State Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) hosted a special awards ceremony on Nov. 14 recognizing the achievements and contributions of 12 individuals and organizations who have positively impacted the San Fernando Valley over the past year.
Honorees included educators, activists, firefighters, frontline healthcare workers, small business owners, and notable civic and community leaders.
The celebration, which was held at the neighborhood restaurant Soy y Luna in Tarzana, recognized the 2021 Nonprofit of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Educators of the Year, Environmentalist of the Year, Businessperson of the Year, Activist of the Year, Community Heroes of the Year, and Youth Leader of the Year.
“It’s an immense privilege to be able to honor such a remarkable group of individuals and organizations from the San Fernando Valley,” Gabriel said. “In the midst of another challenging year, it was inspiring to see these folks step-up to serve our community and help those in need. I am so grateful to represent such a diverse, vibrant, and caring community in the San Fernando Valley.”
Honorees were recognized for a variety of contributions and accomplishments over the past year, including delivering meals to frontline healthcare workers during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, empowering women restauranteurs through small business grants and mentorship, picking up nearly 50,000 pounds of trash, providing food delivery and vaccination services for homebound seniors, launching a task force to confront racism, and promoting early literacy and parent engagement in child development and education.
They were presented with special resolutions from the California Legislature acknowledging their service to the San Fernando Valley.
Photo (top row from left to right: Jenna Hauss, President and CEO of ONEGeneration, 2021 Nonprofit of the Year; Battalion Chief Andrew Wordin, Los Angeles Fire Department, 2021 Community Heroes of the Year; Daniel Steiner, Principal of Taft Charter High School, 2021 Educator of the Year; Tim Gaspar, Principal of Gaspar Insurance Services, 2021 Businessperson of the Year; Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel; Frank Torres, Chief of Staff of SEIU Local 121 RN, Community Heroes of the Year; former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, 2020 Woman of the Year; Deputy Chief Trevor Richmond, Los Angeles Fire Department, 2021 Community Heroes of the Year; Astine Suleimanyan, Legislative Coordinator of SEIU Local 121 RN, 2021 Community Heroes of the Year)
(bottom row left to right: Maxwell Suwaki, Founder of OVERDUE, 2021 Environmentalist of the Year; Kiyomi Kowalski, Board Member of Valley Outreach Synagogue, 2021 Activist of the Year; Rachael Rosenberg, Founder of Bundles of Kindness, 2021 Youth Activist/Leader of the Year; Gayle Batiste, President of SEIU Local 121 RN, Community Heroes of the Year; Jamie Olivas, Program Supervisor at the Child Development Institute, 2021 Educator of the Year)
(Not pictured: Debbie Decker, CEO of the West Valley Food Pantry, 2020 Nonprofit of the Year; Sandra Cordero, Chef and Owner of Gasolina Cafe, 2021 Small Business of the Year)