Please meet our Distinguished Volunteers!
Gretchen Douglass – Program Chairperson
Gretchen Douglass began her involvement with Distinguished Young Women when she represented Medina County in the Distinguished Young Women of Ohio* program. At the Ohio program she was recognized with the Robert C. Cordray Youth Leadership Award. She used the scholarship money earned from participating in Distinguished Young Women to attend Ohio University where she graduated summa cum laude from the Honors Tutorial College. She is currently employed by Deloitte as a West Region Business Advisor for National Meeting Services where she is focused on developing new opportunities and executing events throughout the region.
Gretchen has been involved with the Los Angeles program since 2006 and previously held the roles of Showcase Producer and Vice Chairperson. Her favorite part of volunteering with Distinguished Young Women is seeing the personal growth occur in each participant.
Debra Lewin – Showcase Producer
Debra began her Distinguished Young Women involvement in 1984 representing South Burlington at Distinguished Young Women of Vermont* where she selected as the state representative. At the National Finals, Debra was recognized with a preliminary award in Poise and Appearance and as a Top 5 Program Finalist. She used the scholarship money she received to attend the University of Vermont earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. Shortly after graduating Debra turned her lifelong passion for dancing and acting into her career by starting a modeling agency and production company with offices in both Burlington, VT and Miami Beach, Florida. Debra and her husband moved to Los Angeles in 1998, and she sold her company following the birth of their first child in 2002. When she’s not volunteering at her children’s school, Debra currently works as a special event coordinator for HW DESIGN and as a streaming media consultant with Sea to Summit Media Group.
Allison Seedorf – Treasurer
Allison Seedorf was the first Distinguished Young Woman of Delano* in 1996 and a Fitness Winner at the Distinguished Young Women of California program. She previously served as Chairperson and Showcase Producer for the Distinguished Young Women of Los Angeles County program.
Allison is a graduate of California State University Long Beach with a BA in Communicative Disorders. She obtained her MS in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Wyoming. Allison was a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority where she served as President and was a 4-year member of the Clipper Spirit Dance Team for the NBA Los Angeles Clippers. Allison currently works as a speech pathologist for the Long Beach Unified School District.
Tonia Best Entous – Director of Recruitment
Tonia Entous was named the Distinguished Young Woman of San Fernando Valley* as a high school junior. At the California program she was recognized with awards in Scholastics and Community Service. The scholarship money she earned from participating in Distinguished Young Women was leveraged to attend University of Chicago where she graduated with a degree in Economics. Tonia is now a retail strategist and brand marketer in the consumer products field.
Tonia joined the Los Angeles program first as a program judge and then moved into her current role of Director of Recruitment. In that role, Tonia manages the communications with school counselors and other administrators to recruit talented young women to participate in the Los Angeles program. Tonia lives in Encino with her husband and three boys. Her favorite part of volunteering with Distinguished Young Women is supporting young women.
Kay Hampton – Production Manager
Kay Hampton hails from Toledo, Ohio and was a member of the Distinguished Young Women of Ohio Class of 2014. During her participation at the Ohio program, she received the Be Your Best Self Award. Kay is currently a senior Dance and Psychology double major from at Loyola Marymount University. She is the lead Student Minister of all non‐denominational programing in LMU’s Campus Ministry. In addition, she is a proud member of the LMU Student Worker Program and served as The General during the last school year. Last summer, she had the honor of traveling to Beijing China with the Lingdao Fellows Program to study international leadership. Her heart beats for reaching people through the combination of dance and ministry. She plans to pursue dance professionally and create her own business.
Jessica Kwek Medrano – Participants and Judges Coordinator
Jessica Kwek Medrano participated in Distinguished Young Women of Bakersfield* in 1997, finishing as First Alternate and was recognized with a Scholastic award. She began volunteering as a scholastic judge for Bakersfield’s program in 2009 and joined the Distinguished Young Women of Los Angeles County team in 2016.
After graduating from Ridgeview High School in Bakersfield, CA, Jessica attended UCLA earning a BA in Spanish and Linguistics. She obtained her M.Ed. in Education and teaching credential from the University of LaVerne. In 2015, she obtained her Ed.D. from UCLA in their Educational Leadership Program. She began her career in education as a high school Spanish teacher at El Segundo High School before serving as a Student Activities Director, Assistant Principal and, most recently, Principal at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, CA. Jessica is currently Director, Secondary Education for the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District.
Kristi Pettit – Public Relations Coordinator
Kristi Petitt was introduced to Distinguished Young Women by her high school dance teacher, Jackie Bennington Weiss, 1969 Distinguished Young Women* National Representative. In 2011, she was named the Distinguished Young Woman of San Diego and given the overall Self Expression award for the San Diego program. Kristi used her scholarship money to achieve her BA in Communication Studies at UCLA, graduating with honors in 2015. She currently works for Velaro Chat as an Application Sales Executive and enjoys interacting with new people on a daily basis and providing unparalleled customer service advantages to companies throughout the world.
Her role as Public Relations Coordinator helps increase awareness, visibility, and outreach for the program, ensuring a wider audience takes notice of the incredible accomplishments of the girls who participate in Distinguished Young Women. Kristi is very excited to be a part of the Los Angeles program and help young girls everywhere become their best selves.
Esther Feng – Alumni Parents Coordinator
Esther Feng first became involved in Distinguished Young Women when her daughter competed in the Los Angeles County program in 2012. Esther saw how dedicated the program staff worked, and how they selflessly volunteered their time and energy to the program. As a parent, Esther appreciated that the through the program young women gain the confidence and understanding on how to really be your best self as well as become a truly healthy and well-rounded person. Ever since then, she has become actively participating in helping whenever she can with the program. Esther is a Public Health Nurse, who strives to improve the well-being of communities by promoting health and preventing disease.
Andrea Pereira Pfister
Andrea Pereira Pfister has been a volunteer with Distinguished Young Women of Los Angeles County since she herself was a representative of the program. Andrea was Chairperson of the local program for over 10 years. While fulfilling her role as Chairperson, she also completed her undergraduate and MBA degrees from Pepperdine University. Andrea works in the field of creative branding and marketing.
Sarah Hsu began her journey with Distinguished Young Women as the 2013 Distinguished Young Women of South Los Angeles County. At the Distinguished Young Women of California Program, she was recognized as a Fitness Winner and 1st Alternate. Taking home over $6,000 in scholarships, Sarah attended Brown University under their 8 year PLME Bacc./MD Program. She has recently graduated from Brown undergrad as a Sociology Concentrator and is spending the year in Los Angeles before returning to Brown’s Alpert Medical School in July of 2018.
When Rebekah Peltz entered the Distinguished Young Women program, she never imagined the positive impacts she would gain and the lifelong friendships she would make. She was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Jacksonville, Florida and at the state program, she used her acting, dance, and voice training to be recognized as a Talent Winner. The scholarship money earned allowed her to graduate cum laude from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Corporate Communications/Public Relations with minor studies in Theatre. After experiencing the exciting world of Fashion as a Publicist for Designer Sue Wong, Rebekah is thrilled to bring her talents to Deloitte.
Rebekah is proud to be a California transplant and as soon as she was settled, she could not wait to become involved in the Distinguished Young Women program of Los Angeles. Her favorite part about DYW is the ever growing sisterhood of intelligent, talented and strong women whom participate in the program.
Raquel Ravaglioli, MT-BC, attended University of the Pacific for her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance and Music Therapy, fulfilled her internship at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and completed a Master of Arts in Music Therapy from Concordia University in Montreal, QC. In addition to a full time music therapy career, Raquel established her business, Raquel Christine Music, which incorporates music instruction, music therapy, and music performance. As a professional violinist, Raquel is an independent contractor, a member of the Los Angeles Musicians Union, local 47, and a studio musician. Raquel plays in many orchestras, some of which include Santa Monica Symphony, Topanga Symphony, and the Dream Orchestra. In the future, Raquel plans to pursue a PhD as well as contribute to further research in the field of Music Therapy. Visit www.raquelchristinemusic.com for more philosophies, blogs, and research. Prior to embarking on her career in music, Raquel was the Distinguished Young Woman of Malibu*.
Teressa Nau Syta
Teressa Nau Syta was selected the 1978 Distinguished Young Women of Los Angeles*. She chaired the Los Angeles County Program for over 20 years. She received her BA and MBA at UCLA and then worked at IBM for 10 years. Teressa volunteered extensively producing school musicals as well as supporting pregnancy centers. She is a former piano and organ teacher and currently sings with the a cappella group, Westside Voices. She is married to Tom Syta and has three children.
* Indicates participated under the program’s previous name – America’s Junior Miss.