Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski recognized local volunteers, advocates and business leaders from throughout the 25th assembly district at his annual State of the District ceremony Wednesday night. The district includes Fremont, Newark, Milpitas, Santa Clara and San Jose
The event was at Tesla Motors, located at 45500 Fremont Blvd.
Among those being recognized were Fremont resident Toni Shellen, who is being recognized as Fremont Local Hero for her volunteering and gun safety efforts in the community; the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, which will be recognized as the Outstanding Organization of the Year for promoting a positive business environment; and Suju’s Coffee and Tea, which earns the Small Business of the Year title.
“Our honorees are terrific students, teachers, organizations, business leaders and public servants who are passionate about what they do and they are making a difference in our communities,” Wieckowski said. “Each person and organization is very active in their cities and the entire district benefits from the causes, businesses and services they support.”
See the full list of honorees below (via Wieckowski’s office):
Woman of the Year – Shoba Krishnan, Associate Professor, Santa Clara University. An avid proponent of making science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education fun and rewarding for students at any age, Dr. Krishnan developed “STEM Outreach in the Community,” through which SCU students develop outreach activities to share their engineering disciplines in ways appropriate for elementary and middle school students. She has partnered with organizations in San Jose to provide this afterschool program to marginalized communities. She is also focused on providing leadership opportunities for young women.
Newark Local Hero – Mike Bucci. As the event chairman of the Newark Relay for Life, Bucci helped raise thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society’s research and patient service programs. Newark Relay for Life organized events throughout the year including Movies in the Park, Zumbathon and Paint the Town People. He is also involved in the Newark Senior Center’s Brown Bag program, Meals on Wheels and participates in animal rescue fundraising with his Frisbee dog, Gilroy.
High Tech Business of the Year – SanDisk. Headquartered in Milpitas, SanDisk designs, develops and manufactures flash memory storage solutions and software. Its product portfolio includes flash memory cards for mobile phones, digital cameras and camcorders, digital audio/video players and USB flash drives for consumers. SanDisk is celebrating its 25th anniversary and was recognized as one of the “Top 100 Global Innovators” in 2012 and 2013 by Thomson Reuters. The corporation also won the 2012 Golden Peacock Global Corporate Social Responsibility Award.
Fremont Local Hero – Toni Shellen. A retired long-time teacher in the Fremont Unified School District, Shellen was moved to respond to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December. She and other concerned Tri-City residents formed the Tri-City Alameda County Chapter of the Brady Campaign and she is serving as president of the chapter. The chapter has convinced local school districts to inform or remind parents how to store a gun safely according to California laws. She is also a founding member of Pax Christi Fremont, a Catholic organization that promotes non-violence and focuses on peace and social justice issues.
Milpitas Local Hero – Tanuja Bahal. The executive director of the India Community Center, Bahal helps ensure that new immigrants of all ages from preschoolers to seniors are assimilated into their new homes and communities by participating in ICC’s varied programs. She has 25 years of experience in the non-profit and corporate sectors. Bahal started at the ICC as a volunteer in 2004 and held many roles in the organization before becoming executive director. She has helped build the ICC into a strong, sustainable organization.
San Jose Local Hero – Frank Cancilla. As president of the Berryessa Business Association, Cancilla promotes the businesses of Berryessa and strengthens the communication between local government agencies and the community. The association provides a forum for key local issues to be discussed by the association. Cancilla is founder of FCC Realty Group and has been a small business owner for more than 19 years. He previously owned Kyoto Palace Restaurant at the Pruneyard in Campbell.
Santa Clara Local Hero – The Diridon Family. The Diridon family has a long legacy of leadership in public transportation, government reform, nuclear disarmament, business and mental health. The Diridons even share a family tree with the first female mayor in the state of California – Edwina Benner. Rod Diridon, Sr., a Vietnam veteran, is a former five-term supervisor in Santa Clara County and the executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute. His wife, Dr. Gloria Duffy, is a former nuclear disarmament treaty negotiator and the president and CEO of the Commonwealth Club, the oldest and largest public policy forum in the United States. Mary Ann Diridon is the owner of the Professional Secretarial Service and was the first female president of the downtown Rotary Club of San Jose. Mary Diridon-Ormsby was the director of counseling for the YWCA and is the founder of Diridon Coaching. Her husband, Steve, is a project engineer at Lockheed Martin. Rod Diridon, Jr., is a former Santa Clara councilmember, who currently serves as city clerk/city auditor. His wife, Sabra, is the director of development for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San Jose State University.
Unity Award – Santa Clara Firefighters Local 1171. Since 1952 the Santa Clara City Firefighters have served the community both on and off duty. They have sponsored or participated in a number of community events, including holiday festivals, major local and international relief efforts and chili cook-offs. In 2002, it established the Santa Clara Fire Fighters Foundation. Over the years, the fire fighters have also worked with at-risk youth in Santa Clara schools, providing mentorship, coaching, self-esteem building, decision-making and counseling assistance.
Non-Profit of the Year – Mission City Community Fund. A 501 (c)3 tax exempt non-profit, the Mission City Community Fund is an all-volunteer organization enriching the quality of life for Santa Clara residents. Formed in 1986, it focuses on theater and arts, the environment, health care, education and social services. The organization reviews grant requests in the spring and fall and partners with Rotary Clubs, the Soroptimist Club and other organizations to benefit Santa Clara residents.
Advocate of the Year – Josie Camacho and the Alameda Labor Council. Camacho is the executive secretary-treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council, the first Pacific Islander to run one of the largest Labor Councils in the nation. She is a founder of the national Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and currently serves as 1st vice president of the only national organization composed of API union members. The Alameda Labor Council received the “Highest Performing Labor Councils Achievement Award” from the California Labor Federation in 2012 for its work in passing Prop. 30 and opposing Prop. 32. It is composed of 109 affiliated local unions representing manufacturing, education, transportation, healthcare and construction.
Outstanding Organization of the Year – Fremont Chamber of Commerce. The Fremont Chamber consists of more than 1,000 businesses that employ almost 40,000 people. It is the second-largest chamber in the East Bay and works to support, promote and enhance a positive business environment. It also offers Leadership Fremont, an acclaimed leadership training program. In addition, it produces the largest two-day, outdoor festival west of the Mississippi, the Fremont Festival of the Arts. The event has raised more than $8 million for local non-profits.
Community Partner of the Year – California Nurses Association. The CNA and National Nurses Organizing Committee is one of the nation’s fastest growing labor and professional organizations in the United States with more than 86,000 members in hospitals, clinics and home health agencies. It is a leading advocate for supporting innovative legislation and regulatory protections for patients and nurses. It is also one of the strongest voices for charitable care and proper staffing ratios to better protect patient health.
Student Groups of the Year – Students for Quality Education (CSUEB & SJSU Chapters). Formed in the 2007-2008 school year, Students for Quality Education supports educational rights in the California State University System. SQE has successfully lobbied against proposed caps on the amount of course units students can take, fearing they would make it harder for students to stay in school and would penalize those who seek to graduate sooner. Today, the organization continues to oppose cuts to departments and classes.
Small Business of the Year – Suju’s Coffee & Tea. This locally-owned and operated coffee house started in 1992 and has been roasting coffee ever since. It offers a wide assessment of fine coffees and teas and opened its second location in October 2012 in a closed down former bank branch building in Fremont. Suju’s has created over 30 new jobs in the community and has grown to a company of 40 people. It’s on track to be an even larger community gathering place.