Our 2023 Gala – The Evolution of Belonging was a night to remember, full of celebration, inspiration, gratitude, and excitement for the future. On behalf of the students we serve, we would like to thank our supporters, guests, donors, board members, gala committee, volunteers, and staff for contributing to a successful event. Check out some pictures of the event below!



EVENT HONOREES

Los Angeles Councilmember Imelda Padilla

Los Angeles Councilmember Imelda Padilla

Recipient of the Community Leader Award

Councilmember Imelda Padilla is an experienced coalition-builder with 20 years of experience in community leadership. Ms. Padilla was born in Van Nuys and grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Sun Valley, where she was raised along with her five siblings. From a very young age, Ms. Padilla has been advocating for the residents of the San Fernando Valley to have adequate resources to thrive and has a proven record of producing outcomes in policy and programs. Over the years, she has brought together leaders from across labor unions, businesses, and faith-based communities, along with elected officials, to enhance prosperity for all Angelenos. She has served in multiple capacities, from mobilizing a Valley coalition to raise the minimum wage to $15, to being a former Sun Valley Neighborhood Council member, to creating the Adelante Youth Summit, to launching the Women and Girls Initiative with the County of Los Angeles and serving as President of the Valley College Foundation.


Stephanie Wiggins

CEO, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Recipient of the Community Leader Award

Stephanie Wiggins

The Board of Directors of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority(Metro) unanimously voted to hire Stephanie Wiggins as Metro’s CEO on April 8, 2021. A lifelong trailblazer and champion of equity and inclusion, Wiggins is the first woman and African-American woman to lead the agency. As CEO of Metro, she oversees an agency that runs the third-busiest transit system in the United States, with an annual budget of $9 Billion and 11,000 employees, and serves as the lead transportation planning, programming, financing, and construction agency for the 10.1 million residents of LA County. Before rejoining Metro as CEO in June 2021, Wiggins served as the CEO of Metrolink, the nation’s third-largest passenger rail system covering 538 route-miles throughout Southern California.


Dr. Vandi Verma

Dr. Vandi Verma

Deputy Section Manager, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Recipient of the Inspirational Leader Award

Dr. Vandi Verma is the Deputy Manager for Mobility and Robotics Systems at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Chief Engineer of Robotic Operations for the Mars 2020 mission with the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter. Her Robotics and AI work has been deployed on robots in the Arctic, Antarctica, the Atacama Desert, and Mars. In addition, she is also the Principal Investigator of an Operations for Autonomy research task. She has been engaged in robotic operations on Mars since 2008 with the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity rover, Perseverance Rover, and Ingenuity helicopter.


Dr. Moogega Cooper

Mars Sample Return Contamination Assurance Lead Engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Recipient of the Inspirational Leader Award

Dr. Moogega Cooper

A real-life “Guardian of the Galaxy,” Dr. Moogega “Moo” Cooper holds the responsibility of keeping the red planet safe from any of the Earth’s contaminants.  Moo is the planetary protection lead of the famed NASA 2020 Mars mission—with its highly viewed landing on February 18, 2021.  Her work with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is integral to the ongoing mission to discern whether Mars could be habitable for humans and that we don’t harm what’s already there. After graduating from high school at 16, Cooper studied physics as an undergraduate, received a master’s degree, and went on to earn her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at 24 years old with a dissertation on sterilizing spacecraft using plasma. She has been working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2010 on the Curiosity Rover, InSight Lander, Mars 2020, and the Europa Lander Concept, and is part of the large team of scientists and engineers who are focused on bringing Martian samples back home.


With a special guest appearance by DIY Girls’ Founder Assemblywoman Luz Rivas.

For her full biography, click here.


STUDENT SPEAKER

Chanthal Trejo

Chanthal Trejo

B.S. Electrical Engineering, UC Davis

DIY Girls Alumnus

Chanthal was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She attended San Fernando High School, where she was a part of the Invent Girls program for two years which inspired her to become an engineer. She attended UC Davis, where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and is now an Associate Facilities Engineer at Tesla. She was a STEM instructor at DIY Girls for a year during college and hopes to continue inspiring more females to pursue STEM careers.


Grecia Carrillo

News Anchor for the morning newscast

Grecia Carrillo

Grecia Carrillo is a News Anchor for the morning newscast Noticiero Telemundo 52 at 5 am and 6 am, Monday through Friday. Telemundo 52 is Telemundo’s West Coast flagship television station, offering nearly 30 hours of news and local programming each week, more than any other Spanish-language station in Southern California, including breaking news coverage, forecasts up-to-the-minute weather and entertainment.

For her full bio, click here.


Sponsorship opportunities are still available. You can see a list of our current sponsors below. For more information, please email Julisa Chavez, Development Manager, at julisa@diygirls.org.

To see our sponsorship packet, click here.