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County of Sonoma, California

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Jefferson Awards

Jefferson Awards SealExcellence in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement

Congratulations to the 2014 Jefferson Award Winners

After a competitive selection process, the County of Sonoma is proud to announce the 2014 Jefferson Award winners for ‘Excellence in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement.’ There were 16 nominations, which were narrowed to 8 finalists by the selection committee. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors then selected the award recipients who will be honored during the Tuesday, October 28, 2014, regular Board meeting:

Dr. Jack Sherman

Dr. Jack ShermanFor his commitment to developing dental programs to meet the needs of at-risk children and youth in care at the Valley of the Moon Children’s Center (VMCC) and the Sonoma County Juvenile Hall. Dr. Sherman’s role has transitioned from the role of consultant into the VMCC Dental Director, where he provides services that as a volunteer dentist goes over and above.

Matt Martin

Matt MartinFor his leadership and innovation in dealing with the issue of homelessness in our community, especially as it relates to homeless youth. As the Executive Director of Social Advocates for Youth, he has devoted himself to keeping the issue of youth homelessness at the forefront of our conversations, and was the primary driver for the 52,000 square foot ‘Dream Center’ campus for homeless and former foster youth.

Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa

Catholic CharitiesFor providing a safety net for our community’s most vulnerable residents in the form of programs for seniors, the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless, the poor in rural areas, individuals with dementia, legal immigrants and refugees, and more. More recently, for their role in the development of the Safe Parking Program.


VerityFor continuing to provide, since 1974, services and programs to victims of sexual assault, rape, and sexual violence, as well as to their families and support systems. They have been trailblazers in their efforts to support those who are victimized by sexual violence, military sexual assault, and human trafficking/sexual slavery.

Fire Chief Steve Baxman

Chief Steve BaxmanFor his more than 40 years of volunteerism that goes beyond the missions of the organizations he serves. He is currently the Fire Chief at the Monte Rio Fire Protection District, and also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Monte Rio Parks and Recreation District and as the Operations Chief of the Guerneville Fire Protection District.

Congratulation to our 2014 Jefferson Awards winners! We look forward to honoring them for their great work in our community.

2014 Jefferson Awards – Closed for nominations. Please check back in Summer of 2015 for next Jefferson Awards nomination period.

About the Jefferson Awards Program

The Jefferson Awards Program is a national recognition system designed to highlight public service in America. The Jefferson Awards began as part of the American Institute for Public Service in 1972 and was established by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and Sam Beard, a staffer to Bobby Kennedy. More information about the national program can be found on the Jefferson Awards website.

Locally, the program was adopted by the County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors. After an analysis of other local recognition programs, the County’s program was designed to highlight the value of non-profit organizations, boards, commissions and advisory bodies, as well as individual efforts for Excellence in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement.

Regionally, media partners such as CBS 5 and KCBS-AM have been promoting the Jefferson Awards throughout the Bay Area. Several counties and cities along with many non-profit organizations participate by holding their own local programs and then submitting nominees to the regional competition.

The County encourages and applauds existing volunteer recognition programs. The Jefferson Awards will serve to further highlight the strength of our community and promote engagement in solving community problems.

Regionally, media partners such as CBS 5 and KCBS-AM have been promoting the Jefferson Awards throughout the Bay Area. Several counties and cities along with many non-profit organizations participate by holding their own local programs and then submitting nominees to the regional competition.

The County encourages and applauds existing volunteer recognition programs. The Jefferson Awards will serve to further highlight the strength of our community and promote engagement in solving community problems.

2013 Jefferson Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2013 Jefferson Awards honorees! The following honorees were selected from among a large group of nominees who all represent our community. These individuals and organizations demonstrate volunteerism, civic engagement, and community leadership; valued characteristics of our citizens. On Tuesday, November 5, 2013, the County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors presented the prestigious Jefferson Award to the following individuals and organizations:

Jesús Guzmán

Jesús Guzmán receiving his Jefferson AwardJesús Guzmán has dedicated himself to advocating for immigration reform, fair labor practices, and safe working conditions. As a DREAMer he advocates for federal legislation that would provide legal immigration status to DREAMers. As a leader at the Graton Day Labor Center, Jesus works with day laborers and domestic workers to provide an organized, dignified way to seek work. He has partnered with other groups to engage them in the community conversation around immigration reform and social justice. Jesus has been a true community builder, who has demonstrated the ability to engage diverse people in a common conversation, with the goal of a better future for the laborers, youth, and immigrants of Sonoma County.

is an immigration and social justice activist who co-founded the local chapter of DREAM Alliance, and who works with Graton Day Labor Center to provide an organized, dignified way to seek work with fair wage and safe working conditions.

La Luz Center

Jesús Guzmán receiving his Jefferson AwardLa Luz Center mission was to create empowered communities through education, leadership, and self-advocacy. As the primary resource in Sonoma Valley for disadvantaged families serving over 10,000 families and individuals each year. Many of the clients served, give back to the community by volunteering. La Luz Center is located in the “Springs” area of Sonoma Valley, where the population is primarily Hispanic. The community is often in crisis and its residents depend on the services of La Luz for their daily survival. The residents of this area provide the labor for agribusiness and service industry throughout the Valley, and La Luz is there to fill the gap when needed. Collaboration is essential to the Center’s success, and includes partnering with agencies including: Concilio Latino, Friends in Sonoma Helping, Catholic Charities, Community Action Partnership, Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, United Way of the Wine Country, and other partners. La Luz serves as a bridge between cultures in the Sonoma Valley and seeks to increase cross-cultural acceptance and respect through a series of events, including the Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos festivals.

Northern California Center for Well-Being

Jesús Guzmán receiving his Jefferson AwardThe Center’s mission is to promote the well-being of the whole person by empowering people with knowledge, skills, and spirit to take responsibility for personal, family, and community health. Since 1996 the Center has worked with people with chronic diseases and/or risk factors for chronic disease, and their families in small groups to target specific diagnosis and risk factors. Special outreach programs target Latino community for diabetes self-care education, nutrition, asthma prevention, and smoking cessation. The Center has helped over 25,000 people and their families take positive steps toward greater health, and empowering many of our program participants to reach out to others through their involvement in the Center. Promotores de Salud is a program where lay health workers build trusting relationships with families, while respecting and preserving cultural bounds, providing nutrition, asthma, tobacco, childhood obesity, and iron-deficiency anemia prevention. Project True is an adolescent peer support and education group for which the Center has received recognition. This program focuses on youth-led peer education focused on teen alcohol, tobacco, and other Drug Use in South Santa Rosa. The Center partners with Sonoma County Public Health and is a resource to local health care districts and clinics.

Russian Riverkeeper

Jesús Guzmán receiving his Jefferson AwardThe Russian Riverkeeper’s mission has been to inspire the community to protect the Russian River now and for future generations. They started in 1993 and in their first 10 years were able to accomplish changes in the volume and practices of gravel mining, reduced pollution levels and increased river stewardship. The Riverkeeper recognizes that a healthy river increases water availability, reduces flood damage, decreases pollutant delivery from land uses and provides habitat to sustain fish and wildlife populations; they have been instrumental in keeping this priority on the forefront. Educating the public has been an important priority of the Russian Riverkeeper, leading them to create programs including the “Clean Campus Clean Creeks” program where high school students learn about storm water pollution, then engage in a project to reduce pollution on their campus. Through the years, Russian Riverkeeper has educated the public and has been a strong advocate for the health of the river. Studies have cited the River as factor in our county’s quality of life and happiness.

Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

Jesús Guzmán receiving his Jefferson AwardThe Sisters have been active in Sonoma County since 2001, sharing their mission of spreading joy and good will through community events, charitable acts and fundraising, with the primary goal of improving the Russian River area. Initially, their goal was to engage and inform the community on the HIV/AIDS crisis, but through their work they became aware of the needs of the Russian River area and expanded their vision to make the Russian River area a better place to live overall. Their work impacts different areas including: financial giving, community events and activism, and the promulgation of joy. Over the last 12 years the Sisters have given away hundreds of thousands of dollars to schools, health centers, groups, non-profit organizations, and students. Last year alone, they gave $45K, including four scholarships each year. The Sister’s bingo events are a creative and incomparable way to bring together the West County, and to raise funds for local non-profits.

The County of Sonoma is proud of and grateful to these individuals and organizations for their outstanding service to our community. They exemplify the spirit of the Jefferson Award for Public Service in their Excellence in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement.

Contact Information

Sylvia Lemus
HR Programs Coordinator
(707) 565-1702 Work
(707) 565-3770 Fax

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