In our March 4 issue, the Clovis Roundup published a feature article highlighting the women who have played key roles in shaping the Gateway to the Sierras.
The women who were featured in that story, Judith Pruess and Peg Bos, paved the way for future women to shape Clovis.
Lynne Ashbeck, former Clovis mayor, current city council member and Senior Vice President of Community Engagement and Population Wellness at Valley Children’s Healthcare, considers Bos a mentor and inspiration. She hopes to shape the future of Clovis in the same fashion her mentor did.
“What I think about shaping Clovis today is about honoring the traditions that got us here,” Ashbeck said. “Part of what I try to do is honor those traditions, values and expectations of our community over the last decade.”
That means making sure the choices the council makes now are the right ones for people 50 years in the future.
“We are enjoying today because of the decisions that were made 40 or 50 years ago and I think the future will be the same way,” Ashbeck said.
Ashbeck has had numerous accomplishments since she was elected to the city council in 2001, but she is most proud of establishing the Clovis Citizens Academy, an annual workshop designed to educate the community on the inner workings of city government.
“I believe that if we cannot engage things over time we will suffer as a community so I am really proud of the Citizen’s Academy,” Ashbeck told the Roundup.
Ashbeck will perhaps be remembered most for seeding with the idea to develop a medical neighborhood around Clovis Community Medical Center. The area saw major growth in the last decade and looks forward to the opening of the California Health Sciences University this fall.
“I feel I had an important role in planting the idea that we can in fact grow northeast Clovis to become a medical hub for the region,” Ashbeck said. “It’s taken off in amazing ways, and that was long before anyone thought there would be a medical school out that way.”
Another woman who is shaping Clovis’ future is Deborah Ikeda. Similar to Ashbeck, Ikeda served on the board of one of the area’s local hospitals, St. Agnes Medical Center. Ikeda served as the hospital’s chair for nine years, but education is her passion.
Ikeda is one of Clovis’ most accomplished women in the educational field. She currently sits on the board of the State Center Community College District and served as the president of Clovis Community College.
Originally from Chicago, Ikeda moved to Clovis in 1981 to take a job as the dean of counseling at Fresno City College. She planned to temporarily live in Clovis before moving to San Francisco or Los Angeles.
But after she met her husband, Ikeda fell in love with the Gateway to the Sierras.
“I was going to live in Central California for five years and then move but then I met my husband, who is from here,” Ikeda said. “We got married and this is a great place to raise a family so I’ve been here ever since and I’ve enjoyed it. For raising children, you can’t beat Clovis.”
Ikeda led the effort to turn Clovis Community into SCCCD’s third accredited city college.
She is also responsible for making SCCCD schools free to attend for recent high school graduates.
“There is absolutely no reason at all that anyone can’t attend higher education for at least their first two years. If they are interested in transferring then they only have to pay the next two years when they transfer to a four-year university, so you can save a lot of money and you have the opportunity to raise yourself up into the middle class,” Ikeda said.
Ikeda has held many titles in education, including serving on the California Community College Board of Chief Instructional Officers, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Advisory Committee for Matriculation, State Chancellor’s Office Counseling Advisory Committee and the Commission on Academic and Student & Community Engagement Committee of the American Association of Community Colleges.
Ikeda also served on the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.
She said many factors have led to her success, but thanked her father for showing her the value of hard work and teaching her that she could do anything a boy could do.
“My father encouraged myself and my sister that there wasn’t anything my brothers could do that we couldn’t do,” she said.
When it comes to business, Cora Shipley, President of the Business Organization of Old Town, is leading the way.
Shipley owns several Old Town locations, including Ivy & Lace, Hearts Delight, and Scoops, Soups & More.
She said the Clovis Way of Life is her main philosophical approach to business.
“I try to have business that will bring people into Old Town, treat them like family instead of customers, know their names and what they like,” Shipley said. “We welcome everybody.”
Shipley said her proudest contribution to Clovis is One Enchanted Evening, an open house event that takes place in Old Town before each Thanksgiving. The event draws in thousands of people each year and has become the Clovis tradition of kicking off the holiday season.
“It is a great event, it is totally free to the customers and is a thank you to them for supporting Old Town. We have carolers, carriage rides, it’s just wonderful,” Shipley said.
Shipley is also proud of the talented staff that she hired to run BOOT. She said she is especially proud of bringing on Carole Lester, who serves as BOOT’s executive director.
“Carole has been our best advocate and the best ambassador. She loves Old Town and she has been one of the best things for BOOT,” she said.
The women of Clovis’ past and present are paving the way for the next generation of women to lead Clovis down new and exciting paths in the future.
Ashbeck, Ikeda and Shipley offered advice for these future leaders.
“Do what you love. If you love your job, it is not a job. I look forward to going to work everyday. I look forward to seeing the people in town everyday,” Shipley said.
Ikeda said young women should not hold themselves back from pursuing what they are passionate about.
“I would encourage young women today, if they are married or have a spouse, that you are a family unit together and you can count on one another to help each other out. You don’t need to hold yourself back from applying for advancement in your career for those reasons,” Ikeda said.
Ashbeck said the key to success is finding mentors who can help you grow and succeed.
“Find people ahead of you on the path who can help you along the way,” Ashbeck said. “The mentors I had in my life helped me figure out that the obstacles in my life were not really obstacles, they were just things I had to move past. Learn as much as you can everyday.”