She’s not ‘chicken’ to empower women and promote peace |

She’s not ‘chicken’ to empower women and promote peace

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Norma Santiago displays the swimsuit she donned Sunday.

Norma Santiago, 50, moved to Tahoe in 1982 and wears many hats in this community. She is a co-secretary on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Center, the secretary for the Lake Tahoe Democratic Club, and the District 2 director for the Sierra Nevada region of Soroptimist International. She also hosts her own radio show, Norma’s Nooners, on AM 590 KTHO, Mondays and Wednesdays at noon. She is a mother of two teenagers.

We spotted her in a yellow chicken costume at the Polar Bear Plunge, a fund-raiser for Special Olympics.

Q: Did you take the plunge?

A: I just went up to my knees.

Q: Why the chicken costume?

A: Because I was a little bit chicken about going all the way. Cathy Ferges from Backfence Sew and Sew Custom Costumers provided the costume because she thought it was something I could have a lot of fun with.

Q: What inspires you to participate in so many of these organizations?

A: I think everyone has a social responsibility to participate in their community. I believe that empowering women allows a community to grow in positive ways.

I am in awe of people who dedicate themselves to a particular cause. Elaine Glasser of Special Olympics or people like Jenny Welton, who started Empower South Lake Tahoe, these are women who are very focused on bringing awareness to the issues.

Q: Are you involved in V-Day?

A: I am a participant in the Vagina Monologues coming up Feb. 27. The V-Day campaign’s focus is stopping violence against women and children. I really want to support those causes.

A lot of us when we think about violence, we think about domestic violence or rape, but there are other things that are going on in the world such as women who are victims as a result of a conflict or cultures where you have genital mutilation.

Q: What is your radio show about?

A: The whole focus of the radio show is what’s going on in the high Sierra in terms of community activities and events. It’s how I connect with all these people.

Q: What’s been your favorite show?

A: When Dave Foster and Nancy Gardner from the college arts department came. It’s an amazing program in terms of depth.

When I do the show, I just ask the questions and have them express their passion.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?

A: I enjoy sewing and quilting. I love putting colors together. I do it with my daughter.

Q: Are you involved in anything else?

A: I have been participating in the Season for Peace and Nonviolence, which lasts from Jan. 30 to April 4. I believe in order for us to attain peace, we must have peace within. Violence only begets more violence. Inside all of us is the potential to be really good. We each have an effect on the rest of the world and many don’t realize that.

Q: Do you have a guiding principle in life?

A: I have gone through a big metamorphosis in the last eight to 10 weeks, where I’m learning to live in the “let go.” Sometimes we become so focused on the goal that it distracts us from the process, and we miss opportunities. I have opened my spirit to a higher power to guide me to the goals.

Q: How do you like South Lake Tahoe?

A: My dream is that the people in South Lake Tahoe realize that we have a community of people with great hearts who can bring about a lot of positive change. There are infinite possibilities here at the lake. We could make something grand here by virtue of setting an example.

– To suggest someone for this column, e-mail Amanda Fehd at

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