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Proven Leadership for Santa Clarita Elect


Mercado-Fortine Dear Valued Community Member,

As a lifelong Santa Clarita Valley resident, I’ve dedicated myself to serving the community because I believe this is one of the greatest places to live in Southern California. I’ve spent a career in education and nearly 15 years as an elected member of the board of the William S. Hart Union High School District because I believe in providing our youth with excellent educational opportunities. I serve on the boards of several nonprofit organizations because I see the changes they are making in people’s lives every day. Our city government must continue to do all it can to encourage business growth, streamline regulations, develop efficient workforce training programs and attract more, higher-paying jobs. We must continue to improve our neighborhoods, through ensuring adequate public-safety resources; addressing traffic congestion; protecting our environment and open space; in addition to adding to our sports fields and community centers and improving services and facilities for our senior citizens. This April 8, join me on the Road to Victory!

Santa Clarita City Council April 8, 2014 Estimado miembro de la Comunidad de Santa Clarita,

Como residente de toda mi vida en el Valle de Santa Clarita he servido a esta comunidad porque creo que es uno de los mejores lugares para vivir en el sur de California. Mi carrera profesional la he dedicado a la educación y por casi 15 años he sido miembro electo de la Junta escolar del distrito William S. Hart Union High School porque creo en el valor de ofrecer excelentes oportunidades educativas a nuestra juventud. Igualmente formo parte de juntas directivas de varias organizaciones sin fines de lucro porque veo diariamente los cambios que estas hacen en la vida de las personas. El gobierno de la ciudad debe continuar haciendo todo lo posible para alentar el crecimiento de los negocios, simplificar las regulaciones, desarrollar programas eficientes de capacitación laboral y atraer más puestos de trabajo mejor remunerados. Debemos seguir mejorando nuestra ciudad mediante el aseguramiento de los recursos adecuados de seguridad pública; abordando la situación del tráfico vehicular; proteger nuestro medio ambiente y los espacios abiertos; Además de añadir espacios a nuestros campos deportivos y centros comunitarios al mismo tiempo que mejoramos los servicios e instalaciones para nuestras personas mayores. Este 8 de abril, únanse a mí en el camino a la victoria!



• Lifelong SCV resident • Board Member, Wm. S. Hart High School District • Former teacher, counselor, principal • District Administrator • Small Business Owner/CEO

Remember to Vote April 8, 2014! Donate online: Paid for by Gloria Mercado-Fortine for City Council 2014 • FPPC ID 1355650


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Cultivar un ambiente saludable para negocios pequeños y trabajos mejor remunerados Lograr un gobierno más inteligente y más eficiente

Cultivate a healthy environment for small business and higher paying local jobs. Achieve smarter and more efficient government.

Mantener las colonias, escuelas y parques más seguros para la familia

Maintain the safest neighborhoods, schools and parks for family.

Mejorar paseos, parques y rutas de bicicletas para tener una comunidad sana y feliz

Improve trails, parks & bike facilities for a healthy happy community.

Construir y apoyar un nuevo centro para personas mayores

Build and support a new senior center.

Connect /MariaGutzeitSCV @MGutzeit

4 Paid for by Gutzeit for City Council 2014, 24463 Shadeland Drive, Newhall, CA 91321 - 661-670-0332 - FPPC #1347973 "

In this



Editorial Our Community


Movers & Shakers Helping Homeless



Women’s History Month

Arts and Entertainment



SCV’s Next Generation of Latina Leaders Nikki Miller Making a Splash




SCV Latino Chamber of Commerce


Editorial What makes Santa Clarita a great place? Sure there are attractive places such as Town

Center, Bridgeport and now Main Street, but the greatness of Santa Clarita is in its people that make this not just a city, but a community. We come from all walks of life and are diverse in our backgrounds, yet united in our passion for Santa Clarita. In this edition, as in every edition of Our Valley Santa Clarita, we focus on Santa Claritans and that’s what makes this magazine work. We are a local magazine produced by and about locals who truly love and embrace Santa Clarita. In this March issue we focus on women. March is National Women’s History Month and we honor the women who impact our lives above and beyond being mothers, teachers, caregivers and lovers. We are honoring National Women’s History Month with a look at the past, an appreciation of the present and a hope for the future. One of the joys of publishing a magazine is meeting ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Whether it’s outstanding writers, local celebrities or community leaders, we have had the pleasure to gaze into their hearts and see their passions. These people, these movers and shakers in our community, make us very proud to be Santa Claritans.

CREDITS Editor in Chief Bill Miranda

Art Design

Patsy Ayala Ricardo Paredes Estefanía Islas Blanca De La Torre

Production Julio Del Rio

Copy Editor

Virginia Miranda

Advertising Director Patsy Ayala

Account Executive Francisco Del Rio



Julio Del Rio Ryan Kuhn


Our Valley Group, Patsy Ayala, CEO


Scott Wilk, Ken Striplin, Steve Knight, Jeffrey Shapiro, Gloria Mercado Fortine, Marlon Roa, Evelyn Vega, Byron Alvarado, Marsha McLean, Bill Miranda, Gloria Locke, Debi Acker-Zolnoski, Amy Daniels, Laurie Morgan, Maria Gutzeit, Arif Halaby, Moazzem Chowdhury, Julio Del Rio


ken striplin city manager


ver the last several months, I’ve heard from residents who have expressed their pleasure with the way our City looks. The City Council has certainly put a high priority on improving the aesthetic value of our community. This effort takes many forms including quick eradication of graffiti, regular street sweeping and litter clean up, working to prevent illegal dumping, curbside bulky item pick-ups (free through our residential trash collection program), good planning, and the addition of well-designed beautification projects. In the coming fiscal year, we have a number of new beautification projects funded that will continue our ongoing efforts to create and maintain a beautiful city. These include landscaping and hardscaping projects on Railroad Avenue, Golden Valley Road, Soledad Canyon, and Sierra Highway. We recently completed a largescale beautification project at Sand Canyon and SR-14 and in the upcoming year, we will be adding a decorative welcome sign to that eastern gateway into our City. Our corridor planning efforts are ongoing right now for Soledad Canyon Road through Canyon Country. This planning effort, which is currently in the public participation phase, seeks to garner residents and business owners’ thoughts and ideas for future planning and development of this area including architectural styles, landscaping and frontage. If you are interested in weighing in, please visit: I appreciate hearing from you regarding concerns, issues and suggestions you may have for our City. Please feel free to email me directly at:

Steve Knight

California State Senator


here’s no doubt the Santa Clarita Valley is one of most beautiful and fascinating places found in California.

Opportunities abound at every corner, from high tech jobs in the medical devices industry to aerospace to outdoor activities such as experiencing Six Flags, hitting the lush greens at six area golf courses, visits to historical sites including the William S. Hart Park & Museum, the Saugus Cafe and the Walk of the Western Stars. Santa Clarita is also home to thousands of veterans from all the branches of our beloved military. Veterans committed so much to their country, to us and to our ideals. Organizations such as the VFW and the American Legion, of which I am a member, are especially prepared to assist with veterans’ needs. I joined the U. S. Army right out of high school and served in Germany in the 1/36th Infantry, 3rd Armor. I always had a great admiration for the military with my father in the Air Force as a test pilot for 32 years; but as a member of the Army my sense of respect was enhanced with a sense of duty. My military service enhanced my sense of duty that remained with me throughout my 18 years with the Los Angeles Police Department and continued into my time in the legislature. Every year, I author several bills to enhance the lives of those who served. My very first bill signed into law saved the state CalVet loan program $8 million the first year. My office is always ready to assist veterans with benefit questions or to serve them in any way we can.

California is All Dried Up: Scott Wilk


ne of California’s most appealing attributes is the year round mild weather. Yet with sunny skies and warm weather we also face extended periods of dry conditions, fierce fire seasons and some year’s inadequate water resources.

The water crisis in California has been a never ending battle. There have been many attempts to find a solution but so far, it has eluded us. In 1960, the State Water project was established through a ballot initiative. The measure authorized funds to design and build water storage facilities for 25 million Californians and 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland. California’s current population is around 38 million people and growing. Current water storage plans are inadequate and simply asking residents to conserve water on the honor system will not make a big enough impact. Two-thirds of our rainfall comes from northern California, yet twothirds of the population is in southern California. This has posed a serious problem for families and agriculture since effective water storage and conservation plans have not been put into action. Governor Jerry Brown has rallied behind the $15 billion plan to

California state Assemblyman

build two 30-mile water tunnels under an environmentally sensitive river delta east of San Francisco Bay, also known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Environmentalists have stirred up much opposition to the Bay Delta Tunnel because of the possibility that it will disrupt endangered species. I support the governor’s plan. However, we need to do more. This November, voters might have the opportunity to approve a water bond. The current proposal would allocate $11.14 billion for California’s water infrastructure and for programs that address ecosystem preservation. However, the cost is excessive and there is a lot of pork in the measure that has nothing to do with water storage or conservation. The majority party is discussing re-writing the water bond for this November’s election. I support a slimmed down water bond, but it must also have money allocated to building storage capacity. We would not be in the dire circumstances that we are we in in terms of water supply if an earlier legislature had approved a responsible water bond. The legislature can do more to help farmers and residents get the water they need. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a common sense solution to California’s water crisis.


Albert Einstein Academy F

ive years ago a group of parents sought to create a school where the program adapted to the needs of the student and an environment where each individual child would thrive. That vision became the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences. About to have its first graduating class, the Einstein Academy has had success beyond expectations. The small class size (25 or fewer students), the focus on leadership, community service and an integrated curriculum has led to high test scores, happy and successful students and a wonderful sense of community. The track record has led to the addition of an elementary school as well as demand from parents in other communities. What started as one school in Santa Clarita has grown to eight, either open or scheduled to be open in Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, San Diego, Ventura County and in the states of Ohio and Florida. Preparing students to be successful

Albert Einstein Academy

For Letters, Arts and Sciences A Tuition-free, public charter school, open to all students in California is now accepting applications for the 2014-15 school year. Application Materials, Details and Deadlines can be found at

Academia Albert Einstein Para Literatura, Arte y Ciencia

Una escuela gratuita, pública y autónoma abierta para todos los estudiantes en California ahora está aceptando solicitudes para el año escolar 2014-15. Solicitudes de ingreso, detalles y fechas límites pueden encontrarse en


citizens in a 21st century global economy is a cornerstone of the Einstein philosophy, where the program includes study of world languages on the US State Department list of high priority languages beginning in kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade.

Applications for the 2014-2015 school year are now being accepted. They are available online at ealas. org. Interested parents may also call the grades 7-12 campus at 661.702.0755 or the elementary school at 661.666.3676. The Einstein Academy is a tuition-free public charter school. It is open to all students who live in California.

Movers & Shakers Gloria Mercado-Fortine


ecognized as a tireless public servant, community advocate and visionary leader, Gloria MercadoFortine has been a passionate and powerful advocate for our community, both in her professional and personal life. She has served as a role model for thousands of young people and women.

A life-long resident of the Santa Clarita Valley, Gloria grew up in the SCV when there was more farming and agriculture land than homes. Her father retired from Newhall Land. Her parents were humble hard working people who wanted the very best for their six children. Making sure their children received a good education was a priority for her parents. “My parents taught me the value of a strong work ethic, commitment, respect, independence and determination,” said Gloria. Very early in life Gloria knew that she wanted to be a teacher and work with at-risk youth. She worked twenty years in the toughest parts of Los Angeles to help get kids out of gangs, get an education and graduate from high school. Gloria has served as a teacher, counselor, principal and district-level administrator for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in


Marlon Roa

was born in San Francisco the sixth of six children. My parents were from Nicaragua and divorced shortly after I was born. A single mom, my mother moved us to North Hollywood where she worked hard to provide for us. She was a good role model always teaching her children the value of hard work and dedication, but a single mother with six kids needs help. And help was everywhere. For me it started with the Boys Club. After school it was my salvation. I learned to play sports, games and to respect the rights of others. I can’t say enough about the values they gave to me that were important as I went through Hollywood High School. After graduation I worked for Marriott International and Nestles. In those companies I learn the importance of

the United States. Gloria is currently serving her fourth fouryear term as a publically elected official on the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union School District. She is passionate about giving back to the community that has given her so much and sits on a number of non-profit organization boards. Currently she is the Chief Executive Officer of Global Education Solutions, Inc., an education consulting company. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University, Northridge, Master of Science Degree in Public School Administration from Pepperdine University and a Master of Science Degree from La Verne University in Educational Psychology. She also holds a Masters in Governance from the California School Boards Association.

customer service. One day, after 10 years working as an employee, and having just moved into a new home in Encino, I came home and told my pregnant wife that I wanted to start a new career. She told me if that’s what I wanted she would support me 100%. And she has. I own a successful Farmers Insurance agency. I went through rigorous training and certification to get here. Like my mother, I needed a lot of help and like her I got it. Now I want to give back. One of my proudest moments was when, representing the Latino Chamber, I stood on a stage in front of hundreds of supporters and presented a check for $1,000 to a worthy student. I think I was even more thrilled than the recipient!

My advice to young people is to listen to the people you want to emulate. Most successful people want to help. Find a mentor and listen to him or her. Given the opportunity most people have what it takes to succeed. 9

Helping Homeless Pets Evelyn Vega, DVM, CCRT


n December, Happy Pets Veterinary Center collected pet food, blankets, pet treats and toys for pets of the homeless. I was inspired to do this while driving through West Los Angeles. I saw a homeless man crossing the street with a black-and-white cat riding on his shoulder. I thought how lucky my cat was to have a warm home, a bed, and food each day. This cat was also lucky having a companion to look after him. I considered how I could help this man and others like him, who are limited in their material possessions, but are willing to share the little they have with their furry friends. I contacted our local homeless shelter in Santa Clarita. They agreed to help, but only had space for two animals. I told them Happy Pets can help collect supplies and food for them. I found out that our local food pantry also collects pet food although their pet food donations are few. Then I contacted HOPE, a veterinary clinic in West Los Angeles that offers free veterinary care as well as food donations once a month for pets of the homeless. I was told they desperately needed food donations themselves. Even though it is not local, these pets need our help. So we expanded our vision and decided to help them as well. Our goal was to collect food donations to distribute to our local food pantry and to HOPE. We also collected pet supplies for our local homeless shelter. We were overwhelmed by the response from our community. We collected over 350 pounds of dog and cat food, over 200 cans of pet food, 40 blankets and over 50 pet toys and treats! We had the help and support of our customers and our local privately owned pet stores, Pet


Supply, Canyon Pet Center and Pet Stop in Canyon Country. On January 4 one of our technicians from Happy Pets Veterinary Center and I volunteered our services for a day. It was a very busy and hectic day, yet inspiring and fulfilling at the same time. It was amazing to see the commitment and loyalty the homeless and their pets have for one another. To maximize our aid for these organizations, we will need more contributions. This will be an ongoing project, as food donations are needed year-round. HOPE is open the first Sunday of the month from 8:00am to 2:00pm. They need volunteers from the veterinary field. There is no charge for the veterinary care that is given, so monetary donations are always welcomed.

There is much we can do to help those in our community and beyond with their pets. Animals provide comfort, hope, and companionship to people in all walks of life, and we hope our efforts here will truly make a difference in the lives of the homeless and their beloved pets.

The Youth Hormone

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Money Matters Even During Tax Season Byron Alvarado


ith Tax Day, April 14th, approaching, most taxpayers are focused on filing 2013’s returns hoping to have found ways to avoid having to pay more than they should. One of the many things I assist my clients with is how to minimize the effects of taxation while efficiently building, distributing and conserving wealth and assets. There are many books and articles addressing how to reduce taxes now, but little is written addressing how reducing taxes now may or may not be the right choice for you. Here are some of the most common tactics used to reduce tax liabilities:

• Reduce income: No need to elaborate, many of us are

not saving enough to build assets so making less money is not a good idea. • Have more deductions: Business owners do this all the time, but the downside may be affecting the value of your business when you try to sell it, refinance it or get equity capital. Immediate short term gain may not outweigh the long term pitfalls. • Buy a home: Your mortgage interest is deductible and can reduce your taxable income. But, consider protecting your home from pitfalls that may happen such as disability, pre-mature death and lawsuits. Here’s an idea,


take the tax savings and insure this asset! • Sell losing investments: First do your research then sell investments you think will not perform in the future. This could result in a tax credit, but don’t sell promising investments just to gain a tax credit. • Maximize your contribution in retirement plan: I understand you will lower your tax liability for the current year, but you are pushing off paying taxes into the future on hopefully a larger amount of money. So the real discussion should be what will be your tax liability in the future? Have a balanced strategic plan involving taxation. The key is to give yourself options in order to successfully manage your finances. A robust financial plan should address many areas. Taxation is just one. Guidance from your macro-financial strategist, tax professional and estate attorney is key to a balanced approach to financial success.

Disclaimer: This column does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice; the information provided is intended to be general in nature; and readers are strongly encouraged to consult their own professional tax, accounting and legal advisors on individual tax matters.

Fighting For Our Citizens By MARSHA MC LEAN


t Is My Honor to Serve As Your Mayor Pro Tem. Available Full-Time and Every-Day – Responding To Your Concerns – Bringing Fresh, New Ideas to Ensure that Our City Continues to Provide the High Quality of Life We Demand.

And I Have Provided Solutions: Invested Over $250 Million In New Roads And Improvements to Alleviate Traffic Congestion; Ensured Balanced Budget – Increased Reserves Maintaining City of Santa Clarita’s Economic Stability And Saving Taxpayers’ money; Expanded Law Enforcement and Safety Programs; - Zero Tolerance For Drugs and Graffiti; Obtained from Developers Better Projects While Reducing Impacts to the Environment and Older Communities; New Parks and Trails – Increased Sports Fields – Youth Centers; Preserved Forever: 1,420 Acres Santa Clara River 7,950 Acres Open Space; Expanded Hospital Facilities and Services; Increased Library Hours and Programs for Children, Teens, Adults, Seniors; Funded Expansion of Senior Center, Senior Services and Housing; Created Arts Commission to Support Cultural Arts Programs; Ensured Creation of Veterans’ Historical Plaza; Represented Equally Canyon Country – Newhall – Saugus – Valencia; Background: Environmental Analyst – 34 years Community Service – Active

Membership/Service 18 Non-profit Organizations; Extensive Experience: Schools, Law Enforcement, Traffic Issues, Open Space Led the Fight to Keep World’s Largest Garbage Dump Out of Angeles National Forest at Gateway to City of Santa Clarita Supporters Include: Firefighters - Law Enforcement – Educators – Businessowners – Environmentalists Citizens - Seniors

With Your Vote, I Promise To continue to Fight Unfair Fees and Taxes and to Continue Working Full-Time for You – The Citizens of Santa Clarita – Phone 255-1259 –




FOR CITY COUNCIL APRIL 8, 2014 The endorsements that mean the most are from you. 14

Acosta for City Council support list continues to grow! Include your name at Al Harris Alisha Preheim Allie Acosta Anita Seibert Antonio Lopez, Mayor, City of San Fernando Barbara Ross Barbara Ward Becca Keating Betty Arenson Betty Crosswhite Bill Huddleston Bill Miranda Bob Slocum Bob Ventrice Brad Ross Brandt Buffham Breanna Towles Carlo Basail Carolyn Acosta Cheryl Redmond Chris Ball Chris Henning Chris Sonnenburg Chris Towles Chrisie Reid Lim Christina Monde Christine Korenthal Dana Schlumpberger Daniel Silva David Kazmer Debbie Curry Dee Dee Keoshian Donna Basail Doug Taylor Dr. Craig Keoshian Ed Edmonds Eric Larson Francine Ross Frank Arenson Fred Arnold Gary Bierend Gene Stabe,

Pastor Living SpringsChurch Greg Powell Gyna Fleming Hailey Cronin Jan Dennis Janelle Sonnenburg Jason Hilmer Jeri Cano Joanne Elizabeth Joanne Henning Joe Alleman John Dennis John Dortch John Redmond Jonathan McCarty Joyce Tice Judy Penman Judy Whitmire Julia Henning Julie Edmonds Karen Towles Kathryn Afetian Kathryn Kazmer Ken Seibert Kendra Moss Kim Saunders Kimberly Curry Laura Davis Laura Hogan Lesa Shapiro-Lotito Lois Cronin London Taylor Luke Stabe Maggie Aquaro Maria Francaviglia Marie Church Mary Ree Michael McCarty Mike McCarty Mike Ripling Pam Ripling Patsy Ayala

Rachel Phillipps Raymond Kutylo Robert Crawford Robert Phillipps Roger Beck Sharon Bronson Sharon Ventrice Steve Cooper Suzon Gerstel Ted Aquaro Teri McCarty Terri Lovell Tom Crosswhite Tom Polucki Tommie Huddleston Toni Polucki Vera Bierend Victoria Cooper Wendy Albright Grow Elect Raymond Kutylo Robert Crawford Robert Phillipps Roger Beck Sharon Bronson Sharon Ventrice Steve Cooper Suzon Gerstel Ted Aquaro Teri McCarty Terri Lovell Tom Crosswhite Tom Polucki Tommie Huddleston Toni Polucki Vera Bierend Victoria Cooper Wendy Albright Grow Elect

Vote for Dante Acosta for City Council.

The Next Generation of Latina Leaders W e have many very good Latina leaders here in Santa Clarita and we featured a number of them in our magazine including Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Claudia Acosta, Isa de Armas, Anna Frutos-Sanchez, Jessie Torres, Patsy Ayala, Patricia Lara Ladd and many others. We thank them for laying the foundation for the next generation of Latina leaders here in Santa Clarita. Why is this important? It is important because Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the United States,

California and yes, even Santa Clarita. As such we need leaders who can bridge multicultural divides in many areas of our society. Since this is National Women’s History Month, our focus is on women leaders. We know our choices here are very subjective. We know we are missing many other up and coming Latina leaders. But we feel very strongly that the women we have chosen are among the very best to be found. Enjoy their stories and be confident that the next generation will provide quality leadership for us all.

Setareh Khatibi Entertainer “I just got a role in a local production of Rent at the Performing Arts Center. I play the part of a promiscuous lesbian, Maureen Johnson. I may have to bare a thing or two in that role,” she laughs.


etareh is as talented as she is beautiful and that is really saying a lot. Having just won the title of Miss Mexico U.S. in a grand Las Vegas pageant, she will compete for Miss Globe later this year in Turkey. As if that weren’t enough, Setareh is a regular on the greatest of all Spanish language television shows, Sabado Gigante.

And there’s more from the Hart High graduate. “I just spent 40 days in Costa Rica interning for healthy eating (Vegan). I studied physiology and anatomy in order to better understand how our bodies work. We destroy our bodies with processed foods that inhibit our bodies from doing what nature intended. Many foods have toxins causing illnesses such as diabetes and hypoglycemia.” So how is Setareh going to use this new knowledge, “I’m going to do a blog and maybe a broadcast program called, Eat Naked. It’s a catchy name and I took a “catchy” photo to help promote it. I want people to be healthy and happy so this is my challenge.” For all her successes, Setareh is one of the most unassuming celebrities

around. She’s talented, beautiful, sexy, intelligent, personable and funny. “I had a bit of a hard life growing up. I don’t take anything for granted. I view every success as a blessing and every obstacle as a challenge. I’m into eating healthy not because I’m a model, but because I suffered for many years with internal aches and pains. Now I feel so much better because of the way I eat. And, of course, I work out regularly at Valencia Yoga Works.”

What is her advice to young people? “I’ll borrow from Gandhi and say, ‘be the change you want to see.’ Then I’ll add a little Setareh to it and say, ‘Take action damn it!”


Suzette Martinez Advocate


orn and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Suzette Martinez is an advocate for children, women and minorities. “I realized we can make a difference in this world when I was in the 3rd grade,” said Suzette. “The Exxon Valdez spilled tons of oil off the coast of Alaska. Our class wrote letters to President Bush asking for his help to protect our environment. Those letters, and many others, were responsible for new laws enacted to protect against oil spills in the future.” Suzette went on to study hard, play high school basketball and win the Miss San Fernando Pageant. In that role she campaigned against teen pregnancy and illegal drug use and called for more resources for education. After attending COC she went on to graduate from CSUN. She works for Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP). She says, “Children who attend quality preschools are more likely to graduate from high school and earn more in their lives. It is imperative to make

preschools available to all children especially those in our minority communities who don’t have easy access to them.” Regarding public schools, Suzette asks, “We produce some of the best colleges in the nation why can’t we produce good public schools? I believe the answer is competition. We need to give our students more options to seek the quality education they deserve. It’s wrong to force our children to attend bad schools.” Regarding business, Suzette says, “My father had a small business. I have seen the effect of our state’s anti-business policies. We tax and regulate our businesses so they can no longer thrive and provide jobs here. We need to change that.” Suzette, who is a member of the SCV Latino Chamber of Commerce board of directors, has announced she will run for the 36th State Assembly District seat. “California needs a two party system again. The stakes are too high for our future to continue on the current path.” What is her advice to young people?

“Don’t wait for permission, just do it. A big part of success is sometimes failing.”

Amber Martinez Community Leader


t Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Amber founded a group called Latinos Unidos. After one year the group had 350 members. “My father told me that one person can make a difference in the world and he was right. The group I started was able to raise funds to help young Latinos get through college.” Since she was 15 years old Amber has been involved in the medical profession. She worked for an optometrist and loved it. “Then a series of misfortunes brought medicine closer to me than ever. In a few short years I lost my aunt, grandmother, grandfather and my father to cancer. As if that wasn’t horrific enough, I was myself diagnosed with ovarian cancer after the birth of my son. My prospects were slim, but I prayed that if God allowed me to survive it I would devote the rest of my life to helping others.” Her prayers were answered. Amber survived. She remembers her father’s words when she was little, “You’re a Martinez. We don’t quit!”


Amber, now a single mother with two kids, works at the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center in Newhall. She is a patient’s benefits coordinator and does community outreach. She is awaiting certification to become a community nurse and help educate the community on medical issues such as prevention and access to

services. But, medicine is not her only love. Amber danced Folklorico throughout high school and college. She was part of the, De Mis Suenos Cultural Arts Program, that featured Dance Azteca, Ballet Folklorico and Mariachi dances. Here in Newhall, she formed a local dance school for youngsters and their parents. Thanks to her leadership, those kids are able to learn dance and perform on stages throughout Santa Clarita. What is her advice to young people? “Get the best education you can then get involved in community service!”

… if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” She quotes the Bible, “

Martha Aguilera Entrepreneur


artha was born in Sun Valley and spent most of her first nine years alone with her single mother before joining her father and four brothers in Chile. Her parents divorced when she was three. When she was still a child she was given an EZ Bake oven.

“I spent a lot of time home alone, as Mom couldn’t afford child care, so I would spend time using my EZ Bake oven and watching I Love Lucy. Later in my young life I found myself in and out of trouble. I had a child and had a hard time making the right decisions. Then, after 2 years and some life changing events, Divine Intervention happened. That is how I see it. I had some decisions to make and definitely some changes. I prayed for guidance and strength, and I got it.” It was then that Martha went from “loser” to “winner.” She read biographies of successful people. She made it her goal to become one of them. “If you want something go get it. It’s all about attitude,” she says. “I attended Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. I loved cooking and knew that

someday I would have my own bakery.” But first she had to make money and develop her business skills. She worked in the retail clothing industry and quickly became a corporate sales trainer. She was able to learn a great deal and save money to help her start her own bakery, Kokolita’s Cupcakes. “I made a lot of mistakes at first, but I learned from them and got better as a businessperson every day. Running a business is not easy. It’s hard work, but if you are willing to do it then go for it. Sink or swim!” What about the future? “I am building a chain of community bakeries with that “hometown” feeling. We will always provide outstanding products combined with outstanding customer service.” Martha’s second Kokolita’s will open very soon in Newhall.

Plan well, work hard, be smart, and HAVE FAITH and success will come.

Nancy Angel Communicator


ancy was born in Turlock, CA the second of six kids. Her parents were from Mexico. While still a child, her father left them and Nancy had to be her mother’s right hand in family matters. In the third grade her teacher asked the students to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up. “I drew Oprah. I wanted to be Oprah.” After graduating from high school, Nancy studied communications at California State University Stanislaus. “I worked two jobs sometimes three to afford college. I did whatever I had to so that I could graduate,” she said. It paid off. Upon graduation she was hired as a reporter at the Turlock Journal. She excelled immediately as a reporter and writer, so much so that a sister company, The Signal of Santa Clarita, hired her. She recently moved to Santa Clarita and now, at the ripe old age of 25, edits the paper’s “Connect” section. She also does occasional stories, interviews and a

blog appropriately called, City of Angel. “I feel like I’m learning every single day. I don’t just want to be another pretty face. I want to inspire others like me to follow their dreams and go out to succeed and be happy,” she said. “I saw my mother labor the way she did and I dreamed of having more. I love my mother, but I just wanted more. Now I am a young independent woman with opportunities in front of me. I want to eventually have a talk show and be a voice for minorities. I’m just a small town girl with big dreams and huge faith. God is in my life guiding me.” Nancy is still learning the ropes in Santa Clarita. She is a fitness nut who works out six days a week, loves to hike and dance. Young in years, but mature in everything else, Nancy’s advice to young people is,

“Appreciate the good things in your life and don’t let the bad things take you down. Things happen for a reason. Every person has the potential for greatness.” 17


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SCV Arts and Entertainment Nikki Miller: She’s Making a Splash and a Difference for Women by Gloria Locke

As a woman entrepreneur, Nikki Miller is creating opportunities for dreams to come true for others, by reaching out to families in the at-risk populations in the form of scholarships for children and job training for single mothers.


sa local partner of the USA Swimming Foundation, Miller is bringing the mission of the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative to Santa Clarita and surrounding communities through her facilities in Valencia and Newhall. The Aquatic Safety Awareness Program has initiated collaborations with the SCV Latino Chamber of Commerce, and Single Mothers Outreach, to accept students into a swim scholarship program (Feb 1 – Nov 26, 2014). The scholarship program seeks to improve the quality of life for at-risk families by providing lifesaving water safety skills in a safe, clean, structured and nurturing environment while mentoring youth for success in life. “Swimming lessons will not only give the children constructive after school activities but will educate them in a life-saving skill. We need as many opportunities as possible to bring hope and sustainability through training and gainful employment,” said DaAnne Smith, Executive Director of Single Mothers Outreach.

Find out more about the scholarships by contacting the Aquatic Safety Awareness Program at asapsocal@swim4life or call Academy Swim Club at (661) 702-8585.

We applaud Nikki Miller fulfilling her mantra “Swim4Life” by introducing an ocean of opportunities in water safety and women’s success.

According to national research: * 70 percent of African American children have low or no swimming ability; * 60 percent of Latino children have low or no swimming ability; * 40 percent of Caucasian children have low or no swimming ability; * 10 people drown each day in the United States. “We believe swimming lessons provide an opportunity for local Latino and Latina youths to begin embracing aquatics for safety and success. Swim lessons through Academy Swim Club’s Aquatic Safety Awareness Program open a new world for children and their families. As California residents we participate in year round water activities and it is our desire to help families recognize the importance of water safety. We are also excited about the employment opportunities resulting from the certification program,” says Bill Miranda, CEO of the Latino Chamber of Commerce. “It is a win/win situation to offer employment opportunities for single mothers to re-enter the work force through instructor certification and training program while children learn lifesaving skills,” said Miller.


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Women’s Debi Acker-Zolnoski

History Month, March 2014

Celebrating Women of Character,Courage and Commitment


hen asked by Bill Miranda to write an article about Women’s History Month, my first thoughts were of women whom I admired for their amazing accomplishments, such as Sacagawea, Harriet Tubman, Juliette Gordon Low (yes I was a Girl Scout), Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, Margaret Mead, Frida Kahlo, Anne Frank, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Indira Gandhi, among others. As we have an election coming up, the next thing that came to mind was how I appreciate women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony, who fought so hard for many years to allow women in the United States the right to vote. I jumped right into this project, and was pleasantly surprised to learn much that I did not know, and how significant Women’s History Month is for everyone, women and men. Mainstream women, who did not have the opportunity to leave historical records, also deserve our recognition.

marking International Women’s Day, its roots go back even further to March 8, 1857, when women factory workers in New York City protested horrible working conditions. In the twentieth century, due to World War II and The Great Depression, the event was not truly recognized until the Women’s Feminist Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which brought women’s issues, such as status in the home and workplace, along with basic civil rights, into the forefront.

While the celebration originated in Europe during the week of March 8, 1911, when many European nations began

Extract from President Barack Obama’s 2013 Presidential Proclamation for Women’s History Month

“Women's History Month is a time to remember those who fought to make that freedom as real for our daughters as for our sons. Written out of the promise of the franchise, they were women who reached up to close the gap between what America was and what it could be. They were driven by a faith that our Union could extend true equality to every citizen willing to claim it. Year after year, visionary women met and marched and mobilized to prove what should have been self-evident. They grew a meeting at Seneca Falls into a movement that touched every community and took on our highest institutions. And after decades of slow, steady, extraordinary progress, women have written equal opportunity into the law again and again, giving generations of girls a future worthy of their potential.”


PRESS RELEASE From the National Women’s History Project 2014 National Women’s History Month Theme & Honorees:

This year’s theme, “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment”, honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination and tenacity of women. Against social convention and often legal restraints, women have created a legacy that expands the frontiers of possibility for generations to come. They have demonstrated their character, courage and commitment as mothers, educators, institution builders, business, labor, political and community leaders, relief workers, women religious, and CEOs. Their lives and their work inspire girls and women to achieve their full potential and encourage boys and men to respect the diversity and depth of women’s experience. These role models along with countless others demonstrate the importance of writing women back into history. As the National Women’s History Project notes in its press release: “The lives and work of the 2014 Women of Character, Courage and Commitment Honorees span the centuries of American history and come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds”.

2014 Honorees: • Chipeta (1843 – 1924) Indian Rights Advocate and Diplomat • Anna Julia Cooper (1858 –1964) African American Educator and Author • Agatha Tiegel Hanson, (1873–1959) Educator, Author, and Advocate for Deaf Community • Katharine Ryan Gibbs (1863-1934) Women’s Employment Pioneer • Frances Oldham Kelsey (1914-Present) Pharmacologist and Public Health Activist • Roxcy Bolton (1926-Present) 20th Century Women’s Rights Pioneer • Arden Eversmeyer (1931-Present)The Old Lesbian Herstory Project, Founder • Carmen Delgado Votaw (1935-Present) International Women’s Rights Activist significantly influenced the advancement of women in Latin America. • Ann Lewis (1937-Present) Women’s Rights Organizer and Women’s History Advocate • Jaida Im (1961-Present) Advocate, Survivors of Human Trafficking • Tammy Duckworth (1968-Present) Member of Congress and Iraq War Veteran, the first woman with a disability elected to the House of Representatives. • Lisa Taylor (1974-Present) Civil Rights Attorney Many thanks to Molly Murphy MacGregor, Executive Director & Co-Founder of the National Women’s History Project 23


WiSH For Outdoor Fun! By Amy Daniels


pring, it seems, has been trying to arrive all winter, but now that it’s here, WiSH continues to give you opportunities to get out and about while supporting your local public schools. Many thanks for coming out to the Starry, Starry Night event in February to help raise $15,000 for Literacy Programs in the Hart District! WiSH was the beneficiary of the SCV Chamber’s Santa Colorita Run on February 15th, a beautiful day for family fun, as 1500 runners threw colored powder into the air and ran a 5k through the rainbow! With an eye toward the nice weather, let’s all get outside, SCV, and WiSH can help you get there! Look forward to some fun activities through WiSH, such as the Signal Hoops Tournament and Food Truck Festival to be held in March. Sign up your younger ones for a basketball clinic early for extra

incentives and then come to enjoy the contests between our wonderfully talented Hart District basketball players. Come early and stay late to enjoy the outdoor Food Truck Festival, guaranteed to be a fun day out for the whole family. Check our website for more details, dates and times. Who doesn’t love a late summer night of baseball??? Our website, www.WiSHscv. org, will be ready for ticket sales in March to the SCV Jethawks night, held on August 30th. The first one thousand people will receive the very popular reversible Jerseys! Tickets are only $8, so this is yet another

The Arts in My Opinion By Laurie Morgan - Visual and Performing Artist


’ve been asked: If you act on TV, in commercials and films and you sell your artwork, why do you still perform and exhibit in Santa Clarita? This assumes that the arts in Our Valley are not professional. Or at least not up to professional standards. I beg to differ! If you haven’t visited the local arts venues in Santa Clarita, you are really missing out, especially if you have children. It’s a trek to go to the museums and theaters in Los Angeles. Traffic, cost and time may make it difficult. We have fun and interesting places right in our own backyard. If you want to introduce your children to live theater go to one of the Family Series performances at the Canyon Theatre Guild. Then work up to their Main Stage shows. They can even meet the actors in costume after the show. Maybe they’ll want to get involved in one of the shows. You might even see your doctor or your realtor up on the stage! The plays are not just for children. The Canyon Theatre is a community theater geared to the public. For a more adult evening, leave the kids at home and check out the Repertory East Playhouse. It’s an 81 seat house with an intimate feel and a delightful bar in the lobby for socializing before the show and

during intermission. Here you may see actors that perform on TV, film and commercials.

wonderful family event to benefit our local students. Buy a ticket for just $10 and you’ll be entered in a raffle to win the opportunity to throw out the first pitch! We’ll follow that up with another great outing - a lovely evening of fun and winetasting at our Harvest Festival amid the grapes on the vines at Reyes Winery in Agua Dulce on September 6. Enjoy the fruits of our many local wineries and even try some grape–stomping, I Love Lucy - style! This event will prove to be a popular one, so plan ahead to enjoy the sunset at this lovely vineyard. WiSH is making a difference for every student in the Hart District. Help us make an even bigger impact by becoming a member, making a donation or sponsoring our events. Find out more at or contact Amy Daniels at or (661) 799-WiSH.

Every year more arts venues arrive in Our Valley. There is plenty to do right here … in my opinion. You can catch me as “Sister Miller” in Damn Yankees at the Canyon Theatre! Now Playing:

The Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons has a variety of performances in their season to please everyone, from local performance groups to big name celebrities.

Canyon Theatre Guild 24242 Main St. Newhall March 28 – April 26, 2014: Damn Yankees March 29 – April 27, 2014: Clarissa’s Closet

The art galleries and museums are too far? We have one right on Town Center Drive: The Gallery of SCAA. The Santa Clarita Artists’ Association exhibits new artwork approximately every 6 weeks. All art is done by local artists. During the year they have exhibits throughout our valley. Plus, free to the public, the 3rd Monday of the month, at Barnes & Noble, the SCAA hosts an invited renowned artist to demonstrate. Other museums include William S. Hart Park in Newhall, where you’ll find the Historic Hart Mansion and Heritage Junction.

Repertory East Playhouse 24266 Main St. Newhall March 7 – April 5, 2014: Biloxi Blues Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center 26455 Rockwell Canyon Rd Various Performances and Events CanyonsPAC/ The Gallery of SCAA 24251 Town Center Drive #155 Valencia March 7 – April 27, 2014: “Boots, Spurs and Brushes” Artist reception for this exhibit Friday, March 7, 6-9pm And an Open House on Friday April 11, 6-9pm


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Maria Gutzeit March is Women’s History Month. Let’s applaud the women who raise children, care for seniors, support non-profits, run businesses, serve as teachers and serve our government.


omen dive into projects because they care deeply about community. Though politics is tough, I hope to be your next Santa Clarita City Councilwoman because I care about our future. Everyone knows working families with kids have to scramble these days. As a mother of a 4 year old going into our public schools and caregiver for senior parents, I know a well run City can really make life easier for residents. Excellent schools, well rounded senior services, and recreational activities make everyone happier and healthier. I am a business owner with Fortune 500 background (www. My husband also owns his own business. We deeply understand that every new tax and fee is really money coming out of working families’ pockets. New taxes and fees, like the new “salt tax,” need to be fought more effectively than they have been to protect small business and taxpayers. I have served you as an elected official with Newhall County Water District since 2003. I’m ready to do more for Santa Clarita. I’ve served on the Senior Center Board, the Los Angles County Bicycle Coalition, and on the Valley Industrial Association’s Regulatory Reform Committee, among other things. With your support in the April 8th election, I hope to serve you on the Santa Clarita Council!

Learn more and contact me at or 661-310-6005.


Financial Freedom or Financial Equality? by Arif Halaby


t has been said that in America financial freedom and financial equality for all cannot coexist. Financial freedom may be defined as personal wealth and income that is greater than expenses. Financial equality is defined as financial outcome manufactured for all the participants of society and everyone receives equal parts. For more than 150 years Americans who fell on financial hard times relied on family, charities and religious institutions for help. This system was not without its flaws; benefits were not always distributed evenly. Sometimes, race or religious bias deterred fairness. However, it served a vast majority of Americans. When the government became involved, the minimum standard was more uniform. However, providing benefits to lessen hardship has resulted in the creation of more fees, extra taxes and regulations that have been passed on to citizens who have achieved financial success. It is important to mention that social security, unemployment, and welfare have improved the standard of living for the retired, middle class and lower class. The minimum wage

has allowed people to have some type of standard of living. Today, even the “poor” in America have heat, carpet, a monthly check and even cell phones. The United States is known as the “land of opportunity”. Regardless of one’s social class, race or religion, one could achieve success with innovation and hard work; the possibilities seemed limitless. But, when politicians have the authority to limit your income by increasing taxes, fees and “charges”, it decreases opportunities. The president recently said that he thought people should have no more than $3 million dollars in their retirement account. Now, that is certainly a lot of money, but once the power to decide “how much” one person can save in his retirement is given away, financial freedom begins to slip. Financial responsibility for you and your family should be yours alone. When there is a push to raise the minimum wage and give certain guarantees to success and standardized incomes, the value of an individual’s hard work has then been proven to diminish success. For example, if we were to give a student in school who earned a ‘D’ a ‘C’ grade and reduce the student who earned an ‘A’ to a ‘C’ grade, all would say that is not fair. In fact, the hard work from the ‘A’ student should be rewarded with a greater level of benefit. Why should the “A” student study and work hard if the best they can earn is a “C”? If someone earns more money or has greater success, then society should never punish or penalize that success. You see, the freedom of success comes with the freedom to fail. That scares a lot of people. I do not blame them, failure is not fun. But, the person you can become by failing is sometimes more valuable than the lessons you learn in high school, university, from your parents, from the government or even from the internet.

A Valentine Gala with a Mission


ity Council candidate Moazzem Chowdhury officially launched his campaign on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at the Hyatt Valencia Regency Grand Ballroom. The evening was a celebration of Valentine’s Day and the launching of his campaign. Over 175 guests attended, dressed for the occasion, in formal attire. Catering to the guests’ diverse backgrounds, the entertainment consisted of a classical Bangladeshi dance artist, a Mexican Ballet Folklorico and an Indian Punjabi Bhangra dance group. Filipino singer Sheila Colby graced the stage with her powerful and heartfelt rendition of the Star Spangled Banner as well as other favorites. Community advocates, Myra Miranda and Levi Locke, spoke in support of candidate Chowdhury, highlighting his integrity, passion, and leadership ability. Chowdhury’s speech was the highlight of the evening. He said his goal, if elected, is to focus on: a safe, family centered, business and environmentally friendly city that embraces technology, diversity, and its senior citizens.


“He is really a strong leader and an outstanding person,” said Linda Lopez who did not know Mr. Chowdhury before that evening. She added, “It is important that Santa Clarita acknowledge its diversity and celebrate it.” Ending the evening with fun for all was a dance party with DJ J.R. Del Rosario. Moazzem Chowdhury thanks all who attended in support of his campaign and for making the evening a tremendous success.

If you want to learn more please visit




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our Valley March 2014  
our Valley March 2014  

In this March issue we focus on women. March is National Women’s History Month and we honor the women who impact our lives above and beyond...