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Hispanic Heritage Month 2012: KPBS

2012 Hispanic Heritage Month Heroes - KPBS


As part of Union Bank’s Heritage Month celebrations, we are proud to sponsor the Cultural Diversity Partnership Awards and to honor various individuals for the positive contributions and influence they have made in the Latino community.

The honorees will be formally recognized as part of the Cultural Diversity Partnership Awards, which Union Bank sponsors with public television station KPBS.

Congratulations to our 2012 Local Heroes of the Year.

Michael A.V. Cruz        Michael A.V. Cruz 
        Former Director
        Navy Primary Standards Laboratory at North Island


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San Diego native Michael A.V. Cruz has greatly impacted the professional community of engineers, mathematicians, and scientists in the San Diego area as the former Director of the Navy Primary Standards Laboratory at North Island and the Naval Air System Command’s (NAVAIR) Chief Meteorologist. He is the first Hispanic at North Island to hold the highest engineering position at the NAVY’s highest echelon Metrology Laboratory. At North Island, Mr. Cruz was involved for nearly two decades with the NAVAIR Science Enrichment Program, which has earned many honors including “Outstanding Elementary School Partnership” with San Diego City Schools. For the past thirty years Mr. Cruz also has been an officer and board member of the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) of which he is a founding member. SHPE is a leading social-technical organization whose primary function is to enhance and achieve the potential of Hispanics in engineering, mathematics, and science. He has also served on the SHPE National Board of Directors. His outreach to the community’s youth is extensive; Mr. Cruz consistently makes time to share his talents and gifts with San Diego’s youth through Granger and National City Middle Schools, Castle Park High School (his alma mater), Engineering in the Barrio Consortium, and with SHPE student chapters at SDSU, UCSD, and Southwestern/City/Mesa Community Colleges. Mr. Cruz also served on the Navy’s Advisory Committee on Hispanic Employment chaired by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (DASN). In the community he served on the boards for the “Greater San Diego Industry/Education Council (SDGIEC) and on the YMCA-Family Services. In addition to being recognized as a Union Bank/KPBS Local Hero, Mr. Cruz has received many awards for his work with the Navy.


Danny Gutierrez        Danny Gutierrez 
        Area Coordinator
        Project Safe Way


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Danny Gutierrez began his impactful work as a volunteer director for his church’s secular programs for at-risk youth. His ability to relate to the young adults and the story of his own journey to sobriety left an impression on the teens. Mr. Gutierrez grew up in Southeastern San Diego living a dangerous and risky lifestyle. He turned his life around to support his growing family. In 2009, Mr. Gutierrez joined Project Safe Way, a community and volunteer driven initiative of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation focused on improving the safety and well-being for the children living in Southeastern San Diego’s Diamond District (an area known by law enforcement as the “four corners of death”). As a Project Safe Way Area Coordinator, Mr. Gutierrez works alongside law enforcement officials, community partners, and local school officials to implement a safe passage to schools project, and to enhance dialogue between residents and police officers to help solve and prevent crimes in the area. Mr. Gutierrez has made a personal commitment to improve the public safety of his hometown and the community. Additionally, Mr. Gutierrez works with 30 teens each month that are referred by police officers, parents, or community members. He teaches them positive ways to channel their frustrations, and more importantly, offers them a safe, productive environment in which to spend their free time. Mr. Gutierrez is also actively involved in the San Diego Compassion Project, an organization that focuses on assisting and providing support to the families of homicide victims in San Diego.

View past Hispanic Heritage Month Honorees
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Hispanic Heritage Month 2012: KCET

2012 Hispanic Heritage Month Heroes - KCET


As part of Union Bank’s Heritage Month celebrations, we are proud to sponsor the Cultural Diversity Partnership Awards and to honor various individuals for the positive contributions and influence they have made in the Latino community.

The honorees will be formally recognized as part of the Cultural Diversity Partnership Awards, which Union Bank sponsors with public television station KCET.

Congratulations to our 2012 Local Heroes of the Year.

Joe Leal        Sergeant Joe G. Leal 
        United States Army
        Founder
        Vet Hunters Project

        Watch video



Retired Sergeant. Joe G. Leal is a survivor. He experienced homelessness as a youth, served in the U.S. Army in the Bosnian and Iraq wars for four years, where he was injured, and has helped veterans and their families transition from combat to civilian life for the U.S. Army Reserve for the past 13 years. In 2010, he founded Vet Hunters Project (VHP), a nonprofit organization headquartered in El Monte, California, which is dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness among veterans and their families. VHP's grass roots efforts has provided housing and prevented homelessness to more than1,200 veterans and their families, and advocates for veterans through its cross-country bike rides and community outreach events.

Sgt. Leal's most recent awards include a Certificate of Recognition from California Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) and Senate Recognition from California State Senator Ron Calderon (District 30). Sgt. Leal has also been decorated with several medals, including the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal and National Defense Service Medal.


Carlos Antonio Vaquerano        Carlos Antonio H. Vaqueráno 
        Executive Director 
        Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund


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Carlos Antonio H. Vaqueráno is a human rights, legal and social justice advocate of Central Americans and Latinos. In 1980, Mr. Vaqueráno fled from his native country of El Salvador to the United States during the country’s bloody civil war that left three of his brothers brutally murdered by a death squad. This traumatic incident inspired him to create the Los Angeles based nonprofit organization, Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund (SALEF), where he has served as its executive director since its inception in 1995. Under his leadership, SALEF encourages civic participation among Salvadorans and Latinos, advocates educational opportunities for Central American and Latino students and focuses on school reform.

Mr. Vaqueráno is currently board president of Clínica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero and board secretary of the California Hospital Medical Center. He is also a board member of Monseñor Oscar Romero and Bert Corona Charter Schools, and the Dean’s Community Leadership Council for the KECK School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, among others. Additionally, he served on Mayor Villaraigosa's Transition Team, and Education Advisory Council, Rebuild L.A. and Habitat for Humanity. He is married to Ana Rivera and has one son, Diego Valentino.

View past Hispanic Heritage Month Honorees
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