Government

Two County Employees Honored as Women of the Year by Local Legislators

Two County of San Diego employees were honored as "Women of the Year" Monday in Sacramento by local legislators. Left photo: Juanita Hayes (right) was honored by 75th District Assemblywoman Marie Waldron. Right photo: Charisma de los Reyes (second from the left) was honored by 39th District Senator Toni Atkins (second from the right).

Two County of San Diego employees were honored by local legislators as Women of the Year at the state Capitol on Monday.

Charisma de los Reyes, coordinator of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children program for San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Child Welfare Services, was honored as the 2019 Woman of the Year by 39th District State Senator Toni Atkins.

“Charisma’s career-long commitment to protecting vulnerable children from harm, and her lifelong commitment to fairness and equality, made her an easy choice for Woman of the Year in the 39th Senate District,” said Atkins. “Her dedication, compassion and intelligence make her an excellent role model for anyone hoping to make a positive difference in their community.”

De los Reyes has spent more than a decade working with victims of human trafficking, first as a social worker handling cases and now in her role coordinating the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children program.

CSEC is sexual activity involving a child in exchange for, or a promise of, something of value and can include such things as prostitution, pornography, online exploitation, phone sex lines, survival sex and other such activities.

San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles all consistently rank in the top 10 cities in the country for human trafficking. Local studies have estimated there are between 8,800 and 11,800 sex trafficking victims or survivors in San Diego County each year.

The San Diego program has been held up as a national model in the past, and federal officials have visited to get a first-hand look at the efforts to combat trafficking locally.

At the same time, Juanita Hayes, director of community relations for District 5 County Supervisor Jim Desmond, was named the Assembly District 75 Woman of the Year by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron.

“Juanita has been an outstanding member of the community for many years,” said Desmond. “I’m extremely proud of the work she’s done and honored to have her part of our team. This is a well-deserved award.”

Hayes has been helping others for decades, working with nonprofits and community organizations. Her volunteer work has earned her national recognition.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact