SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz County Women’s Commission honored the accomplishments of seven local women in its recent Trailblazers Awards ceremony.

In its 16th year, the awards have recognized nearly 100 women who “are making extraordinary differences in the lives of women and girls,” commission cochairperson Theresa Cariño told dozens of the April 21 meeting’s virtual meeting attendees. Recipients, in their professional or private lives, are said to have done work to inspire, encourage and empower others.

The commission bestowed two posthumous lifetime achievement awards on Allison Endert and Alicia Nájera. Nájera, a clinical social worker for community clinic services provider Salud Para La Gente, was one of the county’s first Latina women in behavioral health leadership, Cariño said. She “helped integrate mental health services into primary care services,” and also was involved in planning and securing support for the 2019 construction of a Watsonville behavioral health facility, Cariño said. Nájera served as an ally to the LGBTQ community and advocate for a culturally competent and linguistically responsive workforce.

Endert, who had worked as an analyst for Santa Cruz County 3rd District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty through her June 2020 death, “dedicated herself to working toward identifying and addressing social inequities,” said commission cochairperson Jillian Ritter. Endert had played an important role in developing the county’s Nurse-Family Partnership program. She also had worked in support of homeless families and the LGBTQ community, Ritter said.

Additional awardees included:

• Economic Justice Leadership: Carmen Herrera-Mansir, executive director for El Pajáro Community Development Corp. Under Herrera-Mansir’s leadership, the organization developed the El Pajáro Women’s Business Center, serving Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties.

• Anti-Racism Leadership: Joy Flynn, who worked to help create the county Committee to Address Racism and Economic and Social Justice and the cofound the Santa Cruz County Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity. Among several other anti-racism leadership efforts, Flynn also helped draft a county resolution declaring racism a public health crisis and a Santa Cruz city resolution declaring July as Black Lives Matter Month.

Santa Cruz County women honored as ‘trailblazers’