2023 Fernando Award Finalists
- United Chambers of Commerce
- Carmen Bowen
Armida Colmenares-Stafford was still a child when she stepped in to help her family acclimate to their new country. She’s never stopped assisting and advocating for under-represented groups. Whether in her professional life as 1st Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager at Pacific Premier Bank or her volunteer endeavors, you’ll find Armida working to give voice to those who need a platform or a helping hand. As First Vice Chair of The Valley Economic Alliance (VEA), Armida is focused on improving the vitality of businesses throughout the San Fernando Valley. She serves on the VEA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee as co-chair where she helps business owners from under-represented groups get access to capital and other resources. She was the first Latina Chair of the United Chambers of Commerce where she helped to secure $450,000 in funding to help small chambers stay afloat during the early years of Covid. And as a member of the Board and Business Committee of Proxy Parent Foundation, Armida helps the families of disabled individuals to establish trusts to care for their loved ones.
- LAPD Valley Bureau Foundation
- Brandon Boeckmann
- Matthew Rinnert
As a young boy, Steve Fazio swept floors and did odd jobs at his dad’s dry cleaning business, all the while dreaming of becoming a police officer. He turned his ground floor introduction to business into a thriving company, but he never gave up on his passion to protect and serve. Steve has served as a Los Angeles Reserve Police Officer for more than 40 years, working in many of its units as a volunteer. He is now assigned as a cold case homicide investigator and a certified instructor, training LAPD recruits in tactics and firearms. He also serves as a Lieutenant in the California State Guard’s Emergency Response Command. A two-time appointee to the Los Angeles Fire Commission, Steve has continued to look for new paths to protect and serve by turning his attention to healthcare and the next generation. He is a Board Officer of Providence Tarzana Foundation, the LAPD Valley Bureau Foundation, Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, and the Young Presidents Organization. What He’s Accomplished. As Founding President of Sierra Canyon School, Steve helped raise $30 million to extend classes through the 12th grade. He helped secure land and entitlements and worked with contractors and the community to create a state-of-the-art facility that serves 1,000 students a year.
- Matthew Swearman
Getting a door slammed in his face at the age of 15 while registering voters was all the motivation Kevin Tamaki needed. He went on to volunteer for numerous political, social, and economic causes. He served on the boards of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA), The Executives of Los Angeles Jewish Health, West Valley-Warner Center Chamber of Commerce, New Directions for Youth, The Valley Economic Alliance, United Chambers of Commerce, and many others. A VICA Board Member for 28 years, Kevin also served on its Valley Leadership Institute board. As Chair Emeritus of , Seni. for Racial Health Equity, a group that addresses racial and health disparities, Kevin was instrumental in developing the Black Mamas Glowing pregnancy support group that has helped 191 families in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys since 2022. Over his 40-year career, he has taught ESL at Van Nuys Community Adult School and leadership and social responsibility at Woodbury University. He helped to promote economic development as a Committee Chair on Assembly Speaker Bob Herzberg’s Business Advisory Commission and as a consultant for Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfeld.
- Los Angeles Jewish Health
- Los Angeles Valley College
- Martin Cooper
As a CPA, Sharon Udkoff knows that money is at the root of most things. Good works are no exception, so Sharon does what she does best—balancing the books, setting up budgets, and raising funds—to help a variety of charities do what they do best—help those in need. Sharon has spent the better part of her professional life volunteering for The Executives of Los Angeles Jewish Health, Los Angeles Valley College Foundation, the Studio City Residents Association, and others. During the 30 plus years she has served on the Board of Executives, she was Co-Chair of its annual fundraising gala, the Circle of Life Dinner, and most recently returned to the post of Treasurer, a position she earlier held for eight years. Her own experience attending night school later in life to transition to her CPA career led to helping Los Angeles Valley College Foundation bring resources to other students. Over the past 20 years she was instrumental in growing the Foundation’s assets from $400,000 to nearly $8.8 million. She has served as Treasurer and Secretary and a member of the Executive Committee, Finance Committee, and Audit Committee. Currently serving on the Development/Nominating Committee, Sharon has recruited at least five new board members for the LAVC.
- Lee Kanon Alpert
- Bob Khalsa
- Rich Pisani
Mel Wilson doesn’t just believe in the American Dream. He works to help others achieve it. The son of a single mother who cleaned houses for $12 a day when the family moved to the San Fernando Valley from rural Alabama, Mel has devoted himself to improving the quality of life for those in under-served communities and throughout Los Angeles. He is a Founding Board Member of The Valley Economic Alliance and Founding Chairman of the Pacomia Enterprise Zone Advisory Commission. A two-time appointee to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board and past Vice President of the L.A. Fire Commission, Mel also served on the Los Angeles County Citizen Planning Council and the L.A. City Small Business Advisory Commission. Appointed to the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Mel helped secure the North Hollywood and Universal City Metro lines and the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project. He secured an additional 500 paramedics to give the city 24/7 coverage while on the Fire Commission, and he won for Pacoima designation among the first 10 enterprise zones in the state while on the Enterprise Zone Advisory Commission. A former All-American, Mel was a 5th Round NFL draft pick for the New York Giants, and he played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Calgary Stampeder before embarking on a real estate career and opening his brokerage, Mel Wilson & Associates. He’s been tackling big issues in L.A. ever since.