State of Women conference celebrates empowerment, commitment

Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson was among several hosts March 1 at the annual State of Women Conference kicking off Women's History Month.

Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson was among several hosts March 1 at the annual State of Women Conference kicking off Women’s History Month.

Women’s History Month kicked-off big in Rialto Saturday with more than 300 people gathering for the eighth annual State of Women conference, celebrating women of character, courage and commitment.

The free event, spearheaded by Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson, aims to[restrict userlevel= “subscriber”] recognize women impacting the community and bring light to several women’s issues.

This year’s conference included a presentation about women as victims of crimes, lead by keynote speaker Kristina Rose, deputy director of the Office for Victims of Crime for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Keynote speaker of the event was Kristina Rose, deputy director of the Office for Victims of Crime for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Keynote speaker of the event was Kristina Rose, deputy director of the Office for Victims of Crime for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Rose told the audience to “refuse to be silent and speak out about abuse.”

“So many people are afraid to ask for help…speak out about abuse and violence–say something about it…”

Saturday’s three-hour event was co-hosted by Robertson, Rialto City Clerk Barbara McGee, the Inland Empire chapter of the National Council of Negro Women and for the first time, the Women’s Club of Rialto.

This year’s event also recognized Jeanne Smith and Sandra Chalupnik  as the 2014 Jewel Award recipients for their dedication to both the community and county.

Guests Saturday included Rialto notables Mayor Pro Tem Ed Palmer and City Administrator Mike Story, joined by several other dignitaries from neighboring cities including Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren and Assemblymember Cheryl Brown.

Among those present Saturday was Rialto School Board president Joanne GIlbert, who has attended the event annually since 2006.

“I’m delighted to see how much it has grown and how it’s developed into the program we have today,” Gilbert said.

Over the years, more people have taken notice of the event and many want to participate in support of women and their commitment to their community, she explained.

“It’s a wonderful event for women to engage and interact with one another in support of their causes and to discuss women’s issues,” Gilbert said. “That’s what empowerment is about and that’s what (Mayor Robertson) leads us in doing so here.”[/restrict]

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