California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) honored those who have contributed to building strength and vibrancy within local communities, are dedicated to civic engagement, and have helped CSUDH provide education, scholarship, and services that are accessible and transformative during its 2017 Founders’ Dinner: Accelerating Success on Oct. 26 at the Porsche Experience Center in Carson.
The Founder’s Dinner ceremony was preceded by a formal reception during which many CSUDH alumni, partners, staff, students and honorees mingled, while some took advantage of the new Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles‘ amenities, such as riding shotgun in a Porsche around the center’s 2.38-mile track at well over 100 miles per hour, driving in racecar simulators, and learning about the world-renowned automaker’s history.
Emceed by Brad Pomerance, host of the radio show Air Land and Sea for JLTV, the Founders’ Dinner ceremony began with welcome remarks from CSUDH President Willie J. Hagan.
“Tonight we are honoring the impact of individual CSUDH faculty, alumni, students and our community partners, to recognize all they bring to our collective efforts of providing a wonderful education for our students, to promoting civil and community engagement, and for inspiring them to great heights,” said Hagan.
2017 Founders’ Dinner Honorees:
President’s Award: Toyota USA. One of the university’s highest honors, the award is given for extraordinary philanthropy that has had a transformative impact on CSUDH’s mission. The inaugural award recognizes innovators for long-term, cumulative contributions to the university who have supported talented students, have helped academic programs grow and prosper, and have inspired others to contribute to the greater good. Toyota’s recent support includes four new Mobile Fabrication Labs, and a $4 million grant to build the Toyota Center for Innovation in STEM Education in the university’s Science and Innovation building, which broke ground September 28, 2017.
Community Leadership Award: The Hon. Mark Ridley-Thomas, chairman and supervisor of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The award recognizes a visionary and dedicated community leader who has gone above and beyond in committing time and energy to addressing critical issues and improving local communities. Overwhelmingly elected in 2008, and re-elected in 2012 and 2016, Ridley-Thomas is the longest-serving member of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. He represents the Second District, and will complete his final term as supervisor in 2020.
Founders’ Award: Hansonia Caldwell Harriford, emeritus professor of music at CSUDH. The Founders’ Award is presented to an organization or individual who has worked to build the university into a thriving center for higher education. During her 45-year tenure at CSUDH, Caldwell Harriford has made significant and enduring contributions to music education, and in the communities the university serves. For 11 years, she coordinated the Living Legends Festival Concert, celebrating the musical masters of African Diaspora Sacred Music with performances that brought distinguished conductors and composers to the university. She also served for 12 years as a member of the board of directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and currently is on the board of the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers, and the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles.
Distinguished Alumni Award: John Tracy, (retired) chief technology officer (CTO) and senior vice president for The Boeing Company. The award is presented in recognition of a CSUDH alumni who have achieved a high level of success in his or her profession, while gaining distinction for their service to the university and their communities. Tracy retired in 2016 after a 35-year career at Boeing. During his last 10 years as CTO he led more than 100,000 employees at the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems.
Student Civic Engagement Award: Ramneek Kaur, a cellular and molecular biology major at CSUDH. The award is presented to a CSUDH student who has made a positive impact on the lives of others through civic engagement and public service. Kaur is president and a founding member of the on-campus student organization Homeless Outreach Promoting Empathy (H.O.P.E.), which was established in spring 2013 to bring more awareness to the social consequences of homelessness, and provide an avenue for students to interface with homeless individuals.