiative. She is a member of the Board of Voices for Progress, CalNonprofits, the American LGBTQ Museum, La Cocina, a founding Advisor for the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative, and a member of the Public Policy Committee for Northern California Grantmakers. Surina enjoys cooking, swimming, photography and resides in San Francisco, Irvine, and Sea Ranch with her partner. 

Honorable Sandra A. Simms
District Court of Hawaii

Honorable Sandra A. Simms is a member of SI/Waikiki Foundation, Inc. She graduated from Hyde Park High School before attending and graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago with her B.A. degree in   political science and sociology. Simms later obtained her J.D. degree from DePaul University College of Law in 1978. In 1991, Simms became the first African American female judge in Hawaii upon her appointment to the District Court of the First Circuit. Three years later, she was appointed   Circuit Court Judge for the First Judicial Circuit by Governor John David Waiheʻe, III. Simms retired as a circuit court judge in 2004.

Freda Powell
Amarillo City Council Member

Freda Powell became the first African American woman elected to the Amarillo City Council in 2017.  She served as Mayor Pro Tem from June 2019 to June 2020. She currently is serving her second term in Place 2 and is a candidate for re-election to a third term in May 2021. Freda Powell is a member of the Amarillo Women’s Network, Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a silver life member of the Amarillo Branch NAACP and a life member of Light of Hope.

Powell is a former purchasing representative for LINN Energy, headquartered in Houston, Texas.  She is currently the office manager for Warford Mortuary. Powell received the Amarillo Opera Dee Lifetime Volunteer Award in 2009, and she was named the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Women’s Council Businesswoman of the Year in December 2011. Additional awards include the Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains’ Women of Distinction - Take Action Award in 2013; Church Women United Humanitarian Award in 2013; the 7th Annual Louise Daniel Women’s History Lecture and Luncheon Recognizing Texas Panhandle Women in Banking (for service to Access Community Credit Union Board) in 2016; Woman of Leadership 2017 Award; and Beta Sigma Phi Sorority 2020 Woman of the Year, to name a few.


9:00am - 12:00pm

Founder Region Board Meeting  

Governor Kris & the Founder Region Board

9:00am - 12:00pm

Fellowship Board Meeting  

President Cheryl & the Fellowhsip Board

7:00pm - 9:00pm

Fellowship Awards Gala

President Cheryl Poncini & The Fellowship Board

                                                                                  2021 Fellowship Recipients

Founder Region Fellowship is a non-profit, incorporated entity within Founder Region Soroptimist International of the Americas. There is an elected treasurer and five elected directors seated as the board, one from each district in the region. The Founder Region Governor-elect appoints the president in the second year of the biennium. Fellowships and grants in aid, (totaling not less than $20,000) are awarded each year to graduate women in the last phase of their studies at a university offering a doctoral degree, within the boundaries of Founder Region. This program is the Founder Region Identifying Project and is administered through Founder Region Fellowship, Inc.                                                                 
  • Emily Barnes, UC Berkeley - Environmental Engineering
  • Erica Molnar Bufunda - University of Hawaii @ Manoa - Astronomy
  • Andrea Johnson - California State University, East Bay - Educational Leadership
  • Tamara Kerzhner - UC Berkeley - City/Regional Planning  (Currently in Nairobi)
  • Ashley McGuigan - University of Hawaii @ Manoa - Botany
  • Kendra Nip - University of Hawaii @ Manoa - Educational Psychology
  • Caitlin Williams - University of Hawaii @ Manoa - Tropical Medicine
  • Bernadette Zermeno - Mills College - Education

Click on the arrow to view recipients.


Emily Barnes 

 UC Berkeley  

Environmental Engineering 


Erica Molnar Bufanda

 University of Hawaii, Manoa 

  • Astronomy


Andrea Johnson 

California State University, East Bay

  • Educational Leadership


Tamara Kerzhner -

 UC Berkeley  

City & Regional Planning  (Currently in Nairobi)


Ashley McGuigan

University of Hawaii, Manoa



Kendra Nip 

University of Hawaii, Manoa 

Educational Psychology


Caitlin Williams 

 University of Hawaii, Manoa 

Tropical Medicine & Medical Microbiology


Bernadette Zermeno

Mills College 

Educational Leadership


10:00am - 11:30am

Keynote Speaker  

Sharon Fisher, Soroptimist International President

President Sharon Fisher’s "The Road to Equality" President’s Appeal – strategically focuses on taking Action and Advocating on topics affecting women and girls, including Child Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, Domestic Violence, Rights of Older Women, Migration, and Human Trafficking.  The Appeal incorporates a mix of projects, alongside information, and education, to build awareness and engage Soroptimists and friends through discussion. A recent addition to the programme are the SI Voices Webinars, where you can hear from a range of experts and grassroots activists on the key subjects.  Through access to tools, facts and stories, we believe that each of us will be able to raise our capacity to be a global voice for women on our journey towards achieving gender equality. The topics and pages below will develop and expand over time, so please do revisit this page regularly.  

1:00pm - 3:00pm

Founder Region & Fellowship Business Meeting

Governor Kris and President Cheryl

Founder Region Voting Results
Laurel Society Honors & Recognition
New Member Sponsor Drawing
Soroptimists Celebrating Success Awards
Live Your Dream Incentive Drawing
Q&A Pillar Breakout Sessions
Treasurer's Report
Secretaries Report
Fellowship Bylaws Amendment Results
President's Report
Raffle Winners Announced
A Founder Region Soroptimist who wishes to review the Founder Region Fellowship Statement of Activity and/or Statement of Financial Position for the period July 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021, may contact Fellowship Treasurer Teresa Karlson at Teresa@ledgersteam.com to make that request.

3:00pm - 3:30pm

Question & Answer with SIA Official Visitor

Frieda Powell

Visit with our Official Visitor, SIA Director Freda Powell, and hear how SIA is supporting our clubs. Bring your questions about any of the federation sponsored programs and pillars of success. Share your club successes during this club year and provide feedback on the virtual toolkit resources provided by SIA during the pandemic.
Engage in productive conversation about SIA's Next Big Goal and plans for the next 100 years. 

6:00pm - 7:00pm Social Hour         7:00pm-9:00pm Presentation

100 Year Anniversary Celebration

Governor Kris and the Founder Region Board


  • Special greetings from our Past Governors
  • Stroll down memory lane over the past 10 decades
  • Untold stories about Violet Richardson Ward
  • Special Presentation by SIA - "“Parallel Paths: Two Roads Leading to Soroptimist International”.

Soroptimist Blue...Berry Spritz Cocktail

Champagne or sparkling water
Lemon juice or lemonade
Fresh Blueberries
Mix the ingredients above to your desired taste and join your fellow Soroptimist members in a toast to our next 100 years!
Lisa Mangiafico
SIA’s Associate Director of Records and
Curator of SIA Archives


11:00am - 1:00pm

Memorial Service & Region Award Program

Governor Kris and Governor-elect Vicki  

Celebration of Service

Our beloved members passed too soon, but their legacy of service to  
 Soroptimist will live on in the women and girls they touched.

  Click on the arrow to view.

Mary Waldkirch

Soroptimist International of Arcata

47 Year Member

Janis McNair

Soroptimist International of Richmond

16 Year Member

Vina Marie Simmons

Soroptimist International of Eureka

47 Year Member

Helene Wood

Soroptimist International of El Cerrito

 2 Year Member

Helen Fernandez

Soroptimist International of Sonoma Valley

60 Year Member

Sharon Valenti

Soroptimist International of Fort Bragg

 16 Year Member

Past Fellowship Director

Lorraine Komor

Soroptimist International of Santa Rosa

 45 Year Member

Past Governor 1990-1992

Carolyn Small

Soroptimist International of Santa Rosa

35 Year Member


Live Your Dream Award Recipients

District I - Asia Cole

District II - Amara Jones

District III - Jessica McAllister

District IV - Lindsay McCovey

District V - Tiah Davidson

Click on the arrow to view recipients.

Asia Cole

District I - SI/Fremont

Unitek College - Nursing

Amara Jones

District II - SI/Pittsburg

Diablo Vista College - Nursing

Jessica McAllister

District III - SI/Napa

Napa Valley College - Nursing 

Lindsay McCovey

District IV - SI/Humboldt Bay

College of the Redwoods  - Psychology

Tiah Davidson

District V - SI/Central Oahu

University of Hawaii, Manoa - Nutrition

Violet Richardson Award Recipients

District I - Raishma Anwar

District II - Malia Yancey

District III - Beza Mesfin

District IV - Klayre Barres

District V - Katrina Kuo

Click on the arrow to view recipients.

Raishma Anwar 

District I  

Soroptimist International of 24-68 (Walnut Creek)

 Malia Yancey

District II

Soroptimist International of The Delta

 Beza Mesfin

District III  

Soroptimist International of Napa

 Klayre Barres

District IV  

Soroptimist International of Eureka

 Katrina Kuo

District V  

Soroptimist International of Honolulu

Barbara Stevenson "S" Club Award Recipient

Rachel Nelson

Vacaville Christian High School "S" Club

Sponsored by Soroptimist International of Vacaville

2020 Girls State Delegate
Student Body President
National Honor Society
Varsity Swim Team
Co-Concertmaster Violinist