Sacramento Women Who Owned 2015!

This year has been monumental for Sacramento in a lot of ways. We see a lot of the same key players celebrated for their contributions in moving Sacramento forward, and the accolades are well deserved.

There are however, many un-sung heroes in our community who did big things this year and didn’t get the recognition we felt they deserved. These people served their community selflessly, without any self promotion. So as the year comes to an end we wanted to celebrate and acknowledge local women in Sacramento who we feel owned 2015.

Amy Alley (nominated by Jamee Villa)

image1You may have heard the name Amy Alley around the capitol and if you have been lucky enough to befriend her you know how amazing 2015 has been for her.  In my opinion, she is the type of woman we need more of in this city. She’s hardworking, determined, smart and witty as hell.

Amy has worked for the California State Assembly since 2009, both as a Communications Director and as a Legislative Director. She currently works for Assemblymember Rob Bonta, representing the 18th Assembly District, including Oakland, San Leandro and Alameda. Honorably working for the first and only Filipino American ever elected to the California State Assembly in the 165 year history of the state.

Prior to her work in the Assembly, she worked for several years as a staff attorney with the Office of Legislative Counsel, writing legislation and counseling Members of the Legislature and their staff on legal matters. She was a lawyer for the California Department of Health Care Services and the California Department of Corrections. Amy Alley majored in Political Science and Journalism at Sacramento State University, graduating with honors, and ultimately obtained her J.D. from King Hall School of Law at UC Davis.

And if that wasn’t enough, this year alone she developed and staffed historic legislation to prevent the spread of AIDs in California’s prisons (AB 966), successfully managed statewide media campaigns to pass a package of bills to regulate medical cannabis in California (AB 266 was signed by Governor Brown on October 9th) and staffed a bill to modernize the victim compensation program to provide victims of violent crime with more compassionate care (AB 1140). In her personal time, she is the Vice-Chair of the Capitol Black Staff Association. Did I mention, she is an extreme ballet enthusiast studying both as a child and as an adult. #micdrop

Gina Knepp (nominated by Laura Braden)unnamed-1

Would you jump out of an airplane to raise money for adoptable pets? Well Gina Knepp did just that, erasing any doubt that she’s a total badass.

Gina runs the Front Street Animal Shelter, the City of Sacramento’s primary animal care services provider. She’s basically Sacramento’s own Leslie Knope. She and her incredibly dedicated team work tirelessly to re-home (or find current owners of) dogs, cats and bunnies.

She’s beyond modest, but it’s undeniable that the shelter has witnessed a complete transformation under her leadership. She’s increased the shelter’s live-release rate from 20% to 80%. And so far this year, they’ve saved 6,500 animals, fostered 2,400 and participated in over 200 community events.

Front Street also has an aggressive neuter/spay, licensing and micro-chip program. Notable collaborations include a different adoptable dog featured in the Sacramento Ballet’s Nutcracker and “Dog Days of Summer” that raised thousands through a series of pop-up events throughout #midtownSac. Her next goal? Make Front Street a 100% no-kill shelter. #AdoptDontShop

Kim Lewis (nominated by Danielle Ball)

IMG_1347Sacramento is filled with political aficionados. One of the women making a difference to youth all over the state is Kim Lewis. She has worked as a lobbyist with HR Dowden & Associates for the past ten years. One of her major initiatives during that time has been advocating for homeless youth. Sacramento has one of the highest populations of homeless children in the state.

Kim has been working towards allocating more resources for these children to help keep them in school and give them a chance at a better future. This year, she worked on two bills that were signed into law by Governor Brown. They would reduce barriers for homeless youth to pursue their education, a key ingredient for self-sufficiency.  

One bill, Senate Bill 252, gives homeless youth greater access to high school equivalency and proficiency exams. She was also heavily involved in Assembly Bill 1228 to provide on campus housing to homeless youth through the CCC, CSU and UC systems.

A recent estimate puts California’s homeless population ages 12 to 17 at approximately 200,000.  This, combined with the fact that there are only six beds in shelters for youth under 17 in Sacramento, makes her work essential to our area.  When she’s not working in the Capitol, Kim can be found mentoring college women at CSUS. She’s served as an advisor for Phi Sigma Sigma sorority for the past ten years, helping to expand the chapter and serving as a key figure for Sacramento State Greek life.

Justine Hamric Matteucci (nominated by Kelli Gould)

Justine Headshort2015 could not have been a better or more rewarding year for Justine Hamric Matteucci. This year, Justine spent the majority of her time – and patience – in the classroom herding, teaching and loving on her group of preschoolers at Discovery Learning Center. She considers it a huge privilege to be able to help these kiddos grow and develop into wonderful little people.

When the school year ended, Justine didn’t hop on a plane to party it up in Vegas or an exotic island. Instead, she traveled to Texas to prepare for the launch of Sacramento’s chapter of Royal Family Kids Camp, a life-changing camp for abandoned, neglected and abused children in the foster care system.

Justine had previously volunteered at Costa Mesa’s chapter RFKC camp in 2008, while on spring break from UC Irvine. Even though it had been many years, she always knew she wanted to return to help with RFKC again. After years of checking the website to see if a Sacramento camp had finally popped up so she could volunteer, she decided to start it herself! She recruited her husband, sister, and brother-in-law to form a team of directors. After raising money to attend the training, she and her team spent a week in Dallas learning the ins and outs of running a camp.

They are now recruiting volunteers and sponsors to help make RFK Sacramento 2016 a reality,so they can begin serving 30 of the 2,900 foster children currently in the Sacramento County system. Justine’s vision and commitment are so inspiring, and I can’t wait for the lives of these children to be impacted by the choices she made in order to bring this camp to life!

Quirina Orozco (nominated by Chelsea Irvine)

eleakis204448_31Sacramento’s own version of Olivia Benson, Deputy District Attorney Quirina Orozco is making our city streets safer, one bad guy at a time. For ten years Q, as she is known to friends and colleagues, has been working at the Sacramento DA’s office and now holds the dual position of prosecuting child abuse and adult sexual assault crimes.  Q has seen firsthand the profound consequences of sexual and physical abuse on residents from toddlers to the elderly.

Breaking barriers as one of Sacramento’s most prominent Latina prosecutors, Q has proven her entire life that there’s nothing that will inhibit your success if you are willing to be diligent.  Q comes from a family of modest means– the granddaughter of pear farmworker, and product of a single mother worked two jobs to keep her family from taking public assistance.  

After graduating from Florin High School, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in social welfare at the University of California at Berkeley. She later earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government which led to her first job working as a Budget Examiner within the Clinton Administration. Following her stint with the White House, she relocated to California to serve as a policy advisor to Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. In 2002, she returned to UC Berkeley to complete her juris doctorate at Boalt Hall School of Law, where she worked closely with victims of domestic violence through the domestic violence clinic.

During her childhood, Quirina obtained a unique insight into the lives of domestic violence survivors and became an advocate for the battered and silenced early on in life. That wisdom enables her to communicate in a unique, personal way with abuse survivors.

Though her days are filled concentrating on getting dangerous criminals off the street, Q also has the most important job of raising two amazing young boys, Noa and Mateo. Q also sits on the Board of Appeals in West Sacramento and volunteers countless hours at the boys’ schools and to different programs in the City of West Sacramento.  I’m proud to call Q my friend and believe her story of working hard to make real dreams emerge from hard times can be a model for other minority women.  She is most definitely one of my role models.   

Morgan Ragan (nominated by Allie Eklund)eleakis204435_004

She shoots, she scores. Morgan Ragan is the newly appointed sideline reporter for Sacramento Republic FC. In addition, her morning sports radio show “The KICKOFF with Dave, Deuce and Morgan” earned her SN&R’s title “ 2015’s Best Voice of Sacramento.”

Ragan has a very inspiring career path that started with being an unpaid intern and working her way up to co-host, producer, and board operator with CBS Radio. Catch her Monday through Friday 6-9 AM on Sports 1140 KHTK to recap that King’s game you missed this week.

A self-described sports enthusiast, Morgan “loves reporting, writing, reading, photographing, talking, watching and playing sports.” Highlights include: varsity basketball all four years in high school, winning 1st team All League three of the four years and helped the team win the only league title in Women’s Basketball history at her high school. She also played for the San Francisco Pro Am League.

With all the great work Morgan has been doing for our sports community, she still finds time to give back. Morgan dedicates her time to coaching kids athletic camps and mentoring local students about how to launch into broadcast journalism. She insists on passing it along to the younger generations, claiming “I wouldn’t be where I am today without sport, coaching, and community.”

Sandy Sharon (nominated by Amy Thoma)

unnamedThis year, Kaiser Permanente named Sacramento native and registered nurse Sandy Sharon senior vice president and area manager of the Sacramento area. A native of Sacramento, Sandy earned her bachelors and MBA from Sacramento State and previously served as chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at Kaiser Roseville.

Sandy’s appointment comes as Kaiser is significantly growing in Sacramento. Kaiser recently announced plans to build a new hospital at the railyards and a medical facility on J Street and has more than 700,000 members in Sacramento alone. The railyards and medical office building in downtown Sacramento are both major investments in the future of downtown.

Faith Mari (nominated by Chantel Elder)

static1.squarespaceA true champion for our city and with an eye for beauty, Faith Mari has literally shown us through photography what a wonderful place Sacramento truly is in 2015.  Faith is mostly known in the Sacramento area for her work with the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau as the resident Curator for their Instagram. As a result, she is now a full-time Social Media Specialist promoting Sacramento, brands and companies via social media.

Faith is an accomplished musician with both a Bachelors and Masters degree in piano performance from Sacramento State University, California. Faith has traveled the world with her music aspirations and as a result began capturing the places she visited through photography. By 2010 she had quite a collection of images from all the places she had visited and shared them on Instagram. To date, Faith has over 109K followers on Instagram earning her a “Top Ten Instagramers on Instagram”  feature by Conde Nast Faith’s work is beautiful and her love for Sacramento is infectious making her one of my favorite ladies to have watched in 2015.


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