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Go Long Beach Awards

Release Date: 2018-03-21

Last week, I held the annual Go Long Beach Awards, where I get a chance to honor some bright stars in Long Beach who are doing incredible things in our community.  It’s such an honor to spend time with them and recognize their efforts that make Long Beach a better place to live and work.  I’m sure you’ll agree that these honorees are well deserving.

Judy Seal

Judy has served as the Executive Director of the Long Beach Education Partnership since 1994, she started the Education Celebration and has organized Long Beach’s Principal For A Day event since 2000.

Cory Allen

Cory currently serves as the Chief of Staff to Long Beach Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, and he was formerly Emperor/Fundraising Chair of the International Imperial Court of Long Beach, where he and Empress/Co-Fundraising Chair Mia Farrow raised over $80,000.

Mia Farrow

Mia is an active community volunteer, fundraiser extraordinaire and entertainer, she actively hosts and recruits nonprofits for regular Drag Bingo and performs in benefit shows throughout Los Angeles and Orange County.

LaDawn Best

LaDawn has served as Board Chair of the LGBTQ Center and is the current Executive Director at Peer Health Exchange Los Angeles, promoting equity through a near-peer education model to empower young people.

Diko Melkonian

Diko began his career with the City of Long Beach as a summer worker for Parks, Recreation and Marine, while he was a student at UCLA, and is now the Manager of the Environmental Services Bureau and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Solid Waste Association of North America.

Charlie Beirne

Charlie has served as General Manager for the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center for the past seven years, bringing incredibly creative events to Long Beach that help grow our economy.

Gabe Middleton

Gabe is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of human-I-T, and has dedicated his career to equipping low-income populations with free technology, internet access, and digital literacy training.

Susana Sngiem

Susana is the first second-generation Cambodian-American woman to serve as United Cambodian Community’s Executive Director and currently serves as a board member of the Long Beach Community Action Partnership and the City of Long Beach Homeless Services Advisory Committee.

Arline and Dr. Mike Walter

Dr. Walter served for 18 years as the Executive Assistant to the President for Community Relations at California State University, Long Beach. Arline Walter retired from her position as Vice President, Management Information Systems, with Union Bank in 2004, and has since become an active volunteer for many organizations in Long Beach. In 2004, CSULB named its iconic sports facility the “Mike and Arline Walter Pyramid.”

Danita Humphrey

Danita serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Young Horizons Child Care Centers, American Red Cross – Greater Long Beach Chapter servicing South Bay and Rio Hondo, and the Long Beach Public Library Foundation, and she has always had a passion for helping others.

Jane Roeder

Jane Roeder served as Executive Director of Leadership Long Beach, demonstrating visionary leadership that moved the organization to national prominence and acclaim, and now serves as Interim Director of the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership at California State University, Long Beach.

Lionel Gonzalez

Lionel is a well-known leader and site supervisor for the MALE Leadership Academy program, which serves young men of color in both middle and high school levels across LBUSD, and is a passionate educator who enjoys working directly with students and families across the City of Long Beach.

Naida Tushnet

Naida is currently President of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CSULB and is active in the Long Beach Area Peace Network, Long Beach Rising, the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, and other community groups seeking to bring peace and justice to the nation and the city.

Daryl James

Daryl was first introduced to the Long Beach community in 2012, when he was hired by Rebuilding Together Long Beach, a nonprofit organization serving low-income homeowners, and he is a graduate of the Leadership Long Beach Institute Class of 2015.

Carolyn Smith-Watts

Carolyn is a former police officer from Lansing, Michigan, and serves on a number of community boards including the City of Long Beach Civil Service Commission, is a past President of Leadership Long Beach, and currently serves on the Honorary Board of Governors where she received recognition for the “Most Impactful Leader.”

Dharma Shakti

Dharma is the woman behind Long Beach's iconic “Free Yoga on the Bluff.” She started it as a fun class for her friends, but it has now grown to more than 200 attendees on the weekend.

Dolores Nason

Dolores empowers people with disabilities to live independently and advocates on their behalf. She is the Executive Director of Disabled Resources Center, where she has spent 25 years.

Andy Kerr

Andy is passionate about helping people experiencing homelessness. He helped start Housing Works, a nonprofit providing housing services to homeless individuals and families, and serves on the LA County Measure H tax commission.

Sarah Soriano

Sarah is a passionate advocate for early education. She has led Youth Horizons for 16 years, where she is now Executive Director. She is also a member of the Long Beach Early Childhood Education Committee.

Janet McCarthy

Janet is the President and CEO of Goodwill, which has provided education, training, and placement for individuals who need workforce training and new skills in the local economy. She also serves on the Leadership Long Beach board.

Tony Dorono

Tony has helped to highlight the work of Asian workers in the U.S. labor movement. He co-founded the Filipino Migrant Center, which organizes low-income and working-class Filipinos in the South Bay Area.

Katie Rispoli Keaotamai

Katie is a community organizer and youth advocate working in Long Beach. She is the Executive Director of We Are The Next, which creates opportunities for youth to build a relationship with our city in all aspects.

Rev. O. Leon Wood, Jr.

Rev. Wood founded Success in Challenge, a nonprofit service that serves the Long Beach community. He also served as a pastor and director of Christian Outreach Appeal, where he helped homeless families in need of food and clothing. He is also the founder of the Long Beach Freedom School.


Jewels is a popular entertainer and personality and is proud to call Long Beach her home. Her mission has always been to ensure everyone who visits Long Beach feels welcomed, loved and entertained. She has helped raise thousands of dollars for numerous causes and charities.

Mural Project Group

The Cambodia Town Mural Project shows a commitment to making Long Beach more joyful, while encouraging civic pride and supporting The Arts Council's mission.  The group includes Federico Laguerder, Angela Willcocks, Bodeck Hernandez, Zeinab (ZYNB), Jason Keam, Rick Vilchis, Tracy Negrete, Jose Martinez, and Sayon Syprasoeuth.

Tim Patton

Tim started working for the City of Long Beach in 1992 and has become an important advisor, mentor and leader. He also acts as a liaison to the LGBTQ community for our office. Tim just celebrated his 20th year as a City Hall legislative staff member.

It was great to honor all of these amazing Long Beach leaders and activists.