LOS ANGELES (May 26, 2011) - As part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and in celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, Union Bank has partnered with public television station KCET to honor five extraordinary individuals from the LGBT community as Local Heroes. The Local Heroes Awards recognize the recipients' leadership and contributions in shaping the neighborhoods in which they work and live. The 2011 LGBT honorees are: David Damian Figueroa, Alex H. Fukui, James Gilliam, Karina Samala and Marquita Thomas. The awards will be presented Thursday, June 9, 2011 at KCET in Los Angeles.
Union Bank and KCET created the Local Heroes Awards to help celebrate the national commemorative heritage months for various communities throughout Los Angeles. The awards honor outstanding individuals who strive to enrich the lives of others. This year, the Local Heroes Awards were expanded to recognize honorees as part of LGBT Pride Month, and honorees were also identified during Black History Month (February), Women's History Month (March), Jewish American Heritage Month (May) and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May), and will be for Hispanic Heritage Month (September/October).
Throughout the month of June, KCET will also air a video profile of each honoree that highlights how they made a difference in their community. The 2011 on-air profiles can also be viewed on the Web at kcet.org
"We are honored to celebrate the 2011 Local Heroes Award recipients, as these outstanding individuals bring leadership, commitment and creativity to their work and lives, and as a result, the communities in which they live and work greatly benefit," said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre Habis, head of Community Banking. "We are also proud to expand our cultural partnership with KCET to celebrate the diverse and vibrant LGBT community in Los Angeles, and we look forward to celebrating the achievements and work of many more local heroes as part of our 14-year tradition in Los Angeles."
"KCET is excited to join Union Bank as we celebrate the inaugural year of honoring LGBT local heroes as part of our partnership," said KCET President and CEO Al Jerome. "Each of the honorees makes a unique and valuable contribution to our Los Angeles community, and we are pleased to introduce them to our viewers through the video profiles airing on KCET throughout LGBT Pride Month as we also pay tribute to the many milestones and achievements of the LGBT community."
The 2011 honorees for LGBT Pride Month are:
David Damian Figueroa is the vice president of strategic development and communications for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation's leading Latino civil rights organization. He helped launch the AARP's Segunda Juventud bilingual magazine in Los Angeles and has also played an influential role in connecting celebrities to non-profit organizations.
Alex H. Fukui has been an advocate in the fight for equality for LGBT communities, especially the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community, for nearly 20 years. He is a founding steering committee member of API Equality-LA and currently serves as the co-chair of the organization's Faith Committee.
James W. Gilliam is an attorney and longtime activist for the LGBT community. He is currently the deputy executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU/SC), where he also heads the LGBT Rights Project. Mr. Gilliam has published several articles addressing LGBT issues. He is also an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, and co-chair of the Sexual Orientation Bias Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Karina Samala has been actively involved in campaigning for equal rights for the entire LGBT community for more than 25 years. Ms. Samala is currently chairperson for the Transgender Advisory Board for the City of West Hollywood. She has served as chairperson for the City of Los Angeles Human Services Commission's Transgender Working Group, and Christopher Street West. Ms. Samala has also been on the board of the County of Los Angeles Sherriff's GLBT Advisory Council, the Imperial Court of Los Angeles and Hollywood, and the Asian Pacific Islander Pride Council.
Marquita Y. Thomas is the president of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Thomas is also the founder of Out & About Events for Women. Since creating the organization in 2002, she has been involved in the promotion of many events for the lesbian community. She also created the Serafemme Queer Women of Color Music Festival and is an active member of the Lesbian Visibility Committee, having spoken and emceed the organization's Dyke March. In 2009, Ms. Thomas realized one of her dreams by launching Serafemme Magazine, a publication specifically tailored to lesbian women of color.
Major funding for the LGBT Pride Month Local Heroes Awards is generously provided by Union Bank. Additional funding is provided The David Geffen Foundation, The David Bohnett Foundation and Edison International. For more information on the Local Heroes Awards, please also visit unionbank.com/heroes.
About UnionBanCal Corporation & Union Bank, N.A.
Headquartered in San Francisco, UnionBanCal Corporation is a financial holding company with assets of $80.6 billion at March 31, 2011. Its primary subsidiary, Union Bank, N.A., is a full service commercial bank providing an array of financial services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, and major corporations. The bank operated 401 banking offices in California, Washington, Oregon and Texas, as well as two international offices, on March 31, 2011. UnionBanCal Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG, NYSE:MTU), one of the world's largest financial organizations. Visit www.unionbank.com for more information.
On-air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California. KCET offers a wide range of award-winning local programming as well as the finest public television programs from around the world. KCET currently produces the Emmy®, duPont-Columbia and Peabody Award-winning SoCal Connected, a hard-hitting prime-time weekly television news program that examines the issues and people of Southern California. Throughout its more than 40-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions, its quality educational family and children's programs, its outreach and community services and its website, kcet.org. KCET is a donor-supported community institution. For additional information about KCET productions, Web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org.