Meet all 2013 ABC7 African American Salutes honorees

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Rev. Renard D. Allen Jr
Rev. Renard D. Allen Jr. - Director, Third Baptist Freedom School

Rev. Renard D. Allen Jr. possesses a passion and gift for preaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Born an heir to a rich legacy of great preacher-pastors, Rev. Allen credits his upbringing by his late great grandparents Rev. and Mrs. F. A. Allen and grandparents, Rev. and Mrs. J. Carlton Allen for teaching and positioning him to hear the voice of God in his life. In order to give appropriate and effective expression to that voice, Rev. Allen attended Morehouse College of Atlanta, Georgia where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in the study of Religion.

In keeping with the standard of his Alma Mata as a producer of Renaissance men who are well-read, well-spoken, well-traveled, well-dressed, and well-balanced, Rev. Allen aspires to reflect all of the above. He has traveled, spoken, worked and/or studied in Frankfurt, Germany, Paris, France, London and Oxford, England (University of Oxford), Queenstown, South Africa, Vancouver and Victoria British Columbia (Canada), Nassau, Bahamas (National J. Louis Brown Oratory Contest 1st place winner), and Aruba as well as throughout the United States.

Shortly after graduating from Morehouse, Rev. Allen along with his beautiful wife, Jasmine and their two children (Kennedy Anjell and Renard III) relocated to San Francisco in what was an undoubtedly God-arranged plan. Since his arrival, Rev. Allen has served Third Baptist Church as the Administrative Assistant to the Pastor, Dr. Amos C. Brown where he helps to enhance the administrative and spiritual services of the congregation. Rev. Allen also serves as the Executive Director for both the San Francisco Students Back on Track (a one on-one after school tutoring program which serves an average of 80 kids from primarily underserved communities during the school year), as well as the Third Baptist CDF Freedom School (a summer enrichment program which received Bay Area-wide exposure this year as it was featured by KGO TV ABC Ch. 7 news station). Among the most exciting and enriching experiences for Rev. Allen in his work with Dr. Brown came when Dr. Brown appointed him to be the series teacher for Wednesday Prayer and Bible Study sessions. This opportunity allows Rev. Allen to enhance his Biblical knowledge and teaching skills and also to witness the remarkable growth of this mid-week gathering from an average attendance of 35-40 to as many as 100 + attendees within only four months. Rev. Allen manages all of this while being a full time student at the San Francisco Theological Seminary of the Graduate Theological Union where he is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.

Rev. Allen's intellectual and spiritual maturity is driven by his love of God and his committed search for a clear understanding of the Gospel for which he lives to preach to God's people. It is his desire that God will use his ministry to work toward the salvation of his generation. He believes that the challenge to all young ministers is to be aware of the personal and social ills facing our generation and to believe and proclaim the God whose mercy and goodness endures to ALL generations. He wants everyone who hears him to come to know the difference Jesus Christ has made in their world and wishes to make in their lives. Rev. Allen formerly authored weekly articles providing Bible Lessons for the Times in the Bay Area's Sun-Reporter.

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James Bell
James Bell - Founder & Executive Director, W. Haywood Burns Institute

Since 2001, Mr. Bell has been spearheading a national movement to address racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. The BI, which is named after civil rights pioneer W. Haywood Burns, was recently awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The award is presented to select organizations worldwide that have made a "remarkable impact in their fields."

Mr. Bell and his colleagues at the BI work with juvenile justice systems across the country to reduce the disproportionality of youth of color. Mr Bell guides the BI's Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY), a national network of programs working successfully with young people of color. Mr. Bell also works closely with the Casey Foundation's JDAI jurisdictions and the MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change Initiative.

Mr. Bell is being recognized this year for his "profound contribution to human rights," by the American Education Research Association Human Rights Award Committee, which has selected him to receive the second annual Ella Baker/Septima Clark Human Rights Award. Mr. Bell has appeared on Nightline and the Tavis Smiley show. He also authored the Unequal Justice section of the Covenant with Black America, a national plan of action to address the primary concerns of African Americans today by Tavis Smiley, as well as the Criminal Justice Policy Paper for the National Black/Latino Summit.

Mr. Bell has extensive experience in the international juvenile justice arena: He assisted the African National Congress in the administration of the juvenile justice system in South Africa; recently worked with Chinese officials and policymakers on alternatives for proven risk youth moving from the countryside to the cities; and worked closely with officials in New Zealand and Australia to analyze the principles and practices that form the foundation of their restorative justice systems.

Mr. Bell is the recipient of a Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship, the Livingstone Hall Award from the American Bar Association, Attorney of the Year from the Charles Houston Bar Association, the Advocate of the Year from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Moral Leadership Against Injustice Award of the Delancey Street Foundation and the Local Hero Award from the San Francisco Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award. He received his J.D. from Hastings College of the Law.

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Courtland "Corky" Boozé - Vice Mayor, City of Richmond

Educationally, I obtained two lifetime teaching certifications from the University of California Extension at Berkeley in adult education and grades K-12. I also completed two years of Administrative studies in education at San Francisco State University.

My professional experience was with the Oakland Unified School District and the Alameda Unified School District as a vocational education instructor for eleven years.

I moved to Richmond in 1978. I've been an advocate for the citizens of Richmond. Now it's time for me to work as your City Council representative. I will work for you and bring unique approaches to issues and concerns such as education, health services, crime prevention, funding solutions and development within our city.

The last 10 years, I've attended every meeting. The citizens have been under-represented and have not had a voice at City Council meetings. I will continue to be the community voice for the citizens of Richmond who are unable to speak out for themselves. I will be the arms for those who can't reach out for the help they need, and I'll be the feet for those who can't travel to City Council meetings, especially our senior citizens and the disabled.

My top priorities are crime, infrastructure, and attracting new businesses (which will create more jobs).

It's time for change. The violence that continues in Richmond prompted me to get involved and help organize the Tent City Peace Movement. I am their advisor and helped create a partnership within City government and other non-profits for the purpose of building better community relationships between citizens, City Hall, City Council and the Police Department. Corky was elected as City Councilmember in 2011. He was recently awarded the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. award from the NAACP Richmond Branch. And he was recently elected to Vice Mayor in 2013.

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Malia Cohen
Malia Cohen - San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Malia Cohen was elected in November 2010 to represent the residents of San Francisco's 10th District. The 10th District includes the Bayview Hunters Point, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods.

Supervisor Cohen serves as Vice-Chair of the Government, Audit and Oversight Committee, member of the Rules Committee and member of the Transportation Authority. She also serves as a member of Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board and the City's Retirement Board.

Supervisor Cohen came to the Board from Power Forward Consulting, a public affairs, media and policy consulting firm helping businesses and nonprofits create sound public policy. She is a former member of the Corporate Strategy and Communications team for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco where she worked to supervise and regulate America's banking institutions.

Supervisor Cohen earned her Master of Science Degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University and her Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Fisk University.

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Kimberly Ellis
Kimberly Ellis - Executive Director, Emerge California

Prior to becoming the Executive Director of Emerge California, Kimberly worked at the national office, Emerge America, as the National Affiliate Director. During her two years at Emerge America, Kimberly launched two new state programs  Emerge Oregon and the very first affiliate in the South, Emerge Kentucky, and worked with the existing affiliates to increase and strengthen program quality, sustainability and growth.

Kimberly also developed and implemented systems to increase the organizational infrastructure at both the national and state affiliate level. She also worked to strengthen and standardize the Emerge program and curriculum to preserve brand quality and consistency across the network.

As a 2007 Emerge California graduate, Kimberly has personal experience with the Emerge program and a deep commitment to the organization's mission of inspiring and encouraging women to step up to leadership roles and step into political power.

The majority of Kimberly's background and experience is in operations management and organizational infrastructure development and implementation. She has worked in private industry, state government and the non-profit sector.

Kimberly is passionate about empowering women and helping Emerge California bolster its brand and influence as the program continues to strengthen and grow throughout the state.

Appointed by the Mayor in 2009, Kimberly also served as a Commissioner for the Community Development Commission in the City of Richmond.

Kimberly has two children, one husband, a dog, a turtle and three goldfish, and holds a B.A. in English from Jacksonville University and a J.D. from the John F. Kennedy School of Law.

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Perry Lang
Perry Lang - Executive Director, Black Coalition on AIDS

Perry Lang is a multi-faceted community leader who lives in San Francisco. He is a non-profit manager, community entrepreneur and interfaith leader.

He currently serves as Executive Director of the Black Coalition on AIDS (BCA) and its Rafiki Wellness project, a health and wellness agency in San Francisco that focuses on African American health disparities. Lang has also worked as a non-profit manager for Youthbuild USA, Western Regional Office in Oakland, the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Oakland and San Francisco Students Back on Track. In addition to his non-profit expertise, Lang holds a Doctorate in Divinity and is Director of the 5th Sunday / Interfaith Circle Project, which promotes spiritual common ground for the common good.

For more than 20 years, Lang worked as an award-winning journalist at various newspapers across the country, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Virginian Pilot (Norfolk) and the Amsterdam News (New York). He is a staunch advocate of community entrepreneurism and has worked as President and CEO of "The Kitchen" restaurant in Rochester, New York; Executive Producer of "Triumph of the Human Spirit," a musical production and CD enterprise that examines the resilience of the human spirit through the legacy of slavery and he was the Executive Producer of "Spiritual Affirmations For Everyone (SAFE), an interfaith meditation CD promoting spiritual health and healing among African Americans.

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William McDonald
William McDonald - Chief, San Jose Fire Department

Native of Fresno, California. Graduated from California State University, Fresno with Bachelors in Biology Master's Degree in Business Administration from Cal State University, Hayward. Also completed Harvard Program for State and Local Government Officials and Certified Public Manager's Program at Arizona State University.

Hired by Fresno Fire Department in 1978. Held the positions of Firefighter, Firefighter/Paramedic, Engineer, Fire Captain and Deputy Fire Chief. Appointed as the Fire City of the City of San Jose, California on August 2, 2010. San Jose Fire Department has an annual operating budget of $153 M, 790 employees and serves a population of approximately 1 million residents. San Jose is the 10th largest city in the United States. Formerly Fire Chief in Scottsdale, AZ (led the formation of Scottsdale Fire Department in 2005) and three San Francisco Bay Area cities; Foster City (1993- 1996), San Mateo (1996  2002) and Fremont (2002  2004) Rotarian since joining East Fresno Rotary in 1989. Also belonged to Rotary Club of Foster City, Niles (Fremont) Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Scottsdale and San Jose Rotary. Married to wife, Barbara, with 2 sons in college.

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Andrea Shorter
Andrea Shorter - SF Commission on the Status of Women

A dedicated advocate for racial, gender, and LGBT equality, Andrea Shorter has worked to advance social justice for the past 25 years. A native of the state of Indiana, she grew up in the working class Southern California lower desert areas of Riverside County. A 1988 graduate of the Quaker founded Whittier College in Whittier California, where she began to engage in several movements for social and economic justice, including the fight to end Apartheid in South Africa, for women's reproductive rights, and the fight to stop HIV-AIDS. Coming out as a lesbian in the Silence=Death era of the fight against HIV-AIDS, she then co-founded her college's first organization for LGBT students, and is reportedly still going strong.

Upon graduation, she went to work for the California Assembly Legislature as an Aide to her Riverside County area district's Assembly member. There, she was able to explore and learn more about the socioeconomic challenges of our state's underrepresented populations.

In November 1991, she moved to San Francisco with the intent of becoming actively engaged in grassroots movements for social justice, and found herself very soon involved with the Income Rights Project, advocating for the rights of mothers and children receiving AFDC, and other public benefits. As an organizer, she soon became known as the 'girl with the bullhorn', as she led rallies and direct actions with moms and dads with their babies in strollers in front of the then Department of Social Services, demanding fairer policies and treatment. During this time she also worked to organize against then Governor Pete Wilson's ballot initiative to cut AFDC by nearly 20% in his ongoing war on the poor. Through statewide coalition building, and a resurgence of a poor people's movement, the initiative was soundly defeated at the ballot.

Additionally, during this time, Andrea coordinated and led a right to vote campaign to stand up for the rights of disenfranchised brothers and sisters impacted by the criminal justice system. This campaign made history by forcing the Secretary of State to revise the voter registration card language about the rights of formerly incarcerated persons to vote, and by organizing mass voter registration campaigns in the County Jails, and at public housing sites.

Furthermore, when Pete Wilson refused to implement the Voter Registration Act of 1992 to open up voter registration in state agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Employment Development Department, Department of Social Services and so on, she served as a representative plaintiff of the Coalition for An African American Community Agenda to sue the Governor for his draconian, discriminatory action. Represented by the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights, the case went on to U.S. Supreme Court -- which upheld all lower courts rulings AGAINST Governor Wilson, forcing the Governor to implement the Act opening up voter registration opportunities to more Californians.

Through a nearly 12 year tenure at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice Andrea worked on the forefront to advance progressive, smart on crime juvenile and criminal justice policies and programs, including co-developing and directing a Harvard-Kennedy School of Government's Excellence in Government award winning program to provide alternatives to detention of non-violent youth -- a program that went on to become a Department of Justice national model replicated in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, and Oakland, California.

Following her tenure at CJCJ, she then served as the Deputy Executive Director of the NAMES Project/AIDS Memorial Quilt, where she led innovative initiatives to expand the Quilt's educational programs into communities of color, and in South Africa. She was honored to work with historical icons such as the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King in these efforts to use the power of the Quilt to raise awareness and HIV-AIDS prevention among African Americans and Latinos.

After the epic passage of Proposition 8, Andrea joined Equality California to guide key initiatives towards restoring civil marriage rights for same sex couples. Prior to EQCA, she was co-founded and directed 'And Marriage for All,' a public education campaign of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition to engage African American communities in the dialogue about same sex marriage equality.

A former Trustee of the San Francisco Community College District, and past Chair of the San Francisco Chapter of the National Organization of Women, Andrea was first appointed by Mayor Willie Brown then Mayor Gavin Newsom to serve on Commission on the Status of Women for the City and County of San Francisco, to advance its gender equity and anti-domestic violence policies to national recognition. Now in her 12th year on the Commission, she chairs the Justice and Courage Oversight Committee that coordinates critical response measures to domestic violence between the city's law enforcement agencies.

In 2009, Andrea was awarded a David Bohnett Leadership Fellowship to attend the Harvard-Kennedy School's Senior Executive Education Program in State and Local Government.

This year, she recently launched Atlas Leadership Strategies, a coaching and consulting dedicated to working with public officials to make the most of their time in office, stay focused on making a real difference by resisting status quo, politics-as-usual and instead working to achieve their highest goals and greater vision for a better, more just community and society. For more information, visit

Lateefah Simon
Lateefah Simon - Project Director, Rosenberg Foundation

Simon, Director of the California Future's Initiative for the Rosenberg Foundation has over 20 years of experience advocating for juvenile and criminal justice reform. Simon most recently served as the executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to joining the Lawyers' Committee, Simon led the creation of the reentry services division at the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, implementing new programs to prevent former offenders from returning to a life of crime. At age 19, Simon was appointed executive director of the Center for Young Women's Development in San Francisco, an organization that helps low-income, formerly incarcerated young women transform and rebuild their lives. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship and the Jefferson Award for extraordinary public service. She was named "California Woman of the Year" by the California State Assembly, and also has been recognized by the Ford Foundation and the National Organization for Women. She has spoken at the United Nations, before the United States Senate, and at countless trainings and lectures around the globe.

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Akaya Windwood
Akaya Windwood

President of Rockwood Leadership Institute, Akaya is internationally recognized for elevating the effectiveness of leadership and collaboration in the nonprofit and social benefit sectors. Her vision for our global community includes infusing a sense of purpose, delight and wonder into everything we do. She brings her skills as an organizational consultant and executive coach to her lifetime commitment to working for a fair and equitable society and to Rockwood's network of 4,000 powerful, collaborative, and interconnected leaders.

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