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TORRANCE DAILY BREEZE: Here's to a South Bay teacher extraordinaire
May 15, 2012
By Ted W. Lieu
In celebration of National Women's History Month, each member of the California Assembly and Senate may honor a woman from his or her district. This profiles Ted W. Lieu's choice, Donna Duperron.
When Donna Duperron was in the third grade, she would gather up the neighborhood children and `play' school, complete with worksheets and lessons on counting or learning the ABCs.
Today, Donna continues to use the fulfilling experience of helping others by performing both civic, community and business outreach throughout the South Bay as president and CEO of the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce.
Along the way, she has built a legacy of education, teamwork, and athletics, helping lead the way for women to become local leaders.
"My daily goal in life has always been about helping others," she told me. "It's my passion."
At the same time, Donna's other roles are central to her life, from teacher to chamber of commerce leader.
"As a second-grade teacher, I always tried to make my lessons `life' like," she said. "If we were doing a lesson on Pilgrims, we prepared a meal Pilgrims ate. As a Girl Scout Leader, I wanted to inspire `service before self.' As a mother, I try not to miss a performance, game or a field trip. As a wife I have always tried to be supportive. In business, I continually look at ways in which partnership and collaboration can benefit. And as a member of a service group, I look for ways to make our community a little bit better." It shows. Since 2001, Donna has had leadership roles, been a committee member, speaker, advisor, chair or graduate from two dozen civic and community groups and programs. She's played key roles in non-profit organizations, including the establishment of many private-public partnerships. Those include the TACC Foundation, the Adopt-a-School program, Business for a Day, Mentor Program, State of Education, as well as developing task forces to better serve the civic and business community.
Donna is an inspiration for others. Just ask Tara O'Brien, public affairs director for Kaiser Permanente's South Bay Medical Center who also chairs the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
"Donna is an accomplished and dedicated executive who literally works around the clock in support of our local business community," said O'Brien. "But what makes her so special is her genuine caring and concern for each and every person she encounters. I consider her a personal role model and inspiration."
Not surprisingly, Donna said one of her biggest challenges is time management.
"There just is never enough time in a day to get things done," she said. Among her solutions:
1) "I do a tub of laundry every day before I go to work."
2) The mother of three gets to the office at 7 a.m. daily. "This gives me time to get organized."
3) On Sundays, she cooks five meals. One is for Sunday dinner. The remaining four are for the next four days. Friday is date night.
4) She shops year round for gifts and cards. She writes by hand an average of nine thank-you cards each week. "Several people have told me I should buy stock in Hallmark," she said with a laugh.
Those are just some of the reasons why Donna is my choice for my 2012 Woman of the Year for Senate District 28. She'll be honored during a special ceremony in the district on May 24, during the annual Torrance State of the City address with Mayor Frank Scotto, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Torrance Marriott Hotel, 3635 Fashion Way. (The event is open to the public but reservations are required. To reserve a seat, call (310) 543-3113).
Amid her community activism, Donna said family support was crucial. Daughter Kari Duperron is a college basketball coach at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Another daughter, Krissy Duperron, is a special education teacher at a public high school in Riverside.
Son Luke Duperron is a one-on-one aide for children with special needs at the Switzer Center in Torrance.
Her husband, Gary Duperron, is a high school teacher and basketball coach at North High School in Torrance. In April, he and Donna celebrated their 35th anniversary.
Think Donna is going to slow her pace any time soon? Not the Donna Duperron I know.