First published in the March 12 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
When being lauded for her years of volunteerism and work to bolster civic life in Burbank and Glendale, Lila Ramirez was compelled to add an amendment to the statement.
She wanted to make sure that the others who have put in the work and service alongside her got their due.
“Others have come before me, and others follow,” she said in a recent phone interview. “Our democracy is fragile, and we must fight for it. That’s kind of what always drove and motivated me.”
The Glendale woman, famed for her activism and leadership, was named by state Sen. Anthony Portantino as the 2022 woman of the year for his district. Portantino, a La Cañada Flintridge Democrat who currently represents Burbank, said he was “humbled to know and honor” Ramirez with the award.
“For decades, she has worked tirelessly to advance social justice and democratic values throughout our communities in many different and important roles,” he said in a statement. “Her courage, generosity and persistence are an inspiration for all of us. The 25th Senate District and the state of California are better places because of Ms. Ramirez.”
Ramirez, a native of New Mexico, moved to California in 1962 and has served the communities of Burbank and Glendale for more than 60 years. She is a past president and co-chair of the Holocaust Commemoration organized by Burbank Human Relations Council and is a 50-year board member of the League of Women Voters, initially in Los Angeles and later Burbank-Glendale.
Ramirez has served as a senior peer counselor at Glendale Memorial Hospital and has held numerous positions on the Burbank PTA, including council vice president, diversity chair and past president. She has also served as a member for the Burbank Coordinating Council, Glendale Charter Review Committee, Downtown Glendale Specific Plan Committee, Glendale Human Relations Coalition, Glendale Historical Society, and as a board member for Glendale Healthy Kids and Glendale Latino Association. Additionally, she is the co-founder and past president of the Rossmoyne-Mountain Homeowners Association and has dedicated her time to census count committees in Burbank and Glendale, as well as the Glendale Community Center Catholic Charities.
Ramirez said she has always been inspired by the “actual work” that she and her peers have done in response to the need throughout the years. She said she found her calling for civic engagement at a young age.
“I think I started in high school, when I entered a speaking contest at the urging of my speech teacher,” she recalled. “The title of the thing was ‘I Speak for Democracy.’”
A successful business owner and entrepreneur, Ramirez’s skills in business management, business development and financial oversight have been an “invaluable asset to those organizations she had volunteered for,” Portantino said, adding that she is “passionate about advocating for policies that impact youth, girls and women, education, our election process, and diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Portantino presented the Senate Resolution to Ramirez at her home in Glendale on Super Bowl Sunday.
“Lila Ramirez is super woman,” Portantino said, “and, as the representative of a district of 1 million people, Lila is clearly and deservedly one in a million.”
In response, Ramirez said she was “astounded” to receive the recognition.
“Like the many women before me,” she said, “I know that women will continue to be bold, smart and strong and work together to make our communities thrive — Como las mujeres.”
Ramirez is the middle child of 10 siblings and is a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Many of them were on hand to wish her well when she received her award.