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For Immediate Release

Tanya Peebles-Hill
(213) 236-5329

Erika Wirkkala
(818) 425-0998

LOS ANGELES, CA (May 14, 2012) – As part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and responsible banking, and in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Union Bank has partnered with KCET to honor two inspiring Asian Pacific Americans 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, profession, neighborhood, community, region and the world. The 2012 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month honorees are: Stewart Kwoh and Bill Yoshiyuki Watanabe.

Earlier this year, honorees were identified during Black History Month (February); Women’s History Month (March) and Jewish American History Month (May), and will also be identified for Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (June) and Hispanic Heritage Month (September). The year-long program will culminate in October 2012, when honorees will be formally recognized 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 honored more than 125 outstanding community leaders.

“It is a privilege to honor these individuals who have made such remarkable contributions to their community with their unwavering dedication and leadership,” said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre P. Habis, head of Community Banking. “Continuing our partnership with KCET will also allow us to recognize the achievements of many more local heroes as part of our 15-year tradition in Los Angeles.”

“KCET is thrilled to join Union Bank once again in recognizing two awe-inspiring local heroes,” said KCET President and CEO Al Jerome. “Each of the honorees has helped shape the vibrant Los Angeles community in a unique way, and we are pleased to introduce them to our viewers through the video profiles airing on KCET throughout Asian Pacific American Heritage Month as we also pay tribute to the many milestones and achievements of the Asian Pacific American community.”

The 2012 honorees for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month are:

Stewart Kwoh, co-founder of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center since 1983, 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.

In 1979,Bill Yoshiyuki Watanabe, founded the Little Tokyo Service Center, a comprehensive program of social services. Under his leadership, the center’s 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.

Throughout the month of May, KCET will air a video profile of each honoree, highlighting how they have made a difference in their community. The on-air profiles can be viewed on the Web at 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 Awards, please also visit

About UnionBanCal Corporation & Union Bank, N.A.
Headquartered in San Francisco, UnionBanCal Corporation is a financial holding company with assets of $92.3 billion at March 31, 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 operates 407 branches in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, New York and Illinois as well as two international offices. 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 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 is a donor-supported community institution. For additional information about KCET productions, Web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit