City Heights People's Choice Awards
Mid-City CAN will honor four award winners at our 30th anniversary celebration—Rising to New Heights. We want our community to decide. VOTE BELOW for the Youth, Ally of the Year, Legacy, and Heart of City Heights Awards.**
Honraremos a cuatro ganadores de los premios de la Gente de City Heights para celebrar nuestro 30 aniversario—Rising to New Heights. Queremos que la comunidad decida. VOTE A CONTINUACIÓN por los premios Juventud, Aliado del Año, Legado y el Corazón de City Heights. **
** Mid-City CAN and MESD are 501c3 nonprofit organizations and support no candidates for office and do not endorse candidates for office. Mid-City CAN y MESD son organizaciones 501c3 sin fines de lucro y no apoyan a ningun candidato.
YOUTH AWARD | PREMIO JUVENTUD
Awarded to a City Heights resident 24 or younger who has exhibited exceptional leadership and is creating positive change in the community. Otorgado a un residente de City Heights de 24 años de edad o menos que ha demostrado un excepcional liderazgo y está creando cambios positivos en la comunidad.
HALIMA MUSA is a Kenyan born refugee who Resettled in San Diego in 2004. She graduated from the Preuss School UCSD and is currently a student at Grossmont community college studying psychology. Halima started her community advocacy journey when she was 11 years old with a youth led organization called, City Heights youth For change, which she is now the co-president of. She’s involved with many community organizations like the AJA Project, Mid-City CAN and more that have allowed her to organize and advocate for things like giving youth access to healthy food, improved youth transportation , the importance of including and empowering youth voices, and ending the criminalization of youth. Her journey towards finding her leadership style has been long and she hopes to continue to inspire youth to speak out for themselves. She doesn’t see herself giving up the work anytime soon and is excited to see how her input will positively impact City Heights later on down the line.
FERNANDO GONZALEZ DAVILA is a rising junior at Hoover high school and has been part of Mid-City CAN’s youth council for the past two years. Recruited outside of summer school, Fernando had never gone to a leadership week-long retreat or joined any clubs. Since joining our youth council, Fernando has given public testimony in support of our campaign to City Council members, met with them to advocate for youth and has taken on more leadership roles. Fernando has also become more aware of the issues surrounding him and his community and has become an advocate for positive change. Fernando recently attended a weekend retreat in Sacramento for the Community Justice Network for Youth in which he learned more about the school to prison pipeline and heard about what other communities throughout California are doing to dismantle it. Fernando shared his experiences and the work he is doing here in City Heights and shared with our youth council members on the efficient ways in which we can continue to do our work. Although just a junior, youth council members look-up to him for guidance and support.
DALIA VILLA is a rising freshmen at SDSU and a recent graduate of Hoover High School. A long-time resident of City Heights, Dalia was bussed out for most of her high school years to a school outside of her community so she could receive a better education. Yet, Dalia never felt part of either communities but always thrived in her academics. After month’s of pressuring her parents to move her to her home-school, Dalia transferred to Hoover and joined the Social Justice Academy (SJA) in which she became a key-player and advocate for her campus and community. Last year, Dalia led the student walkout for the #Marchforourlives soon after the Parkland school shooting, and then joined MCC’s youth council and has been a fierce leader and youth advocate ever since. She is a star recruiter and was instrumental in growing YC’s base, getting the #schoolsnotprisons mural and has led her fellow youth council members in different City Council actions. Dalia was also part of our civic engagement team and has also sat on panels to speak about youth organizing and how we can support young individuals. Dalia, is excited to pursue a degree in Political Science and hopes to continue to fight for social justice.
ALLY OF THE YEAR | ALIADO DEL AÑO
Awarded to a person or organization that has gone above and beyond to support the work of Mid-City CAN. Otorgado a una persona u organización que se ha desempeñado en apoyar el trabajo de Mid-City CAN.
ERIC MORRISON-SMITH is a rising community leader with a strong commitment to equity and justice. Eric intends to build the knowledge, tools, and resources needed to serve and advocate with underrepresented groups. The past two years, he has planned and executed successful conferences that have engaged over 2000 youth and community partners with San Diego Workforce Partnership.
SOCIAL JUSTICE ACADEMY (SJA) educates, organizes, and advocates positive social action for self, family, community and the environment. In order to prepare students for college and career readiness, SJA provides a project-based curriculum, and actions, which explore issues of human rights, social concerns and stimulate intellectual curiosity through an intensive study from diverse perspectives. The vision of Hoover’s Social Justice Academy is to PACE: Prepare. Advocate. Collaborate. Educate... for self, family, community, and the environment.
CALIFORNIA CALLS is an alliance of 31 grassroots, community-based organizations spanning urban, rural and suburban counties across the state. Through our bottom-up approach that prioritizes those who are often left out of policy decisions, we are building the power needed to win structural solutions to the problems that still plague low-income communities of color in California. We engage, educate and motivate new and infrequent voters among young people, from communities of color, and from poor and working-class neighborhoods to make California’s electorate reflect our state’s diverse population. Working together across differences, we can reclaim the California Dream of equality, opportunity, and prosperity for all Californians.
LEGACY AWARD | PREMIO LEGADO
Awarded to a member of the community who has a long history of leadership and creating positive change in City Heights. Premio otorgado a un miembro de la comunidad con una larga historia de liderazgo y de generar cambios positivos en City Heights.
HERMELINDA FIGUEROA has been volunteering to improve the future for students in City Heights for over 23 years, all while raising her three grandchildren. She is a strong student advocate who encourages inter-generational participation in community and cultural programs, such as Latinos y Latinas en Acción and IRC's New Roots City Heights Community Farm. She is passionate about encouraging students to go to college, to become self-sufficient and successful. She remains dedicated to increasing parent involvement and engagement with teachers, staff and community members to maximize opportunities for all students to achieve the highest level of success. Hermelinda is also a founding member of the annual City Heights Day of the Dead Celebration, a cultural event that unites the City Heights community.
MARIA ESPERANZA GONZALEZ was born in Nayarit, Mexico and has lived in City Heights for 30 years. Since moving to City Heights, Esperanza has been an active member of the community and an advocate across many issues including environmental justice, transportation, immigration, and drug-free living for youth. She has volunteered with organizations like City Heights CDC, SAY San Diego, and Mid-City CAN. Esperanza has been part of Mid-City CAN's transportation team since 2011 and regularly attends events, meetings, and provides council testimony in support of no-cost transit passes for youth. Esperanza is also involved in local schools like Euclid and Roosevelt, where she has advocated for school buses. She is also involved by driving students to school whose parents are undocumented and afraid of taking their children to school. Esperanza works at Environmental Health Coalition as a promotora for environmental health. With EHC and the Community Budget Alliance, she has advocated for and secured funding from the City of San Diego for interpretation for planning groups like CHAPC in City Heights. She is fierce and in spite of language barriers has persevered in advocating for safe streets and bike corridors at SANDAG. With the Environmental Health Coalition, she advocated for AB805, which gives more representation to communities in transit-related decisions in the City of San Diego. Her hopes for City Heights and San Diego include electric buses, a greener community, youth leadership, proper lighting, accessible infrastructure and a clean community. She'd like to see more people walking, biking, and taking public transit to work and for fun.
GODWIN HIGA was born and raised on a farm in Kaneohe, Hawaii. He is recently retired and the ex-principal of the first Trauma Informed School in San Diego, Cherokee Point Elementary School. His school was recognized by the Huffington Post/CA Endowment as one of few Trauma Informed Schools in the nation. He has been a principal, with San Diego Unified School District for 20 years in Elementary and Secondary schools. Cherokee Point Elementary School has had zero suspensions/expulsions for the four years. His passion was his students! He demanded that all students are treated with the utmost respect and compassion which will lead to social and emotional learning and academically successful college ready students for life. Building a culture in the school with a positive and compassionate learning environment conducive to learning was his first priority.
HEART OF CITY HEIGHTS | CORAZÓN DE CITY HEIGHTS
Awarded to a resident who embodies the values and spirit of our community. Otorgado a un residente que representa los valores y el espíritu de nuestra comunidad.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT GEORGETTE GÓMEZ is the daughter of working class immigrants and found her passion for working for a better society at an early age. In November 2016, residents of District Nine, which includes City Heights, elected her to bring their voices to City Hall. A long-time resident of City Heights, Georgette served on the City Heights Area Planning Committee, and as a member of the Mid-City CAN Built Environment Team helped shape the transportation justice plans that are now being implemented under her leadership at the City of San Diego, Metropolitan Transit System, and SANDAG. As Council President, she is committed to creating a local government that is equitable, inclusive, transparent, and accountable, and ensures investment in underserved communities and maximizes opportunities that support affordable housing and create well-paying jobs.
EVIE KOSOWER was born in Brooklyn NYC of immigrant parents and moved to Los Angeles in 1947. In 2004, she retired from the Los Angeles VA and moved to Azalea Park, San Diego, to be near one of her daughters. Evie is a well-known ambassador for the senior community and spends much of her time caring and advocating for the health and well-being of neighbors and Village. Evie continues to be involved in local and city social justice issues crossing cultural and age barriers and has made Mid-City CAN an integral part of her life.
RUDY VARGAS is United States Senator Kamala D. Harris’ District Director for the San Diego and Imperial counties. As a proud San Diego State Aztec, he double majored in Political Science and Environmental Studies. Prior to joining Team Harris, Rudy served as a representative for the San Diego City Council. Working alongside City staff, he was able to steer multi-million dollar infrastructure projects including parks, a new fire station, and the first community skate park in City Heights, the neighborhood where he grew up. Rudy has also worked at a number of local non-profits providing resources to some of our most underrepresented communities. Rudy is currently on the Ocean Discovery Institute Board of Directors and just finished his second year as Director of Service for the City Heights Rotaract Club.
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