Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham has chosen Lompoc Valley Medical Center Critical Care Unit registered nurse Thao Carey as the 35th District Woman of the Year 2021.
Cunningham, a Republican representing the Central Coast, presented Carey with an elaborately framed certificate of honor, noting her “outstanding service and dedication to the people of the state of California.”
“The rarity of this award is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that only 120 women are honored by the California State Legislature each year in a state of nearly 40 million,” according to information from the State Legislature.
Earlier this year, Carey was chosen as the recipient of LVMC’s inaugural DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, an international award that honors nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families. She received numerous nominations from patients, families, and coworkers, noting her compassion and dedication as well as her willingness to take on many extra shifts during the pandemic.
“Our front-line medical workers have gone above and beyond over the past year, and very few people on the Central Coast have exemplified this work ethic like Thao Carey,” Cunningham said. “Throughout the pandemic, Thao took on countless extra shifts to help local residents and Lompoc federal prison inmates recover from COVID-19. Our community is grateful for Thao’s commitment, and we thank her and her fellow healthcare workers for everything they’ve done and risked this past year.”
Carey was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the Bay Area as a child. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from California State University Channel Islands.
She began her career at LVMC working as a Certified Nurse Assistant at the Comprehensive Care Center.
“I am honored to be included in this wonderful and special group of women from all over California being recognized by our representatives in the California Assembly,” Carey said. “I truly believe that this individual recognition wouldn’t be possible without the support of our incredible team of healthcare staff at Lompoc Valley Medical Center and the wonderful patients that I have the pleasure of working with every day.”
The Woman of the Year honor is bestowed during March, designated as Women’s History Month. Typically, the women honorees are feted in a formal ceremony on the floors of the state Senate and state Assembly floors in an event sponsored by the Women’s Caucus. Due to the pandemic, the gathering will not occur this year.
The notification from the legislature stated, “There has never been a more important time for leadership than during this COVID-19 pandemic. In ways big and small, noticed and unnoticed, leaders like you have inspired and changed our communities for the better and kept us going during an extraordinarily challenging time. It is for this reason that we decided we must continue this recognition this year, although our celebration will look different than in years past.”
The Woman of the Year honorees covered a broad scope of service to their communities, including business leaders, educators, volunteers, social justice advocates, elected leaders, medical professionals, and more.
Also honored this year was Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Director. She was chosen by Assemblyman Steve Bennett of District 37.