SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. -– Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, County of Santa Clara Office of Women’s Policy Director, has been named 2014 Woman of the Year for Assembly District 27.
Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Nora Campos, D-San Jose, is recognizing Peralez-Dieckmann at the annual California Legislative Women’s Caucus awards ceremony. Peralez-Dieckmann will receive this recognition with women from other Assembly districts throughout the State on Monday March 10, on the floor of the Assembly in Sacramento, to highlight the State Legislature’s celebration of Women’s History Month.
“Esther is fearless and strong. She’s the perfect community advocate,” said Speaker pro Tempore Campos. “I have had the honor of working with her to protect women from domestic violence and taking Santa Clara County’s model system state-wide. She has been a leader in forming sustainable partnerships with community groups and local, state and federal agencies to address a variety of worker issues, including equal pay, wage theft, pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment. We are thrilled to recognize her as our Woman of the Year for District 27.”
Peralez-Dieckmann’s record of accomplishments as an advocate for women and the disenfranchised spans several decades. She began her career in 1994 by promoting voter registration and economic empowerment for Latinos. Later she became involved with research and advocacy for women and girls in the justice system. She also has led workforce initiatives to help women move from welfare to work.
“Whether she’s spearheading initiatives to create work opportunities for women, advocating to end violence against women, addressing the importance of economic security for women, or developing leadership among our youth, Esther is a true public servant,” said President Mike Wasserman, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors and Chair of the Board’s Public Safety and Justice Committee.
“With her vision and sense of urgency, Esther has become a voice for many women facing inequality and unfair treatment in our Valley,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Chair of the Board’s Children, Seniors and Families Committee. “Communities thrive when women thrive, and, with Esther at the helm, the Office of Women’s Policy continues to be a strong agent for change.”
Key accomplishments in Peralez-Dieckmann’s role as Director of the Office of Women’s Policy include advocating for legislation that protects women from domestic violence; directing efforts on “Breaking Cycles, Rebuilding Lives,” an award-winning initiative which has been recognized as a first of its kind report about female offenders at the jail level; championing pilot efforts to move female offenders from incarceration into non-traditional job training and employment; and providing support and technical assistance to community organizations.
“We are pleased but not surprised that Esther is being recognized for her contributions,” said County Executive Jeff Smith. “Under her leadership the Office of Women’s Policy has been a true advocate for women.”
Currently, in collaboration with community partners, Peralez-Dieckmann is leading efforts to provide greater awareness and support for low-wage workers. She has helped to secure funding for worker rights clinics to address problems such as wage theft, equal pay, pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment. In 2012, she was among a core group of community leaders and representatives of county, state and federal agencies who founded the Bay Area Equal Pay Collaborative. The collaborative was honored in 2013 with the Gender Justice Award from Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco.
“Esther has tremendous knowledge of the complexities of the local population and the needs for women and families,” said Guadalupe Rodriguez, Chair of Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women. “One of her greatest assets is her ability to bring people together across systems to look at recurring issues and ask, ‘how does this impact women?’. Using this gender lens she ensures that decision makers are informed and ready to act on behalf of women.”
Peralez-Dieckmann has led the Office of Women’s Policy since 2005 but she says her proudest accomplishments and greatest joy come from rearing her two energetic and compassionate young boys with her husband Jack.
Women of the Year Background
The Woman of the Year Awards event was started in 1987 by the State Assembly as a way for the California Legislature to recognize Women's History Month. It celebrates the contributions to society made by remarkable women throughout California. One outstanding woman from each Senate and Assembly district comes to the Capitol and is honored for her accomplishments in a formal ceremony on the floors of the Senate and Assembly. This is a yearly event sponsored and organized by the Women's Caucus.
Posted: March 5, 2014