Sara Butler | Contributing Editor
On Oct. 8, RISE San Diego held its second annual Inclusive Leadership in Action (ILIA) Awards at The Joe & Vi Jacobs Center. The event is always held the second Monday of October, in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Many community leaders were in attendance at the luncheon. Of those leaders, several political figures attended including Senate pro tempore Toni G. Atkins, Assembly member Todd Gloria, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Barbara Bry.
One of the openers of the ceremony was Atkins, introduced as a “trailblazer” representing the compassion and values of the organization, such as being pragmatic with goals and firm in her beliefs.
“It’s a day in our time and country in which it’s kind of hard not to think about what’s going on all around us,” Atkins said. “And there is nowhere better to be than here with the [inaudible] people celebrating the diversity.”
“This year is about 35 years since I graduated from college and I have taken 30 years to find this kind of community. It is you,” she continued, eliciting a roar of applause from the audience.
Following Atkins, other speakers included San Diego State President Adela de la Torre as well as RISE fellows, Janice Luna Reynoso (2018 program) and Tamara Muhammad (2015 program).
“It takes a collective in order to get this work done,” Muhammad said.
“Through these different portions of RISE, I call them, a familia was born. That familia has gotten each and every one of us out of our seats to do something for our community,” she continued, adding that this ‘familia’ extends past Southeast San Diego to North County; Tijuana, Mexico; and over the San Diego region.
In addition to the numerous speeches, live music was performed throughout the event, with a focused theme on community and connection.
And the artistic influence didn’t end there. Various videos — focusing on RISE programs and community projects — played on a projector throughout the event between the speeches and performances. In particular, one video highlighted “Vinnie: A Love Letter,” a novel written by Ronald Preston Clark, which was sold at the event.
This publication is Clark’s community action project; through some of the proceeds of the novel, a program will be started a scholarship fund for a black, male, high school senior student from Southeast San Diego. Additionally, Clark will be collecting written work from high school books and publishing an anthology entitled “Brave.”
“We need to give our young men spaces to express themselves in a positive manner,” Clark said. “I know how much writing has saved my life. I know how much my community sent me to college. I want to do the same for our young men.”
These awards are intended to “honor local champions of diversity, equity, and inclusion that are advancing opportunities for all,” according to a press release. The organization sought nominations of individuals and organizations making a difference and leaving a positive impact on the community.
RISE awarded nominees in four categories: Prosperity, Democracy, Security and Economy. Inclusive and diverse leadership in these fields.
The Prosperity Award highlighted achieving “a successful, flourishing and thriving condition … focused the areas of community, education, health and environment.” The honor was given to Joseph Ruanto-Ramirez of UCSD.
San Diego LGBT Pride won the Democracy Award, which “looks to evidence of diversity, equity and inclusion in voting among public officials and through voice.”
The Security Award focused on “providing individuals and communities with a sense of security about public safety, community policing, and fire and emergency medical services.” Sean Shephard for Game Changer received the award.
The final honor, the Economy Award, was presented to Made in Paradise Hills for inclusion and diversity when it comes to “income, inclusion and housing.”
—Reach Sara Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org.