65th Assembly District Community Recognition Event - Honorees

In Orange County, we are fortunate to be home to some of the most dynamic change makers in the state, people who stand out and stand up in our community.  I was honored to recognize several of these exceptional community leaders at my annual community recognition event last month.  They have consistently sought to strengthen, uplift, and cultivate positive results in our community through their incredible social and civic engagement and I’m proud to call them members of the 65th District.

Veteran of the Year - Tony K. Pak

Tony is a U.S. Army Veteran and a major voice in Orange County’s Veteran community. He followed his military service with a 35 year career in the Aircraft industry at The Boeing Company, where held a variety of positions.  He has stood in steadfast support of some of Orange County’s most ambitious Veteran projects, including the Colonel Young Oak Kim memorial freeway dedication and the beautiful new Korean War Memorial in Fullerton.  Tony currently serves as Secretary of the Orange County Korean War Memorial Monument.


Woman of the Year - Dr. Sueling Chen

Dr. Chen arrived in this country with a passion for educating young minds and an unshakeable enthusiasm to pursue her American dream.  She started a small school with an enrollment of 7 children in Fullerton.  The school, Arborland Montessori Children’s Academy, flourished and has grown to include two campuses with a large enrollment and a long waiting list.  Many Arborland graduates have become doctors, lawyers and leaders of industry.  In spite of her busy schedule, Dr. Chen remains active and volunteers in several community organizations. She serves on several boards and committees, including the North Orange County Chamber of Commerce Executive Board, St. Jude Medical Center, and the Fullerton Rotary Club.  Dr. Chen’s civic, educational, cultural, and business contributions have made an immense and lasting impact on North Orange County.


Woman of the Year – Colleen Janssen

Colleen the First Vice-President Dean of Chairmen for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs/California Federation of Women’s Clubs Orange District that offers women of all ages the opportunity for social growth and leadership training.  She has been involved in the planning and execution of many of the events and projects hosted by the Woman's Club of Cypress, including membership development, collection drives, fundraising, and much more.  Amongst her many community service commitments, Colleen serves on the board of the California Writer’s Club-Orange County Branch and is currently a member of the inaugural Citizens Academy through the City of Cypress.


Man of the Year - Jesus Silva

Jesus is a consummate civil servant, putting the interest of the public first, and always looking for ways to support our community. A beloved teacher for 22 years at Nicolas Junior High School, he also coached youth sports and served as a mentor for many of the students on campus.  Jesus, who has held a long time interest in politics, was elected to the Fullerton City Council in 2016, and served as City mayor in 2019.  In addition, he has held several regional board positions, including Orange County Sanitation District, Southern California Association of Governments, and the California League of Cities.


Man of the Year - Barry Ross

Barry lends his leadership to issues concerning healthcare, behavioral health, homelessness and affordable housing in Orange County.  He began his career at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, in 1987, where he was hired to serve as Assistant Administrator for Rehabilitation Services. Since that time, he has held a variety of leadership positions for Providence, St. Joseph Health, including his recent role as Regional Director, Community Health Investment for Orange County, and the High Desert. Amongst his many community achievements, Barry spearheaded the creation and expansion of the St. Jude Neighborhood Health Centers, as well as St. Jude Community Services, which contributes significantly to the well-being of individuals and families throughout north Orange County.  Barry also created the hospital’s homeless outreach program and developed county-wide partnerships addressing eviction prevention and housing advocacy. His involvement with many of our community collaboratives has helped improve the quality of life among underserved populations in Orange County.


Non-Profit of the Year - Leon Owens Foundation

The Leon Owens Foundation has an outstanding record of community service, providing support services for underserved communities and academic enrichment programing for youth.  The foundation was launched in 1993 by Mary Owens, in memory of her husband, Leon “Jack” Owens, a renowned Fullerton community member and mentor who placed education as the driving force his life. Since then, the foundation has provided over 300 scholarships to local students and has embraced its motto, “Making a Difference Together.”  Through support made possible by strategic community partnerships, the foundation is able to provide valuable programs like “Readers2BLeaders” and “Shoes for Kids” that support underserved youth and their families.  The Leon Owen Foundation is the embodiment of community service and I’m grateful for their community support.


Non-Profit of the Year - Friends of Families

Friends of Families was founded in 1992 with a mission to help children and families, offering vital support to local communities, school districts, senior centers and youth service agencies. President and CEO, George Grachen has been an amazing leader, responsible for assisting in the feeding of thousands of people across Orange County.  Through partnership with the City of Anaheim, he helped launch the Coming Home Anaheim homeless support program, which housed 286 families in its first 8 months.  I’m proud to recognize Friends of Family as a leader amongst our non-profit service provider community.


Small Business of the Year - The Yong S. Kim Acupuncture Clinic

Dr. Yong S. Kim opened his first acupuncture Clinic in Los Angeles, in 2000, with a vision to serve the health of Koreans who had immigrated to the United States. He has been very successful in providing acupuncture treatments, traditional herbal prescriptions and other health services, influenced by Eastern culture and medicine. He has traveled the world on many acupuncture medical missions, with his work being well received in many countries that had never experienced this type of healing treatment. Dr. Kim has served with the Association of Korean Asian Medicine and Acupuncture of California and has made many appearances, discussing acupuncture and herbal medicine, on radio and television.  He also serves as a Member of the Orange County Peaceful Unification Advisory Council.


Small Business of the Year – The Complete Package

Founded in 2005 by Bob Cummins, The Complete Package offers signage, banners, full print services, shipping and mailbox services.  It also provides a place where Bob’s daughter, Lauren, could work in a trusting and welcoming environment where she could gain social skills and confidence as she grew up with autism.  The Complete Package is one of the most respected businesses in the community, having earned a reputation for its high-quality products, quick turnaround time, and excellent customer service.  The business also sponsors various nonprofit organizations in the community, including Tara’s Chance, which is dedicated to providing equine therapy for children with autism. Bob is also a longtime member of Fullerton South Rotary, including two terms as its President. 


2022 Minerva Scholarship Awardee - Hailey Schneider

Hailey Schneider is an excellent student from Buena Park. She always plans ahead to ensure she does her best, and is actively engaged in her studies at Whittier College.  She has just one year left of her degree and is studying Child Development and working towards her Education Specialist Credential.


2022 Minerva Scholarship Awardee - Paloma Foster

Paloma Foster from Fullerton is a second year college student returning to her education.  She has involved herself in the community and college campus as much as she could. She was voted Senator of the Year by her peers and was elected to Student Trustee as a write in candidate.  Paloma plans to attend UC Berkeley and will major in political science.  She has aspirations to run for office one day and write legislature to advocate for people in need.