LOS ANGELES -- As part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity, Union Bank has partnered with KCET to launch a year-long program designed to celebrate local heroes who are making a difference to enrich the lives of others. The 2011 Cultural Diversity Partnership will recognize and pay tribute to 10 Angelenos who are making a difference by improving their workplace, profession, neighborhood, community, region and the world.
The program kicks off with the 2011 Black History Month Local Heroes to include: Pastor Ruett Stephen Foster and wife Rhonda Foster and Charmaine Jefferson.
Joining the Black History Month Local Heroes, honorees will also be identified during Women's History Month (March) and Jewish American Heritage Month (May), marking an expansion of the annual celebration. Honorees will continue to be recognized during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May) and Hispanic Heritage Month (September/October). The year-long celebration of diversity will culminate in an awards ceremony in October, where recipients will be formally recognized as part of the 14th Annual Local Heroes Awards, which Union Bank sponsors.
Union Bank and KCET will also identify Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (June) Local Heroes as part of the expanded initiative and honor them during a similar event in June.
"Union Bank and KCET share a rich history together, and we are honored to again partner with one of Southern California's greatest treasures," said Pierre Habis, senior executive vice president and head of Community Banking at Union Bank. "The Local Heroes program honors the contributions of outstanding individuals who have contributed so much to the Los Angeles community, just as KCET has done for decades. This year we have expanded the program to recognize honorees as part of Women's History, Jewish American Heritage and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Months. Our Local Heroes program has grown to more clearly reflect the diverse and vibrant community we serve."
"KCET is proud to continue its longtime affiliation with Union Bank on this new Cultural Diversity Partnership initiative," said Al Jerome, KCET president and CEO. "Expanding the Local Heroes celebration to better reflect the diversity of our region emphasizes the contributions of all those who dedicate their lives to improving our communities, and celebrates each culture's unique and vibrant heritage."
The 2011 honorees for Black History Month are:
Charmaine Jefferson is the executive director of the California African American Museum. She is deeply dedicated to enriching her community and the lives of others through the promotion of artistic endeavors. Her innovative advocacy of arts education and programming has earned her wide acclaim in both the private and public sectors. Ms. Jefferson is also very committed to charitable works and philanthropic organizations. Her advisory board and consulting memberships is as varied as it is extensive, and she is particularly involved with the California Institute for the Arts, Arts for LA, and the California Arts Council.
Pastor Ruett Stephen Foster and Rhonda Foster. Pastor Foster has over thirty years of experience as a teacher, counselor, and an advocate for the children, youth and families of Los Angeles. For the past thirteen years, he has served as an ardent public activist for violence prevention. He became an assiduous advocate after the tragic and senseless loss of his innocent seven-year-old son, Evan, to gun violence in 1997. Pastor Foster and his wife, Rhonda, have partnered with several causes in the hopes of eradicating youth violence by instilling empathy and cultivating emotional growth in incarcerated youth.
Rhonda Foster has dedicated her life to helping children reconcile with their families and their communities as a whole. She and her husband Pastor Foster established the Evan Leigh Foster Foundation in memory of their son to provide care and services for children who have perpetrated crimes against society as a result of being separated or estranged from their families. Her commitment to youth is reflected in her position as the case manager for Community Build and the Gang Reduction Youth Development Program of Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa's office. She coordinates therapy, tutoring, sports, arts activities and life coaching for children between the ages of 10 and 15.
Throughout each of the celebratory months, KCET will air a video profile of each honoree that highlights how they made a difference in their community. The 2011 on-air profiles, which begin in February, can also be viewed on the Web at kcet.org. KCET also celebrates the rich and vibrant history and cultural diversity being honored with special programs throughout each featured month.
About UnionBanCal Corporation & Union Bank, N.A.
Headquartered in San Francisco, UnionBanCal Corporation is a financial holding company with assets of $79.1 billion at December 31, 2010. Its primary subsidiary, Union Bank, N.A., is a full service commercial bank providing an array of financial services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, and major corporations. The bank operated 401 banking offices in California, Washington, Oregon and Texas, as well as two international offices, on December 31, 2010. UnionBanCal Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG, NYSE:MTU), one of the world's largest financial organizations.
On-air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California. With a viewership of 3.6 million viewers in the average month, KCET is the largest independent public television station in the country. KCET is the second most-watched public television station in the U.S. and has the largest geographic reach of any public television station in California. KCET currently produces the Emmy®, duPont-Columbia and Peabody Award-winning SoCal Connected, a hard-hitting prime-time weekly television news program that examines the issues and people of Southern California. Throughout its more than 40-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions, its quality educational family and children's programs, its outreach and community services and its website, kcet.org. KCET is a donor-supported community institution. More than half of the funds raised to support KCET's operating budget come from individual support.