Women Honored at Annual Awards Celebration

Photo provided by the YWCA
Photo provided by the YWCA
Glendale’s YWCA Heart & Excellence honorees (from left) Sharon Townsend, Roberta “Bobbi” Gangi, Laura Guillory and Seda Khojayan surround 108-year-old Gertrude Ness (sitting).


The YWCA of Glendale awarded five community members with Heart and Excellence Awards at its 17th annual Legacy Luncheon. Held on Wednesday, April 30 at Oakmont Country Club, the event provided an opportunity for the YWCA to spread awareness of its programs and continual growth in the area while honoring individuals who exemplify the spirit of the organization.

Roberta “Bobbi” Gangi, Laura Guillory, Seda Khojayan, Gertrude Ness and Sharon Townsend were all presented with awards as Heart and Excellence honorees. The event was emceed by Emmy Award-winning news anchor Cater Lee. Additionally, La Cañada High School student Jenna Schwartz was presented with the Jane O’Connor Volunteer Service Award.

All of the honored women exhibited a long track record of service to the community that reflects the values of the YWCA.

Gangi, who is native to Glendale, is a well known figure in the area little league community after years of opening her home to children for batting practice and team use. She is an active member of several nonprofits, and served as president of Las Candelas, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting emotionally disturbed children, for three separate terms.

As a longtime advocate for the study of science and mathematics, Guillory is the chair of the Glendale American Association of University Women’s Tech Trek Project, a program that looks to promote math and science fields to aspiring young women.

Through her work with the Armenian Relief Society and the Commission on the Status of Women, Khojayan is characterized as a connecting force in the community.

The 108-year-old Ness boasts a long history of positive social change that includes work as a riveter of bomb bay doors in 1941, a career in education that spanned over three decades, and service to the YWCA that contributed to the opening of the Nern Center, Griffith Manor, and the opening of the YWCA thrift shop.

As someone who follows the motto “do something good when no one is looking,” Townsend has left an impressive trail of service and integrity in the community. She currently holds the position of CEO for Glendale Healthy Kids.

The YWCA is a national program designed to seek social and economic change in the world through the advocacy of gender equality. The Glendale chapter of the organization has been a part of the community for nearly 90 years, with programs that provide residents resources to combat domestic violence as well as efforts designed to provide support for female veterans.

According to Glendale YWCA figures, the organization provided shelter to 43 women and 40 children in addition to offering 260 families support through its Domestic Violence Support Center in 2013.