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  • March 26, 2012

Asm. Tony Mendoza escorts Woman of the Year,
Aparna Hande, to the front of the Assembly Chambers



Assemblymember Tony Mendoza Honors Woman of the Year in State Capitol

Sacramento - Assemblymember Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) celebrated the accomplishments of Aparna Hande, the 56th Assembly District Woman of the Year, in a ceremony held on the floor of the California State Assembly yesterday.

“I am proud to honor such an accomplished woman,” Assemblymember Mendoza said. “Her work is an inspiration to me and she is a role model for all women in the 56th Assembly District and throughout the state.  Our community is blessed to have someone like Aparna Hande serving it.”

The ceremony honored Hande, along with 79 other women from the remainder of the state’s Assembly districts.Assemblymember Mendoza, a public school teacher, proudly serves the communities of Artesia, Buena Park, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, Los Nietos, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, South Whittier and Whittier, which make up the 56th Assembly District.

  • March 02, 2012:

NRI Aparna Hande Receives ‘WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD 2012"
in California


Los Angeles, March 02, 2012
Vasu Pawar,

Tony Mendoza Assembly member, City of Norwark, California, Announced the ‘WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD 2012’ to APARNA HANDE, the first Indian woman to receive this prestigious award in the Golden State.

In honor of the Women’s History Month, Tony Mendoza celebrated the accomplishments of the women from each city within the 56th Assembly District with an Award Ceremony, and Reception, which was held at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, March 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm, to Honor these outstanding Nominees and the recipient of this Award, Aparna Hande.

As we have seen attention to India in so many areas for the past many decades, in Technology, Science, Research, Bollywood, Movie Industry etc., Aparna Hande the receiver of the ‘Woman of the Year’ award 2012, in the 56th Assembly District, once again draws World Attention to India through NRIpress.

Aparna Hande is definitely an inspiration to all the Indian women and the rest of the world as well. Her focus, determination and her optimistic approach to serve the community in as many ways as possible, has surpassed all her difficulties, shortcomings, and barricades. She holds a Masters Degree in Health Administration and through the career as a nurse, she was able fulfill her dream and to serve the community wholeheartedly. She believes that it is never too late to do anything in life. In her lifetime she had done so many things from serving the Indian Army from 1966-1970 as a military nurse, helping the Indian Soldiers on Kashmir border, making the soldiers comfortable, helping them to relieve pain, and providing them with skilled medical care and attention.

She also had the opportunity to serve in Zambia, South Africa, as a Mid-Wife – Health Care Educator, where she got a chance to address pre-natal care, hygiene, diet, exercise, pre-natal vitamins, and follow-ups on medical check-up, and due to her persistence, and her passion for work she managed to get the mothers come for regular check-up at clinics. The First President of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda visited her clinic due to her outstanding services.
She was also awarded the ‘Indian Nurses of America’s Nurse of Excellence of the Year Award in 2008, the Best Manager/Leader in Nursing and encouraged patients to speak-up.

Aparna has also received several awards of recognition in the community as well. She received the U.S. Representatives Congress Certificate of Congressional Recognition for Vice President, Community of Federation of the Indo-American Association of Southern California by Honorable Gary G. Miller 42nd Congressional District on January 27th 2008. A Certificate of recognition was also presented by Tony Mendoza, member of California Legislature Assembly 56th District in honor of her dedicated service to the Federation of the Indo-Americans of Southern California at India’s 60th India Independence Day Celebration at Norwalk, California, and a Certificate of Recognition from Linda T. Sanchez, Member of Congress for her outstanding dedicated services on August 25th 2007.

She has also participated in the Indian Community Health Fairs, Lead community Organizations like Indo-American Associations: Indo-American Optimist Club, Cerritos, Indo-American Club under Don Knave (LA county supervisor), and INAC (Indian Nurses Association of California).

Aparna Hande has also rendered her helping hand to the Elderly. She is a co-founder of the Universe Senior Association and currently working at the Senior Care Giver Association.

Being a Victim of Abuse herself, Aparna’s passion for Abused Women grew even stronger as she understood their pain and sufferings and extended her hand to the Indian Abuse Association to help women restore their confidence and to protect themselves from challenges to come in their lives. She also provided shelter in her own home until they found a job and were ready to be on their own and face the society.


It is an honor to recognize 8 nominees for the ‘Woman of the Year Award 2012’ all of whom have contributed outstandingly to the community. Following are the nominees:

1.    Rosa Barragan – Norwalk
Made it her life mission in the city of Norwalk, to give back to the community, and promote human welfare by empowering others. She coordinated for years to promote the ‘McKinney – Vento Program’, and helped the needy children and families in the City of Norwalk area including temporary homes and shelter.

2.    Josephina Canchola – Santa Fe Springs
The community advocate for 30 years, helped fundraise for ‘Plaza de la Raza Pre-school’ to purchase holiday gifts and school supplies for children of the low income parents, donated time to raise funds for ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church’s Children’s Choir’ including gathering donations for Senior Citizens. She also served as Associate Director of the University of California Puente Project for the past 11 years.

3.    Winnie Heiss – Lakewood
Her commitment to the city of Lakewood, spans more then 47 years. Being the member of ‘Pan American Association’ since 1985, she worked to coordinate a scholarship program which awarded financial assistance to 120 Lakewood students to further their education awarding $87,112.00 in scholarships since 1999, and her 15 years contribution to ‘Su Casa’ a domestic violence agency.

4.    Ernestina Hurtado – Artesia
She began her volunteer involvement since 1995, with the A.J Padelford Park Parent Group serving various roles as a part-time Artesia Staff member when she volunteered her time and money to assist children in need, until the year 2000 when she was offered a position to continued to serve the children and parents of Artesia who were in need.

5.    Honorable Michiko Oyama-Canada – Hawaiian Gardens
Dedicated the past 20 years of her life to serve the residents of Hawaiian Gardens. As a commissioner, she worked with her husband, Councilman Bob Canada, proposed to allow the establishment of the Hawaiian Gardens Casino, which saved the city from possible bankruptcy. After her husband passed away, she ran for his seat and was re-elected twice. As a City Council, collaborated with ABC School District and the I. Moskowitz Family to build the Sports Complex at the Fedde Middle School.

6.    Honorable Elizabeth Swift – Buena Park
A Councilmember from the City of Buena Park was a former School Board Member for the Buena Park Elementary for 30 years. She was also acknowledged for her altruism and was named School Board Member of the year, Citizen of the Year, and 2007-2008 Teacher of the Year at Fullerton Joint Union High School. She is currently the President of the Buena Park Rotary Club and a role model as a daughter, mother, grandmother, and a friend.

7.    Sandra Thorstenson – Whittier
A Superintendent for the past 10 years at the Whittier Union High School District, has transformed the school into a high-achieving district and actively advocated for quality and equality in public education at local, state, and national levels and as a member of many professional and community organizations her achievements gained her California’s National Superintendent of the Year Award by the Association of the California School Administrators.

8.    Jean Wall – South Whittier
A tireless advocate for the children and the South Whittier community volunteering many hours towards community events through the Whittier County Community Coordinating Council (WCCCC) which serves the unincorporated residents of the city. She is also actively involved collecting and donating blankets and toys to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for children or families who are injured or victims of a crime. Her work has touched the lives of many South Whittier Victims.  

The Women of the World, have something to achieve, something to learn, from these outstanding women, who have dedicated their entire life for their service, to the community. I admire each and every nominee and appreciate their devotion, strong belief in their dreams and aspirations, and focusing on the things they wished to achieve. As Aparna Hande says, it’s never too late for anything in life.




















  • Aparna Hande was chosen due to her strong ties with the Indo-American community and her commitment to the promotion of health and wellness through nursing. As a Registered Nurse, Hande came from an underserved community to receive her Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and worked in nursing management. She was awarded the National Association of Indian Nurses of America’s Nurse Excellence of the Year Award in 2008, is the Co-Founder of the Indian Nurses Association of Southern California, the Co–Founder of the Indo-American Universal Senior Association and the Co- Founder of the Indo-American Optimist Club.  She worked with abused Indian women and is President of the Federation of Indo-American Associations of Southern California.