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UNION BANK AND KCET HONOR TWELVE LOCAL HEROES
For Immediate Release
2011 Cultural Diversity Partnership Culminates with 14th Annual Local Heroes Awards Celebration
LOS ANGELES, October 13, 2011 – As part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity, Union Bank, N.A., has partnered with public television station KCET to honor 12 extraordinary individuals at the 14th Annual Local Heroes Awards. The honorees are announced as part of the ongoing 2011 Cultural Diversity Partnership, which recognizes and pays tribute to local heroes who are making a difference by improving their workplace, profession, neighborhood, community, region and the world. The year-long celebration of diversity culminates with an October 18 awards ceremony, where recipients will be formally recognized.
The 2011 Local Heroes honorees are: Rhonda and Ruett Foster and Charmaine Jefferson (Black History Month); Gloria Lazalde and Lisa Watson (Women's History Month); Ruth Tang Ding, Sandy Sakamoto and Charles Woo (Asian Pacific American Heritage Month); Zane Buzby and Stephen J. Sass (Jewish American Heritage Month); Teresa Campos Hernández and Jesús Salvador Treviño (Hispanic Heritage Month).
"We are thrilled to celebrate these outstanding individuals who bring leadership, dedication and creativity to their work and communities - we all benefit greatly from their tireless commitment," said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre Habis, head of Community Banking. "We are also proud of our expanded cultural partnership with KCET, and we look forward to celebrating the achievements and work of many more local heroes as part of our 14-year tradition in Los Angeles."
"KCET is excited to join Union Bank as we recognize twelve incredible local heroes," said KCET President and CEO Al Jerome. "Each of the honorees has made a unique and valuable contribution to our Los Angeles community, and we are pleased to introduce them to our viewers through the video profiles airing on KCET as we also pay tribute to the many milestones and achievements of the their respective communities."
The 2011 Cultural Diversity honorees are:
Black History Month
Pastor Ruett Stephen Foster has over thirty years of experience as a teacher, counselor, and an advocate for the children, youth and families of Los Angeles. For the past thirteen years, Pastor Foster has served as an ardent public activist for violence prevention. He became an assiduous advocate after the tragic and senseless loss of his innocent seven-year-old son, Evan, to gun violence in 1997. Pastor Foster and his wife, Rhonda, have partnered with several causes in the hopes of eradicating youth violence by instilling empathy and cultivating emotional growth in incarcerated youth.
Rhonda Foster has dedicated her life to helping children reconcile with their families and their communities as a whole. She and her husband Pastor Foster established the Evan Leigh Foster Foundation in memory of their son to provide care and services for children who have perpetrated crimes against society as a result of being separated or estranged from their families. Her commitment to youth is reflected in her position as the case manager for Community Build and the Gang Reduction Youth Development Program of Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa's office. She coordinates therapy, tutoring, sports, arts activities and life coaching for children between the ages of 10 and 15.
Charmaine Jefferson is the executive director of the California African American Museum. She is deeply dedicated to enriching her community and the lives of others through the promotion of artistic endeavors. Her innovative advocacy of arts education and programming has earned her wide acclaim in both the private and public sectors. Ms. Jefferson is also very committed to charitable works and philanthropic organizations. Her advisory board and consulting memberships is as varied as it is extensive, and she is particularly involved with the California Institute for the Arts, Arts for LA, and the California Arts Council.
Women’s History Month
Gloria Lazalde is a well known community organizer, manager and altruist. She began her career in 1988 while working for Nobles Property Management where she managed certification processes in a 430-unit public housing complex serving more than 2,500 residents where she organized groups for abused women and youth. In 2005, she founded the "Celebrando Nuestras Madres" annual event in San Fernando Valley to honor the lives of both her late mother and sister. The event honors mothers who would not otherwise be able to celebrate Mother’s Day. Ms. Lazalde remains committed to motivate, inspire, and empower women and acknowledge the contributions they continuously make to their families and their communities at large.
Lisa Watson s the executive director of the Downtown Women's Center (DWC), a nationally recognized model program for women living in extreme poverty on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Ms. Watson has initiated new programs, increased the organization's capacity, and developed strategic partnerships to meet the dramatic rise in women's homelessness. Most recently, she led the development and move of the DWC to its new home, a 67,000-square foot building made possible by a $35 million capital campaign and the work of more than 1,800 volunteers. Throughout her career, Ms. Watson has been dedicated to building communities and promoting social justice.
Asian Pacific American Heritage
Ruth Tang Ding is the founder and president of the Orange County Chinese Cultural Club and Pan Pacific Performing Arts, Inc. As a teacher and a philanthropist, Ms. Ding has been a major promoter of the arts and Chinese culture in Orange County for more than fifty years. She is a board member of the Opera Pacific, the Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center (AASCSC) and Segerstrom Center for the Arts, where she is also a director. Ms. Ding has been honored with many awards, including a Special Commendation for Service to Orange County and Honorary Goodwill Ambassador by former Secretary of State of California March Fong Eu.
Sandy Sakamoto is a community organizer and a partner at the law firm Lim, Ruger & Kim, LLP. Her career achievements include 22 years as an assistant general counsel with AT&T. Ms. Sakamoto serves on various boards and community organizations, including the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC), Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE) and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC). She was a Japanese American Leadership delegate in 2003 and continues to be involved in efforts to strengthen ties between Japan and the U.S. After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, she organized a candlelight vigil through JACCC to offer condolences to those who had lost loved ones and to honor the lives of those lost.
Charles Woo is the co-founder and CEO of Megatoys, an international toy manufacturing company and is also known as the founder of Downtown Los Angeles' Toy District. Mr. Woo has used his influence to help hundreds of immigrant entrepreneurs start their own companies and to create thousands of jobs in the toy district. He currently chairs the Workforce Investment Board, and he served as the first Asian American chairman of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Woo has received numerous awards and has been featured in Fortune, The Economist and the New York Times for his dedication to the Los Angeles community.
Jewish American Heritage Month
Zane Buzby is a successful actor, television director, producer and full-time humanitarian. She has acted in numerous films, including "Oh God" and "This Is Spinal Tap," and has produced and directed television series and pilots for major studios. Her most passionate role is serving as president and founder of The Survivor Mitzvah Project, a non-profit that helps more than 1,000 Holocaust survivors in seven countries. Ms. Buzby uses her directorial skills and story-telling abilities to film the stories of these survivors, creating an archive for posterity and educational purposes and to urge people to participate in this humanitarian effort. Through her work, Ms. Buzby helps the elderly and forgotten Holocaust survivors live their final years in comfort and dignity, with friendship and hope.
Stephen J. Sass has been the president of the Jewish Historical Society (JHS) of Southern California since 1989. He is a dedicated volunteer focused on preserving the history and supporting the initiatives of Southern California's Jewish community. He has supported the community through his efforts as a community historian, editor of Jewish Los Angeles, chairman of the Fairfax Community Mural Project and producer and co-writer of a JHS' award-winning documentary about East L.A.'s Jewish heritage. Mr. Sass has been the president of the Breed Street Shul Project since 1999. The project is rehabilitating and transforming the last remaining synagogue in Boyle Heights. He has also served as a board member of the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Federation-Valley Alliance, the Jewish Community Relations Committee and The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
Hispanic Heritage Month
Teresa Campos Hernándezis a business woman, community advocate and humanitarian. Teresa and her husband Antonio Hernández opened Teresita's Restaurant in 1983. Aside from serving meals, Teresita's Restaurant is a place of hope and compassion to those in need. Regarded as the "Angel de Los Angeles" by many community members, her philanthropic spirit is infinite and her determination to help is commendable. The 77-year-old raises funds the old-fashioned way " by way of a jarrito, or collections jar, in the restaurant and through conversations with her guests. She has helped many women's and community organizations, veterans, seniors citizens and victims of national disasters. It is estimated that her grassroots efforts have raised more than $80,000..
Jesús Salvador Treviño is a director, writer, producer, and activist whose projects reflect his social commitment and artistic vision. His career began as a student activist documenting the 1960s Chicano Civil Rights Movement with a super 8 camera. Throughout his career, he's been a participant and a chronicler of current events and issues, reflected in his work in film, television and books, which include "Yo Soy Chicano," "Chicano Moratorium," "Criminal Minds," and "ER"; his collection of short stories, such as "The Fabulous Sinkhole and Other Stories"; and his memoir, "Eyewitness - A Filmmaker's Memoir Of The Chicano Movement." Mr. Treviño also serves as president of Barrio Dog Productions, and spearheads the Latino arts, history, and culture Web site, Latinopia.com. He is the recipient of the prestigious Directors Guild Award and two Alma Awards for Outstanding Director of a Prime Time Television Drama and as co-executive producer of "Resurrection Blvd."
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, and in 2011, the awards were expanded to recognize honorees as part of LGBT Pride Month (June). The LGBT honorees were honored during an event held in June.
Throughout the respective commemorative heritage months, KCET aired video profiles of each honoree highlighting how they have made a difference in their community. The 2011 on-air profiles can be viewed on the Web at kcet.org. For more information about the Local Heroes Awards, please also visit unionbank.com/heroes.
About UnionBanCal Corporation & Union Bank, N.A.
Headquartered in San Francisco, UnionBanCal Corporation is a financial holding company with assets of $80.1 billion at June 30, 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 403 banking offices in California, Washington, Oregon and Texas, as well as two international offices, on June 30, 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 www.unionbank.com for more information.
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.