Kickass Women in Community & Wellness

These leaders are working hard to better the community.

KICKASS: Adjective 1. Having a strong effect on someone; powerful
2. Exceptionally good; spectacular, impressive

 

The women in our third edition of this list live up to both definitions and then some.
We’re proud to call them neighbors, friends, and leaders in our community.

 

Tammy Tumbling

Photographs by Emily J. Davis

Executive vice president and chief operating officer, Orange County Community Foundation; founder, African American Alliance Fund

BONA FIDES: Tumbling developed her killer work ethic as a child: She started doing hair in the neighborhood in third grade to help her single mom make ends meet. She became a mother herself at age 17, but didn’t let having a 10-day-old infant or a three-hour commute by bus prevent her from her first day of 12th grade at a new school in O.C. She stayed focused throughout college, taking her son to university classes with her. Throughout 21 years in the high-level corporate world of Southern California Edison, she became the director of government affairs and led the company’s philanthropic strategy, which she says prepared her for this job. She came to OCCF in 2019, just in time for her skills in systems to help transition the nonprofit to remote work—in three days. During the civil unrest of 2020 after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery were killed, she started the African American Alliance Fund with $25,000 of her own money. In a little more than two years, the fund has grown to more than $500,000. Tumbling doesn’t do anything small. She believes there’s no point saving fancy clothes for special occasions: “Every day is special. You should use quality things every day.” OCCF is on track to meet its lofty goal to grant $1 billion by 2024; it will be one of only 35 community funds nationwide to reach that milestone.

IN HER WORDS: “I look forward to continuing to invest personally in our community—not just to create a bridge between Orange County and surrounding communities for African Americans, but also to serve as a model for other demographics. (I want to show) how we should be coming together to provide support as the needs start to arise. I envision myself influencing other leaders to (give them) the courage to step into spaces we don’t ordinarily step into. We as women have the talent, the mindset, the drive, and the commitment to focus on others, and we need to step into places we haven’t before and be pioneers and not be afraid.”

 

Joanne Motoike

Associate justice, 4th District Court of Appeal, Division 3

BONA FIDES: During World War II, the government interned Motoike’s father, who was raised on a farm, and other family members in the camps that held Japanese American citizens. In college at UC Irvine, Motoike followed an unspoken urge to become a lawyer, wanting to give people like them a voice. She spent 17 years as an Orange County public defender, a stint interrupted by two years in Holland as a United Nations trial lawyer. In 2011, a friend encouraged her to apply for the judicial bench, and she won an appointment from then-Gov. Jerry Brown. While a Superior Court judge for nearly a decade, Motoike worked to make sure people felt heard and had a fair opportunity in court. She followed three guiding principles gleaned from judges she admired: be a team player, be open and listen to both sides, and be consistent. During a tenure as presiding judge of Orange County Juvenile Court, her goal was to improve outcomes for incarcerated youth. That led to the 2019 creation of the collaborative Youth Development Court, now a model for the state. Motoike made history last June, joining the appellate panel that reviews the county’s trial court decisions.

IN HER WORDS: “It’s huge for me personally. It’s also, I think, huge in the sense that I am the first Asian American Pacific Islander (on the appellate court for Orange County). I believe I’m the first woman of color. I’m hopeful, because it’s really diversifying the bench. … All I can hope for is to continue to commit myself and stick to all the reasons I sought this position. My background, my family history causes me to be ever mindful of the impact appellate courts have, not only on individuals but our community.”

 

Diana Ramos

California Surgeon General; OB-GYN; past president, Orange County Medical Association

BONA FIDES: Last August, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Ramos to her position—a role she describes as “a dream come true.” Only a few other states have surgeons general, and Ramos says California often serves as a role model for the country. The Laguna Beach resident is an accomplished physician and leader with decades of public health experience, a master’s degree in public health from UCLA, an MBA from UC Irvine, and a medical degree from USC. Ramos grew up in a single-parent household in South Central Los Angeles, taking the bus to high school in West L.A. and studying hard, as she always wanted to be a doctor. Her focus now is to shine a light on issues such as mental health and reproductive health, which affect all Californians, especially the most underserved communities.

IN HER WORDS: “Hispanic physicians are only 6% of the physicians in the United States. So to have been selected as a Hispanic voice—not just ‘voice’ as in the ability to speak the language, but more importantly understanding the culture and the nuances and the adverse environment that we all sometimes have to overcome. I bring that learned experience, and more importantly I bring that understanding of what it takes to make change happen.”


Read More from our March 2023 Kickass Women Issue: