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Past Recipients

Business Leader: Carol Ornelas, Visionary Home Builders of California 

Carol Ornelas is a visionary and advocates for providing quality affordable housing to families throughout the Central Valley. For the past 30 years, she has served as Chief Executive Officer for Visionary Home Builders of California, a nonprofit residential development company and provider of social services in housing-related issues. Driven by the belief that every child and adult should have access to safe, decent, affordable housing and educational training and learning opportunities, VHB has built and rehabilitated more than 1,200 units of rental housing and more than 500 residential homes for first-time homebuyers within San Joaquin, Sacramento, Stanislaus and Merced counties. 
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Community Leader: James "Jim" Marsh, Friends of the Lower Calaveras River 

Jim Marsh is a longtime Stockton resident, retired teacher, active community member, and significant contributor to the University of the Pacific in his role as field natural historian and native habitat restoration leader with the Friends of the Lower Calaveras River organization. Formed in 2007 by 30 concerned citizens, the organization's main focus is on restoring and preserving one of the most dramatically altered, rain-fed rivers in California. As a founding member, Marsh is recognized as a tireless contributor to local schools and community education projects and serves as an invaluable resource in connecting the youth of our community with this local, natural treasure. 
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Education Leader: Dr. Debra Molina-Walters '04

Dr. Debra Molina-Walters is known for her dedication to teaching educators about scientific inquiry. "Dr. Mo" teaches elementary and secondary science method courses and is the head advisor for the educator's science club, STELLAR. Molina-Walters teaches 10 or more classes per year, supervises elementary and secondary student teachers, runs Family Science Night events in East Valley schools and is involved in environmental education projects throughout the Valley. She was the first university professor to be named Educator of the Year by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, recognizing her for integrating environmental education into her science methods class and for partnering in field activities.  
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SMUD Business Leader: Sacramento Municipal Utility District

For 70 years, SMUD has promoted STEM education and career awareness throughout the Sacramento region. With the help of their community partners, SMUD reaches thousands of students each year and provides robust support for educator training and student engagement, career awareness and support, energy and conservation events, and curriculum development. SMUD is committed to growing the next generation of STEM leaders. In 2016, the utility company expanded its high school and college internship program and launched a new scholarship program called "Powering Futures" that includes a paid internship for every recipient.
Dennis DelPaine Community Leader: Dr. Dennis DelPaine  

When Dr. DelPaine spoke to patients who were teachers, they reinforced that early exposure to books was key. There were already programs to put books in homes, so what was really needed was someone there every night to read to them. An Ann Landers column supplied the answer: a woman dying of breast cancer, whose great joy was reading to her grandchildren, made recordings to leave behind for them. From those simple facts, the Read at Home Foundation was born and now seven years later, books on CD are available in 22 classrooms across 12 school sites serving approximately 450 children. In September 2017, the program will add two additional school sites and eight more classrooms reaching 200 more children with the ultimate goal of serving all Title I and Title II schools in Stockton.
Educational Leader: Tom Whitesides

For the past 31 years, Tom Whitesides has dedicated his life to making the lives of children with exceptional needs and their families better. He spent eleven years as a Special Education Teacher, working with students with mild to moderate disabilities, students who are hearing impaired, and students with moderate to severe disabilities. Now in his 20th year as a principal, Mr. Whitesides serves as the administrator of the renowned Walton Special Center. The Walton Special Center is a state-of-the-art educational facility created by Stockton Unified School District to enhance the lives of students with severe to profound disabilities. It has become a quality program and facility today because of Mr. Whitesides' tireless commitment and advocacy for quality programming, teacher development, and parent support. 

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