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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.

We're taking nominations for Hispanic Heritage, Disability Awareness and American Indian Heritage months until June 1.

Nominate a Hero Now

Local Hero Sy Brenner Advocates for Veterans

Jewish American Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

May 1
By Monica Medina
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For years, Sy Brenner kept it bottled inside, blocking it out of his memory while moving on with his life. After all, the war was over, and he was no longer being held captive.

Yale Strom, A Champion for Klezmer

Jewish Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

May 1
By Monica Medina
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Listen to klezmer music and it will harken you back to another time. Rich with tradition, the haunting melodies are a testament to the Jewish people and all they’ve endured throughout the course of history. To me, klezmer has the capacity to reach into our hearts and stir us to feel its beauty and soul.

For Amina Sheik Mohamed, Women’s Health is First

Women's History Month: 2013 Honoree

March 1
By Monica Medina
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San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood is home to one of the largest Somali populations in the nation. Many arrived here as refugees in the early 1990s, during a time of civil war strife in Somalia. One of those who settled here at that time is Amina Sheik Mohamed. Today she is manager of the African American Campaign for the Network for a Healthy California operated locally from the University of California, San Diego. She is also a 2013 Women’s History Month Local Hero honoree.

Ginita Wall and Candace Bahr Teach Women to Become Financially Savvy

Women's History Month: 2013 Honoree

March 1
By Monica Medina
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Two decades ago, in the throes of my divorce, I discovered a workshop that became my lifeline. It’s called Second Saturday: Divorce Workshop for Women, and for me, participating in it helped me get through one of the most difficult, wrenching periods of my life.

Dr. Carrol Waymon, San Diego's Civil Rights Hero

Black History Month: 2013 Honoree

Feb. 1
By Monica Medina
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“The San Diego City Council didn’t think it had a racial problem,” he says. “But when the city got caught up celebrating the death of the three Freedom Fighters, the city exploded, and that set the tone that maybe we do have problems. “

The Museum That Chuck Ambers Built

Black History Month: 2013 Honoree

Jan. 30
By Monica Medina
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Take a walk down Congress Street in Old Town and you’ll pass shops selling souvenirs, jewelry, and postcards. You may see a restaurant or two. But, walk too quickly and you’ll probably miss the little house near the corner of Congress and Conde Street.

Why Patricia A. Dixon Never Stops Learning

Native American Heritage Month: 2012 Honoree

Oct. 2
By Monica Medina
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This Thanksgiving, Professor Patricia A. Dixon has much to be thankful for. “I think I was lucky. I had great parents, and good teachers throughout my life. I had far more good teachers than bad teachers. I was encouraged to read and to dream and I was taught to work hard.” And, though she does plan on celebrating Thanksgiving with her family this week, there’s one aspect about the holiday that’s off the table.

Leroy Elliott

Native American Heritage Month: 2012 Honoree

Oct. 2
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Mr. Leroy Elliott is a tribal elder who has served his Native American tribe as their Chairman for the past 14 years. His tribe, the Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, is an economically disadvantaged sovereign government assigned to reservation land in a remote area of the San Diego County backcountry. In spite of these challenges, Chairman Elliott actively seeks and has secured revenue opportunities that provided much needed government services and job opportunities. Elliott is the Treasurer and a long standing Board member for the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association; the Chairman of the Southern California Indian Health Clinic; and a volunteer Assistant Fire Marshall for the Campo Fire department.

Laurel Moorhead on Being 'One of Many'

Disability Awareness Month: 2012 Honoree

Oct. 2
By Monica Medina
1 Comment
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In the course of your life, there are moments that pass undetected, and moments that are life changing. The latter are the ones that can overwhelm you, give you hope or open a new door.

Michael A.V. Cruz Has Passion for Mentoring

Hispanic Heritage Month: 2012 Honoree

Nov. 2
By Monica Medina
3 Comments
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Michael A. V. Cruz is not used to being thanked for the work he does. Being the humble man he is, he’s never asked for it nor expected it. Besides, he's not in it for the glory.

Danny Gutierrez Gets a Second Chance

Hispanic Heritage Month: 2012 Honoree

Sept. 13
By Monica Medina
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It's hard to pinpoint the moment that propelled Danny Gutierrez's life into a spiral of self-destruction. After all, there was no singular instant that set him on a path of joining a gang, breaking the law, using drugs, and causing pain to those around him.

Louis Frick: A Life in 'Perpetual Motion'

Disability Awareness Month: 2012 Honoree

Oct. 2
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Louis Frick was living the California dream. As a young man, the San Diego surf was all he needed. In fact, you could say, the ocean was his life. Then tragedy hit.

Jeri Dilno

LGBT Pride Month: 2012 Honoree

May 30
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Jeri Dilno has spent her career working as a courageous political and social justice advocate on behalf of women’s and gay/lesbian rights. Her own military undesirable discharge in 1961 for being a lesbian led her to risk personal safety on behalf of gay and lesbian civil rights. Ms. Dilno is currently on the Board of Directors of LGBT Pride, serves as a member of the City’s Balboa Park Committee, which is an advisory board to City Council, and a member of the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee.

Larry T. Baza

LGBT Pride Month: 2012 Honoree

May 30
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Larry T. Baza’s career as a professional arts administrator and advocate has been driven by the belief that access to the arts “is vitally important to a civilized society.” His work has included directorships of many local nonprofits including the Centro Cultural de la Raza, Sushi Performance and Visual Art, California Pacific Theatre and others. He has also participated as a consultant, grant panelist, site visitor or board member for: National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, Arizona Arts Commission, City of San Diego Commission for Arts and culture, California Association of Local Arts Agencies and more.

Gussie Zaks

Jewish Heritage Month: 2012 Honoree

May 10
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As a Holocaust survivor, Ms. Zaks speaks about the atrocities of hate crimes and racial and religious discrimination in the U.S. and the world. Ms. Zaks also speaks to schools and various organizations to help others learn about the Holocaust. She inspires young men and women to make a positive difference in their own and others’ lives. She has been recognized by many organizations including the Board of Education of San Diego City Schools, and she received the Channel 10 Leadership Award-2000.