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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.

Nominate a Hero Now

Rose-Margaret Orrantia Finds Purpose in Helping American Indian Foster Youth

American Indian Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 29
By Monica Medina
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Rose-Margaret Orrantia has spent a lifetime working to help American Indian children in the foster care system. After all, helping children is where her heart has led her. And helping to place these children in American Indian homes has been her way of giving back to her community and ensuring its future.

Kumeyaay Elder Jane Dumas Keeps Language & Plant Lore Alive

American Indian Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 29
By Monica Medina
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On a bright and clear weekend morning in early October, there’s a flutter of activity at San Diego’s Tecolote Nature Center as staff get ready for an annual family activity, “Baskets and Botany.” The one-day event, which has been held there since the mid-'90s, is a day for families to share the environmental and cultural connections of Tecolote Canyon.

Linda Bounds on Being Boundless

Disability Awareness Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 1
By Monica Medina
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Linda Bounds is a petite, sprightly woman with a lot of heart and grit. No longer wanting to be defined by others, she began to pursue her passion, living life on her terms and doing what she loved most: art.

Al Kovach Finds A New Way To Serve His Country

Disability Awareness Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 1
By Monica Medina
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Al Kovach, Jr., looks a lot like Steve McQueen. In fact, in his Navy days, he was known as Petty Officer McQueen, just because of his strong resemblance to the actor known as "The King of Cool."

Fabiola Navarro, Local Hero & Human Rights Activist

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Sept. 13
By Monica Medina
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The world is filled with injustice. All you need do is pick up a newspaper or go online and you’ll find a litany of human rights violations—victims of torture and kidnappings, people being sent to prison camps by their own government, women suffering untold abuse at the hands of their husbands or fathers while authorities look the other way, and children being forced into labor and prostitution. Here in San Diego, Chilean-born Fabiola Navarro sees fighting such human rights violations as a life-long cause.

Andrea Skorepa Advocates for San Ysidro

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Sept. 13
By Monica Medina
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Andrea Skorepa is a Hispanic Heritage Month Local Hero who lives and breathes San Ysidro – both as a passionate advocate, and as a life-long resident of the town by the border.

Vinnie Pompei Creates Safe Haven for LGBT Children

LGBT Pride Month 2013 Honoree

June 6
By Monica Medina
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Vincent “Vinnie” Pompei will never forget the first time he witnessed the bullying. He was a newly-hired teacher at a Los Angeles County middle school. It was recess, and when he heard the words one child shouted to another, it struck a chord deep inside, leaving him cold and shaking.

LGBT Local Heroes Max Disposti and Carolyn Bolton Achieve Success Together

LGBT Pride Month 2013 Honoree

June 6
By Monica Medina
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When it comes to collaboration, seems to me that the key to success is in finding balance. At least, that’s been the case for Max Disposti and Carolyn Bolton, who for the past five years have been working together effectively. And, the way they make it work is by building on each other’s strengths.

Sophak Yem Stands Up For Human Rights

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

May 15
By Monica Medina
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There are little girls who dream of princesses, playing with friends, or discovering a new and exciting book. And, there is Sophak Yem. What she longed for were gooseberries, a bright green berry that grows wild in Cambodia and has a particularly tart taste. Gooseberries. How she loved them when served with a mixture of salt and chili mixture. For Yem, a 2013 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Local Hero honoree, growing up in a Cambodian concentration camp, gooseberries represented one of the few joys in her young life.

Elmer Bisarra Helps HIV Patients Heal

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

May 15
By Monica Medina
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Elmer Bisarra learned early on what was expected of him. As the son of a Filipino father and a Chinese Hawaiian mother, he knew that the man is supposed to be the provider for his family, and that women serve best as educators, healers and nurturers. He remembers how this belief was embedded in his culture, passed down to him by his parents.

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. “