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August 28, 2018

Multicultural Awards Banquet Oct. 4 — Winners announced

Tickets now available for the Thirtieth Annual Event

Boulder County, Colo. - The Thirtieth Annual Multicultural Awards Banquet will take place on Oct. 4. The banquet celebrates people of color in Boulder County who have made significant contributions to the community in the areas of Arts, Business, Community Service, Education, and Health, with additional awards for area Partners and Youth.

The goal of the banquet is to provide an opportunity for members of the community to celebrate cultural diversity, and the amazing work done by the wide spectrum of people who live and work here.

What: Thirtieth Annual Multicultural Awards Banquet
When: Thursday, Oct. 4, 6-9 p.m.
Where: Boulder Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave., Boulder
Tickets: Now available online

The banquet will take place this year at the Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave, off of East Arapahoe in Boulder. There will be a reception and cocktail hour beginning at 6 p.m., and the dinner and awards ceremony runs from 6:45-9 p.m. The Tickets for the banquet are now available for purchase at Tickets are $75 for
adults, with discounts for children, seniors, and for tables of ten. If you have questions about tickets or the event in general, please contact or call 303-441-3975.

The 2018 Multicultural Award Winners:

Arts -- Norma Johnson

Norma is hard to pinpoint to one thing or one place but she always enjoys engaging through the path of creativity and inspiration. The arts have been a lifelong engagement for Norma. She was a professional costumer for stage, screen, and TV for more 30 years, as well as a performer. In Colorado, she has created costumes for Denver enter Theater Company, and costumed and consulted for local theater and dance companies.

Throughout her 20 years engaging in Boulder County programs, she’s volunteered on many boards and committees such as The Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and the Multicultural Awards. She’s worked with young people as program director for the Institute for African American Leadership, and on the BVSD Youth Leadership Conferences.

Locally and nationally, Norma facilitates discussions on social justice issues of race and inclusivity, using her poetic storytelling as a medium to open hearts and minds to the experiences of other people. She is known for her signature interactive workshops that get energy moving and is always ripe for interrelational discussions of culturally difficult topics.

As a creative organizer, Norma gets the word out about events and resources that are culturally celebratory, relevant, and educational. These events help folks stay in the know on critical topics of social justice, learn
what’s going on in their community, and have opportunity to learn, grow and participate.

Business -- Sam Seyfi

Sam (Samad) Seyfi was born and raised in the Middle East and comes from a family of volunteers, from his great-grandfather down to his children. Over the generations, they all have enjoyed serving in their communities where they live. Sam received his Bachelors of Engineering from the State University of New York, his MBA from Colorado State University, and is currently finishing his doctorate at the University of Denver.

He and his wife, Sheree, have been married for thirty years. Together they have found time to volunteer in various capacities for local schools, human right organizations, homeless shelters, their church, and in a variety of other nonprofit organizations. Sam has been on the board of directors of several organizations, both here and abroad. He is the past president of the Longmont Sister Cities Association, and is the current chairman of the Longmont Multicultural Action Committee.

Sam has run an engineering firm for more than thirty years. He is the founder of several for-profit and not-for-profit organizations designed to assist with educational needs -- primarily in Haiti, where he lived for seven years. Sam has been recognized for his involvement in the community by the Longmont Chamber of Commerce, and in 2015 he was the recipient of the “Volunteer of the Year” award in Longmont.

Community Service- Rita Liu

Born in Shanghai, China, Rita grew up in Taiwan where she received her BA degree before moving to Germany for
advanced studies. She emigrated from Germany to the U.S., where she built a 34-year career at IBM in New York, as a high-level IT manager and a certified executive-level management consultant

Rita founded the Asian-Pacific Association of Longmont (A-PAL) in 2010 and serves as its President. She is a member of Longmont Rotary, and has been a key member of the Senior Computer Tech Center, teaching seniors computer skills at Front Range Community College. She served as Chair of the Longmont Multicultural Action Committee for six years, and as the Chair of a St. Vrain Valley School District Task Force for a Bond Project that resulted in an approved $260.3 million bond. In 2011, Rita developed the A-PAL Chinese New Year Project to promote multiculturalism by connecting the many different nationalities within the greater Boulder area in an educational and interactive environment. Rita also established a partnership with the Silver Creek Leadership Academy (SCLA) as an opportunity to mentor students in organization, leadership, and social skills.

Rita has received the White House’s President’s Service Award annually since 2010, the Longmont Community Unity Award, the Outstanding Mentor Certificate and the Lifetime Leadership Award from SCLA, IBM’s Volunteers Gold Award, and was featured in the Longmont Times-Call 100.

Community Service- Jim Yoshihara

Yoshi works with Via Mobility Services, helping older adults and people with disabilities live independently by providing safe, caring door-through-door transportation in Boulder County. Yoshi originally came to Colorado as a child when his family was forcibly relocated to a Japanese Internment Camp during World War II. When his family was eventually released after the war, they started over with nothing and put down roots in Boulder County. After spending most of his adult life running a flower shop in Boulder, his family felt it was time for him to retire. Yoshi had no plans to stay inactive, and for the past ten years he has been driving with Via, where he works 30 hours a week and has touched the lives of hundreds of people.

Working for Via can be a demanding job. Drivers work long hours assisting vulnerable community members while negotiating tight passenger schedules, extreme weather, clients with challenging physical or cognitive disabilities, and mapping destinations, all while operating large vehicles in Boulder County's increasingly congested traffic. Known for his calm presence and easy smile, he is also a mentor to new drivers, sharing tips, stories, and always listening.

As the coworker who nominated Yoshi explains, “Yoshi truly loves his job helping people. If I ever need Via’s services, I hope Yoshi is my driver. I know I’ll be in good hands.

Education- Manuela Sifuentes

Manuela has a very broad view of education, from reproductive health education with Latinx immigrants in Washington, DC, to helping leaders in Boulder County understand equitable and meaningful language access policies. Her work focuses on dismantling systems of oppression while also supporting historically marginalized communities as they navigate those systems. Raised in both Guatemala and Boulder, she has a unique talent for working across multiple contexts. Manuela is bilingual and bicultural, an accomplished translator, certified interpreter, and an advocate for health equity and educational access.

Manuela has served on several boards and committees including the Latino Task Force of Boulder County, Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, the City of Boulder’s Capital Improvement Tax Renewal, and the Teachers of Color and Allies Conference. She received her B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Colorado, and Master’s of Public Health and Public Administration degrees from the University of Michigan.

In her current role as Director of Community Partnerships, Manuela cultivates and sustains relationships between CU Engage and community organizations to carry out collaborative projects that advance the public good. CU Engage is a center housed in the University of Colorado’s School of Education that collaborates with communities, schools, and organizations.

Health- Leticia Abajo-Torrijos

Leticia Abajo earned a BA in Human Development and Family Relations from the University of Colorado Denver, where she received numerous academic excellence awards, as well as a Certificate in Early Childhood Education from the Applied Studies Institute in Madrid, Spain. Leticia works with children and pregnant women as a WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Educator at Boulder County Public Health, and is also a Family Educator with El Centro Amistad in Lafayette. While Leticia is a mother of two with a full-time job, she always finds time to volunteer.

Leticia has been involved Amistad’s Grupo Compañeras since it was founded in 2001. She was crucial in the planning and execution of Cumbre de Mujeres, where she ran many workshops offering tools to Latino women with low income. As a translator, she provides a voice for many Spanish speakers and advocates for the people in the community who are afraid to voice concerns or participate in discussions. She spends many hours organizing events that are beneficial to women in Boulder County. These include yoga classes at the Sister Carmen Community Center, along with other exercise and meditation classes, book clubs, and many women’s social events in the area.

She loves to spend time with her family, Alex, Ollie, and Amara, and her hobbies involve being creative and connected to her loved ones and her community.

Science -- Tim Barnes

After serving in the U.S. Navy, Tim earned his B.A. in Communication from CU Boulder and then worked as a research assistant in CU’s Department of Child Clinical Psychology.

Since 1995 Tim has worked as a Science Education Specialist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), giving interpretive presentations of NCAR science, history, and technologies to thousands of visitors with various backgrounds. As part of this position Tim also teaches educational programs for K-12 students visiting NCAR on field trips, and has facilitated hands-on activities and presentations at science events for students and the
general public. Tim runs the Super Science Saturday Wizards Show, an extremely popular feature of NCAR’s annual science festival. For the last sixteen years he has also helped coordinate the NCAR Undergraduate Leadership Workshop – an annual, five-day, leadership intensive program for college students interested in pursuing a career in the atmospheric sciences.

For ten years, Tim served on the advisory board for the Boulder County Community Action Program (CAP), which led to working with the Institute for African American Leadership. A part-time position working as a production assistant for the Boulder County Mental Health Center’s W.A.T. Shop broadened his compassion for those in need. As an advocate for the environment, you can often see him commuting to work on his bike.

Partners -- Ann Scarritt

Ann grew up in a family that valued social justice. Her parents included her in their civil rights, anti-Vietnam War, anti-poverty and anti-Apartheid work. From her sister Katherine, she learned how to start taking risks and to think outside the box. From her partner Samantha, she learned that if you stay true to your path as a collaborative, equitable leader, you are able to engage authentically with community and be a part of positive change. She has also learned much from her students – including how to listen, how to build empathy, when to take action, and the importance of voice.

As an educator striving for inclusive excellence, Ann took part in the McNeill Program in the Student Academic Success Center, and the Multicultural Social Justice Leadership Programs - both at CU Boulder. At the University of
Wyoming, she was inaugurated into inclusive and empowering STEM education when she coordinated the Math Science Initiative Program, an Upward Bound Regional Center through the Federal TRiO programs. In her Boulder community, she has worked with community leaders through Boulder Community United, the Bias Incident Hotline Project, Boulder County Latina League, The Dream Think Tank, and Towards Right Relationship with America's Native Peoples. Ann is especially honored to have been nominated as a partner by treasured colleagues and outstanding students.

Youth -- Cante Waste Win Zephier

Cante is a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe and lives in Firestone, Colorado. She is 17 years old and is a senior at Niwot High School. Cante is a peer mentor for a Young Women’s Healing Camp, as well as Co-President of the
Northern Colorado UNITY Chapter.

Her work as a peer mentor includes providing experience and guidance to young women in regards to traditional protocol to allow those who have experienced trauma to reconnect with culture, language, and spirit. Her work with Northern Colorado UNITY included hosting a mascot forum discussing the harmful psychological effects of Native American mascots on Native and Non-Native youth. In 2017, the chapter was awarded the Denver Mayor’s Award for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Local Impact Award from the National Indian Health Board. Cante recently received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Youth Equity Award for her work with the traditional healing camps, the Boulder Chamber's Women Who Light The Night Youth Award, and the National Indian Health Board's Youth Leadership Award. After she graduates high school, Cante is hoping to attend Arizona State University to earn a degree in Secondary Education, and to teach on reservation schools. She is honored and grateful to share her culture as well as receive recognition for her work.