The Torrance Chamber celebrated Educate, Celebrate and Elevate Diversity Awards 2021 this past week. Chairman of the Board Kirk Rossberg, Torrance Bakery, welcomed attendees to the virtual event. Liliana Perez, Cultural Affairs Director, Los Angeles Chargers provided opening remarks. Sponsors included American Honda Motor Inc., Kinecta Federal Credit Union, AMAG Technology, Torrance Refining Company, Ambassador High School, Bachem Americas, California State University Dominguez Hills and El Camino College. The chamber recognized the following individuals for their commitment and passion to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
Giancarlo Fernández was presented the Advocate award. Fernandez demonstrates his leadership as Associated Student Organization President, Interclub Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and Inclusion and Student Advisory Council Co-chair. Additionally, through his leadership with the Students Experiences Subcommittee, the subcommittee provided resources for students to attend webinars, developed student town hall meetings, and created a blueprint for a Social Justice Center at the College where students can gather, hear guest speakers, and attends programs to create a welcoming environment across the campus. He represents the collective student voice of 32,000 students and is committed to being a strong advocate for students of all color and race.
Tamala Lewis, Senior Director of Community Affairs for AEG’s Dignity Health Sports Park, received the Catalyst award. Lewis exhibits excellent leadership skills, communicates exceptionally, engages those around her, is innovative and always has positive results. She is involved with many organizations throughout the South Bay. Lewis orchestrates an annual Women’s Conference with a panel of high powered, diversified women experts in their dedicated fields.
Prachi Dixit, Nupur Academy LA, is an internationally renowned teacher, performer, and choreographer of Kathak dance, an Indian art form. Dixit was recognized with an Outstanding Diversity Program award. Nupur Academy seeks to develop the next generation of performing artists in the USA, to spread the beauty of this art form and to bring diverse communities closer to each other through art and music. The beauty of Kathak dance is put on display by students and renowned Indian artists at the annual arts festival performed at the Torrance Center of the Performing Arts.
Dr. Linh Vuong created the multicultural awareness program called “We Are The World” Diversity program for grade school children in Torrance, mainly at Towers Elementary School. Dr. Vuong was recognized with an Outstanding Diversity Program award. Dr Vuong and her two sisters are first generation Vietnamese who have experienced and witnessed the many cases of discrimination and bullying that have inspired them to create this program. Dr Vuong implemented a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation on one region of the world each quarter to be shared at the quarterly school assembly.
Fermin Rivera, Red Apple Air, is unlike most contractors; he is also an author, speaker, and member of the John Maxwell team. Rivera was presented the Rising Star award. Over the last seven years, Rivera has supported the community by hiring locally, including those who came from homelessness and broken homes. Since 2008, Rivera has worked relentlessly on creating the best service company in the South Bay. He uses his leadership skills to help his Red Apple Air employees become better people so they too can help the community be a safer, cleaner, and healthier place.
The Torrance Refinery League of Black Professionals was recognized with the Vanguard award for their partnership with North High School mentoring program. This program aims to promote development of young black educated students by equipping them for success in life, focusing on academics, higher education and/or a career. To date more than 25 students have participated in the program. Its success is marked by commendations from parents who express appreciation for having other exemplary adults who can be seen as positive role models to make positive impacts on their children’s lives.
Lea Ann King was recognized with the Coalition Builder award. King has worked with scores of organizations including but not limited to the Los Angeles Junior League, Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, and as an aide to then-Congresswoman Jane Harmon. King led the formation of the Torrance Human Relations Forum. One of its successes is the Martin Luther King Jr, “Visions of Unity Contest” now in its 21st year.
John Huebner, a senior at Ambassador High School, was recognized with the Excellence in Academics award. Huebner demonstrates a commitment to and an insatiable passion for learning outside the classroom that is not driven by grades. Demonstrating his ability to research and write at an advanced level, John recently published a book titled, Small Countries, Big Cultures reads more like a Ph.D. dissertation than a book written by a high school student. John is a nominee for the Jerry Herman Musical Theatre award for 2021. He will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.
Aariahn Curls, a senior leader at Ambassador High, received the Excellence in Academics award. Curls founded a club at Ambassador, Imago Dei (In God’s image), with the mission of pursuing racial justice and reconciliation for all students. She is also a talented musician and vocalist who has performed all four years in school musicals. She serves as the school Worship Leader at chapel service each week. Aariahn is a nominee for the Jerry Herman Musical Theatre award for 2021. Aariahn is attending Kent State University for Musical Theatre in the fall.
Janice Lee, a junior at West High School, was presented with the Excellence in Academics award. Lee has been active in the Interact Club for two years at West. Through Interact, Lee served as the activities coordinator and contacted the Torrance Antique Street Faire to coordinate volunteers. Janice demonstrates excellent leadership, organization, and people skills at the Torrance Antique Street Faire. Lee is a level nine pianist and has played the flute for five years.
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