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Cool Women Alumnae

Each year since 2001, Girl Scouts San Diego has honored local women who serve as outstanding role models for girls as they balance work, family, friends, and service.

Cool News About Cool Women

Cool Women are always making news…and making a difference! Read on to learn what some of them have been up to.

The Honorable M. Margaret McKeown
Featured news:

The contribution of African Americans to the arts is immeasurable. From music, to theatre and film, to literature and beyond, Black creatives have forged paths and opened up new avenues in nearly every art form known to man. And though many have not received their flowers, last week San Diego-based playwright, arts activist and philanthropist Dea Hurston ('18) received hers. After 30-plus years of dedication to the Southern California arts community, the New Village Arts Center celebrated the groundbreaking and renaming of the newly-appointed Dea Hurston New Village Arts Center (DHNVA)—making it the first arts center in the country to be named after a Black woman in the past 50 years. 

“Ms. Hurston is not only an important playwright—we were proud to produce the world premiere holiday musical, 1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas in 2022, but she has been a leader in the San Diego arts community for over 30 years,” says Kristianne Kurner, founder and executive artistic director of the New Village Arts Center. “She has often been the first, and only, Black woman in the room and on the Board of Directors for many companies in our area and has made innumerable opportunities available for younger BIPOC artists and administrators. All of us at New Village Arts are so very proud to have our building named in Dea Hurston’s honor.” Read the full article.

More cool news:
Cool Women Making Headlines

On her 100th birthday, Deborah Szekely ('14), founder of Rancho La Puerta Spa in Tecate, has published a book, "100 Lessons from a Grasshopper." In her foreword, Szekely explains she never actually wrote the content — she verbalized it! Over the years, the wellness pioneer made short quips and observations during lectures and speeches that intrigued and amused two of her Rancho La Puerta staffers, Rob Larson and Peter Jensen. They began jotting them down as “Deborah-isms.” Read the full San Diego Union-Tribune article.

Longtime CBS 8 TV reporter Marcella Lee ('21) has been promoted to main anchor for CBS 8 and its sister station, CW San Diego. Read on to find out about Lee's journey to the anchor's desk.

President Joe Biden nominated Cindy Marten ('13) as the new U. S. deputy secretary of education in charge of K-12 and higher education. Marten, whose favorite mantra is “Work hard. Be kind. Dream big,” has frequently talked about equity as her goal. “I have dedicated my life as an educator to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for all students,” Read more about her journey from San Diego Girl Scout to Washington, D.C.

Divya Kakaiya, Ph.D. ('09) was published in the San Diego Union-Tribune warning that digital media addiction is a pandemic for teenagers and children. Dr. Kakaiya focuses on steps families can take to build resilience back into our children and teens as the mental health crisis soars.

Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D. ('16) has been awarded $2.6 million in funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to help develop a pan-coronavirus vaccine that could be effective for years to come. Read more on Erica Ollmann Saphire.

Congratulations to Brittney Reese ‘17, who wrapped up her Olympic career with a silver medal in the long jump. Over the years, Britney won 10 Olympic and world championship medals, including a gold at the 2012 London Games.

Dame Zandra Rhodes ’13 launched a new collection in collaboration with IKEA. Her KARISMATISK collection of 26 statement-making pieces is available in IKEA stores globally. 

When Izzy Tihanyi ‘01 and her twin sister Coco founded Surf Diva Shop & Surf School in 1996, it was the first all-female surfing school. The La Jolla-based company, which also carries beach gear and apparel, is celebrating 25 years of sisterhood, surfing, and style.

Laura Shawver ‘18 was featured in a “Feel Good Friday” profile edited by Lori M. Walton ‘11 and distributed by Giving Back Magazine. Dr. Shawver founded the Clearity Foundation, which uses science to address ovarian cancer, the deadliest of women’s cancers.

Nancy Jamison ’19 was honored posthumously with the Neil Morgan Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement during LEAD San Diego’s annual Visionary Awards event on Oct. 27. Nancy’s obituary detailed her work as CEO of San Diego Grantmakers (now known as Catalyst) and announced that Catalyst has created a Nancy Jamison Fund for Social Justice. 

Dawn Berry ‘19 has been appointed to the board of directors of Cardea Bio, a company that integrates molecular biology with semiconductor electronics.

Marcella Lee ‘21 won an Emmy Award in the military category for her story about the “Miracle on the Midway” during Operation Frequent Wind and the fall of Saigon. She found it especially meaningful as the daughter of an Army soldier who served in Vietnam. By the way, don’t miss Marcella’s emotional profile of a couple that adopted seven siblings who survived a car accident that left them orphans.

Lee Ann Kim ’13 wrote a San Diego Union-Tribune opinion piece about her experience as an Asian woman.

Lee Ann and Connie Matsui ’05 were appointed by Mayor Todd Gloria to a new Asian-Pacific Islander Advisory Group. It will focus on guiding Gloria's administration in tackling the unique challenges facing API communities. Paola Avila ’18 is the mayor’s chief of staff.

Erica Ollmann Saphire ‘16 was appointed as president and CEO of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

The Arts and Humanities Building at San Diego City College will be renamed in honor of Constance Carroll ’05, the school’s recently retired chancellor. Dr. Carroll’s academic background was in ancient Greek and Latin.

Felena Hanson ’17 is the subject of an Entrepreneur article about how her company, Hera Hub, survived the pandemic, and the cultural fallout that afflicted other female coworking businesses.

Lidia S. Martinez ’06 received the Herb Klein Spirit of San Diego Award from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. The chamber presents the lifetime achievement award to those who make a significant, lasting impact on our region. Lidia’s son, Teddy Martinez, wrote a Mother’s Day tribute to her for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Wendy Urushima-Conn ’17 chairs the San Diego Public Library’s Board of Commissioners.

Dr. Wilma Wooten ’10 was named Person of the Year by YMCA of San Diego County for her efforts to promote a science-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Zandra Rhodes:  50 Fabulous Years in Fashion is a new memoir/photo book about a member of the Cool Woman Class of ’13. Zandra has designed clothing for Princess Diana, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Cher, and many other fashion icons. The Fashion and Textile Museum in London—which Zandra founded—is featuring a retrospective exhibition until Jan. 26, and a documentary about her is in the works.

Melissa d’Arabian ’14 has published Tasting Grace: God's Invitation into Deeper Connection and Satisfied Hunger. In the book, Melissa shares 16 invitations designed to transform perception of food and the role it plays in our lives, from equality and connection to hospitality and stewardship.

Rose Schindler ’15 and her late husband, Max, are the subjects of the book, Two Who Survived: Keeping Hope Alive While Surviving the Holocaust. By year-end, Rose will have made nearly 100 appearances at schools and churches to share her inspirational story.


Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire ’16, of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, was awarded more than $6.4 million by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to support her research toward COVID-19 antibody therapeutics.

Judge M. Margaret McKeown ’04 received the American Bar Association’s John Marshall Award for “extraordinary improvements to the administration of justice in judicial independence, justice system reform or public awareness of the justice system.” She serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Chancellor Constance Carroll ’05 and Patti Roscoe ’08 have earned lifetime achievement awards. Constance was recognized by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship and the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce , while Patti’s honor was presented during the San Diego Business Journal ’s “ Business Women of the Year” event.

Robin Nordhoff ’09 and Joan Embery ’12 were named “Legendary Women of the Heart” at the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women luncheon chaired by Superintendent Cindy Marten ’13.

Susan Polis Schutz ’12, received a Christopher Award for making The Homeless Chorus Speaks, a PBS documentary about the San Diego-based Voices of Our City Choir. Created 70 years ago to celebrate artists whose work "affirms the highest values of the human spirit," the award reflects the motto of The Christophers organization, "It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."

Dawn Barry ’19 is president and founder of Luna DNA, a community-owned platform for health research that won the startup category during San Diego’s first-ever Xconomy Awards ceremony. Magda Marquet ’14 was a presenter at the event.

In the News

Bink Cook ’01, Lidia Martinez ’06, Patti Roscoe ’08, and Dea Hurston ’18 co-chaired the Cool Women 20th Anniversary Celebration, in lieu of the annual Cool Women induction. The program, which has nearly 4,700 views on YouTube, highlighted how Dr. Wilma Wooten ’10, Melissa D’Arabian ’14, Lesley Cohn ’15, Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire ’16, and Patty Maysent ’17 are taking action during the pandemic. Other segments included Emerging Leader Girl Scouts conducting a Q&A session with Cool Women, and an in memoriam montage honoring the seven late Cool Women, including Elizabeth Yamada ’06, who passed away on May 20. 

Cool Women provided major support for the Power Her Promise Celebration, the culmination of a month-long fundraiser for Girl Scouts San Diego. Katie Sullivan ’06, Patti Roscoe ’08, Divya Kakaiya ’09, and Arlene Harris ’13 were sponsors and/or served on the honorary and event committees for the virtual program.

Dee Sanford ’03 was profiled in the San Diego Union-Tribune’s “Someone San Diego Should Know” column. Dee, a longtime advocate for entrepreneurs and networking, recently retired from Greenwood Memorial.

Lidia Martinez ’06, Cindy Marten ’13, Reena Horowitz ’15, and Mary Jean Anderson ’17 are among the Cool Women who have been profiled by Giving Back Magazine Philanthropy Editor Lori Walton ’11. Lori shared “10 Things About…” each Cool Woman in Giving Back’s “Feel Good Friday” e-newsletters.

Lesley Cohn ’15 is a partner in the Cohn Restaurant group, which—though its Tacos Libertad taco shop—has donated more than $100,000 to local charities, including Girl Scouts San Diego. Pacific Social in Carmel Valley is the latest addition to the Cohn’s lineup.

The Honorable M. Margaret McKeown ’04 teamed up with local Girl Scouts to commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment. One project, which is posted on the American Bar Association website, is a compilation of Nineteen Ways to Celebrate the 19th Amendment. She is the co-author of Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Cookbook: 100 Recipes for 100 Years, which applauds the courage of the suffragists. ( San Diego Union-Tribune). Judge McKeown spoke about the amendment and the cookbook at Girl Scouts San Diego’s annual Volunteer Conference.

Out and About

San Diego Mesa College now calls its humanities institute the Dr. Constance M. Carroll Humanities Institute. Dr. Carroll was a Cool Women in 2005. Next year she plans to retire from her role as chancellor of the San Diego Community College District.

Lidia Martinez ’06 recently retired from her 30-year remarkable career with Southwest Airlines. She continues to be an advocate for women and girls. 

Attorney Abby Silverman ’06, has joined the panel of JAMS as an arbitrator and mediator, handling employment matters.

Brown Law Group founder Janice Brown ’07 announced her firm’s merger with Meyers Nave.

Photos by Angelika Drake ’10 are available on her website. She is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence.

Happy birthday to 90-year-old Dolores Huerta ’10 and 98-year-old Deborah Szekely ’14, who were feted with car parades, flowers, and phone calls in 2020.

Dr. Wilma Wooten ’10 is the namesake for a new scholarship for San Diegans who are pursuing a degree in health sciences and come from communities underrepresented in higher education. The San Diego Foundation, Alliance Healthcare Foundation, The David C. Copley Foundation and San Diego Gas & Electric teamed up to fund the scholarship.

In a blog post, Patricia McArdle ’14 describes how the sight of Afghan children carrying huge bundles of twigs for cooking fires rekindled a long-forgotten memory of a Girl Scout badge activity. That was the start of her 15-year association with Solar Cookers International, which provides a global audience with information about this free, environmentally-friendly method of cooking.

Ashley Tipton ’16 converted her Hillcrest clothing design studio into a sewing facility that creates stylish face masks.

Connie Matsui ’05 participated on a panel at a recent appreciation event for Girl Scouts San Diego donors. She is vice chair of the world board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, an organization serving 10 million girls and young women in 150 countries.

Carol Rowell Council ’17 made history in 1970 by founding the nation’s first women’s studies program at San Diego State University. On Saturday, April 25, 2020, SDSU celebrated the 50th anniversary with an event that features speakers, workshops, and performances.

The “Betty Peabody ” and “Sally Ducken” hybrid geraniums developed by local breeder Jim Zemcik were named in honor of two Cool Women. Betty is a member of the Cool Woman Class of 2008, while Sally is a Suzy’s Zoo character created by artist Suzy Spafford ’03.

Dolores Huerta ’13 is pictured in a silkscreen print at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the museum where an oil painting of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low is also prominently displayed.

Karen Archipley ’15 and Paola Avila ’18 have been guest lecturers for the social entrepreneurship course that Jo Dee Jacob ’16 teaches at UCSD’s Rady School of Management.

Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire ’16 traveled to Glasgow to deliver a Tedx talk titled, “How to Turn Competitors into Collaborators.” As a researcher at La Jolla Institute for Immunology, Erica studies the Ebola virus and other deadly diseases.

Anne Fege ’16 is an outdoor volunteer and trainer for Girl Scouts San Diego who introduces girls to urban forestry. Her contributions include involving Girl Scouts in tree-planting events, creating a workshop about environmental leadership, and holding another workshop where middle schoolers earned a Tree badge and volunteers learned how to lead similar sessions.

Ashley Nell Tipton ’16 is working on a new fashion line based on her finale collection from  Project Runway and teaching sewing and self-acceptance classes at her studio in Hillcrest.

Caroline Winn ’18 spoke at the 11th annual Climate and Energy Law Symposium hosted by the University of San Diego School of Law.

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2022 Cool Women
2001-2022 Cool Women (printable list)