Southwestern College Governing Board Vice President has been named the Woman of the Year for the 80th Assembly District.
In a ceremony on the floor of the California State Assembly on Monday, March 4, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez presented Vargas with the award.
“Every community needs individuals like Nora Vargas,” Gonzalez said. “Whether it’s her work with Planned Parenthood or her role as a leader at Southwestern College, Nora has been fighting to empower the South Bay’s working families throughout her career.”
Vargas, who is the vice president of community and government relations for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, was appointed to the Southwestern College Governing Board in 2013. She ran for election in 2014 and re-election in 2018.
“I am truly honored by this recognition,” Vargas said. “Assemblywoman Gonzalez has always been a trailblazer and champion for issues that affect women and families. I too am passionate about uplifting our communities, women, working families and students, and I look forward to continue to do this work alongside such amazing women leaders.”
As a Governing Board member, Vargas has advocated for initiatives that improve student access, academic excellence and address students’ economic insecurities. Together, the Governing Board became the first college district to endorse the Campaign for College Opportunity’s Blueprint for California Higher Education and “Our California” campaign. The Board has taken strong stands to support immigrant students. The Board recently approved a comprehensive approach to gathering information on students’ housing and food insecurities to better design and implement interventions.
The Woman of the Year is given by Assemblywoman Gonzalez each year during March for Women’s History Month. Previous winners have included National City Councilwoman and now Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, AT&T Executive Christine Moore and Genoveva Aguilar, organizer with the Service Employees International Union’s Justice for Janitors Campaign.
In addition to her service on the Southwestern College Governing Board, Vargas serves on the 12-member California State Teachers Retirement System. She was appointed in 2015 by then-Governor Jerry Brown and she is the first Latina to be appointed to that board. Vargas also is a board member for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and is a champion of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and an alumna of HOPE’s leadership program.