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Clarissa Novella of Santa Maria waves a flag as she and others march up South Broadway during the Women's March in January 2020.

The Santa Maria Valley and Santa Barbara chapters of the Women's March have teamed up to organize a virtual event Saturday celebrating women leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

This will be the third annual march event organized by Women's March Santa Maria Valley, with this year's theme being, "We lead. We heal. We transform." 

"It means we lift up all the women who have become leaders, just because of circumstances of the COVID pandemic, and those who have always been in the forefront," said Pam Gates, a member of Women's March Santa Maria Valley planning team. 

The event has drawn hundreds in the past, with over 400 attendees gathering in Santa Maria for the 2020 Women's March just over a year ago. While the COVID-19 pandemic forced this year's event to go virtual, organizers still have plenty in store. 

The livestreamed event will feature an array of speakers known for their work on the city, county and state level, as well as music and poetry performances, Gates said. 

"This is the first time we’ve partnered with Women’s March Santa Barbara, so instead of focusing on Santa Maria we’re trying to really focus on Santa Barbara County as a whole," she said. 

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Santa Maria City Councilwoman Gloria Soto, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, county Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso, and Dr. Niki Sandoval, education director for the Santa Ynez Valley Band of Chumash Indians, will all provide remarks.

Also present will be former 19th District Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson and former Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Sojourner Kincaid Rolle.

In addition, celebrated farmworker rights activist Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers organization and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, will serve as the event's keynote speaker. 

The local offering of the 2021 Women's March will be livestreamed at 3 p.m. on Saturday via the Santa Maria Valley chapter's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/womensmarchsmv

Spanish, Mixteco, and American Sign Language interpretation also will be available at us02web.zoom.us/j/84662093487

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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