Patti Garamendi (Ethiopia) | Sacramento County Woman of the Year 

In the News —

Patti Garamendi is Sacramento County Woman of the Year 

WALNUT GROVE – Patricia Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-68), the matriarch of a Sacramento County ranching and political family who served in multiple gubernatorial appointments and federal roles, responsible for addressing matters such as world hunger and international trade, has been named Sacramento County Woman of the year by Sen. Bill Dodd.

“Patti has devoted a lifetime to public service and I am proud to recognize her for her many achievements,” Sen. Dodd said. “While running her family’s ranch, Patti has worked tirelessly for two governors and held top federal posts responsible for feeding the poor all over the world. She’s a true dynamo and an inspiration for all.”

Patti —

A Peace Corps Volunteer “learns peace, lives peace and labors for peace from the beginning of their service to the end of their life.” I was inspired by JFK and his call to service during a speech at UC Berkeley.  I joined the Peace Corps, became Associate Director, and created programs in 89 different countries -which brought joy to my heart. My greatest joy is the 59 years married to John and raising our growing family.. all with hearts of service.

I am honored and grateful to receive this award from Senator Bill Dodd.

Patricia “Patti” Wilkinson Garamendi grew up in Watsonville and was inspired to a life of public service after hearing a speech from President John F. Kennedy at her college campus, University of California, Berkeley. Her classmate, John Garamendi, now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, proposed to her, and the couple joined the Peace Corps, serving as teachers in famine-stricken Ethiopia.

Her passion for promoting food security led to bigger roles in the Peace Corps, eventually rising to associate director in 1993. Bigger jobs followed. In 1998, she was appointed deputy administrator of the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, where she ran an international food cooperation program. Later, she became the government’s national food security coordinator and vice chair of the Committee on World Food Security of the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization, where she helped develop the Global Food for Education Program.

Returning to California, Patti was appointed deputy secretary of the Technology, Trade and Commerce agency by Gov. Gray Davis. In 2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her deputy secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing agency.

In 2023 Patti was awarded the prestigious Congressional Families, Leadership award for her promotion of cancer awareness and treatment programs, and her service as President of the 120 year old Congressional Club. The Club is an organization of Senate and Congressional spouses dedicated to supporting Congressional families and promoting bi- partisanship. As President she is responsible for the annual First Lady’s Lunch, a 1500 quest luncheon honoring the spouse of the President.

In addition to her bachelor’s degree, Patti holds a juris doctor degree from U.C. Berkeley’s Humphrey’s Law School.  She and John have been married 59 years, have six children and 14 grandchildren.


Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. You can learn more about the district and Senator Dodd at


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  • Outstanding and richly deserved. You and John represent the highest in effort and achievement of the Peace Corps ideal.

    • So kind of you
      I am in awe of the energy and accomplishments of our entire Ethi group. We are all going strong!✌️Patti 🌍

  • Congratulations! Your goodness, kindness, leadership, and service have been a blessing to people all over the world.
    It is an honor to know you.

  • Congratulations Patti! What an amazing honor. You deserve this and so many more awards-/you are an inspiration!

  • Dear Patti,

    Of course you are the “Woman the Year”!

    You always have been 🙂
    – in CA, domestically and globally
    while working in high pressured positions and
    raising six amazing children who are all contributing
    in so many ways to our planet – like their parents.

    John’s and your annual barb-b-que on your ranch
    – feeding hundreds from your organic farm and cattle –
    is a family collaboration to behold
    – with each one of your children and families
    harmoniously contributing around the clock.

    Peter Yarrow has always said it’s one of his favorite places to perform,
    and it’s certainly one of my favorite places. 🙂

    From the time I first met you in1989 when you arrived in DC,
    I have always been in awe of how much you have contributed
    and how much you continually contribute in every way.
    AND – You always viewed your work as a joy – and rarely as a burden.

    I can’t imagine anyone who deserves an award more than you.
    You are an inspiration.

    Sending appreciation and gratitude,


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