Print | Email



For Immediate Release

Jane Yedinak
(415) 765-3241

Samantha Curley
(415) 505-9064

SAN FRANCISCO (May 25, 2011) - As part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and in celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, Union Bank has partnered with KQED to honor four extraordinary individuals from the LGBT community as local heroes.  The Local Heroes Awards recognize the recipients’ leadership and contributions in shaping the neighborhoods in which they work and live.  The 2011 LGBT honorees are:  Selisse Berry, Ed Decker, Max Philp and Michael Smith.  The awards will be presented Thursday, June 2, 2011, in San Francisco, and the program is scheduled to air on KQED Sunday, June 26 and Monday, June 27.

Union Bank and KQED created the Local Heroes Awards to help celebrate the national commemorative heritage months for various communities throughout the Bay Area, including Black History Month (February) and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May). The awards honor outstanding individuals who strive to enrich the lives of others.  While KQED has celebrated LGBT Pride Month in the past, in 2011, its partnership with Union Bank and the Local Heroes Awards were expanded to also recognize local heroes as part of LGBT Pride Month.

"We are honored to recognize the contributions of these outstanding individuals," said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre Habis, head of Community Banking. "Each one demonstrates a passion, dedication and exemplary level of service that has really made a difference in the lives of others in the community. We look forward to celebrating their achievements and the work of many more local heroes as we expand our program and continue our partnership with KQED." 

"KQED is grateful to Union Bank for helping us celebrate LGBT local heroes," said KQED President and CEO John Boland. "The honorees have each made a unique and valuable contribution to our Bay Area community, and we are pleased to introduce them to our viewers through the video profiles airing on KQED throughout LGBT Pride Month.  Thanks to Union Bank, we will also celebrate with programming that focuses on milestones and achievements of the LGBT community."

The 2011 honorees for LGBT Pride Month are:  
Selisse Berry is the founding executive director of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating safe and equitable workplaces for LGBT employees. She has helped the organization grow 1,200 percent since 1999, and it now has seventeen regional affiliates in the U.S. as well as strong ties with international partners.

Ed Decker is the founding artistic director of The New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC), whose mission is to champion innovative, quality theatre experiences for youth, adults and artists to affect growth, enlightenment and change. The NCTC’s programs include Pride Season, which promotes the exploration of social issues and the development of community and diversity, and the groundbreaking YouthAware touring program that educates youth about challenging issues.

Max Philp has a passion for activism that began with an internship at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Leadership LAB’s Vote for Equality. Returning to the Bay Area, he was elected co-president of his high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club and helped transform the club into one of the most prominent clubs on campus. He was also selected to be part of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network’s Northern California Youth Council and has become a trainer to help youth throughout Northern California better their local clubs.

Michael Smith is the executive director of the AIDS Emergency Fund & Breast Cancer Emergency Fund (AEF & BCEF), agencies that help people disabled by HIV/AIDS or breast cancer pay their bills. He is also president of the HIV/AIDS Provider Network, representing all San Francisco-based HIV agencies that received city funding. Mr. Smith is the co-founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and served as managing director from 1987 to 1989.

Throughout June, KQED will air video profiles of each winner, highlighting how they made a difference in their community. The spots, along with program listings and descriptions of the more than 30 programs celebrating LGBT themes and culture, can be viewed on the Web at

Union Bank is also the exclusive sponsor of the Bay Area Reporter’s 40th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibit and will host the Retrospective at its 400 California Street location during the month of June. As one of the longest running LGBT publications in San Francisco, the Bay Area Reporter (BAR) has been a leading voice in the LGBT community since its founding in 1971.

The Bay Area Reporter’s 40th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibit consists of memorable covers, vintage photographs, video footage and critically acclaimed articles from the Bay Area Reporter’s archives showcased through a historical timeline of LGBT milestones and events over the last 40 years. The Exhibit is open to the public, free-of-charge, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 1 through 30, 2011. Group tours are also available.

About UnionBanCal Corporation & Union Bank, N.A.

Headquartered in San Francisco, UnionBanCal Corporation is a financial holding company with assets of $80.6 billion at March 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 401 banking offices in California, Washington, Oregon and Texas, as well as two international offices, on March 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 KQED
KQED ( has served Northern California for more than 50 years and is affiliated with NPR and PBS. KQED owns and operates public television stations KQED 9 (San Francisco/Bay Area), KTEH 54 (San Jose/Bay Area), and KQET 25 (Watsonville/Monterey); KQED Public Radio (88.5FM San Francisco and 89.3FM Sacramento); the interactive platforms and; and KQED Education. KQED Public Television, one of the nation's most-watched public television stations, is the producer of local and national series such as QUEST; Check, Please! Bay Area; This Week in Northern California; Truly CA; and Essential Pépin.  KQED's digital television channels include KQED 9, KQED Plus, KQED Life, KQED World, KQED Kids, and V-me, and are available 24/7 on Comcast.  KQED Public Radio, home of Forum with Michael Krasny and The California Report, is one of the most-listened-to public radio stations in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service delivering more than eighteen local newscasts daily.  KQED Interactive hosts KQED’s cross-platform news service, KQED News, as well as offers video and audio podcasts and a live radio stream at KQED Education brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents, and the general public through workshops, community screenings, and multimedia resources.