Print | Email

tcm:9-55800

UNION BANK AND KCET HONOR 2012 LOCAL HEROES



For Immediate Release
 

Contacts: 
Tanya Peebles-Hill
(213) 236-5329
Tanya.Peebleshill@UnionBank.com

Veronica Castro
(213) 236-7985
Veronica.Castro@UnionBank.com


Local Heroes Program Culminates with 15th Annual Awards Celebration


LOS ANGELES, CA, October 23, 2012 – As part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and responsible banking, Union Bank, N.A., has partnered with KCET to honor 13 extraordinary individuals at the 15th Annual Local Heroes Awards. The honorees are announced as part of the 2012 Local Heroes Program, which recognizes and pays tribute to exemplary leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others by improving their workplace, profession, community, region and the world. The year-long celebration of diversity culminates with an October 23 awards ceremony, where recipients will be formally recognized. The event will air for the first time on Nov. 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. on KCET.

The 2012 Local Heroes honorees are: Shirlee Smith and Dr. Samella Lewis (Black History Month); Bea Cohen and Billie P. Weiss (Women’s History Month); Stewart Kwoh and Bill Yoshiyuki Watanabe (Asian Pacific American Heritage Month); Abner D. and Roslyn Goldstine and Annette Shapiro (Jewish American Heritage Month); Ivy Bottini and Steven Michael Llanusa (LGBT Pride Month); Joel G. Leal and Carlos H. Vaqueráno (Hispanic Heritage Month).

“We are excited to celebrate the 2012 Local Heroes honorees who bring leadership, dedication and creativity to their work and communities,” said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre Habis, head of Community Banking. “We are proud of our expanded partnership with KCET and look forward to celebrating the achievements of many more heroes as part of our 15-year tradition in Los Angeles.”

“KCET joins Union Bank as we recognize thirteen incredible individuals for their remarkable achievements in their respective communities,” said KCET President and CEO Al Jerome. “We are pleased to introduce them to our viewers through the video profiles currently airing on KCET and we are delighted to announce that the Local Heroes Awards will be broadcast for the first time next month on our station.”

The 2012 Local Heroes honorees are:

Black History Month
Shirlee Smith is the president and CEO of Talk About Parenting with Shirlee Smith, Inc. The Pasadena-based nonprofit organization specializes in parenting issues. Smith provides parenting workshops including sessions for mothers who are for incarcerated, is a popular public speaker, writes an award-winning newspaper column and is host of the cable television show, Talk About Parenting “LIVE" with Shirlee Smith. She is the author of “They’re Your Kids Not Your Friends,” and the Spanish version, “Son tus Hijos, no tus Amigos.” Smith received the 2006 Angel in Adoption Congressional Award and was recently named chair of the Pacific Clinics Family Programs advisory board. She is a graduate of UCLA.

Dr. Samella Lewis is professor emeritus of art history at Scripps College of The Claremont Colleges, where she became the first tenured African American professor in art history and has worked for more than 40 years. Named a Distinguished Scholar by the Getty Center for the History of Art and Humanities, she founded the Los Angeles Museum of African American Art in 1976 and was its curator until 1986. She also founded and edited landmark publications that helped increase recognition of African American art and artists, including “The International Review of African American Art.” Dr. Lewis earned her doctorate degrees in art and art history from Ohio State University.

Women’s History Month
Bea Cohen, the oldest World War II veteran in the state of California, has spent her life advocating for her fellow soldiers. During the war, she worked at Douglas Aircraft Company and became a living “Rosie the Riveter,” and a U.S. Army soldier. During her career, she worked in the communications department with top-secret documents and fed the soldiers while on kitchen patrol. At age 102, Ms. Cohen is an essential member of many organizations, among them the Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital. She believes our Veterans are America’s real heroes, and hopes people will honor, remember and thank them for their service and sacrifices.

Billie P. Weiss, M.P.H., is founder of the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles and associate director of the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Program at the UCLA School of Public Health. For the past 31 years, Ms. Weiss has dedicated her life to building safer communities. Ms. Weiss is the author of numerous literary works, and co-authored the “Advanced Project Report on Reducing Gang and Youth Violence in Los Angeles.” She has received numerous awards, including the California Peace Prize from The California Endowment and Courageous Leader by Women Against Gun Violence in 2008.

Asian Pacific American Heritage
Stewart Kwoh has been co-founder, president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center since 1983. The center offers legal services in Khmer, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese. Mr. Kwoh is an undergraduate lecturer at UCLA’s Asian American Studies Department and editor and co-author of “Untold Civil Rights Stories: Asian Americans Speak Out for Justice.” He is board chair of the Los Angeles Methodist Urban Foundation and vice-chairman of the Asian American Justice Center. He is also a board member of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs of California State University, Los Angeles, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, and Southern California Public Radio.

Bill Yoshiyuki Watanabe has served as founding executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center since 1979. The center provides a comprehensive program of social services and its staff has grown to more than 150. Mr. Watanabe has served as president of the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council and the Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, and he founded the Asian Pacific Community Fund, which has awarded more than $2 million in grants. Mr. Watanabe has also served as chairman of the Nonprofit Policy Council of California and as a board member of many organizations, including the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and the UCLA Center for Civil Society. He is one of the 2012 recipients of Japan’s highest civilian award, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays for his contribution to the development of Japanese American society and the enhancement of friendship between Japan and the United States.

Jewish American Heritage Month
Annette Shapiro is founder of the board of Beit T’Shuvah, a Los Angeles-based drug treatment center. She has raised millions of dollars for several causes, including drug rehabilitation, diabetes and cancer research. Shapiro and her husband established the David Alan Shapiro Memorial Synagogue Center at American Jewish University in memory of their son, David Alan. Shapiro is on the board of advisors for the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She is also a member of the board of governors for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and co-chaired its $15 million campaign for cancer research. Shapiro’s remarkable journey is illustrated in Goldye Harris’ 1994 biography, “Annette Shapiro: Professional Volunteer.”

The Goldstines established the Abner D. and Roslyn Goldstine Fund for Holocaust Survivors in 2007 through the non-profit organization, Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS). The fund provides hope to aging, low-income Holocaust survivors who need food, shelter and health services. Mrs. Goldstine is on the executive committee of JFS, Sinai Temple and the Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles (JVS); she’s also a member of the advisory board of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of American Jewish University. Mr. Goldstine has served as president and board member of Sinai Temple and JVS. He is also on the board of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Executive Service Corps of Southern California.

LGBT Pride Month
Ivy Bottini is a passionate activist who has dedicated more than 50 years to defending the rights of women and the LGBT community. Ms. Bottini is currently spearheading the creation of an AIDS memorial in West Hollywood and Los Angeles’ first LGBT museum. She is also writing an autobiography about her life. Ms. Bottini has been at the forefront of numerous organizations including the Los Angeles Lesbian/Gay Police Advisory Board, Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing, AIDS Network LA, the first chapter of New York’s National Organization for Women (NOW), and AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), and she has co-chaired the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board for the City of West Hollywood.

Steven Llanusa is a teacher, father, husband and an activist who is committed to increasing awareness about gay families in schools and communities and campaigning for gay parenting rights. Mr. Llanusa and his husband Glenn Miya were among the first same-sex couples to complete a joint adoption in California. He has spearheaded community events for several organizations, including the Pop Luck Club, Family Pride Coalition of Pomona Valley and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Family Services. He is currently working with the Human Rights Campaign on Welcoming Schools and is developing a workshop aimed at eliminating bullying of students who are LGBT. In addition, Mr. Llanusa is a teacher at Smith Elementary School and board member of the Claremont Unified School District.

Hispanic Heritage Month
U.S. Army Sergeant Joe G. Leal is the founder of Vet Hunters Project (VHP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness among veterans and their families. VHP's efforts have helped more than 1,200 veterans and their families, and advocates for veterans through its cross-country bike rides and community outreach events. Sgt. Leal’s passion comes from his own experience of being homeless as a youth and serving in the U.S. Army in the Bosnian conflict and Iraq war for four years, where he was injured. He has continued his service in the U.S. Army Reserve for the past 13 years by providing support services to military members and their families, and helping veterans transition from combat to civilian life. Sgt. Leal has been decorated with several medals, including the Global War on Terrorism Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, NATO (Bosnia) Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

Carlos Antonio H. Vaqueráno is a human rights activist and a legal and social justice advocate for Central Americans and Latinos. In 1980, during El Salvador’s civil war, Mr. Vaqueráno fled to the United States after three of his brothers were murdered. This event helped fuel his desire to empower people and 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. SALEF encourages civic participation, 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 also served on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's transition team and Education Advisory Council, Rebuild L.A. and Habitat for Humanity.

In 1998, Union Bank and KCET created the Local Heroes Awards to help celebrate the national commemorative heritage months for various communities throughout Los Angeles. The awards honor outstanding individuals who strive to enrich the lives of others.

Throughout the respective commemorative heritage months, KCET aired video profiles of each honoree highlighting how they have made a difference in their community. The 2012 on-air profiles can be viewed on the Web at Click Here. KCET showcases the rich, vibrant history and cultural diversity of our region with special programs during the respective heritage months and throughout the year. For more information about the Local Heroes program, please also visit Union Bank Local Heroes.


About UnionBanCal Corporation & Union Bank, N.A.
Headquartered in San Francisco, UnionBanCal Corporation is a financial holding company with assets of $87.9 billion at June 30, 2012. Its primary subsidiary, Union Bank, N.A., is a full-service commercial bank providing an array of financial services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, and major corporations. The bank operated 402 branches in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Illinois, and New York as well as two international offices, on June 30, 2012. UnionBanCal Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG, NYSE:MTU),one of the world’s largest financial organizations. Visit www.unionbank.com for more information.

About KCET
On-air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California. KCET offers a wide range of award-winning local programming as well as the finest public television programs from around the world. KCET currently produces the Emmy®, duPont-Columbia and Peabody Award-winning SoCal Connected, a hard-hitting prime-time weekly television news program that examines the issues and people of Southern California. Throughout its more than 47-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions, its quality educational family and children's programs, its outreach and community services and its website, kcet.org. KCET is a donor-supported community institution. For additional information about KCET productions, Web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org.