Above & Beyond Coastal Gala
Angel Light Academy’s Leadership Training Institute will be honoring local citizens who have proven excellence in community leadership and service. This event was established in 2009 as a grass roots recognition program for the “doers” of our local communities. Each of the honorees has demonstrated they consistently go above and beyond and are nominated by their peers for this prestigious award. This event is an amazing forum to view the works of our honorees who represent fabulous organizations, institutions, and corporations.
10th Annual Coastal Awards Gala
Saturday, October 5th, 2019
5:00pm Cocktail Reception & Silent Auction
6:00pm Awards & Dinner
Location: Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa
Congratulations 2019 Honorees
Melissa Breunig, Breunig Foundation
Christian Esteban, JOYA Scholars
UCI Eye Mobile for Children
Dr. Ravindra Rao
Janeen Reiser, Children Giving Gifts
Opal Singleton, Million Kids
Nuka Solomon, Free Wheelchair Mission
For more information contact
Angel Light Academy
Coastal Gala Honorees
Dr. Katherine Bihr - 2013
Camino Health Center Auxiliary - 2013
Canine Companions For Independence - 2015
Kathryn Carner - 2018
City National Bank - 2013
Patrick and Sharon Cordes - 2015
Dr. Douglas Coward - 2017
Ernest Cowell - 2017
Beatrice De Salles - 2014
Toni Diltz - 2013
Charity Elliott - 2013
Krystal Emery- 2014
Courtni English - 2016
Tom Ford - 2016
Shannon Garrison - 2013
Gail Grove - 2017
Ted Hill - 2015
Dr. Jay Calvert - 2013
Homefront America - 2013
Jihee Huh - 2016
Christina Huyett - 2018
Dr. Margaret Inman - 2016
Patricia Jones - 2015
Dr. Mitchell Katz - 2018
Mary Lawson - 2017
Ken Lee - 2018
Thomas Lee - 2016
Colleen Lohrman - 2013
Long Beach Basket Brigade - 2014
Wajih Malki - 2016
Doreen Matsumoto - 2013
Annie Nelson - 2016
Travis Nguyen - 2018
Doug Padgett - 2018
Kellie Perez-Tuchowski - 2013
Richard Pintang - 2018
Tony Rackauckas - 2018
Gloria Rodriguez - 2015
Ruthe Rosen - 2014
Mercedes Salomon Morton - 2016
Dr. Amit Soni - 2015
Mark Sorenson - 2018
Tony Soriano - 2014
William Steiner - 2015
Tom Tackett - 2016
Torrey Tayenaka - 2015
Kathleen Terry - 2018
Toberman Community Center - 2017
Patty Turrell - 2018
Michele Warner - 2017
Shawn Wehan - 2017
Kelley White - 2013
Billy Whitford - 2017
Barbara Winkler - 2017
Women in Networking & Men that WIN - 2014
Randy Woolstrum - 2015
Michelle Wulfestieg - 2014
Rabbi Zalman Marcus - 2014
Christy Zamani - 2017
Dr. Elizabeth Zarkos - 2018
Dr. Katherine Bihr - 2013Dr. Katherine Bihr is the Vice President of Programs and Education for the Tiger Woods Foundation and Earl Woods Scholarship Program. The Tiger Woods Learning Center provides resources and support for underserved students. It is a safe environment where students can rise to the expectation that they will graduate high school and go on to college. The Learning Center also works with other non-profits, public schools, after-school programs, and community-based organizations to better serve students. Under Kathy’s passionate leadership, the Earl Woods Scholarship Program has served students who would not otherwise have the resources to explore careers or prepare for college. Students have access to admissions counseling, college scholarships, dedicated mentors, specialized internships and vital workshops. Kathy’s dedication to improving education goes beyond the Learning Center. She has advocated for educational change on the local and national level and has participated in a collaborative effort of business, non-profit, and educational leaders to provide health resources for people in Anaheim. Kathy’s passion and drive are focused, effective, and go above and beyond.
Camino Health Center Auxiliary - 2013
The Camino Health Center Auxiliary (CHCA), founded by Gaye Birchter, provides over 110,000 patient visits per year to those in the community who cannot afford private health insurance or do not have access to care due to lack of health benefits through employment or due to personal and/or life challenges. The Camino Health Center provides many services including a medical clinic, which offers comprehensive primary, acute and chronic care; a pediatric dental clinic, which provides affordable, quality dental care for children 19 and under; a mobile medical unit, which provides health care services for families without transportation or other access to care; a diabetes van which provides screening and education for those most at risk for diabetes; and includes the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programwhich provides nutritional support to pregnant women and children under 5 years of age. Their fundraisers include a Fashion Show at South Coast Plaza that rivals fashion shows seen in New York, and a Ladies Golf Classic. The dedication and commitment of each of CHCA’s members ensures that many in Orange County will receive the comprehensive health care they need. Accepting the award on the Auxiliary’s behalf are the founder, Gaye Birchter and President, Ericka Waidley.
Canine Companions For Independence - 2015Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enriches the lives of people with disabilities. They provide highly trained assistance dogs in a program designed to ensure quality partnerships that last. The Canine Companions include service dogs to assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks, hearing dogs to alert the deaf and hard of hearing to important sounds, facility dogs that work with professionals in visitation, education, and healthcare settings, and skilled companion dogs that enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive, and developmental disabilities. The highly trained, quality dogs are paired with deserving individuals who are trained to work closely with the dogs. Follow-up and support after placement ensures the matches continue to work and ensure a life of increased independence. The organization, and the dogs, are angels on earth, improving the quality of life for many.
Kathryn Carner - 2018Kathryn Carner is the Director of Operations for The Actors’ Gang Prison Project. She also serves as a Teaching Artist and Actor for the organization. With this project she is able to use her passion for acting to serve the community. In 2006, The Actors' Gang Prison Project was launched in response to California's huge recidivism rate and excessive overcrowding. TAGPP conducts seven-day intensive programs which transition to on-going weekly peer-led classes managed by TAGPP teaching artists on 14 yards inside 12 California State Prisons. The program provides students a safe space, room to grow, self-assurance, self-respect and acceptance from their classmates. The program promotes community while encouraging personal responsibility. TAGPP also has Reentry programs for men, women, and youth and often hire formerly incarcerated students to teach in their facilities. This allows students to reach back and help others while navigating the difficult reentry process. Also, in partnership with Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN), TAGPP completed a pilot Youth Project at a juvenile prison, Camp Scott, specifically for incarcerated girls. Encouraged by the outcomes, which included healing trauma and giving youth tools to raise their silenced voices, they have expanded the program into other facilities. They are also beginning a pilot program to assist Correctional Officers to help address the high suicide rate, heal Officer trauma and change the narrative around Correctional Officers and the people they oversee. Kathryn herself has been the driving force behind the program expansion and new programs. She recognizes the importance of this work and is dedicated to growing TAGPP’s programs to reach this often ignored population.
City National Bank - 2013City National Bank invests in the communities where it does business, contributing millions in support of charities, civic programs, and organizations that contribute to the success and well-being of the communities. Through many programs, volunteer hours, and donations, the bank is making a difference. City National encourages and supports colleagues’ involvement in the community and even helps each to find the opportunity that interests them. Accepting the award on behalf of City National Bank is Carolyn Rodriguez for her involvement in the program Reading is the Way Up. The vision of this program is for all children to discover the joy of reading and experience a lifelong love of books. Carolyn has been instrumental in establishing this program and guiding it to assist school libraries and increase literacy. City National Bank continually works to make communities stronger and goes above and beyond in that effort.
Patrick and Sharon Cordes - 2015Patrick and Sharon Cordes share a passion to educate young people and to help young women gain the confidence they need to be successful. As Executive Directors of the Miss Anaheim Scholarship Association, now a non-profit organization, they work tirelessly to help young women become successful in all aspects of life. Miss Anaheim Scholarship Association promotes educational opportunities through scholarships, creates and maintains a system of competition to enhance career opportunities and produce role models with positive values, and recognizes young women who will become leaders in the community. The Miss Anaheim Scholarship Association is affiliated with the Miss California and Miss America Organizations. Through these affiliations the titleholders are able to compete in the Miss California Pageant and to potentially earn additional scholarship funds. With a strong background in education, Sharon and Patrick make it their mission to provide all the support the young women in their program need. They open their home for interview preparation, public speaking training, pageant training, assistance with resumes and college applications, and emotional support. They encourage volunteer work and community service and chaperone all service projects. Patrick and Sharon create a team environment that develops relationships, collaboration, and respect. Their open hearts are willing to go above and beyond to assist young women in becoming leaders in all aspects of life.
Dr. Douglas Coward - 2017Dr. Coward founded the Animal and Bird Clinic of Mission Viejo to provide high quality pet health and wellness services to assist pets in living a longer, happier, and healthier life. His work as a veterinarian has always gone above and beyond and he has always treated his patients with outstanding care. The clinic’s approach to veterinary care spans the life of the pet and includes a blend of traditional and holistic medicine. Dr. Coward honors the bond between pets and their families and works to keep them at their healthiest. He educates and involves pet owners so they can create a lifetime health care plan. He takes the time to study options for each animal, talks with pet owners about what they’d like for their pets, and treats each animal as an individual. He genuinely cares for each animal he treats, is never rushed, and serves as an exceptional clinician. Dr. Coward also travelled the world to study various treatments so that he could provide the best possible care for every animal he treated. He also gives in service, fostering rescue dogs. He is an angel on earth to pets and their owners.
Ernest Cowell - 2017Ernest Cowell is the Director and Coordinator for L.A. County and Ventura County for ESGR. ESGR, a Department of Defense program, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment. ESGR has served our country for more than 40 years, fostering a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. These citizen warriors could not defend and protect us at home and abroad, without the continued promise of meaningful civilian employment for themselves and their families. Ernest is also the President of the L.A. National Cemetery Support Foundation. He helps to conduct about eight major events throughout the year. During Memorial Day they host 7000 Boy and Girl Scouts who salute each resident at each grave and place a flag at each stone. Ernest has given a lifetime of service, especially to those who serve this country.
Beatrice De Salles - 2014Beatrice De Salles is an internationally acclaimed relationship journalist and writer, freelancer editor, published author, sought-after translator & interpreter. Fluent in six languages, she is an accredited member of both the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) and American Translators Association (ATA). Her work as a translator and interpreter has assisted many to relocate and to find work. Beatrice’s goal is to empower the world’s poor and to make a difference on a global scale, which includes work with the Women Leaders Foundation, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. She volunteers her time at Gilda’s Club, UCP (United Cerebral Palsy), The Morgan Project, SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area), CVASA (CV Autism Society of Americas), The Rescue Mission, TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), Kris Camp, The Help Group, California Psychcare, Baseball Buddies, Children Play Production & Old Town Artisan Studio, Soroptimist International of Palm Desert, Soul Pampering, Women Leaders Forum, Catholic Charities, Ophelia Project, and Healthy Family Foundations. She is also a voice for children with special needs. Beatrice is a true humanitarian and works tirelessly to improve the world.
Toni Diltz - 2013Toni Diltz is being honored for her continued selfless service throughout her lifetime. She has devoted her time and energy to many organizations and her tireless energy ensures a job well done. One of her biggest projects is with the Fullerton Union High School Choral Booster Club. Her involvement has brought positive changes and her tremendous leadership has benefitted many choral music students. She has raised funds, travelled with students, and improved the program greatly. Toni is also involved with the National Charity League, a mother/daughter organization involved in philanthropic activities all over Orange County. She has also worked with the Women’s Transitional Living Center, tutoring children. Toni’s enthusiasm and positive attitude are inspiring to all she meets.
Charity Elliott - 2013Charity Elliott is the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Loyola Marymount University and has served as a collegiate basketball coach for many years. During her time on the court she has not only lead her teams to many victories, she has helped young women grow and develop into athletes and leaders. Charity’s integrity, hard work, and service make her an example to the women she coaches and to her community. She has been honored for her excellence as an athlete and recognized for her dedication as a coach. Off the court, Charity gives her time to several programs including the Adopt a Grandmother program, food banks, youth clinics, elementary school reading programs, and veteran’s hospital. Charity’s commitment to influencing young women and helping them to become all they can be makes her an angel on earth to many.
Krystal Emery- 2014The Pet Prescription Team helps pet owners to train family pets to become therapy animals. This full-service organization provides training classes to prepare dogs for certification, Therapy Certification, and AKC, CGC testing for assisted therapy visitations. The therapeutic use of pets provides a constant source of comfort, helps patients feel safe and accepted, and brings out a nurturing instinct. A visit from a therapy animal can be a great relief to someone who is facing a serious medical condition or who lives in a facility. Founder Krystal Emery saw a need for therapy dog training and took it on, beginning a program of Healing Hearts Through Pets. This organization has other programs to assist: The Faith Dog Project provides a “Faith Dog” stuffed animal to young cancer patients that receive a therapy dog visit; The Special Needs Project uses therapy dogs, paired with volunteers, to help children with special needs to build self-confidence and to develop important skills such as motor skills, communication skills, the ability to complete a task, the proper way to touch, and word association; “No Place Like Home” project creates a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere in less fortunate resident/patient rooms in long-term facilities by redecorating for elderly and sick youth. The Pet Prescription Team has gone above and beyond to assist many families, patients, and children throughout Southern California.
Courtni English - 2016Courtni 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.
Tom Ford - 2016Tom 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.
Shannon Garrison - 2013Shannon Garrison is a fourth grade teacher at Solano Avenue Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. In her 16 years of teaching, she has made a tremendous difference in the lives of her students and her fellow teachers. Her unwavering dedication has led her to hold many leadership positions. She has been instrumental in helping teachers to improve instruction and helping students get the support they need. Shannon was honored as a 2010 Lowell Milken Center Fellow for her contributions to education. She was also chosen by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to serve on the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In all she does, Shannon has her students’ best interest at heart as she works to prepare them academically, socially, and emotionally for success. She is an exemplary leader, a compassionate educator, and an inspiring angel on earth.
Gail Grove - 2017Ride to Fly is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing therapeutic horseback riding and the associated learning experiences to children and adults with disabilities in a safe, nurturing environment. They believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people and wish to share the special gift of horsemanship with those with special needs. Ride to Fly is a PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) member that has been serving the South Bay area since 1994. Ride to Fly serves children and adults with a variety of physical, emotional, and learning disabilities. Riding horses simulates the natural motion of walking and improves balance, muscle tone, and limberness. The relationship between horse and rider helps to improve emotional stability, build confidence, and create joy. Gail started as a volunteer in 1997 and is now the Executive Director. She has been committed and passionate about changing lives and works hard to maintain high-quality service for all her riders.
Ted Hill - 2015Ted Hill is serving his 18th year as Headmaster of Chadwick School, a K-12 independent day school in South Bay Area. Chadwick was founded in 1935 and has been dedicated to the development of academic excellence, exemplary character, and self-discovery through experience. The campus provides a setting conducive to serious study, opportunities for personal growth and development of character, and companionship among friends. Core values are respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness, and compassion. Students are continually challenged to go beyond mastery of knowledge into a deep understanding of themes, concepts, and connections. They engage in problem solving, application, analysis, critical thinking, writing and research. All the while, students are involved in community service. The “pay it forward” mentality is a part of each project and students learn to build relationships and soon understand that anyone can make the world a better place. Under Ted’s leadership, Chadwick has proven it is a school of excellence, encouraging a joy of learning in all students. Ted has also been instrumental in the opening of Chadwick International in Songdo, South Korea. The campus in Songdo maintains the value and integrity of the Palos Verdes campus and provides a high-quality education for over 1000 students. Ted’s dedication and focus have ensured that Chadwick School remains a great institution.
Dr. Jay Calvert - 2013Dr. Jay Calvert is the co-founder of the Surgical Friends Foundation, which reaches out to those with physical deformities, in the U.S. and abroad. The Surgical Friends Foundation provides free reconstructive surgery and post-operative care to young adults living with physical deformities. They develop partnerships to help patients who live with difficult and life-threatening deformities and do not have access to medical treatment. His genuine concern ensures that all patients receive the best care. Jay is also the founder and director of the Rox Center, founder of MDinsider.com, and the founder of Jay Calvert, MD Professional Corporation. In all he does in these organizations, he strives to create a more responsive and progressive surgical experience in which patients are sure to get the best care. His example and drive has brought together like-minded physicians who demand excellence of themselves and each other. In addition, Jay is involved in community service through the Orange County Tocqueville Society of the United Way devoting time, talent, and funds to help tackle the communities’ most serious issues. He is also on the board of the Children of War Foundation. Dr. Calvert’s devotion is evident in his willingness to lend a hand, his kindness, and genuine concern for others.
Homefront America - 2013Homefront America provides year-round programs for military families, with focus on meeting the emotional, physical, and social needs of the children. Programs include scholarships, back-to-school “Pack for Success,” holiday programs at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, “Project Hugs” to welcome home the troops, iCarePackages for deploying service members, and more. It is Homefront’s mission to honor and hold dear those who willingly defend our freedoms, and to serve their families – especially the children – by providing quality, caring, and meaningful assistance in their times of need. Over 100 volunteers generously give their time, energy, and money to support the programs, to listen with care and compassion, to inspire others to honor those in service to the country, and to say “Thank you.” Accepting the award on behalf of Homefront America are the co-founders: Arthur Hasselbrink and Mamie Yong Maywhort. Arthur is a WWII and Korean War Seabee, former LAPD Officer, retired Builder/General Contractor, former President of the Orange County Navy League and former President of the Wilshire Police Community Council. Mamie is the spouse of a former Coast Guardsman, a businesswoman, and former Rotarian, Chapman University Alumni Board Member, former Treasurer of the Orange County Employer Advisory Council and the Wilshire Police Community Council. Both are dedicated to continuing and expanding Homefront America’s programs and honoring those in service to the country.
Jihee Huh - 2016Jihee 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.
Christina Huyett - 2018Christina Huyett has been an integral part of March of Dimes for more than 12 years. She began volunteering for this important organization after having a premature baby and, later, began working for them. Her experience in the hospital inspired her to become a part of the solution and to help create healthy futures for babies and their mothers. The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, infant mortality, and premature birth. They work collaboratively with other organizations, hospitals, and communities to research, educate, and provide resources that give every baby its best chance for a healthy birth. Christina’s time in the NICU gave her the experience and insight into what mothers and babies really need in the hospital. She has worked tirelessly to raise money to help fund medicine and technology that helps premature babies be successful. She began a NICU Baby Showers program to provide hope and baby gifts for more than 400 families. She began the program in the Inland Empire and has now expanded it to UCLA, and eight other hospitals in Orange County and Los Angeles. She also leads the efforts for the annual March for Babies event. Her commitment to this issue and her passion keep her in action as an angel on earth!
Dr. Margaret Inman - 2016Providence 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.
Patricia Jones - 2015The P.S. I Love You Foundation strives to provide educational enrichment and one-on-one mentor programs that influence positive attitudes, health and well-being, social development and hope. They do this by teaching essential skills that influence the development of compassion, good choices, positive attitudes, and confident minds. Their programs are in many Title 1 schools, those schools with 51% of the student population receiving free/reduced meal benefits. Programs are run during school hours and after school, and, while each program has a specific focus, they all incorporate leadership skills and habits for guidance and self-control, building concentration while building healthy bodies, building self-confidence and a feeling of accomplishment, and developing respectful attitudes toward themselves and others. Programs encourage tolerance and a healthy sense of self. P.S. I Love You Foundation also provides mentoring programs and pairs community volunteers with at-risk youth. Founder Patricia Jones began this organization in 1998 and her compassion, empathy, and drive to make a difference in the lives of others in need has kept the organization running successfully. Her spirit of giving inspires those involved in the organization to go beyond themselves to make a difference in the lives of children and help them to grow into happy, kind, respectful, and competent adults.
Dr. Mitchell Katz - 2018Dr. Mitchell Katz is an internationally-recognized expert in pediatric gastroenterology. He serves as director of CHOC Children’s Multidisciplinary Feeding Program, pediatric gastrointestinal lab services, and the division of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. Dr. Katz and his team are on the forefront of pediatric gastroenterology research and innovative treatments. Dr. Katz has been named Physician of Excellence by the Orange County Medical Association Orange Coast Magazine and Super Doctor by Los Angeles Magazine multiple times. He is a sought-after expert whose knowledge, research, and caring make him the kind of doctor that makes a difference. While Dr. Katz has served as an excellent doctor for many years, he is being honored for the work he and his team do with the CHOC Children’s Multidisciplinary Feeding Program. This inpatient treatment program serves children with a range of medical and/or developmental problems including cerebral palsy, developmental disorders, seizure disorders, genetic disorders, oral motor dysfunction, short-bowel syndrome, food allergies or a history of prematurity. They work closely with each child, setting individual goals and using a variety of methods to meet those goals. Dr. Katz and his team are dedicated, knowledgable, and passionate about improving children’s lives and they become angels on earth to the children and families they serve.
Mary Lawson - 2017Mary Lawson is the Vice President of External Relations at Ocean Institute in Dana Point. Ocean Institute is a community-based organization that offers in-depth Marine Science, Maritime History and Outdoor Education programs. The facility includes state-of-the-art teaching labs, the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center, two historic tall ships, and an oceanographic research vessel. Mary and her team help inspire children to be future innovators, problem solvers and environmental stewards. Ocean Institute makes a positive impact on the environment and on the care and safe-keeping of the ocean. Mary’s tireless mentoring of staff and volunteers, her ability to develop relationships with industry, government, and nonprofit organizations, and her heartfelt commitment have been a driving force at Ocean Institute. Ocean Institute serves over 100,000 children each year introducing them to the ocean as an interactive, living classroom, while also providing living history through the tall ships moored at the location inside Dana Point Harbor. The thriving Adopt-A-Class program embraces children from Title I schools and offers Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) learning through field trips. Many of these otherwise local children have never seen the ocean, a whale breach, or a dolphin jump alongside a boat. The magic of the sea continues to impart a broadened vision of the world--both its fragility and its limitless possibilities--to children who come to Ocean Institute.
Ken Lee - 2018Ken Lee is a Professor and Department Co-Chair for the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Design for Saddleback College. Ken is an outstanding professor and has been recognized several times at Saddleback College for his commitment and dedication to his students. In addition, he is an accomplished landscape designer, lecturer, and writer. Ken is always willing to give of his time and energy to assist his students. He takes time out of his schedule to counsel students, is always hopeful and enthusiastic in the classroom, and creates opportunities for his students so they can be successful. He has established corporate partnerships to help students get experience in the field, helps students to make professional and education connections, and started a student club whose purpose is to provide service in the community. Ken promotes and and encourages volunteerism and is an example of servant leadership. He prepares his students for the realities of working in a landscape profession, inspires students to be their best, and consistently shows it is possible to be successful while caring about people and the planet. Ken’s example reaches beyond the students he teaches each year as his service projects reach many in the community. He goes above and beyond what is expected of an educator to provide a truly meaningful education.
Thomas Lee - 2016Thomas 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.
Colleen Lohrman - 2013Colleen Lohrman is the CEO of Epicuren Discovery. The line of skin care offered by Epicuren is pure and natural. Colleen’s professional experience gave her firsthand knowledge about business integrity and the art of customer service. Using her background, combined with her passion for essential oils, aromatherapy, and holistic health, Colleen became the driving force behind a successful corporation. She and Robert Heiman strive to create skin care products that enhance customer health and well-being. Colleen’s natural leadership and generosity have created a company culture that has improved the lives of its employees. Colleen continues to grow the corporation, while always working to protect the planet and naturally improve the health of her customers. She is an angel on earth to many and those touched by her enthusiasm and generosity have been blessed.
Long Beach Basket Brigade - 2014The Long Beach Basket Brigade brings the community together to take action and help the less fortunate during Thanksgiving. The team works to provide baskets of food and household items at Thanksgiving time. The baskets are specially designed for local are families in need. The Basket Brigade brings together individuals of all ages and backgrounds to volunteer their time, energy, and money. Volunteers deliver baskets anonymously on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. This dynamic team partners with food organizations, churches, schools, shelters, and charities to identify those in need and address their needs. All who volunteer to assist in fundraising, food gathering, basket production, and basket delivery feels the spirit of teamwork and giving. This team operates under the belief that one small act of generosity on the part of one caring person can transform the lives of hundreds. Accepting on behalf of Basket Brigade is Brandon Millan.
Wajih Malki - 2016Wajih 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.
Doreen Matsumoto - 2013Doreen Matsumoto has dedicated much of her life to supporting others in need. She has put on and supported fundraisers for many worthy foundations, projects, and causes including the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, American Diabetes Association, Orange County Senior Center, One Breath Foundation, Wounded Warriors, and Patriot and Paws. She has been able to help children, families, groups, centers, the elderly, Veterans, and animals, but her passion is to bring a better quality of life to children. She has been instrumental in putting on an annual fundraiser for Totally Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Loma Linda, providing supplies, donations, and volunteers for medically fragile and technology dependent children. Her devotion to children is also evident in her work with the MORE Project, which helps children and families with shelter, medical and dental aid, education, and job training. Doreen is also the founder of Women in Networking and is a Nutrition Coach in partnership with Venice Nutrition and Mark Macdonald. Doreen’s untiring devotion to improving quality of life for families and children goes above and beyond.
Annie Nelson - 2016Annie 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.
Travis Nguyen - 2018Travis Nguyen serves as the Project Director for the Give & Grow program at Zodiac Aerospace. Give & Grow was established in 2007 and focuses on improving education through its three branches: Create, Educate, and Donate. The mission of Create is to enhance local schools through improvements in their grounds and buildings that will facilitate students learning and growing. Travis has supported many physical improvements to local schools by empowering local communities to be involved, finding local sponsors, and encouraging parents and teachers to participate. The mission of Educate is to provide academic and extracurricular support in education, and, with this in mind, Travis has provided extracurricular activities at the Science Center to students of all ages, emphasizing the importance of Environmental Preservation and Science. The Donate program provides financial support for higher education. Under his guidance, this program has promoted education and improved access to educational opportunities in communities that need them most. This program has provided over 250 scholarships to students. These students will have the opportunity to reach their potential and return to serve in their communities. Travis shows dedication and values the importance of giving back to the community. He believes it is everyone’s responsibility to support those who need a helping hand and he has helped to create positive futures for children.
Doug Padgett - 2018Doug Padgett, BS, NHA, is the Chief Executive Officer and partner-owner of Totally Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, a corporation in Southern California serving children recovering from injury or surgery, and children who depend on technology for their very survival. Using his background in sub-acute care for seniors, he instituted changes in licensure in existing facilities to provide for increasing medical needs of children. He worked with State of California Department of Health officials and State legislators to help initiate pediatric sub-acute clinical and rate-setting regulations. As the first to contract with Medi-Cal for pediatric sub-acute services on the West Coast, he tenaciously supported education, safety climate and research that enabled the company’s growth to a level of service beyond that which is common in skilled nursing facilities. Under his leadership Totally Kids enlarged its service program to include acute inpatient and outpatient physical rehabilitation. Doug is at the center of this heart-driven hospital and, as a result, it has accomplished outcomes never seen or expected in sub-acute pediatric care. He has gone above and beyond to provide the best care to a vulnerable population. Doug also has a passion for music and gift of musical talent. Doug and Cindy, his wife of 45 years, have instilled their love of music, joy of sharing Jesus, and service to the disabled community to their 5 children and 13 grandchildren. Even with Doug’s busy schedule, he finds time to go to his grandchildren’s classroom and perform songs with the children. Doug has had a life of helping others regardless of the situation and circumstance.
Kellie Perez-Tuchowski - 2013Kellie Perez-Tuchowski is the Senior Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County (DSAOC). For the past 8 years, Kellie’s passion has been focused on helping families find the necessary programs, services and resources for their loved one with Down syndrome and to help ensure their child can grow up healthy and confident, able to reach their full potential. She has also created an awareness project, “Community Corner”, to help create more awareness about Down syndrome, and the value that individuals with Down syndrome bring to their families and communities. Kellie’s commitment and dedication are tireless as she works to raise money for programs, facilitates events, and promotes greater participation. Her leadership example began long before her tenure at DSAOC. She worked for many years in the hospitality industry managing training programs for those individuals with obstacles to employment. Her life-long commitment to helping those who struggle to find a place, become active, employed, and fulfilled individuals is truly commendable.
Richard Pintang - 2018Richard Pintang is the Sales and Marketing Director for PRM Homestay Services. PRM Homestay Services provides short term and long term housing for international students. Foreign students have a chance to visit the United States and get to live in an American home and experience the American lifestyle through the Homestay program. Host families open up their homes and welcome visiting students into their families. They converse with students in English to help build their confidence in speech and help students understand the western culture. Students get a chance to try new foods, interact with domestic kids and have a unique experience in having an American brother/sister. American students benefit by these exchange programs by learning about another culture while teaching about their own. Participating schools often use these culture exchange opportunities to fundraise for scholarships and local clubs. Richard oversees relationships with host families, schools and foreign agencies. He strongly believes they are changing the world by building relationships, creating empathy, and encouraging understanding between young people from different cultures. As these students grow, they will have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the world and they will be better able to serve as examples of tolerance, open-mindedness, and mutual respect.
Tony Rackauckas - 2018Tony Rackauckas serves as the Orange County District Attorney. He has also served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and as a social worker in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services. His distinguished law career has included conducting over 40 homicide cases and well over 100 felony trials including rape, robbery, arson, assault, burglary, fraud, narcotics, and child molestation. Tony’s work as a DA led him to recognize the need to take preventative action and make resources available to children before they are introduced to gang life. He and members of his office initiated the Orange County Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (OC GRIP). OC GRIP works in 13 communities, bringing resources, education, and proved anti-gang strategies to children, parents and faculty members in at-risk neighborhoods. Key components of the GRIP program include Truancy Sweeps and Interventions, Curfew Sweeps, Student Education, Parent Education and Resources, Faculty Education, Strike Team Intervention Meetings, Mentor Programs, Student Incentives, and a Parent Greeter Program. Parent volunteers greet students on the way to and from school and even walk groups of students through gang-dominated neighborhoods to deter gang influence. The communities reached by the GRIP program see decreases in school absenteeism and in the number suspensions and expulsions. Families are given resources and assistance. GRIP unites the community in a preventative fight against gang violence and drug activity and gives many children hope for their future. Tony’s steadfast commitment has improved lives for many families and made Orange County communities safer.
Gloria Rodriguez - 2015Gloria Rodriguez founded the One Breath Foundation to support those who undergo organ transplants. She began the foundation after receiving a double lung transplant. After years of treatment and waiting for the transplant, Gloria was so grateful to have received the transplant that she wanted to give back to others in similar situations. The One Breath Foundation gives hope to those going through the transplant process by providing emotional and financial support for patients and their families. They stay with patients and families as they undergo treatment, wait for transplant opportunities, and then begin the long road to recovery. They provide information, resources, and assist with financing co-payments, which can be financially crippling to families. Their fundraising efforts also help families bridge the gap to cover day-to-day expenses. Gloria and her team have found an important purpose in helping transplant patients and they have served as angels on earth to many who would otherwise be overwhelmed by the process.
Ruthe Rosen - 2014The Let it Be Foundation brings comfort, hope, and joy to families throughout Southern California by helping families with children facing serious and terminal illnesses. Their aid comesthrough medical accessories, sibling care, household maintenance, meals, or grief support. The foundation has a Youth Leadership Program with the goal to bring awareness to life-threatening pediatric illnesses. This team of youth leaders hasreceived “Volunteer Group of the Year.” The Let it Be Foundation would not be what it is without the founder, Ruthe Rosen. Ruthe and her husband, Michael, were inspired to begin the Foundation when they lost their daughter, Karla, to brain cancer. They turned their grief into service, providing hope and support where it is most needed. Ruthe’s work has been recognized and her honors include, City of Chino Hills Community Heroes, Chino Champion Newspaper Citizen of the Year, Soroptimist “Making a Difference for Women”, MLB & People Magazine’s “All Stars Among Us.” She also wrote a book Never Give Up on how to find hope and purpose in adversity. Ruthe and the Let it Be Foundation go above and beyond to bring support to families and children in need.
Mercedes Salomon Morton - 2016Mercedes 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.
Dr. Amit Soni - 2015Dr. Amit Soni serves at CHOC Children's Hospital in Pediatric Hematology and is board-certified in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. Dr. Soni is a Board of Director for the Pediatric Subspecialty Faculty, Co-Chair of the CHOC Institutional Review Board, and Co-Chair of the CHOC Policy and Procedure Committee as well as an active member of the Ethics Committee, Palliative Care Committee, Joint Leadership Committee, and Stroke Team. He is most proud of his role as Director of the UCI/ CHOC Children's Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program in training future leaders in the field. He recently was selected into the UC-Irvine Academy for Innovation in Medical Education. Dr. Soni has a special interest in bleeding disorders and received the prestigious Bayer Hemophilia Awards Program's Clinical Training Award from 2008-2010. Furthermore, he is dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to connect with teen patients with hemophilia. Through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, he collaborated to create interactive media to connect with teens and provide them with information about their disorder so they can take control of their health and be equipped with the knowledge they need as they transition into adulthood. His tireless dedication and vast knowledge have earned him respect in his field, his willingness to go above and byond to serve his patients makes him an angel on earth to many.
Mark Sorenson - 2018Mark Sorenson serves on the board of Vocational Visions. After a career in accounting and finance, he became an entrepreneur. He owned and operated several successful businesses, including his current venture Pacifica Foods. He is a resource for other business owners and believes it is important to provide the best quality food to his consumers. Mark has also used his business expertise to help Vocational Visions reach their goals. Vocational Visions is a non-profit agency located in Mission Viejo, which provides vocational and life skills training and support services to adults with Intellectual/Developmental and other disabilities. Vocational Visions provides seven programs: Adult Development, Day Training Activity, Emeritus, Health Related Services, House of Champions Clubhouse, Supported Employment, and Work Activity. They create pathways to employment, life-long learning, and social inclusion. The programs provide job training, assistance with job placement, education, and a sense of community and belonging. Mark has been able to provide financial and business support for Vocational Visions so that they can reach more people. He feels grateful to have a happy and healthy family and wants to find ways to support and give back to those who aren’t as fortunate in their situation. He hopes to be able to do even more in the future.
Tony Soriano - 2014
William Steiner - 2015William Steiner has spent 50 years serving in the child welfare field. His career has included serving as Director of Orangewood Children’s Home and Deputy Director of Children’s Services in Orange County, employment with the California Youth Authority, the Los Angeles County Department of Adoptions, Metropolitan State Hospital and a variety of residential treatment agencies serving abused and neglected children. From 1999 until 2003 he was the National Program Director for Childhelp USA and the Project Director for the Merv Griffin Village of Arizona. William has also served on the School Board for Orange Unified School District and on several other boards serving the Orange County community. He is a nationally recognized expert on child abuse and neglect and has served as a delegate from the United States to review the extent of child abuse and neglect and the effect of democratization and rapid political, economic and social change on children. He helped to build the Orangewood Children’s Home and worked with the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, which raised millions dollars to benefit victims of child abuse and neglect. As a consultant he has provided his expertise on emergency shelter care services throughout California. William has been honored for his dedication and hard work in child welfare including being named Child Advocate of the Year and Citizen of the Year for the City of Orange. William’s unwavering dedication to improving the lives of children make him an angel on earth to many.
Tom Tackett - 2016Tom 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.
Torrey Tayenaka - 2015Torrey Tayenaka is a creative entrepreneur driven to make his community, and the world a better place. He began his first startup while still in high school and hasn’t slowed down since. His agency, Sparkhouse Media, combines Torrey’s talents in videography, storytelling, and high-impact marketing to create custom commercials and spots for national and international clients. He also channels his creativity as an inventor, producer, or promoter to design and develop products he believes have the potential to change the world. Two such products are the Kite Patch, a wearable patch that repels mosquitos and could prevent mosquito-borne illnesses, and the Eva Smart Shower that uses engineered features to save water without compromising the shower experience. Torrey is also president of a non-profit organization, Ad2 OC, that supports the creative, media, and advertising communities by providing education, career changing options, and volunteer and networking opportunities for those starting out in the business. Torrey also began Forge 54, a volunteer marketing hub to help non-profits with their marketing. Forge 54 hosts an annual event with over 50 professionals who donate their time to create dynamic and creative marketing campaigns for worthwhile organizations who would otherwise not have the budget to do so. Torrey’s energy and willingness to find new ways to help his community show a strong desire to pay it forward and he will likely continue to go above and beyond in ways that we haven’t yet imagined.
Kathleen Terry - 2018Kathleen Terry has been an active community volunteer within the City of Manhattan Beach and the South Bay for more than 40 years. She has worked with many organizations and passionate leaders to help them set great goals and reach them. A few of the of the organizations she has been actively involved with have been The Crown Jewel Club, P.S. I Love You Foundation, the Volunteer Center of the South Bay, South Bay Literacy Council, the Beach Cities Blue Zone Project, and Manhattan Beach Rotary. She is a strong advocate of community-based programs and a believer in civic engagement, and even serves as her Neighborhood Watch Captain. She has also spent 15 years as the Facilitator of the Leadership Manhattan Beach Program. This program has developed leaders and fostered in them an interest in becoming involved within the city. Many of the participants have gone on to volunteer or to be on City Council. She was President of the Manhattan Beach Rotary and, under her leadership, the club was awarded Club of Excellence in District 5280. Over the last 6 years, Kathleen has been actively involved with The Beach Cities Health District Blue Zones Project where she has been facilitating Purpose Workshops for the community, helping young people live lives with purpose. Professionally, Kathleen is founder of Participative Management Systems and is well known for her high-impact seminars and workshops based on the most critical issues facing managers and supervisors. Kathleen is a doer who leads by example and her passion and excitement inspire others!
Toberman Community Center - 2017Toberman Neighborhood Center is a non-profit community-based organization committed to assisting Harbor Area families and individuals by delivering life-changing services that encourage, inform, educate and empower them to live healthy and purposeful lives. Toberman Neighborhood Center offers comprehensive services that include outpatient counseling services, legal services, income tax services, and emergency food and clothing assistance. Case Managers work with clients to identify problems and then develop a plan, seek, coordinate, and monitor services from a variety of resources, community agencies and staff. Their programs for youth include an afterschool program, youth mentoring program, and Leaders in Training program. Toberman also offers parenting classes, support for grandparents as parents, family activities, and a Toyota Families learning program. Their Gang Intervention Unit was developed to increase the safety of the overall community by directly reducing gang violence and providing holistic, integrated human services. The goal of the Gang Intervention program is to build and maintain a collaborative “Peace Infrastructure” throughout the Harbor Area and to raise the quality of life in the community by creating a safer and violent free community, while redirecting the lives of youth and young adults. Toberman Neighborhood Center offers resources and care for the community that help create a healthy, safe, and supportive environment for all who live there. Accepting the award on behalf of Toberman Neighborhood Center is Sandra Rascon for her outstanding work in the afterschool programs.
Patty Turrell - 2018Patty Turrell is the Founder and President of the Women’s Journey Foundation. Their mission is to strengthen self-reliance in women of all ages so they realize their potential, power, and purpose. They provide opportunities for women to enrich their lives through education, multi-generational events, peer connection and mentoring. They also create platforms for women to connect, share their experiences, get inspired and mentor others. Patty recruits, trains, and directs hundreds of volunteers as they participate in outreach services, programs, and events. This all-volunteer organization hosts free self-esteem workshops for at-risk kids, women and children in transitional housing and recovery homes. They partner with various organizations, non-profits, and foster care agencies, and, as a result, thousands of at-risk girls and boys have participated in their programs. WJF also provides education, performances, and events to share and honor stories of women throughout history. WJF Girls and Women’s Conferences help to address many of the issues young girls and women encounter and enable them to discover their talents and strengths while recognizing the talents and strengths in each other. Patty and her team of volunteers are providing hope, self-esteem, and purpose to women and girls of all ages.
Michele Warner - 2017Hemophilia Alliance of Orange County (HAOC) is a nonprofit organization, supporting the bleeding disorders community in Orange County and the Inland Empire. They are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of individuals and families affected by Hemophilia, von Willebrand disease and other inherited bleeding disorders by creating programs and services that provide education, emotional support and advocacy. Individuals with bleeding disorders can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical costs and live with the reality that there is currently no cure. Michele started this organization because she understood how challenging bleeding disorders are for parents and families. As a parent of a son with hemophilia she also understood how helpful it could be to connect with others in order to share, learn from, and support one another. HAOC strives to provide an inclusive, supportive culture to help each other through life’s challenges, develop programs to meet needs, and share stories. Michele has become a leader for this community and it is her amazing commitment and her successful business mind that have created a network of support for those who need it.
Shawn Wehan - 2017Shawn Wehan is the Founder and Executive Director of Future Leaders of Our Community. FLOC is an organization that brings awareness, inspiration and participation opportunities to young professionals in our community. FLOC was established in 2009 to help bridge the gap between young professionals and nonprofits so that volunteer opportunities, awareness events, and opportunities for leadership were available for all those interested in making a positive impact. FLOC has discovered great success and has partnered with over 150 nonprofits in Orange County, assisting to their needs by engaging thousands of young professionals in their causes and creating hundreds of volunteer opportunities. Each month FLOC invites an Executive Director of a local non-profit to speak to its members about service and ways to participate in the community. FLOC focuses on three areas: service, community, and leadership training. Leaders should be in service to the community, connected to the community and those who are impacted by service, and should possess the leadership qualities and tools to lead with passion and commitment. FLOC also serves as a sort of nonprofit university, offering training to improve fundraising, learn to direct and sustain a nonprofit, and how to coordinate volunteers. Shawn oversees and manages all operations and ensures all programs and trainings are held to a high level of quality. He builds relationships and makes connections so that organizations and individuals are able to serve at their highest capacity.
Kelley White - 2013Kelley White is the Founder and Executive Director of Coastal Mountain Youth Academy (CMYA). The mission of CMYA is to provide an educational and therapeutic program for adolescents that have not been successful in the traditional setting. CMYA provides a safe environment in which students dealing with addiction, truancy, abuse, harassment, and self-harm can learn to find solutions, focus on success, and transition back into high school or into life beyond high school. Kelley also teams with other organizations such as The Boys and Girls Club of Capistrano Valley, Bethany’s Gait, San Juan Capistrano Habitat for Humanity in order to expand her programming or to create a partnership that is mutually beneficial. Kelley is committed to meeting the needs of students in Orange County and is also a Project GLAD Trainer. She trains teachers in the strategies and models that promote English language acquisition, academic achievement, and cross-cultural skills. Kelley goes above and beyond in her effort to make sure that all of Orange County’s students have the opportunity to succeed.
Billy Whitford - 2017Newport Aquatic Center was founded in 1982 as a non-profit corporation offering the public unique opportunities in the Olympic water sports of rowing, canoeing, kayaking and outrigger canoe competition. Billy has dedicated his life to serving the public, especially kids. He has created programs for Santa Ana’s inner-city kids and outrigger paddling programs for the blind. He has created camps for all ages and their desired water sport. Billy welcomes competitive Olympic athletes from around the world to train out of Newport Aquatic Center. He trains the whole athlete, pushing people to go beyond their fears, become humble winners and gracious losers, and find joy in their sport. He creates opportunities for championships, travel, and success. Billy is described as a mentor, a coach, and a father figure. He exemplifies what he teaches: that it’s not about you, but about what you can do for others. Billy’s work keeps people happy, vibrant, and in touch with the ocean. His influence has changed lives and leads others to where they dream of going.
Barbara Winkler - 2017Barbara Winkler has been sewing for Quilts of Valor for 14 years. The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. Barbara wanted to put her sewing experience to good use and when she found Quilts of Valor, she knew she could make a difference. After sewing for the National organization, she and her team began SoCal Quilts of Valor. Here she conducts workshops, holds Make a Difference Day events, and plans the Big Sunday volunteering events. Barbara coordinates the fabric, stores, and transports all the necessary supplies for the quilters. She also presents most of the quilts, which often involves travel and participation in events. She works with Long Beach Unified School District high school students and their parents to help the teens earn service hours. She and her volunteers teach the students and parents how to construct the quilts and give them a skill they can use all their lives. It also gives them the inspiration to give back to their community and to the Veterans who earned their freedoms. Barbara and her team have made over 4,000 quilts and presented them to Veterans. Her work lets Veterans know that someone cares for them and can provide the warm comfort they need.
Women in Networking & Men that WIN - 2014The goal of Women in Networking is to educate and inspire women of all ages to become successful entrepreneurs and to promote community involvement. As a team, they have formed many partnerships and taken on many fundraisers to provide for local charities, organizations, and students. They also deliver meals, support adults and children facing health challenges, clean up beaches, and help veterans with basic needs. Their events have benefitted organizations such as Veterans Affordable Housing, the Healthy Family Movement, Totally Kids Healthcare, Ronald McDonald House, Surfrider Foundation, The Let it Be Foundation, and many more. As a group they have served thousands here on the coast and internationally. Four outstanding chapters of dynamic women and one chapter of exceptional men are being honored for their service. Each chapter has chosen a representative who embodies the spirit of service WIN is dedicated to.
Randy Woolstrum - 2015Pastor Randy Woolstrum has devoted his life to service and leadership. Randy helped his mother to raise 55 foster brothers and took over the boys ranch his mother ran after she passed away. Randy served as a Deputy Sheriff and later as a youth pastor for many years, helping troubled teens. He is now the senior pastor at Grace OC Church. He works tirelessly to help those in need of shelter, food, or work and started a church plant that now feeds hundreds of needy children and families each day. He has allowed a school to open in the church, rent-free, which serves students who have not been successful in a traditional school setting. Students can attend this school for little tuition and find the support, individualization, and classes they need to graduate and be successful. Randy has even offered work to help those families that cannot afford the low tuition. Randy also serves as a highly respected and sought after motivational speaker, a consultant for non-profit organizations, and a mentor. His words and his passion make it clear that he is a man of action, working hard to improve lives. Randy and his wife, Terri, are planning a multicultural, multigenerational church that will likely provide the community outreach, love, and hope that Randy is known for. His dedication is endless and he truly goes above and beyond to help those in need.
Michelle Wulfestieg - 2014Southern California Hospice Foundation’s mission is to deliver resources to caregivers, families, and patients who are confronting the final stages of life through advocacy, education, and a respect for all faiths. The Foundation does community outreach to familiarize communities with the resources available to them. Programs include Angels on Wheels, providing transportation for those at home under hospice care, and Children’s Supportive Care Services, partnering physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains to provide services for children and their families. The Foundation would not be what it is without its Executive Director Michelle Wulfestieg. She has a passion for making an impact on quality end-of-life care and works diligently to fulfill wishes for terminally ill patients. She developed and implemented the program, Hours in Lieu of Flowers, to give low-income families part-time caregivers for patients who remain at home for the dying process. Michelle worked with Showtime to develop a documentary series, “Time of Death,” about the end-of-life process and its impact on patients and families. Michelle and Southern California Hospice Foundation bring hope and comfort to those in need, making them true angels on earth.
Rabbi Zalman Marcus - 2014Rabbi Zalman Marcus, and his wife Bassie, founded the Chabad Jewish Center of Mission Viejo as a small grass roots organization. It has grown into a community based nonprofit whose efforts are rooted in traditional Jewish values and that reaches thousands. The center provides outreach and education to the elderly, children and their parents, and those in need. The Center includes the CJC Hebrew School, Hebrew High, Summer Camps, Teen programs, Adult education, Women’s programs, Substance Abuse Prevention, crisis intervention and counseling, senior visitation, a scholarship fund, and support groups. The Center also hosts a Mommy and Me program for young children and parents, a youth club, a teen club, a Friendship Circle for children with special needs, and social and extracurricular programs. The Rabbi and the Center strive to reach out to others with acts of goodness and kindness. The Rabbi’s love for humanity, spirit of service, and optimism have led him to launch outreach programs and social services to help those in need, regardless of background or belief. The Rabbi is known as an inspiring teacher and lecturer and a genuine leader. He is an example of service and giving to his community.
Christy Zamani - 2017Christy Zamani has served as the Executive Director of Day One since 2007 and her passion and extensive experience have helped improve public health. Day One is a community-based nonprofit organization with a 29-year history of providing effective, high quality and culturally-sensitive public health education, intervention, and policy development. Day One provides many programs to improve youth leadership skills, recognize the contributions of locally active youth leaders, and provides teens with the education, strategy, and empowerment to make positive change in their lives and in their communities. Their Environmental Prevention programs focus on community systems and help to improve public health, quality of life, and create healthier environments for residents. Day One also provides substance abuse prevention and control and tobacco control and prevention programs. They also provide parenting programs to help parents explore issues that affect their children, learn parenting tips, and connect with valuable resources and other parents. Day One’s programs are comprehensive and work to improve the health and well-being of the community by looking at the community as a whole. Christy’s commitment to advancing public health and her exemplary leadership have guided Day One and enhanced countless lives.
Dr. Elizabeth Zarkos - 2018Dr. Elizabeth Zarkos has combined her passion for education with her love for horses and created Hanaeleh, a horse rescue operating in Southern California. Hanaeleh rescues all breeds and ages of horses, rehabilitates them, and works to find them homes. Horses that are not adoptable stay at Hanaeleh to live out their days under the caring supervision of volunteers. Elizabeth uses her knowledge of education and training to help her with each horse. Horses, like children, have unique needs and those needs must be understood and addressed in order for them to be successful and healthy. Her background, experience, and enthusiasm make her an expert in the world of animal advocacy, rescue, training, and education. Elizabeth advocates tirelessly to end horse slaughter and abuse. Hanaeleh also offers training in Equine Assisted Coaching. Equine Assisted Coaching can help people establish healthy relationships and boundaries in addition to improving leadership skills and self-esteem. It also allows individuals to build healthy, authentic relationships at home, work and school through meaningful engagement with horses. Veterans are offered this training free of charge and the training often assists with the transition into civilian life. Elizabeth has created an organization that improves the lives of the people and horses lucky enough to be a part of it. She has become an angel on earth to animals and human alike.