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Celebration of Excellence Awards Gala Honors IE Residents for Community Service

By Manny Otiko ~ IVN  

The Celebration of Excellence Awards Gala and Charity Auction held its 23rd award night on Saturday. The awards ceremony was hosted at the DoubleTree hotel in Ontario. The event, which attracted a gathering of Inland Empire civic, faith and business leaders, honored people for positive contributions to their community. According to the event organizers, the gala was a way to recognize unsung heroes.  

The event was also a way for IE companies and organizations to promote their brands.  

“As the largest business gathering of its kind in the Inland Valley, this ‘feel good’ event provides an opportunity to build brand awareness for your company or organization, while supporting a very important cause,” according to the event brochure.  

This was the first event since the Covid pandemic. The award gala attracted several political leaders from the IE such as Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren.   

The awards gala is organized by the Morrow family, owners of The Inland Valley News. Funds raised by the gala go to the Morrow Pancreatic Healthcare Foundation.  The foundation also provides scholarships to medical students who are pursuing careers in the gastroenterology field.   

Malia Cohen, chair of the State Board of Equalization, was also in attendance. She reminded people of the importance of the Black press and urged the public to support the Black press by buying ads.   

Here is the list of honorees:  

  • Craig Stover, founder of Network Utopia, received the Sarah Evelyn Wilson Community Award.
  • Joshua Swodeck, commissioner, Pomona Cultural Arts Community, received the Joe Romero Community Builder Award  
  • Daphne Hawkins, founder and president of The LOVE Program, received the John Futch Humanitarian Award. 
  • Jason Anderson, San Bernardino County District Attorney, received the Excellence in Jurisprudence Award. 
  • Nancy Adekayode, founder of Kennedy Hospice, received the Excellence in Healthcare Award.
  • Dr. Gwendolyn Dowdy-Rodgers, board member San Bernardino City Unified School District, received the Margaret Hill Educational Leadership Award. 
  • Ron Haase, publisher and president of Orange County Register and Southern California News Group, received the Excellence in Mass Media Award.
  • Dr. Ann Viricel received the Excellence in Educational Leadership Award  
  • Earl “Skip” Cooper, chairman emeritus, Black Business Association, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. 
  • Julius Robinson, managing director and group head, Corporate Social Responsibility for the America, MUFG Union Bank, received the Excellence in Corporate Community Service Award.  
  • Lynne MacVean and Amy Perez of Mammoth Electric received the Excellence in Philanthropy Award.
  • Ray Inge, vice president of human resources, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, received the Publisher’s Award.  

Inland Valley News coverage of local news in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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