1996 Inductee - Tillie Gemigniani


1996 Inductee - Tillie Gemigniani

Women’s Movement/Education/Community Involvement

Tillie Gemigniani is best known for her beautiful smile and her positive, optimistic and enthusiastic personality. Tillie was born in Stockton to Fred and Jessie Gemigniani where she was raised with her five sisters and two brothers.

While in school, she participated in many organizations and activities. These included student council, cheerleading, church youth groups, to name a few. This is where it all started…it was through her experience as a child and adolescent that has led her to fight for women’s issues and improve the quality of life for others.

Tillie and her family worked as field laborers in the packing sheds and canneries in her childhood and young adult years. She obtained her State Cosmetology License in 1964 to help her family. After taking care of her family she decided to have her own family. She married Gilbert Serrano and had three daughters. She became an involved parent at Martin Luther King School where her daughters attended school and soon came to believe that education was the strongest tool to battle injustice and serve as an unbeatable weapon when faced with bias, prejudice and discrimination.

Tillie’s strong sense of dedication to improving the quality of life for Hispanics drew her toward starting a career with the Council for the Spanish Speaking. This was the beginning of her professional life of service to her community. She learned about politics, bureaucracies, and became very well informed about policies and procedures.

She went on to work at the Women’s Center of San Joaquin County as a Sexual Assault Victim’s Advocate. She never abandoned that plight of her people for domestic violence in farm labor camps and migrant education facilities. The need was so great in these areas yet there was not education or advocacy available due to the unavailability of Spanish speaking counselors. Tillie was instrumental in securing a grant to fund the pre-release program through the Women’s Center to assist women with a variety of resources including employment, health, education, housing, legal advice and business which could be disseminated effectively to a large audience.

She always helped to provide services to the less fortunate through her participation in numerous projects. The work she has accomplished through her efforts and continued dedication of assisting others has been of remarkable standing. She has been the founder, coordinator, director, of various positions which have made a direct impact on the well being of others. She has served on twenty or more committees in the past and is still actively involved.

Tillie has been a recipient of the prestigious Susan B. Anthony Award. She is recognized in the community as a role model and is an inspiration to all. She is the founder of the Adelante Mujer Hispana conference and has received many accolades for her involvement from various organizations. Perhaps the most rewarding project Tillie has completed was the Cesar Chavez Memorial located at San Joaquin Delta College. This project took more time and energy than anything she has ever attempted in her life.

Tillie’s driving force behind her efforts has always been the success of her three daughters. All three daughters have graduated from college, two from CSUS Sacramento and one from Heald College. She speaks of them with high regard and pride.

It has been said that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Tillie considers herself one of many ordinary persons who, on a daily basis, made decisions which provide support whenever possible to those less fortunate. “The fact that we have the unrelenting strength of the human spirit is what makes us all able to accomplish extraordinary deeds for our community,” she states.