Go Long Beach! Awards

Tonight, at a special event in Downtown Long Beach, I will honor 28 community leaders who have made outstanding contributions to our City at the Go Long Beach Awards. These individuals and organizations have demonstrated a love for Long Beach, a passion for service, and a commitment to improving our community with creativity, hard work, and dedication. I’m proud and grateful to be able to recognize them and pay tribute to their contributions.

I wanted to take this opportunity to share with all of you who these Go Long Beach winners are, and why we chose to honor them this year. Please take a moment to read below about these amazing members of our community.


Nayiri Baghdassarian, CSULB ASI Vice President

Nayiri, a senior at Cal State majoring in political science, volunteers as a Cub Scout troop leader, and has interned for Senators Ed Hernandez and Bob Huff. She also serves on the Armenian National Committee of America.

Mary Stanton,
LBUSD Board Member, retired.

Mary was a longtime classroom educator in grades 4 and 5, teaching art and music. She served as PTA president at Hughes Middle School, and was a LBUSD Board Member for nearly 25 years, from 1990-2014.


Lois Irving, Site Director, LBUSD Child Development Center at Martin Luther King Jr. Park

Lois, coordinating teacher at LBUSD’s Child Development Center, volunteers with the African-American Health Project and has participated in organizing the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade and Unity Fest for 22 years.


Dr. Minnie Douglas, Governor, Long Beach City College Foundation and Chair, California Conference for Equality and Justice

Dr. Douglas is Professor Emeritus and Associate Degree Nursing Program Instructor and Director at LBCC, as well as the Affirmative Action Coordinator and Coordinator of Health Services. She also serves as CCEJ Chair, a member of the International City Theater Executive Committee, and is on the Leadership Long Beach Honorary Board.


Jo Rae Zuckerman, President, Friends of the Long Beach Public Library   

Jo Rae, a native of Long Beach, is the recipient of the Gene Pimental Award from LA Harbor College and the National Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas. She competed in the US Volleyball Association for 5 years and the National Open Women’s Volleyball Championship team for 3 years. She also raised funds for the City’s only year-round shelter for homeless people.


Long Beach Senior Police Partners

This volunteer program was the first of its kind in the region, and provides support to victims of crime, performs vacation checks and files graffiti reports. In 2014, volunteers gave more than five thousand hours of time, valued at more than one hundred thousand dollars.


Joshua Fischel, Artist, Musician, Singer, Event Planner

Josh has performed all over the world, and collaborated with numerous renowned artists and musicians, including Sublime, Pearl Jam, Lee Scratch Perry, Fishbone, Black Eyed Peas, Ikey Owens and others. Josh is the organizer of RiotStage and Live After Five music events in Downtown Long Beach.


Kelly Ruggirello, Executive Director of the Long Beach Symphony

Appointed Director in 2013, Kelly produced a surplus for the Symphony for the first time in 10 years, and negotiated a new agreement with the musicians union providing a modest increase in their pay. A former teacher and arts mentor in Downey, she also serves on the Board and is a past President of the Association of California Symphonies.


Al Williams, President, Rainbow Promotions

Al is the creator of the Long Beach Jazz Festival, a local institution since 1987, bringing more than 15 thousands attendees to Rainbow Harbor every year. He also owned and operated Jazz Safari, later known as Birdland West, two of the first jazz clubs in Long Beach.


Jan Ward, Board Member, East Anaheim Street Business Alliance

A Long Beach native and graduate of Millikan High School, Jan is president of the West East Side Community Association (WESCA), and a board member of the East Anaheim Street Business Alliance, the Public Safety Advisory Commission, the Long Beach Community Investment Company, and Rebuilding Together LB.


Joan Stiehl, East Spring Street Business Association Founder

In addition to being Founder and President of ESSBA, Joan has provided support to Su Casa, a domestic violence prevention and response agency, for 25 years, and engaged in philanthropy through the Assistance League of Long Beach since 2007.


Monorom Neth, President of the Cambodian Coordinating Council

A survivor of the Khmer Rouge Genocide, Monorom has served the Cambodian community since 2003, including work with the Cambodian American Chamber of Commerce and the Long Beach-Phnom Penh Sister Cities program. He also helped revive the Cambodian New Year Parade.


Alice Robinson, Feeding in the Park and Friends Of Alice Robinson (FOAR) Founder

Alice has served people in need with homecooked meals for 11 years in Central Long Beach.


Karen Highberger, Member of the Cal Heights Board, Preservationist of the Year 2015

Karen, owner of Karen Highberger Interior Design, Inc., has been active in the California Heights Neighborhood Association for more than 22 years, and helped found the Home and Garden Tour. She has been Chair of the Lampost Restoration Project for 12 years, and is a member of the Cultural Heritage Commission. She serves as Neighborhood Outreach Liaison with the Board for Long Beach Heritage.


Martha Thunte, Community advocate and organizer

Martha, a North Long Beach resident for 54 years, is a founding member of the Board of Directors for the Future Generations Youth Center, a Board Member at the Guidance Center, and was North Long Beach Project Area Committee Chair from 1998 to 2010. She has been the Veterans Day Committee Chair and Coordinator since 1999.


LaVerne Duncan, Founder and Executive Director, Andy Street Community Association

Laverne is the Founder and Executive Director of the Andy St. Community Association, and has served as Ombudsman for the Long Beach Housing Authority. She raises approximately one hundred thousand dollars annually to be used for security measures, infrastructure improvements, youth programs and community outreach, and as President of the Black Managers Association, raises funds for scholarships for African American youth.


Daniel Marolda, Animal Care Services -Volunteer of the Year

Daniel is a U.S Navy Veteran (1978-1987). He built and maintains the Bunny Barn at Long Beach Shelter, and is the Long Beach Animal Care Services Volunteer of the Year.


Angela Madsen, Olympian, Author, Coach

Angela is a U.S Marine Corps Veteran and a life member of both the Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America. In 2007 she became the 1st paraplegic woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean. She also rowed from Long Bach to Hawaii in 60 days. She holds multiple records, has competed on the US Rowing Team, and was the Press-Telegram Amazing Woman of the Year for 2011 in the Sports category.


Grace Earl & Vickie Elliot, Founders of the El Dorado South Neighborhood Association

Grace and Vickie helped plant 60 trees in and around their neighborhood, assisted the police in the opening of the East Police Substation, and aided in training and academy candidate screening. They jointly won the Neighborhood USA contest for Social Revitalization in 2003, and have been instrumental in organizing the Elm Street Band Concerts for 13 years.


Shirley Wild, Press-Telegram Columnist

Shirley is a Social Columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and a former Editor for the Long Beach Review. She is the founder of the Steel Magnolias, a support group of the Stramski Children’s Development Center in Miller Children’s Hospital. Shirley is a Registered Nurse.


Annette Kashiwabara, Director of Development for the Assistance League of Long Beach

Annette has been Director of Development for the Assistance League of Long Beach, the largest chapter in the United States, since 2009. She volunteered for the last 3 years with the LBPD as a community interviewer, and is also a current member of Long Beach Cares and the Long Beach Community Foundation.


Stella Ursua, President of Green Education, Inc. and Stellar Organizational Development, LLC

Stella is actively involved with Building Healthy Communities, Neighborhood Workgroup Center Long Beach, and the Green Prize Festival.  As President of Green Education, Inc. she works to educate underserved communities about sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Stella is a member of the Sustainable Cities Commission and sits on the Citizens’ Oversight Committee at Long Beach City College.


Pete Ronca, City of Long Beach Development Services

Pete has worked has provided exemplary service in the City of Long Beach Development Services department for 32 years, going above and beyond to meet the needs of residents quickly and efficiently. He engages actively in community events throughout the City.


Rabbi Abba Perelmutter, Shul by the Shore

Rabbi Abba Perelmuter of the Shul by the Shore provides wit, humor and his own brand of insight to all manner of worshippers, due to his policy and desire to include Jews of diverse religious backgrounds. Rabbi Perelmuter also officiates the annual Belmont Shore Chanukah Menorah Lighting.


Jeff Montooth, Long Beach Polytechnic High School

Jeff teaches Government and Economics at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. He is also the advisor for Poly students entering the annual C-Span StudentCam Competition. Under Jeff’s mentoring, Poly students marked their fourth consecutive year earning distinction in the national contest, with students placing second this year and winning the Grand Prize in 2014.


Long Beach TV

The City of Long Beach’s cable channel, LBTV, a division of the Technology Services Department, received eight government programming STAR awards at the States of California and Nevada National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors eighteenth annual conference. LBTV provides exceptional coverage of important local events and keeps our community well-informed.  


Long Beach Little League Honorees

These individuals have spent countless hours ensuring that Long Beach youth have opportunities for healthy recreation that builds character, improves health and encourages teamwork and community involvement.


  • Long Beach Little League – Scott Burack
  • Catholic Baseball - Glenn Leckie
  • East Long Beach Pony Baseball – Chris Barrientos
  • Heartwell Cal Ripken – Rudi Broshears
  • Lakewood Village Little League – Andy Fife
  • Long Beach Plaza Little League – Kevin King
  • Long Beach Pony Baseball – Ken Jakemer
  • Los Altos Youth Baseball/Softball - Dwayne Fowler
  • West Long Beach Little League - Angel Garcia
  • Heartwell Pony/Colt Baseball – Al Weiner
  • Long Beach Little League Senior Division – Rick Shoemaker


Congratulations to all the winners and their families, and thank you for your incredible contributions to Long Beach.

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