Sara Butler | 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.
Launched in 2014, RISE San Diego is a nonprofit with a mission “to elevate and advance urban leadership through dialogue-based civic engagement, dynamic nonprofit partnerships, and direct training and support to increase the capacity of urban residents to effect meaningful community change,” according to its website.
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 Council member 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.
She referenced the four programs RISE has “to help the community become stronger so that our voices become louder, and that we empower each other and support each other so that some of the things going on in this country and in this world that are absolutely unacceptable – we don’t take it. We rise up. That is what we are here to do.”
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 all over the San Diego.
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.”
Concluding the event was the moment everyone was waiting for — the awards. All of the community leaders, as well as a representative from each of the sponsors, were invited onto the stage for the ceremony.
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 throughout the San Diego region, including Uptown neighborhoods.
2018 ILIA Awards nominees:
- Paul Khalid Alexander
- Jason Allen
- The Chicano Federation
- DREAMbuilders Youth Mentoring Network
- Jordan Harrison
- Willie Fred Jackson
- KIPP Through College
- Love Thy Neighbor Movement
- Made in Paradise Hills
- Ron Morrison
- Sara Ramos
- Mayra C. Reyes
- Joseph Ruanto-Ramirez
- San Diego LGBT Pride
- San Diego Regional EDC
- San Diego Workforce Partnership
- Sean Sheppard
- UCSD Black Resource Center
- Welcoming San Diego
- Roosevelt Williams III
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.”
Event sponsors included more than 25 organizations, institutions and businesses, including KPBS, Cox Communications, Jacobs Center, and University of San Diego, among others. A full list can be found online.
“Thank you to all the sponsors. You are investing. You are investing and you will get a return on that investment in ways you may never, never fully get to see, but you will,” Atkins said.
—Reach Sara Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org.