Mathis received the ceremony's "Making a Difference for Women" award for her work at the YWCA.
"Her work alone with the domestic violence programs is quite outstanding," Rhodes said. "She was the perfect fit."
Mathis joined the Glendale YWCA two years ago after heading the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley and has since reinvigorated the programs and presence of the association, administrators said.
"She just never stops thinking of the possibilities," YWCA Board President Brooke Moore said. "She's absolutely tireless."
In addition to a new mentoring program for Armenian women now in development, Mathis said she's shopping a piece of legislation to lawmakers in Sacramento that would create court-appointed advocates for abused women during trials.
"A lot of women will get into court and then just fall apart," she said.
Mathis, a Glendale resident, also hosts a local television program in Santa Clarita on domestic violence and has been a national fixture on the public-speaking circuit.
The combination of her 20 years of helping women, children and families in domestic abuse cases, along with her public advocacy campaign, made Mathis a logical choice for the award, said Susan Hunt, who helped judge the nominations.
The recognition by a group of active women in the community was, for Mathis, a humbling experience, she said.
"I am so very grateful and humbled," she told the crowd after receiving the award.
Maria Martinez is a single mother of three boys and recently became a U.S. citizen. She was awarded a $2,000 grant for her efforts at becoming a bilingual preschool teacher. She has enrolled in Los Angeles Mission College.
"Sometimes I don't want to do it because it's too expensive and too much time," she said. "Grants like this help a lot."
Jennifer Morishita received a $750 grant for her yearlong volunteerism in homeless outreach programs at Centenary United Methodist Church in Los Angeles and for her service with the Girl Scouts of America.
Morishita and Martinez live in Los Angeles.
All three women were found through a mix of suggested nominations and encouraged applications, which is usually harder than it sounds simply because many volunteers and people who impact their communities shy away from accolades, Rhodes said.
"It seems hard for them to want to toot their own horns, so usually someone recommends them into it," she said.