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2016 Coastal Gala

Tom Tackett, Patriotic Service Dog Foundation

Tom Tackett is a behaviorist and competition dog trainer.  He is a recognized authority on dog obedience and protection behavior and his expertise has been used in court cases, on television shows, by veterinarians, and for police training.  Tom and his dogs have been recognized nationally and the service dogs he trains are top quality.  Tom’s dedication to providing service dogs for those in need has grown to include the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on serving U.S. veterans by raising awareness for their needs and providing Service Dogs to those who may benefit from long-term mental and physical assistance. Wounded veterans are matched with highly trained and skilled Service Dogs that allow their new partners to become more independent, self-confident, and comfortable with life outside of the military. The close-knit community of volunteers and professional trainers, including Tom, work alongside deserving veterans to develop lasting and meaningful bonds with dogs that provide much more than just companionship.  Tom’s commitment and his excellent work have changed lives and given hope to many who were suffering with mental and physical pain.

Dr. Margaret Anne Inman, Providence Speech and Hearing

Providence Speech and Hearing Center works to transform lives by meeting the speech, language, and hearing needs of those living in Southern California.  Dr. Margaret Anne Inman founded the Center with a desire to ensure that those with communication disorders could receive the best possible care, regardless of their ability to pay.   Her vision still guides Providence and its mission. Their commitment to the community has not wavered in more than 50 years of serving the community. More than half the patient appointments at Providence last year were for patients from low-income families, who were uninsured or under-insured.  Providence does not turn patients away and provides grants, scholarships, and financing options for patients in need.  All patients receive quality integrated care with comprehensive speech language, and hearing services.  Dr. Inman’s compassion and her willingness to go above and beyond to serve those with communication disorders has helped to create a place where lives are improved beyond measure.

Thomas Lee, Military Appreciation Partnerships

Thomas Lee is the Vice President of Product Marketing at Zodiac Aerospace.  He has accepted the “President’s Award” from the Inflight Food Service Association, holds over 20 U.S. and international patents, and holds a world record for flying five inaugural commercial flights.  Thomas’ service work has given hope to active Military and their families both at home and in active war zones.  He is Chairman of the Board and co-founder of Military Appreciation Partnerships (MAP) that launched seven overseas tours to build the morale of the troops.  Each overseas tour included well-known individuals that both entertained and inspired troops in active war zones and delivered thousands of giveaways.  Thomas’ foundation also produced the Carrier Classic basketball event on the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier in San Diego.  The event was attended by over 8000 veterans, President and Michelle Obama, and was broadcast on ESPN.  Thomas has also served on the Board of Directors of Snowball Express, a charity for the children of fallen heroes since 9/11.  Snowball Express brings 2000 children together for an all-expense paid trip during the holidays.  Thomas consistently demonstrates the qualities of leadership and giving that impact lives and create positive change on a National and International level.

Jihee Huh 

Jihee Huh is an extraordinary woman: an executive, a wife, a mother, and a humanitarian.  She has worked tirelessly to improve lives around the world, especially for women and children.  In business, Jihee is the Vice-chair and President of New Business Development at Pacific American Fish Company.  She is the Co-founder and President of the Pete’s Seafood Club retail brand products.  Her human rights activism has empowered people, improved lives, and earned her a 2012 Certificate of Congressional Recognition for her work on House Resolution 121. HR121 is a resolution expressing that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and historically take responsibility for coercing women into sexual slavery.  Locally, Jihee is on the Board of Trustees and Saban Research Committee for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.  The Saban Research Institute focuses its research and clinical care on children and childhood diseases, health, and wellness.  Jihee is also on the Board of Trustees for the Center for Asian American United for Self-Empowerment, focusing on advancing the political empowerment of the Asian Pacific American community.  She is also involved with Human Rights Watch, assisting with the concerns of refugees. Jihee’s belief in human rights and her determined efforts to create positive change in the world is inspiring.  She truly goes above and beyond to make the world a better place.

Mercedes Salomon Morton

Mercedes Salomon Morton is corporate attorney with a drive to make positive change for the youth in the greater Los Angeles area.  Her volunteerism and philanthropy have helped to create opportunities for underserved youth to improve their lives.   One of Mercedes’ biggest commitments in the non-profit world is as President and Board Chair of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.  The Corps provides the means for young adults and teenagers to change their lives through job skills training, education, and work experience while caring for the environment and revitalizing the community through service.  Mercedes is also a founding board member and Vice Chair of the Board of the YouthBuild Charter School of California, a founding board member and Vice Chair of the Board of the Los Angeles Education Corps Charter School, and serves on the Advisory Board for Walk with Sally.  She is active with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, AYSO (coach), church, sports teams, and school volunteering.  Mercedes gives freely of her time and energy to ensure that Los Angeles youth have the opportunity to grow into productive citizens, making her an angel on earth to many.

Annie Nelson, American Soldier Network 

Annie Nelson founded the American Soldier Network to support veterans, military, and their families by helping to combat psychological and emotional battles, homelessness, and unemployment.   Annie has overcome post-traumatic stress, multiple concussions, and a life-threatening brain tumor to become the passionate, real, and energetic person she is now.  She offers genuine, needed support to veterans, military, and their families.  American Soldier Network has many programs including the Annual Christmas Outreach which serves 500 combat wounded ill and injured active duty service members each year, the Annual Hearts for Heroes Valentine Outreach, the Annual Show Your Soul Donate Your Soles which collects shoes for those in need, food drives for homeless veterans, and other outreach and awareness events.  Annie put her background in film and broadcasting to use by creating the TV series “American Heroes” and is a columnist for US Veterans magazine.  Her column “American Heroes” tells the stories of veterans and their strengths, hopes, worries, challenges, and victories after becoming civilians.  Annie’s dedication to helping the military and veteran communities is inspiring and has served thousands.

 Wajih Malki 

Wajih Malki is the founder & Chairman of EBD Bauer, a water technology company based out of Irvine, California with regional presence in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Wajih is devoted to providing clean water and adequate sanitation to those in need and has focused on providing customized water and sanitation solutions in the most cost-effective way.  Wajih is also the founder of the California 501(c)(3), Rise4Humanity, a human dignity nonprofit dedicated to helping children around the world. He also supports the efforts of various humanitarian and human rights organizations such as UNICEF, UNHCR, and Amnesty International.  He is an active Rotarian, serving on the board of Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa as the Director of International Services. He is a proponent for the WASH in School Initiative within Rotary International.  Rotary International provides humanitarian services, encourages high ethical standards, and helps advance goodwill and peace around the world.  At the local level, Wajih has helped with many projects, such as providing trees to plant on Arbor Day, participating in a Spirit Run to benefit local schools, adopting families during the holidays to provide gifts, performing in the CHOC Follies to support CHOC Hospital, and participating in a student exchange program.  Wajih’s leadership and compassion improve lives and inspire others to make a difference in the world.

Tom Ford, The Bay Foundation 

Tom Ford is the Executive Director of The Bay Foundation, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Authority, collectively comprising the Santa Monica Bay National Estuary Program. He is also a Co-Director of the Center for Santa Monica Bay Studies at Loyola Marymount University, and part time faculty at the Fred Seaver College of Science and Engineering at Loyola Marymount University.  The Bay Foundation’s mission is to restore and enhance Santa Monica Bay through actions and partnerships that improve water quality, conserve and rehabilitate natural resources, and protect the Bay’s benefits and values.  Much of Tom’s work at The Bay Foundation has been to study and restore the kelp forests.  He has dedicated thousands of hours to understanding and correcting sources of pollution, has influenced national and international policies and practices that benefit the environment and public health, and has also served on the Board of Directors for organizations devoted to protecting Marine wildlife.  Tom’s passion for the environment, for Marine wildlife, and for teaching others to care for both is evident in all he does.  He devotes his time and energy to ensuring a healthy future for the Bay.

Courtni English, No Limits Learning Center 

Courtni English is the founder and CEO of No Limits Learning Center. No Limits Learning Center is dedicated to providing educational opportunities to people with developmental disabilities by delivering a broad range of specialized programs and services.   Courtni’s passion for helping the special needs population began years ago while she was volunteering with her church.  She has turned her passion into action and created a school for over 55 adults with developmental disabilities.  No Limits Learning Center provides classes in daily life skills, creative expression, healthy living, and sign language.  The Center hopes to give its students the skills to become effective communicators, lifelong learners, and responsible citizens.  Courtni is also on the board of directors of Helping Hands, an Anaheim-based program for adults with severe developmental disabilities and she advises a special education program in Kenya.  Her dedication and commitment to helping the special needs population has helped many to reach their full potential and she has been an angel on earth to those she has served.