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Honoree Profiles

KPBS Celebrates Diversity

Gracia Molina Enriquez de Pick - Hispanic Heritage Honoree

Every year, KPBS recognizes heroes in San Diego's diverse communities. It's part of our ongoing commitment to diversity, and made possible through our long-standing partnership with Union Bank.

Tease photo for Hispanic Heritage Month Local Hero Karemi Alvarez Champions Health

Hispanic Heritage Month Local Hero Karemi Alvarez Champions Health

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Honoree

Sept. 15
KPBS Local Heroes Project

Students finally got clean drinking water at San Diego's Sweetwater High School. That's thanks to Karemi Alvarez — a rising voice for healthy lifestyles in needy communities.

Tease photo for LGBT Pride Month Local Hero Terry Cunningham Dedicates Life to Fighting AIDS

LGBT Pride Month Local Hero Terry Cunningham Dedicates Life to Fighting AIDS

LGBT Pride Month 2015 Honoree

June 9
By Monica Medina

As Cunningham recalls the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the 30 years he dedicated to combating it, the experience deeply affected him. Seeing so many around him die took its toll.

Tease photo for LGBT Pride Month Local Hero Christine Kehoe Improves Quality of Life for San Diegans

LGBT Pride Month Local Hero Christine Kehoe Improves Quality of Life for San Diegans

LGBT Pride Month 2015 Honoree

June 8
By Monica Medina

Becoming a politician was the last thing on Christine Kehoe’s mind when she was growing up in Troy, New York. She didn’t even run for student government at her high school. Yet in 1993, Kehoe would open doors, becoming the first member of the LGBT community to hold an elected office in San Diego.

Tease photo for Asian Pacific Heritage Month Local Hero Azim Khamisa Teaches Principles of Non-Violence

Asian Pacific Heritage Month Local Hero Azim Khamisa Teaches Principles of Non-Violence

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2015 Honoree

May 6
By Monica Medina

Six weeks before Tariq Khamisa's 21st birthday, on a cold Saturday night in January 1995, the San Diego State University sophomore was gunned down while delivering pizza. It was part of a gang initiation, called "Jacking the Pizza Man," and Tony Hicks, the one being initiated, fired the fatal bullet. He was 14 years old.

Tease photo for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Local Hero Daniel Hoang Makes a Difference Through Martial Arts

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Local Hero Daniel Hoang Makes a Difference Through Martial Arts

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2015 Honoree

May 5
By Monica Medina

Daniel Hoang had set his dreams on becoming a physician. He volunteered at hospitals, and studied biochemistry at University of California, San Diego (UCSD), in 1994. He worked three years at Scripps Research Institute Department of Neurobiology, where he received an Excellence Award for Research and Development.

Tease photo for Jewish American Heritage Month Local Hero Virginia Gordon is a Lifelong Activist

Jewish American Heritage Month Local Hero Virginia Gordon is a Lifelong Activist

Jewish American Heritage Month 2015 Honoree

May 4
By Monica Medina

Throughout her life, Virginia Gordon’s passion for activism has been front and center. She remembers how her grandmother Sadye was deeply involved in Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and served as an organizer for Youth Aliya, an organization that was founded during World War II to bring Jewish children out of Germany and relocate them to England and Palestine.

Tease photo for Jewish American Heritage Month Local Hero Robin Rady Helps Cancer Patients Get Organized with ‘Binder of Hope’

Jewish American Heritage Month Local Hero Robin Rady Helps Cancer Patients Get Organized with ‘Binder of Hope’

Jewish American Heritage Month 2015 Honoree

May 1
By Monica Medina

Four years ago, Robin Rady was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though it was caught early, it’s the kind of news that could have been enough to put anyone in a deep funk or a tailspin. But Robin, who is known for her warmth and positive energy, searched for clarity and calm. She found it in a binder–and that binder ended up seeing her through one of the toughest periods of her life, a time filled with surgeries, reconstructive surgeries, physical therapy and so much more.

Tease photo for Women’s History Month Local Hero Shara Fisler Helps Youth Become Scientific Leaders

Women’s History Month Local Hero Shara Fisler Helps Youth Become Scientific Leaders

Women's History Month 2015 Honoree

March 3
By Monica Medina

Shara Fisler thrives at her job. She is the executive director for the Ocean Discovery Institute, an educational program she founded 15 years ago, in order to empower young people to explore San Diego’s coastal habitats and become scientific and environmental leaders of tomorrow. For someone who started out in life living hundreds of miles away from the nearest ocean, her passion for studying natural habitats actually began in the desert.

Tease photo for Women’s History Month Local Hero Starla Lewis is a Champion for Love

Women’s History Month Local Hero Starla Lewis is a Champion for Love

Women's History Month 2015 Honoree

March 2
By Monica Medina

Children love pretend games and Starla Lewis was no different. She remembers when she was a child living with her grandmother in Springfield, Missouri, playing a game with her cousins that they called “Pretend White.”

Tease photo for Dr. Gail Knight  Inspires as First African-American Woman Chief of Staff at Rady Children’s Hospital

Dr. Gail Knight Inspires as First African-American Woman Chief of Staff at Rady Children’s Hospital

Black History Month 2015 Honoree

Feb. 2
By Monica Medina

In Dr. Gail Knight’s office is a wall of photos of patients she has treated. They are mementos of childhood milestones—birthday celebrations, family vacations and graduations. Though she hasn’t treated most of them in years, Knight's pride in them shines through. The pride in knowing that through her work these children are thriving.

Tease photo for Black History Month Local Heroes Jones & Wooten Strengthen Bonds Between Fathers and Children

Black History Month Local Heroes Jones & Wooten Strengthen Bonds Between Fathers and Children

Black History Month 2015 Honorees

Jan. 26
By Monica Medina

Andre Jones and Aaron Wooten know first-hand the important role fathers play in the lives of their children. Jones grew up with his father, Wooten did not; and though their lives took different paths because of it, the two have come together to run Father2Child. The program has one goal: to strengthen the bonds between African-American fathers and their children.

Tease photo for Local Hero Daniel Calac, MD, Addresses Health in American Indian Community

Local Hero Daniel Calac, MD, Addresses Health in American Indian Community

American Indian Heritage Month 2014 Honoree

Nov. 4
By Monica Medina

As a child growing up on the Pauma Indian Reservation, Daniel Calac, M.D., remembers the dirt. Literally.

Tease photo for Educator Roy Cook selected as 2014 American Indian Heritage Month Local Hero

Educator Roy Cook selected as 2014 American Indian Heritage Month Local Hero

American Indian Heritage Month 2014 Honoree

Oct. 29
By Monica Medina

He is a tribal writer, self-published author, journalist, and a Native singer and American Indian artist. He’s also an educator, one who carries the teachings of his elders and passes them on to the next generation. Meet Roy Cook, a 2014 American Indian Heritage Month Local Hero.

Tease photo for Disability Awareness Month Local Hero Travis Ricks Helps Challenged Athletes Thrive

Disability Awareness Month Local Hero Travis Ricks Helps Challenged Athletes Thrive

Disability Awareness Month 2014 Honoree

Oct. 1
By Monica Medina

When Travis Ricks learned he had cancer in his right leg, he was a star football athlete in high school. Sports were his life. Later, when he had to make the decision whether or not to amputate the leg because his treatment options were dwindling, he said, "Let's cut it off. It's time to move on." Yet, if he could do it all over again, keep his leg and be cancer-free, he wouldn't change a thing. In losing his leg, he received something far greater: his relationship with his mother.

Tease photo for Disability Awareness Month Local Hero Alex Montoya ‘Swings for the Fences’

Disability Awareness Month Local Hero Alex Montoya ‘Swings for the Fences’

Disability Awareness Month 2014 Honoree

Sept. 30
By Monica Medina

It began with a simple twist of fate: a chance encounter between Alex Montoya's uncle, Frank Callahan, and Harvey Fitzhugh, a man wearing a red fez.