Maite Iturri receives Spirit of Sonoma County Award for uplifting women, marginalized communities

Showing the wide-ranging impact of her work, this is Maite Iturri’s third service award in 2023.|

While she tends to avoid the spotlight, the good work of Maite Iturri has garnered a lot of recognition from local organizations. Most recently, it was for her support of women.

On March 9, she was given the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women’s Spirit of Sonoma County Award for the First District.

“I felt really honored to be in the presence of these outstanding women who are doing amazing work in our community,” Iturri said. “That somebody sees me in that light means a lot because that’s what I’ve worked for.”

Other recipients of the award were Dra. Mariana G. Martinez (District 2), a Santa Rosa Junior College Trustee; Alegria De La Cruz (District 3), director of Sonoma County's Office of Equity; Letitia Hanke (District 4), owner of ARS Roofing company and founder of the Lime Foundation; MaDonna Feather Cruz (District 5), board president for Indian Education at Santa Rosa City School District, director for Native American Independent Living Demonstration Project for the Disability Services and Legal Center and elder advocate for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

Iturri is a co-founder of Comida Para Todos/Food For All, which distributes food and supplies to those in need; a former popular principal at El Verano Elementary School and current assistant superintendent of Petaluma City Schools, and chair of the Springs Municipal Advisory Council.

“Maite is a natural and passionate leader who truly believes that leadership is a duty and there is never enough we can do. Even with these qualities and her considerable accomplishments, she is never satisfied and is always humble. Perhaps most importantly, she is effective. Her actions through leadership literally change the lives of students, families and the larger community every day,” the commission wrote in a Facebook post about the award.

The Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women advises the Board of Supervisors to ensure that the issues impacting women and girls are given the necessary visibility in public policy.

The group gives out an award to a woman from each district in the county. The five women honored fit the 2023 theme: "Building Bridges — Forging Unity."

“Our judges will highlight people actively working to build bridges across divides of race, gender, class and politics to deepen empathy and understanding, inspiring collective action to make concrete changes in our community to achieve greater equity and inclusion, particularly for women and girls. Award winners will be people who consistently leverage their own power, privilege, influence and or position to lift up and amplify the voices of those in our community who are marginalized, setting a clear example of cultural humility and respect,” wrote the commission in a January news release calling for nomination.

According to the commission, Iturri was nominated by several individuals and was selected from a pool of nominees in the First District, which is represented by Susan Gorin. The judges were previous award winners and commissioners.

It marks the third major award Iturri has received this year.

In January, two of Sonoma Valley’s three Rotary Clubs recognized Iturri with one of their highest honors. It was a sweet coincidence that she was selected as the 2023 Paul Harris Fellow award by both the Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley and the Rotary Club of Sonoma Springs.

Iturri’s work with Comida Para Todos/Food For All has helped feed an estimated 5,000 families, approximately 22,500 people, since its creation during the pandemic. The organization was founded by 12 women and predominantly serves the local Latino community.

“(The organization) is trying to grow the leadership within the Latinx community, and most of the people involved in this are women, they’re moms. We want them at the table, we want them at the decision-making table. So, this is an opportunity for them to have some input and some influence into the kind of support that their community needs — that our community needs,” Iturri said in a previous interview with the Index-Tribune.

With her most recent honor, Iturri was given an etched glass plaque. A friend joked that she’ll soon need to build a shelf in her office for her growing collection of awards, but attention for her work in the community is not something that’s ever felt comfortable. She went to the ceremony by herself, and accepted the award with tears in her eyes.

“I’ve always looked at the work I do, that it’s for everyone, but to be called out for helping women was really special,” Iturri said.

Contact the reporter Rebecca Wolff at

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