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For Immediate Release

Veronica Castro
(213) 236-7985

Erika Wirkkala
(818) 425-0998

LOS ANGELES, CA (September 13, 2012) – As part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and responsible banking, and in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Union Bank has partnered with KCET to honor two inspirational Latinos as local heroes.

The Local Heroes program recognizes and pays tribute to exemplary leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others by improving their workplace, professions, neighborhoods, community, region and the world. The 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month honorees are: Joe G. Leal and Carlos Antonio H. Vaqueráno.

Earlier this year, honorees were identified during Black History Month (February); Women’s History Month (March), Jewish American History Month (May), Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May), and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (June). The year-long program will culminate in October 2012, when honorees will be formally honored as part of the annual Local Heroes Awards, which Union Bank sponsors. Since 1998, KCET and Union Bank have collaborated on the Local Heroes initiative and awarded more than 150 outstanding community leaders.

“Union Bank is pleased to honor these two influential leaders who have impacted our communities through their diligent efforts,” said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre P. Habis, head of Community Banking. “Our ongoing partnership with KCET allows us to acknowledge the extraordinary accomplishments of local heroes throughout the year, and we are proud of our continued program.”

“It is truly an honor to join Union Bank in distinguishing these two remarkable local heroes,” said KCET President and CEO Al Jerome. “Each of the honorees has assisted in empowering the Hispanic community in a distinctive way, and we are delighted to introduce them to our viewers through the video profiles airing on KCET throughout Hispanic Heritage Month as we also pay tribute to the many milestones and triumphs of the Hispanic community.”

The 2012 honorees for Hispanic Heritage Month are:

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. He is also a recipient of a Certificate of Recognition from California Assemblymember Mike Eng (49th Assembly District) and Senate Recognition from California State Senator Ron Calderon (District 30).

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.

Throughout September and October, KCET will air a video profile of each honoree, highlighting how they have made a difference in their community. To view the videos and to nominate future heroes, 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 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 48-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 is a donor-supported community institution. For additional information about KCET productions, Web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit