Thao Carey, Lompoc Valley Medical Center (LVMC) critical care unit registered nurse has been selected as the 35th District Woman of the Year for 2021 by Central Coast Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham.

Noting Carey’s “outstanding service and dedication to the people of the state of California,” Cunningham, R.-Dist. 35, presented her with a framed certificate of honor.

“The rarity of this award is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that only 120 women are honored by the California State Legislature each year in a state of nearly 40 million,” according to information from the State Legislature.

Earlier this year, Carey, received LVMC’s inaugural DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, an international award that honors nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

Carey received numerous nominations from patients, families and coworkers, pointing out her compassion and dedication, as well as her willingness to take on numerous extra shifts during the pandemic.

“Our front-line medical workers have gone above and beyond over the past year, and very few people on the Central Coast have exemplified this work ethic like Thao Carey,” Cunningham said.

“Throughout the pandemic, Thao took on countless extra shifts to help local residents and Lompoc federal prison inmates recover from COVID-19,” he said. “Our community is grateful for Thao’s commitment, and we thank her and her fellow healthcare workers for everything they’ve done and risked this past year.”

Carey was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the Bay Area as a child. She earned a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from San Francisco State University and bachelor of science in nursing from California State University Channel Islands.

She began her career at LVMC working as a certified nurse assistant at the Comprehensive Care Center.

“I am honored to be included in this wonderful and special group of women from all over California being recognized by our representatives in the California Assembly,” Carey said.

“I truly believe that this individual recognition wouldn’t be possible without the support of our incredible team of healthcare staff at Lompoc Valley Medical Center, and the wonderful patients that I have the pleasure of working with every day,” he said.

The Woman of the Year honor is bestowed in March, which is designated as Women’s History Month. Typically, the women honorees are feted in a formal ceremony on the floors of the state Senate and state Assembly in an event sponsored by the Women’s Caucus. Due to the pandemic, the gathering will not occur this year.

The notification from the legislature stated: “There has never been a more important time for leadership than during this COVID-19 pandemic. In ways big and small, noticed and unnoticed, leaders like you have inspired and changed our communities for the better and kept us going during an extraordinarily challenging time.

“It is for this reason that we decided we must continue this recognition this year, although our celebration will look different than in years past.”

The Woman of the Year honorees covered a broad scope of service to their communities, including business leaders, educators, volunteers, social justice advocates, elected leaders, and medical professionals.

Also honored this year was Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Director, who was chosen by Assemblyman Steve Bennett, of District 37.