BAKERSFIELD – Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) proudly recognized Mari Pérez-Dowling, the President and CEO of the United Way of Kern County, as Woman of the Year for Assembly District 32. Ms. Pérez-Dowling is the first Latina to serve in her role as President and CEO at United Way of Kern and has championed efforts to reduce homelessness and food insecurity, and has supported free income tax assistance and early childhood literacy programs that have benefited countless families throughout the Central Valley.
“I am thrilled to recognize Mari Pérez-Dowling as Woman of the Year for her service and invaluable contributions to our community,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Kern County is better because of the work of people like Ms. Pérez-Dowling, who brings the community together and strives to improve the lives of working families in the Valley. During the pandemic, Ms. Pérez-Dowling has been on the frontlines of countless food drives, pouring her heart into uplifting the community during these challenging times. I look forward to our continued work together to help make the Valley a better place for everyone.”
Born in Ensenada, Mexico, Ms. Pérez-Dowling moved to the United States when she was 13 years old. The call for service was instilled in her through her previous occupations as a teacher and radio and tv show host. As a role model for success in a large community with educational inequities, she wanted to create greater educational opportunities for children facing literacy issues and rally more stakeholders to become involved in funding programs that promote early childhood literacy.
The Woman of the Year event was founded in 1987 by Assemblywoman Bev Hansen and Assemblywoman Sally Tanner, who noticed that the California Legislature had no events planned for the month of March, Women's History Month. In celebration of the contributions to society made by remarkable women throughout California, Hansen and Tanner arranged to invite one woman from each Senate and Assembly district to come to the Capitol and be honored for their accomplishments. This year, the event will be held virtually.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.