Five finalists for the coveted Fernando Award were announced Wednesday evening. The five, all women, are noted area leaders and were selected from an unusually large group of 17 nominees.From the five a single honoree will be announced at gala dinner on Nov. 5. The Fernando Award is considered the most significant award to recognize outstanding service to the San Fernando Valley community.At a reception Aug. 25 at the Galpin Aston Martin dealership in North Hills, these five finalists were announced: Tamara Gurney, the founder and chief executive of Mission Valley Bank. She is credited with helping save many small businesses in the Valley area by arranging financing when they couldn’t get it elsewhere during the pandemic. She also helped establish the Community Foundation of the Valleys and has been actively involved with other community groups.Carol Loweree, who’s on the board of the North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is a big part of the chamber’s efforts to connect its members with schools in the community and has tutored hundreds of at-risk kids. She also has volunteered with several local organizations and causes.Louise Oliver, the regional operations officer of Goodwill Southern California. She has decades of service at many local non-profits. Her role as a mentor at the San Fernando Community Health Center has helped that organization grow.Diana Sanchez, the public and community relations director of Los Angeles World Airports-Van Nuys. She has been unusually active and involved with many organizations including the Mid-Valley YMCA, Encino Chamber of Commerce, Valley Presbyterian Hospital and Valley Cultural Center.Kathleen Sterling, the publisher of the Valley News Group. Through her four newspapers, she supports almost every nonprofit in the Valley – donating both ad and editorial space to promote their programs and events. She also has volunteered for such local organizations as the American Heart Association, Louisville High School, Valley Women’s Center and Pacific Lodge Boys Home.“It’s always challenging to identify the five finalists who will be this year’s Fernando Award recipient. However, this year was exceptionally challenging with 17 impressive nominees,” said David Honda and Marian Jocz, selection committee members. Other selection committee members were Thomas Backer, Fred Gaines, Cathy Galarneau, Sarah Horvet and Mark Levinson.The other nominees:Paula Bahamon of Mission Valley Bank, Cindy Chernow of Chernow Consulting, Timothy Gaspar of Gaspar Insurance Services, Kim Guard of Express Employment Professionals, Jeri Dye Lynch of Conor Lynch Foundation, Kashmira Omar of Unique Individuals, Jorge Rabaso of the Office of Jorge Rabaso, Tammy Scher of Forgotten Treasurez, Shannon Sullivan of Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, Irene Tovar of Latin American Civic Association, David Tuckman of the Homeland Security Department and Gustavo Valdespino of Valley Presbyterian Hospital.The Fernando Award Foundation was founded in 1958, and over the years it has given awards to 61 community and business leaders. This year’s Fernando board includes Honda, Jocz and Levinson in addition to Paul Davis, Pegi Matsuda, Bruce Miller, Walter Mosher, Mike Quiroga, Thor Steingraber, Dale Surowitz and Mark Villaseñor.