Four Honorees Recognized at Santa Barbara’s Women of Achievement Awards

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From left to right: Katya Armistead, Yolanda Medina-Garcia, Susan Salcido, and Wendy Sims-Moten. Photo courtesy of AWC-SB.

Tia Trinh

Executive Content Editor

On May 1, the 16th annual Women of Achievement Awards were presented to four local honorees, recognizing them for their work in Santa Barbara education. Hosted by the Association for Women in Communications Santa Barbara (AWC-SB), this year’s theme was “Lessons in Leadership: Connecting & Communication as Education Evolves” and the event was presented by Women Connect4Good. This year’s honorees were Katya Armistead, the Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Student Life at UCSB; Yolanda Medina-Garcia, retired Director of Starr King Parent-Child Workshop and SBCC educator; Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools; and Wendy Sims-Moten, Executive Director of First 5 Santa Barbara County. All four women are lifelong educators in the Santa Barbara area and received their awards at the Cabrillo Pavilion in downtown Santa Barbara. 

As highlighted in AWC’s press release, AWC-SB Board President Hilary Lyn welcomed everyone and emphasized the day’s importance. “Celebrating our educational champions highlights the pivotal role of communication in their leadership journey,” she said. “The impact of their work underscores the importance of effective dialogue in driving positive change and shaping future generations.” After her warm welcome to the event, the mic was handed off to emcee Catherin Remak, who was a previous honoree.

Each of the honorees discussed their experience working with students of all age levels, emphasizing their focus on fostering culture and belonging for students. With this year’s focus on communication in education, Remak geared the talk towards each woman’s experience in education and communication, the effects of social media, how to leverage it to our needs, and how it can be used effectively to mitigate conflict. 

Susan Salcido acknowledged the evolution of communication as essential and critical. In recounting her experiences working at different high schools in the Santa Barbara area, she emphasized the many lessons learned with students, parents, and colleagues. At the end, she reminded youth to remain curious and to keep doing research before coming up with quick answers.

With their various experiences and encounters working with students from a diverse range of backgrounds, the honorees emphasized the need for greater communication and collaboration between students, parents, and educators. Yolanda Medina-Garcia emphasized that parents are very involved and know what’s happening on campuses and their students’ lives. “It was always very important to bring different perspectives to the table,” she recounted her time working in higher education and most recently for a parent-child workshop.

The conversation shifted into a discussion about the growth of social media and communication over technology. “Communication is key… and learning and listening is evergreen. It’s important for students to be encouraged and to learn,” said Wendy Sims-Moten. The evolution of communication platforms has made it easier for information to be shared quickly, but they warn of the dangers of misinformation and inevitably becoming sucked into our screens. 

All four women encourage students to spend less time on social media and more time outside, fostering a space where they can have face-to-face conversations and dialog and build important communication skills.

“Students have something to say and we need to listen,” Katya Armistead said in her closing remarks. “We need to model civic engagement and how to have some good dialog. And it’s okay that they don’t agree, but we can grow from that and support one another.”

AWC-SB is always looking for new members to join and be part of a positive environment that uplifts the inspiring work of women in the community. The luncheon concluded with final thanks from Remak and all of the honorees.

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