Community Celebration Honors Women in Solano County

kazakoff-lois Lois Kazakoff, writer and deputy editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, is the keynote speaker for the 2013 Women's History Month Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, March 22, in the Joseph Nelson Center in Suisun City.

Responsible for the daily op-ed page and the Sunday Insight commentary section, Kazakoff is a columnist who writes about a wide variety of issues, including water, environment and civic engagement, especially the need for women's voices in the public conversation.

While a business writer and editor in 1997, she launched a campaign to begin presenting the newspaper's stock tables in dollars and cents instead of fractions. As a result, she was invited to testify before a congressional subcommittee in support of legislation to change the increments in which stocks were traded.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in French from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is an avid cook, gardener, hiker and traveler. She lives in Benicia with her husband and two cats.

Two high-profile community leaders will be feted at the event.

The president and CEO of Travis Credit Union, Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, will be awarded Woman of the Year honors bestowed by the Women's History Month Committee.

The provost and chief operating officer of Touro University's Vallejo campus, Marilyn Hopkins, is the honorary chair of the Solano County's 2013 Women's History Luncheon.

Sandy Person, Solano EDC president and CEO, will emcee the 6th annual event that supports Solano County Library Foundation and women's history projects for the Solano County Library.

Major Sponsors include Gretchen Shilts, Travis Credit Union, NorthBay Healthcare, Republic Services, Recology Vallejo, Touro University and Potrero Hills Landfill.

Van Ouwerkerk Chosen Woman of the Year


The president and CEO of Travis Credit Union, Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, is Woman of the Year, an honor bestowed by Solano County's 2013 Women's History Month Committee.

She will be recognized at the annual luncheon event set for 11:30 a.m. on Friday, March 22, in the Joseph Nelson Community Center in Suisun City.

The 2013 National Women's History Month theme, Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination, honors generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

"I am honored to be recognized as this year's Solano County Woman of the Year recipient," stated Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. "The women who previously received this recognition are to be congratulated and thanked for the numerous ways they have motivated others to reach their potential. I believe there's no better gift any of us can give than through our time, energy and involvement, especially when it comes to mentoring others."

Since becoming president and CEO, Travis Credit Union has grown from $1.1 billion to $2.2 billion in assets and serves approximately 178,000 members at 22 branch locations. The credit union's field of membership includes individuals who live or work in 12 counties in Northern California and the military and civilian personnel of Travis Air Force Base.

During her 38-year career in credit unions, she has served on numerous state and national credit union boards and committees and has volunteered extensively in the communities where she has lived.

Solano County Library Foundation, Chairman of the Board, Jim Dunbar stated "Van Ouwerkerk was selected because of her inspirational leadership and development of innovative programs in financial and life skills that help young women and men become successful personally and financially."

Van Ouwerkerk is a Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow. She is past Chair of the Travis Regional Armed Forces Committee, serves on the advisory board of the Vacaville Boys and Girls Club, is a member of the Solano Economic Development Committee's Board of Directors and was elected chair in January 2013. She is the past Chair of the Board of the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce.

She is the 2007 recipient of the California Credit Union League's Distinguished Service Award. In 2006, the Credit Union Executives Society named her Executive of the Year. Earlier in 2006, she received a Woman of Distinction Award in the banking and finance category from the East Bay Business Times. In 2005, she received the Athena Award from the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce for her role as a leader and mentor.