On Friday, March 18, 43rd District Assemblymember Laura Friedman named Gloria Salas as the 2022 Woman of the Year in front of Burbank City Hall.
Each year, the title is bestowed upon selected recipients on behalf of the California State Legislature to commemorate Women’s History Month. One woman is chosen as Woman of the Year in every Assembly and Senate district throughout the State of California. Friedman aims to select a woman “whose work is influential in the areas of policy, advocacy, research and community-building programs to promote safety, well-being, sustainability, education, [and] a more caring society,” per a press release.
Friedman chose to present this accolade to Salas due to her longstanding dedication to leading social justice initiatives in the Burbank community. This includes her service as a leader of the Zonta Club of Burbank, the Area 3 director and lieutenant governor-elect for Zonta International District 9, and a moderator of the Peace & Justice Ministry at St. Francis Xavier Church. She is also an active member of both Burbank for Armenia and the Burbank Human Relations Council.
Members of Salas’ church, where she has been involved for a decade, spoke at the event and praised her unwavering dedication to philanthropic efforts. Some of her focuses are promoting women’s rights, raising awareness on human trafficking and taking part in food, clothing and toy drives.
“It is said, and I will quote, ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness,’ ” Deacon Jaime Abrera of St. Francis Xavier Church said. “But with Gloria, I tell you, she doesn’t just [light] the candle, she turns on the searchlight on the darkness of injustice in our society.”
When Salas addressed the crowd in front of city hall, she modestly stated that she was in disbelief when Friedman said she had been chosen as the award recipient. She then thanked Friedman, Mayor Jess Talamantes, City Councilmember Sharon Springer, and all members of the Burbank City Council. She likewise showed appreciation for her St. Francis Xavier colleagues, as well as her husband, former Burbank City Councilmember Tim Murphy.
Through the Zonta Club of Burbank, Salas has participated in campaigns that empower and uplift women. The organization provides services such as self-defense classes for women, human trafficking awareness courses and grants and scholarships for women pursuing higher education. Friedman expressed her elation in recognizing Salas’ inspirational contributions to the community during Women’s History Month.
“[Salas] is a trailblazer, and her focus is all around helping uplift women and girls, so there’s no one more perfect [for the honor],” Friedman said.
Toward the end of the ceremony, Salas was given a bag of goodies from Friedman on behalf of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. She was also later presented with a handmade wooden charcuterie board crafted by Burbank Chief of Police Mike Albanese.
Friedman concluded by highlighting Salas’ commitment to bringing Burbankians together for important causes, then asking everyone to take a group photo on the steps of City Hall to remember the occasion.
“A lot of people want to do the right thing, but it takes a special person to be that glue that connects people and … pull[s] all those goodhearted people together, and that is what Gloria Salas is all about,” Friedman said.
Prior to inviting attendees to a reception taking place at Milano Café & Deli after the celebration, Salas emphasized the importance of uniting as a community to ensure progress is made in the area of social justice.
“One of the things that I believe that we all need to do is to be in communion with each other,” Salas said. “We’re all human beings … I think it’s up to us who have more to help those who are disenfranchised, and that means women, people of color, children, … wherever we find ourselves in our circumstances.”