Two Exceptional Role Models for Women Named Riverside County Women of the Year
RIVERSIDE – The Riverside County Commission for Women has selected six women of the year who will be presented with special honors at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting in Riverside. The Fourth District has the distinction of having two women, Maggie Montez and Lisa Gurzi, selected for this honor.
“The Women of the Year awards recognize some truly special women whose community service and leadership on women’s issues make Riverside County a better place,” said Supervisor John J. Benoit. “I am delighted to honor Maggie Montez and Lisa Gurzi, two extraordinary women who are exceptional role models to women and girls.”
Maggie Montez is an accomplished commercial real estate agent, promoted in 2006 to senior vice president of CB Richard Ellis at their Indian Wells office. A Coachella Valley resident since 1988, she has continually ranked in the top 25 nationally among CB Richard Ellis retail specialists.
Ms. Montez escaped an abusive marriage after entering a life-saving shelter. That part of her early 20s soon became just a short, dark chapter of a life that turned out more wonderful than she would have ever dared to ask for. In 1985, she married Larry Montez and had two children, Amanda, 17, and John, 15.
Ms. Montez has drawn on her experience to serve women and children in shelters. In 2008, Ms. Montez formed Sheltering Sisters, the auxiliary for Shelter from the Storm, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of domestic violence. Under Ms. Montez’s leadership as president from 2009 to 2011 and with the assistance of the 12-member executive board, Sheltering Sisters has raised $145,000 for Shelter from the Storm, including $40,000 toward an on-site preschool at the emergency shelter.
“There are 11 other women who stand shoulder to shoulder with me and earned this reward,” Ms. Montez said. “May all you do for others come back to you ten-fold!”
Lisa Gurzi is a registered nurse at Desert Regional Medical Center, where she serves as nurse manager of Healthy Beginnings, outpatient maternity educational services and a retail boutique. Becoming a mother at the age of 16 gave her the motivation to become an RN, more than 13 years after graduating from the College of the Desert. Ms. Gurzi is a devoted single mother of her sons, James, 22, and Justin, 14; daughter Julia, 15; and grandmother of Lauren, 3.
Ms. Gurzi is a compassionate individual who truly cares for the wellbeing and outcome of her patients. Inspired to make a real difference in the lives of mothers and babies, she has implemented baby-friendly curriculum and teaches childbirth and breastfeeding classes to families and staff. She currently staffs the hospital with in-patient lactation nurses and assists mothers with breastfeeding after discharge. She has also assisted with a workforce breastfeeding policy. Ms. Gurzi’s workplace contributions have allowed moms who have recently returned to work at the hospital to have a designated area where they can be comfortable pumping.
“I am very honored to receive this award as Woman of the Year for Riverside County,” said Ms. Gurzi. “I hope that all women can be inspired to do what they love.”
Joining them will be: Pamela Clute (First District), Ruth B. Anderson Wilson (Second District), Carol Roquemore (Third District) and Diane Shott (Fifth District). Forty six women were nominated for the six awards.