One was a music major on the East Coast. One studied communications in Illinois. One spent time working in Wisconsin. One helped drug addicts in rural California.

Their backgrounds are different, their interests diverse, their careers distinct.

But their paths will converge Thursday evening at Ocean House, where they will be honored by the League of Women Voters of Santa Monica for their contributions to education, social service and government in and around the coastal city.

This year’s “Women Who Shape Santa Monica” event will recognize early childhood activist Betsy Hiteshew, the Rev. Janet McKeithen, City Council member Pam O’Connor and league member Susan McCarthy. Each awardee was chosen for many years of service to the community, chapter president Ann Williams said.

“Our city is truly fortunate to have been the beneficiary of the gifts and lifework of these remarkable women,” Williams said. “Every aspect of our civic lives has been enhanced by our honorees.”

The event aims to celebrate and build on the legacy of the local league chapter, which was established in 1934.

Hiteshew is being honored for her dedication to early childhood education, Williams said.

After moving to Santa Monica in 1959, Hiteshew served as an instructor at Santa Monica College for 27 years. She lobbied state and federal officials for funding for child care, serving as president of the California Association for the Education of Young Children from 1999 to 2001.

In retirement, Hiteshew became active in Santa Monica’s early child care and education task force. She was a key player behind the early childhood education center, a joint project between SMC and the City of Santa Monica.

Connections for Children, a child care resource agency that Hiteshew co-founded, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

McKeithen, meanwhile, was chosen for her work in and beyond the faith community, Williams said. A minister at the Church in Ocean Park, she has been a member of the local Human Relations Council for almost a decade. She’s also been active on the Santa Monica-Malibu school district’s advisory committee on special education and the Cradle to Career network.

McKeithen has collaborated with the Westside Interfaith Council, the Committee for Racial Justice and the Gay Straight Alliance at Santa Monica High School. She is currently working on a youth diversion program.

O’Connor was selected by LWVSM for her extensive service in local government, Williams said.

A longtime City Council member who has served as mayor multiple times, O’Connor is a member of the regional council of the Southern California Association of Governments and has served as chair of the committee that oversaw the extension of the Metro Expo Line to Santa Monica.

O’Connor has received numerous awards for her work as an elected official.

McCarthy will receive the Christabel Pankhurst award, which is named for the suffragist daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst.

A former city manager, McCarthy began her career developing an information system for the Department of Transportation. After moving to Santa Monica in the mid-1970s, she worked for Big Blue Bus and served as the city’s personnel director.

Since retiring in 2005, she has served as a docent at the Santa Monica Public Library and Annenberg Community Beach House as well as on the Santa Monica Pier board.

Thursday’s event will be held at Ocean House, located at 2107 Ocean Ave., between Pacific Street and Bicknell Avenue. Tickets at can be purchased ahead of time for $40. Tickets at the door cost $50. To register, call 310-692-1494 or email