SF Foundation Honors Community Leaders

Rita Semel

Brenda Way

From left to right: John Crew, Eva Paterson, Gay Plair Cobb, Trustee Emerita, David Friedman, Trustee. Photo credit: © Drew Altizer.

By Ashley Chambers The San Francisco Foundation celebrated its 2012 Community Leadership Awards at the Herbst Theatre in the War Memorial Veterans building in San Francisco on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The SFF Community Leadership Awards acknowledge the leadership and vision of extraordinary people and organizations that are doing groundbreaking work in the community to confront social, economic, and educational issues. This year’s awardees were Rita Semel, Chair of the San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC); Brenda Way, founder and artistic director of ODC (Oberlin Dance Collective); the Chinese for Affirmative Action organization; and the academic summer program Aim High. “The hope is that they learn how to deal with each other and be civilized on the things that they can’t agree on; because we don’t agree on something shouldn’t stop us on making the world a better place,” said Semel, an activist who encourages an understanding across all faith denominations. The ceremony included a celebration of the late Bay Area visionary and foundation chair emeritus, F. Warren Hellman, with a performance by the ODC dance company. The 2012 Koshland Young Leader Awards were also presented to 10 high school seniors, recognizing their leadership in overcoming multiple challenges, motivation to achieve their goals and their academic excellence. The young Awardees included Luri Chen Zheng and Erica Nguyen, both of Mission High School; Deandra Crawford of Leadership High School; Mollie Cueva-Dabkoski of Ruth Asawa School of the Arts; Edith Menlendez, Marlyn Martinez, and Rodrigo Mendez, all from San Francisco International High School; Nga Pham of Raoul Wallenberg High School; and Kyron Covington and Stacy Thomas, of City Arts and Technology High School. The program opened and ended with performances by the youth choir Voices of Reason, a resident company of East Bay Center for Performing Arts. The choir closed the ceremony with a rendition of the soulful Ella Jenkins song “Little Johnny Brown,” under the direction of Valerie Trout. For information, visit www.sff.org.
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