On Thursday, April 25, the Long Beach Post hosted an event to honor young people from around the city who are doing great things to better their community and beyond. Out of hundreds of nominations from our readers, judges chose 40 winners who run the gamut from educators to artists to business owners to community activists, all of whom represent just a selection of those who are today contributing to the betterment of Long Beach. Text by Brian Addison, Jason Ruiz and Sarah Bennett
Steve Massis has been a familiar face around the Belmont Shore area serving as the general manager of two popular 2nd Street restaurants, Open Sesame and Le Creperie. However, it was always his dream to operate his own business.
Mike parlayed his love of local sports into an entire career, working first for the Long Beach Post and, for the last several years, with Gazette Newspapers, where last summer he covered Long Beach’s multiple Olympians from on the ground in London.
Though he has been engaged with state and national politics since graduating from Cal State Long Beach, Matt’s true passion is the city of Long Beach itself, his hometown and the place where he continues to organize and volunteer for the greater good.
Since opening up his Paper Crane Studio earlier this year in the East Village, Michael Marsh (aka Mikey Vigilante) has become a common face in the neighborhood.
Prum is a local artist, activist and teacher. His work within classic Cambodian dance—he was taught by world-renown dancer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro—has proven to be wildly experimental, addressing LGBTQ issues of sexuality, gender and social roles.
A world-renowned rapper with a decade-long history of service to Long Beach’s Cambodian-American community, Prach—who raps in both English and Khmer—represents what is known as Generation 1.5, or those who were born in Cambodia but raised in America.
Se is a small business owner, web developer and a self proclaimed internet geek. She helps businesses develop websites and use the internet to help their companies grow and thrive.
One of her nominators put it best when they said, “When you feel a ray of sunshine rolling in, be assured it’s the warmth of Mary Zendejas.”
Vivian Dominguez turned the misfortune of being laid off from her job in 2008 into an opportunity to fulfill her lifetime dream of working with animals.
Rajh always knew he wanted to be a father and becoming one a few years ago allowed him to quit working in the fashion industry and start making and selling children’s clothes himself.
When Mitra isn’t working as Boeing’s California Government Relations Representative, the Long Beach native serves on the boards of Leadership Long Beach, the Long Beach Chamber, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles’ Legislative and Policy Committee.
Since CakePops&Co was founded three years ago, Miguel and his partner Cesar have churned out over 10,000 delectable cakes on a stick.
Dr. Sanders currently works as the Assistant Director of Student Programs at the California State University’s Office of the Chancellor where she supports student affairs programs at the system’s 23 campuses in the state.
On top of being a leading example of the diversity that is the LGBTQ community, Porter has been an essential cog in what has ultimately become the Renaissance period of The Center here in Long Beach.
As the Program Coordinator for the wildly successful First Fridays Art Walk in Bixby Knolls, Tokotah has brought energy, excitement and creativity to the event.
Tony Damico help found two nonprofit organizations in the city that look to bring the community together by empowering the people that live in it.
A Long Beach native, graduate of CSULB and petroleum engineer for the city, Uduak Ntuk is a son of Long Beach through and through.
Megan’s nominators called the mother of three and Long Beach native a “tireless volunteer” who always knows the facts on important local issues and works endlessly to support campus programs at numerous school sites above the 405.
Patrick touts himself as a creative problem solver. Since graduating from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in graphic design, he’s been working as a Junior Art Director at The Designory, a firm with its flagship office in Downtown.
Though he is currently the owner and Co-Founder of Long Beach’s first co-working space WE Labs, Markus has made a name for himself as one of the city’s great cultural advocates—someone who believes in fostering collaboration among musicians, writers, videographers, graphic designers and traditional visual artists.
Unquestionably, the success of a city as well as an organization depends on the individuals that comprise them—and Ina has been essential in making Green Long Beach one of the most dynamic and effective green advocacy groups in the city.
Locally famous for introducing herself as someone who “lives, loves and works in Long Beach,” Amelia arrived from Tonga–near Samoa in the South Pacific–with her family when she was four.
Those who know Bill always point out his love for the children and families of Long Beach, a fact proven by his former work for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as well as his current position as Executive Director of Olive Crest.
For three years, Jonas has overseen the nonprofit Love in the Mirror—and he is still only 9 years-old.
His mission was simple: to create a citywide, relational infrastructure that offers innovative tools, systems and resources for individuals and organizations.
One of Jeannine’s nominators succinctly described her as thus: “Woman, mother, social activist.” Though there are many more adjectives that go beyond this list to describe Jeannine, the fact remains that her work for the Long Beach Coalition for New Jobs and a Healthy Community is characterized by those three things.
A proud Trojan, Erica saw that Long Beach was home to hundreds of fellow USC grads and yet, had nothing to connect them together—seemingly antithetical to the school’s well-known reputation of social networking.
The daughter of an immigrant mother, Lena graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in political science and went on to earn her Masters of Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University.
Julie’s job is not only difficult, but essential–after all, what is a city to do for its future if it is not properly documenting its past?
A few years ago, the Long Beach Volunteer MeetUp Group—despite having some 300 members—was sadly dormant. Gina saw an opportunity to not only occupy her spare time but to energize the many Long Beach residents she knew had a knack and desire to give back.
With his blog, LongBeachStuff.com, Kris, who was born and raised in Long Beach, has helped to promote countless small business in the city.
Though Lola’s Mexican Cuisine bears the name of his Guadalajaran mother, Luis is the face of the restaurant on 4th Street’s Retro Row.
Baktaash is largely a city advocate—meaning he advocates for making Long Beach more accessible, more green, more pedestrian and bike friendly, and overall more beautiful.
Jahaziel has a business that many men would love to have: he prints t-shirts, the classic garment that will never leave one’s closet.
A self-proclaimed technology and code geek, John’s dedication to fostering Long Beach’s growing tech community is unparalled.
Though a woman of many talents—her work as a stylist at the Den Salon in Downtown for the past five years proves she is a master with scissors—it is her tireless work at embracing the diversity of women that truly makes Jenelle shine.
Go to many events and you’ll see Keir Jones’ name somewhere—on a poster, in a pamphlet, projected on a screen. And it’s not necessarily because he is locally famous but rather, outside of his State Farm Insurance business, he endlessly provides his time, money and professionalism to countless events and causes throughout Long Beach.
Marisol’s passion for community organizing and helping women has led her to work at several well-known Long Beach nonprofits including The Children’s Clinic, where she oversaw outreach at the nonprofit healthcare provider that emphasizes holistic approaches to wellness for Long Beach children and families.
On top of her nonstop work as Editor of the Gazette Newspapers, Ashleigh is also a nonstop advocate for Long Beach itself.
Writing their own songs and playing their own instruments, the teenage brother-and-sister duo better known as the Potential Lunatics has not just hit the local circuit by playing practically every nook and cranny of a space that can be called a venue, they also recently played at the revered and respected SXSW festival in Austin.
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