Print | Email



For Immediate Release

Tanya Peebles-Hill
(213) 236-5329

Nina Ronstadt
(619) 224-3186

SAN DIEGO (April 30, 2012) – As part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and responsible banking, and in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month, Union Bank has partnered with KPBS to honor two extraordinary San Diegans for the 2012 Local Heroes program. The year-long campaign is designed to celebrate and pay tribute to exemplary members of the community who are making a difference by improving their workplace, neighborhoods, region, and the world. The 2012 Jewish American Heritage Month honorees are: Jill Spitzer and Gussie Zaks.

Earlier this year, honorees were identified during Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), and will also be identified for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May); Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month (June); Hispanic Heritage Month (September); Disability Awareness Month (October); and Native American Heritage Month (November). Honorees are formally recognized during celebration dinners, which Union Bank sponsors with KPBS.

“Union Bank is excited to recognize the successes of these two extraordinary Jewish Americans,” said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre P. Habis, head of Community Banking. “We are proud to once again partner with KPBS as we celebrate more amazing individuals as a part of the Local Heroes program.”

“For more than a decade, KPBS has had the pleasure of partnering with Union Bank to pay tribute to incredible individuals in our community,” said Tom Karlo, KPBS general manager. “KPBS is proud to profile the stories of these impressive honorees and their power to motivate us all with their achievements.”

The 2012 honorees for Jewish American Heritage Month are:

Jill Spitzer
Jill Borg Spitzer began working at Jewish Family Service (JFS) in 1984 when the agency had a staff of 20, an annual budget of $500,000 and focused on family counseling. As CEO for 25 years, Ms. Spitzer has focused on social issues, including domestic violence, youth mentoring, senior centers and hunger. JFS now serves more than 30,000 people every year, and it’s Hand Up Food Pantry, led by youth volunteers, serves more than 7,000 people. Ms. Spitzer has revitalized JFS’ fundraising capacity and completed a $12 million capital campaign. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia and is a licensed clinical social worker.

Gussie Zaks
Born in Poland in 1925, at age 13 Gussie Zaks was sent to several concentration camps before losing her family at the Treblinka death camp. Once liberated, Ms. Zaks spent time in Sweden and Belgium; she immigrated to the U.S. and moved to San Diego in 1963. As a Holocaust survivor, Ms. Zaks educates others about racial and religious discrimination. Despite losing many family and friends to unspeakable acts of prejudice, she believes hate is not the answer. She has been recognized by the Board of Education of San Diego City Schools and has received San Diego’s Channel 10 News Leadership Award.

Throughout the respective commemorative heritage months, KPBS will air video profiles of the winners, highlighting how they made a difference in their community. To view the videos and to nominate future heroes, visit 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 $89.7 billion at December 31, 2011. 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 414 branches in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas and New York, as well as two international offices, on December 31, 2011. 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 KPBS
KPBS is a public service of San Diego State University, serving the region with TV, Radio and Internet content that is educational as well as entertaining and free of commercial interruption.