On May 7, 2015 at the City National Grove of Anaheim, OC Human Relations brought together over 500 of Orange County’s diverse community and business leaders for AWARDS 44, a special gala event that honored the outstanding human relations efforts of seldom-recognized individuals, model community policing programs and exemplary school programs that create safe and inclusive environments for Orange County’s students and residents. As well as the presentation of the awards, the evening featured entertainment provided by the Westminster High School Drum Line and the Ron Kobayashi Trio and a speech by the 2015 YouthSpeak contest winner, Christine Panlasigui.
Below, click on the name of the honoree to learn more about the individuals and organizations that we were proud to recognize.
Diverse Community Leader Awards
The Diverse Community Leaders Awards honor individuals or groups who made extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights.
The Community-Policing Award recognizes a department or officer that has tailored creative strategies to provide outstanding service to and build positive relationships with their communities.
Outstanding School Award
The Outstanding School Award recognizes exceptional contributions to promoting, nurturing, protecting and/or cultivating a school campus that is safe, welcoming and equitable.
Distinguished Business Awards
The Distinguished Business Awards are presented to businesses that have gone above and beyond to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Gloria Banks (Placentia)
For more than 60 years Gloria has given of her time to serve the community, 35 of those years in Orange County. For Gloria, community service was not an extracurricular activity; it was a necessity. Gloria worked part-time at and enrolled in Fullerton Community College (FCC), where she became aware of a concern that minority students dropped out at an alarming rate. There, she became a founding member of the Black Student Union (BSU) where she provided advice, supervision and activities. The BSU continues today, 36 years later, with now-retired Gloria still serving as a resource. Because she is a firm believer in political advocacy, Gloria volunteers with the Orange County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Democratic Party and the Green Party. As a member of the Orange County NAACP since 1982, she has served in every position, including president. Concerned about poverty, Gloria helps the homeless via the Tri-City Homeless Coalition and is the lead volunteer for the Friendship Foundation Food and Clothing Pantry. There, she coordinates food and clothing drives for the homeless and those who are struggling and underserved in North Orange County. Gloria’s leadership and daily efforts ensure that approximately 1,000 people each month do not go hungry. It is difficult to imagine a more dedicated volunteer than Gloria Banks!
The Bravo Family (Costa Mesa)
The Bravo family members have distinguished themselves as people who care about civic engagement in Orange County, particularly as it relates to immigrant issues. Enrique Bravo was recently elected as the Co-President of the Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO). Enrique’s daughter Jessica, a college student, led a fast outside the office of a Congressman to plead for a meeting to discuss issues of immigrants living in Orange County. She and her older brother, Daniel, stayed there all week camping on a sidewalk in the cold. The Bravo family members are faith-based advocates and through their church they have touched the lives of many of Orange County’s residents. Within their local congregation they have successfully helped people receive citizenship, register to vote, and become educated on legislation related to their activism. The Bravo family has increased civic engagement within a disenfranchised community by assisting people to participate in the voting process. They have been a voice for many in Orange County who have been historically voiceless and powerless, and they stand as a model family that embodies civic engagement. A courageous family that works hard to make a living, the Bravos also spend endless hours after work and on weekends to encourage the low-income, predominately immigrant communities of OC to become effective participants in the civic process. And, all this amazing work the Bravo Family does is volunteer-based!
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De Colores Organization (Santa Ana)
The De Colores Organization is dedicated to providing support, education, and advocacy related to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer (LGBTQ) and immigrant communities. The organization was founded by young residents of Santa Ana who wanted a space accessible to everyone in the community, including parents, siblings, neighbors, grandparents and friends. Their vision is, “To create empowering social, supportive, and political spaces for Queer Latinos in Orange County.” Since 2009, the grassroots, volunteer-led organization based in Santa Ana has worked diligently to bring a holistic approach to building community. They have advocated for Latino and LGBTQ rights and have strengthened the social fabric of new immigrant families in Orange County. They are a horizontal organization, with a decentralized power structure, that values openness, honesty and communication. De Colores is open to people from all walks of life, and yet is also a space to explore one’s identity as a LGBTQ Latino, to make connections, and to organize with others to impact policy that will improve the lives of LGBTQ and immigrant communities. De Colores is a space where one does not have to leave a piece of their identity at the door, but where all of a person’s identities are not just acknowledged but also celebrated as one’s strength. De Colores has, against all odds, created a genuine place of strength, community and inclusivity.
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Father Michael Mai Khai Hoan (Laguna Woods)
Father Hoan currently serves as the President of the Vietnamese Catholic Community in the Southwestern Region of the U.S.A. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Vietnamese Catholic Center of Orange County (VCCOC). Under his leadership, both organizations became a hub for a myriad of cultural, social, educational and immigration services and health and wellness programs to serve immigrant Vietnamese and Latino communities. Recognizing that each young person saved from a troubled path is a major contribution to the safety of the entire community, Father Michael spearheaded efforts to guide youth to channel their energy into positive actions and programs. With him at the helm, the VCCOC was transformed into a place of solidarity where diverse cultures flourish through collaborative efforts involving cultural events that attract tens of thousands of attendees. He constantly looks beyond any artificial boundaries separating people from one another and seeks opportunities to bring people of all faiths and backgrounds together to create harmony. Father Michael was one of the organizers of the Vietnamese Interfaith Council and his skill and passion for the work has led leaders of diverse faiths to elect him as President of the Council on multiple occasions.
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Farrah N. Khan (Irvine)
As a Community Services Commissioner for the city of Irvine, Farrah has brought her interfaith and intercultural interests to the position, providing a broad base of inclusion to the group. In her, she seeks out under-served and marginalized members of the community to include and provide resources. Farrah is, among her many other roles, the founder of First Drops, a children’s interfaith community service organization. Farrah began this group for her two young sons’ friends and classmates and it continues to grow rapidly to include children of all faiths and various ages. The children engage in learning about one another’s religion and work together on community service activities, such as serving hot meals to homeless families in Santa Ana once a month. With adult assistance, the children themselves serve the food, interact with people who are experiencing homelessness, and distribute clothing, blankets, and toiletries. Through First Drops, she is teaching children to be compassionate and supportive of hate crime victims and to learn about and appreciate all faiths. Farah is passionate about increasing intergroup understanding and works with the Irvine Global Village Festival to promote appreciation of diverse cultures. She also regularly invites non-Muslims to visit mosques with her in order to dispel myths and misconceptions about Muslims and to reduce Islamophobia in the community. She recently created a Muslim women’s leadership group in her community.
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Nicholas Academic Centers (Santa Ana)
Nicholas Academic Centers (NAC) are an after-school tutoring and mentoring program for under-served youth. The centers are a safe and nurturing places where high school students can seek academic services, emotional support, mentoring and social services as they prepare to pursue their educational goals at an institution of higher learning. NAC provides academic assistance, social services, cultural enrichment programs, college connection opportunities, and need based scholarship opportunities – the resources necessary to graduate from high school and continue on to college. Continued support and services are offered to its students during the college years to ensure their graduation. NAC was founded in 2008 by three visionary community leaders. Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel had being informally tutoring students at Santa Ana High School library, helping them graduate from high school, after he realized many of them had nowhere to study once school let out. A colleague, Steven Silverstein, was aware of the Judge’s work with disadvantaged youth and brought it to the attention of Dr. Henry Nicholas III, co-founder of Broadcom. Dr. Nicholas was impressed with the success Judge Mandel had achieved and together they launched NAC as part of a philanthropic network anchored by the Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation. NAC is currently run by former students who worked with Judge Mandel at Santa Ana High School and has an extremely impressive track record, having already graduated 480 students from the program.
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Savanna High School (Anaheim)
For the past several years, Savanna High School has focused much of its efforts on creating a campus community that is safe, inclusive and bully-free–where all voices are heard. The administration has emphasized the role of parents, staff and students in the BRIDGES Task Force, an intergenerational group on campus focusing on school climate issues. The group holds an annual day-long Task Force retreat to identify climate challenges on campus and schedules monthly meetings to plan ways to work with the entire school community to identify policy changes and to help build programs, activities and opportunities for students, staff and parents to address the campus challenges collectively. Through weekly meetings, retreats and a long-term campaign, the BRIDGES student group on campus has worked on new ways to raise awareness, build leadership capacity and shift the culture of the campus. Some examples of school-wide efforts include the Day of Silence, which discourages anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools; Kindness Week, a weeklong project aimed at inspiring random acts of kindness; Up Close & Personal, an annual poster project that breaks down stereotypes; and anti-bullying workshops created and delivered by BRIDGES and PAL students to all 9th graders. Additionally, BRIDGES/PAL groups now hold lunch meetings together, so they can work collectively to help shift the culture of the campus to a place where all feel safe, respected and connected.
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Officer Jenny Lindsey (Irvine Police Department)
The City of Irvine and the Irvine PD have long recognized the challenges facing law enforcement when interacting with individuals suffering from mental health disorders. Typically, police officers encounter these individuals during a crisis and as a result of a 911 call. Unfortunately, at times, this has resulted in violent confrontations between the police and the mentally ill resulting in injury, death and/or a general distrust of police officers. To mitigate these negative outcomes, the position of Mental Health Liaison Officer was created and Officer Jenny Lindsey was appointed. Her mission is to reach out to people in the community with mental health issues and to establish positive relationships to prevent future emergency calls requiring a patrol officer response. Officer Lindsey has created partnerships with organizations dedicated to providing resources to the mentally ill and their families and organizes monthly strategy meetings with these groups. When a crisis is reported to police, she initiates home visits with clinical representatives from partner agencies to build rapport, assist with assessment, and provide linkages to community resources as well as follow-up support. Officer Lindsey has also utilized the skills and knowledge she has gained to educate and train other officers about the challenges and complexities associated with persons living with mental illness. She is compassionate, patient and caring when interacting with people with a mental illness and has been referred to as an “angel of Irvine” by many of the individuals and families she has assisted and will continue to serve as an advocate for those in need.
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PIMCO has a focus on cultivating an inclusive culture which draws from a diverse spectrum of talent and a belief that, through corporate philanthropy and corporate citizenship, business can enable positive change and help provide leadership on social issues. In 2014, more than 1,200 PIMCO employee volunteers contributed 27,559 hours of service to 138 organizations around the globe.
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Union Bank is being recognized for its core organizational values, which include: Integrity, Respect, Service, Collaboration, Inclusion and Stewardship. In 2014, 307 Union Bank officers served on the boards of 488 nonprofit organizations that support affordable housing initiatives, education, community economic development, and the environment; thus, aligning with the key focus areas of the Union Bank Foundation’s giving.
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U.S. Bank is noteworthy for their vision of inclusion and diversity in their hiring policies and practices, as well as how they carry out broader, enterprise-wide initiatives, including inclusive recruitment, internship programs, business resource groups, sponsorship, mentor programs and education. In 2014, U.S. Bank and the U.S. Bank Foundation provided $881,000 in grant and sponsorship funding to 91 Orange County organizations.
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