Newest Members Profile

A Member’s Profile in Her Own Words

Cynthia Weitz

  A long-standing member of AAUW I first belonged to the Mission Viejo branch. Later, I joined the Laguna Beach branch, which offered a variety of activities, a diverse membership and programs that foster the education and advancement of women.

Growing up in New England, I spent hot summers at camp in the fragrant pine groves of New Hampshire and at sandy beaches along the coasts.  I attended the University of Vermont on a beautiful campus where I enjoyed the breath-taking fall foliage and winter carnival. I majored in English and took every lit class that was offered, including one with a renowned Shakespeare scholar. Then, wanting the experience of big city life, I transferred to Simmons College, Boston (now Simmons University) and earned a BS in psychology.

   In my first jobs, I was a right-brain Marketing Research Analyst.  I worked in marketing research for a New York ad agency, McCall’s magazine, Condé Nast Publications, and the Los Angeles Times. After graduating from design school at UCLA, I focused on the left side of my brain and practiced interior design for several years. Now, as I writer, I’ve completely gone over to the “right” side.  As a writer, my articles have appeared in the Sisters in Crime Orange Countynewsletter. My published short stories include The Peasant Woman’s Skirts, The Lavender Peignoir; Ethiopian Heartache, and My Suicidal Goldfish.

My mysteries include Feisty Old Ladies, and Feisty Old Gangbusters; they follow the adventures of Margot Manning and her merry band of senior accidental sleuths. Although my protagonist is a fun-loving, glamorous, fashionista, the novels address important subjects, such as elder abuse, ageism, and the root causes of gangs in America. The third mystery is in the early stages of development.  I am currently compiling a collection of stories about immigrant life between the two world wars. My writings have been greatly enriched by my travels throughout the world. Who knows what will happen next?

My website is


Member Profile: Polly Sloan 

As Membership Co-chair, I interview and write Member’s Profiles highlighting our new branch members.  But this month I thought about getting to know better one of our long time members instead. I am pleased to introduce a member whose continuing support at age 93 deserves recognition:  Pauline “Polly” Sloan.

    Polly is a delightfully articulate, accomplished woman.  Our hour-long interview barely scratched her unique story. Polly’s southern roots hold an optimism that greatly contributes to her bright spirit.  As Polly says, “I think my expectations are possible even with disappointments.”

    During our interview, Polly talked about the South and her loving memories of her life and the bi-annual trips to Memphis to see her grandmother and family. I admit I knew little of the southern Jewish experience until such films as Driving Miss Daisyand Fried Green Tomatoes.  They openeda window into a complex culture of women’s roles, integration and awareness of social structure and behavior that refrains from giving advice but stays “true to oneself.” These are the words Polly lives by, a woman who earned her bachelors in sociology and had three sons with her late husband, Sol Sloan, MD, who was also an artist and an accomplished violinist with the OC Philharmonic. Polly added, “It opened the world of music and the arts, especially classical and jazz.  I have Sol’s violin still on loan to the Philharmonic played as it should be, as a violin cannot live unless played.”

   In their early days insouth Orange County, Jews were establishing homes and feeling isolated. “We discovered that we had moved to a Jewish desert — no temple, no Jewish center, no kosher deli, no place to buy Pesach (holiday) goods, not even a bagel store.”In anarticle about Polly, it is said: “Polly helped develop the Jewish Historical Society of Laguna Beach in the 1970s. She joined the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation and traveled to Garden Grove for meetings and socializing. Her family joined the Israel Academy, an experiment in Jewish education created in Irvine by Rabbi Robert Bergman; it lasted only a few years.”  This was consistent with her family’s history, with the grandmother she adored and her grandfather, Max Samfield, who was also a Rabbi.

   When the Women’s Division held a tea in Laguna Niguel, people began to talk about creating a Jewish community center. Nine couples put up $100 each to rent a storefront in Laguna Beach, and “Jews came out of the woodwork,” Sloan said, “to attend the center’s grand opening of the Jewish Community Center in Laguna Beach attracting 500 people to its first Chanukah party in 1973.”  That building on Broadway has had several incarnations. Once the Laguna Post Office, it later became a sports company and most recently it housed the Gerald Buck Collection, now gifted to UCI.

   Polly expresses great interest in the focus on and research for the exhibition on California Art, which she hopes to see while it is being shown at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UCI.  This will be the first public exhibition of selected works from the Buck Collection, and, which I, as well a number of our members, were introduced to through Deana Pink’s art tours in 2013 before Buck’s death.

    Polly’s thoughts on changes for the better for women are typically optimistic,” I think more women are active now and there is more support than before…women are more in the forefront and more willing to ask for what they want.”


Dear Polly, You exemplify hope, good nature and optimism. Bravo! Encore!


Interview and article by Leah Vasquez,

Membership Co-Chair



New Member Profile – Mehri Modiri
Interview by Leah Vasquez

 Mehri – one of our new, vibrant AAUW-LB members and a talented fine art portrait photographer based in Orange County, CA. Her website exhibits many beautiful portraits including children, families, describing her work and philosophy:
   “What I enjoy most about portrait photography is that I connect with people in a special way. Every individual is unique, but we tend to hide ourselves when stepping in front of a camera. Yet, it’s when we allow our authenticity to shine through that we look our best.”

   “Portrait photography is all about the face and can be really intimate and feel a little obtrusive for subjects that aren’t used to being photographed. But the end result can be beautiful and produce a photo that really captures the person. We are all beautiful, and through my photography I am committed to capturing the very best of who you are.”


Welcome to AAUW Laguna Beach, Heidi Horn and Shari Yamamoto

by Leah Vasquez, Membership Co-chair
  Heidi Horn joined this year at the Literary Luncheon with her friend, Sonia Marsh (featured in the April issue). Her journey is a reminder of the many who seek refuge and a future in our beautiful country; as women we also know the importance of welcoming, friendship and opportunities.

Heidi said, “I was a child of post-war Germany. Very early on I decided that I needed to follow an education that allowed me a life where I could make my home “across the borders.” I chose to study International Finance and Business – a subject that at the time was not very popular with women – in Switzerland, Sweden, and Belgium. Fate had it that I met my American born husband and thus wound up in Southern California.

Life in the High Tech Corporate World both in Europe and California (and with my suitcase always packed) allowed me the opportunity to work on joint ventures, publications, marketing issues, teaching manuals and complex financial issues with colleagues of all professional backgrounds and nationalities. Guiding and educating colleagues all over the world was my reward. But it was not all work, so many hours and days were spent getting to know wonderful people and exploring their turf and learning with them.

I travel for fun now: weeklong bicycle rides and hikes have been on my agenda for the last few years. And while on these excursions, I stop at art galleries, contemporary architectural oeuvres. Time used be an issue in ‘my previous life’, and I am now crawling out of my shell, ready to take on the world again.”

  New Member Shari Yamamoto, pictured here with her husband, is a long time Laguna Beach resident and a consummate “volunteer.” Shari grew up in Costa Mesa and graduated from USC in Social Sciences. She taught kindergarten and married Tru Yamamoto in 1968. They have 3 children and 5 grandsons.

   Shari loves “hanging out” with friends and family; she loves learning about people, places, cultures, art and music and was an LCAD board member for several years. She and her husband have traveled on many missions to India, Central America, Southeast Asia, and Africa working with teachers and students in education and where she helped her husband in a dental ministry, Smiles on Souls.  Shari is a deacon at the Church by the Sea and administrates a woman’s Bible study. She also volunteers at the Assistance League and Friendship Shelter several times a week answering phones and helping at their fundraisers.  She says, ” Since 2000 I’ve led a team from my church making dinners. I have been part of a Bible study for over 30 years and love learning from speakers about God’s message through stories and testimonies of faith.”  

   One of Shari’s favorite expressions isMake the most of your day; it will never come back again!” From these words we recognize Shari Yamamoto – a committed volunteer helping her family, her community and the world.

AAUW Laguna Beach is delighted to welcome Shari Yamamoto and look forward to greeting her and all our new members at Co-President Karen Dennis’ home on May 3, 4-6 pm.  (Details in the Calendar.)