Grass Valley senior honored for her community activism |

Grass Valley senior honored for her community activism

Grass Valley resident Elaine Sierra was among 31 seniors recognized for outstanding contributions to community building, healthy aging and social justice in California.

When Elaine Sierra moved from San Francisco to Grass Valley 10 years ago, she jumped into local activism, working on reproductive rights and equity for women and girls in education and the workplace.

Formerly president of Nevada County Citizens for Choice, Sierra now serves as its policy chair. Sierra also helped establish a reproductive health clinic in Grass Valley that provides free and low-cost services to women in need.

Recognizing the need for broader level change, she also joined the Women’s Policy Institute, helping to lead local, state and national advocacy to ensure health reform addresses women’s needs.

Sierra also has provided leadership in other groups, including her local chapters of the American Association of University Women and of Business and Professional Women of Nevada County. She has lobbied and trained others on issues such as pay equity for women.

Sierra was among a diverse group of men and women aged 60 and older who were honored as California Senior Leaders by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health. An awards ceremony was held in Oakland, culminating two days of events and training.

Funded by the California Wellness Foundation, the California Senior Leaders Program began in 2002 to spotlight the volunteer and community advocate roles of California’s rapidly growing senior population.

Senior Leader participants are linked with Berkeley public health graduate students who will continue to check in with them during the next 15 months, learning from their experiences and stories, and arranging technical assistance where possible to aid the seniors with their community building or healthy aging projects.

“Listening to and learning from the experiences of these older adults is an essential part of building strong communities that respect people of all ages,” said Julia Caplan, a graduate student who directs the project.

Meredith Minkler is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, and developed the Senior Leaders Program. Contact her at (510) 642-4397 or

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