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August 3, 2013 (San Diego) – KNSJ 89.1 FM , the Network for Social Justice, will present its first-ever People’s Microphone Awards at the new public radio station’s launch party on Saturday, August 3 from 6-9 p.m. at Mission Trails Regional Parks. Tickets are available at

The awards are presented to individuals and organizations who have demonstrated leadership and commitment to social justice causes on behalf of people in their communities or our environment. The winners, a majority of whom will be present to accept their honors, are: Bonnie La Chappa, Elizabeth Lou, Dave Patterson, Estela de los Rios, Lori Saldana, Lisa Kove, Martha Sullivan and Ray Lutz with Decommission San Onofre,Donna Tisdale with Protect Our Communities Foundation, Cleveland National Forest Foundation, San Diego Dream Team, and Save Mission Trails.



BONNIE LA CHAPPA:   An elected member of the Barona Band of Mission Indians Tribal Council, Bonnie La Chappa is a champion of education and other causes aimed at improving her Lakeside community for future generations .  In 2006, she was elected to the Lakeside Union School District Board, becoming one of the first two Native Americans to serve on a school board in our County.  She helped develop Barona’s Education Grant program, which has given away over $80,000 to local schools.  A devoted mother, she’s  volunteered at PTAs and as Chair of the Barona Recreation Center Parent Committee.  She has served as co-chair of the Barona Cultural Center and Museum, as a board member for the Lakeside River Park Conservancy, and on  Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Underage Drinking program advisory committee. Recently she helped secure funds for a skate park in Lakeside. This year, she was named Citizen of the Year by the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce.  She has previously been honored as Woman of the Year by Senator Joel Anderson and as Government Leader at the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Leadership awards.   She has persevered despite personal tragedy, a true community champion.

ELIZABETH LOU:    After fleeing civil war in the Sudan, Elizabeth Lou spent three years as a refugee in Kenya before coming to America in 1999.  With a background in nursing and public health, she founded the Nile Sisters Development Initiative in 2001 to help refugee and immigrant women and their families from war-torn African nations.  Since then, Nile Sisters has helped thousands to access healthcare, affordable housing, vocational training and employment opportunities.   In recognition of her efforts, Elizabeth Lou was recently awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Award by the United Nations in San Diego.

DAVE PATTERSON:  Viet Nam veteran Dave Patterson  is past president of Veterans for Peace and a founder of the Ramona Forum.  He has been a passionate advocate for peace for many years, helping  organize the Arlington West memorial to fallen soldiers, giving out sleeping bags to homeless veterans, and helping to lead national protests against drones at drone  manufacturer General Atomic in San Diego.  A man of principals, Dave has also been outspoken on civil liberties issues, voicing concerns over NSA spying on Americans and calling for restoration of Fourth Amendment freedoms.  He has organized rallies to call on banks to have a moratorium on foreclosures,  helped organize political debates and discussions, and started a community garden to benefit residents in Ramona.

ESTELA DE LOS RIOS:   Daughter of Mexican immigrants, Estela de los Rios grew up picking grapes in the Central Valley during the Cesar Chavez movement on behalf of farm workers.   While still in high school, she resolved to fight for civil rights.  She received a degree in Sociaology from San Diegoi State University and for the past 30 years, has been a tireless activist fighting for causes including stoping human trafficking, hate crimes, and discrimination in housing.  She is currently the Executive Director at CSA San Diego. A victim of hate crimes herself, she has organized a hate crimes summit in East County.  Also a champion of immigrant rights, she co-founded the national immigrant marches and most recently has traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with leaders in Congress on immigration issues.   In 2012, she received the Ashley Walker Social Justice Award from the San Diego Human Relations Commission, presented at the Martin Luther King All People’s breakfast.

LORI SALDAÑA:  Lori Saldaña has long been a champion fighting for rights of women and minorities as well as environmental protections and water reclamation. Former California Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore, she is currently president of  San Diego Sierra Club. While in the Legislature, she coauthored the Million Dollar Solar Initiative and  AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, both landmark laws. She has been outspoken against industrial-scale energy projects in remote locations, advocating for rooftop solar and other clean energy sources produced where power is used in urban areas.  She holds a professional certificate in Women in Power from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, as well as a Masters Degree in Education from San Diego State University.  She served as associate dean at San Diego Community College District  and now teaches in Women’s Studies Department at San Diego State University.   She was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the Border Envrionment Cooperation Commission’s  Advisory Council  and later ran for Congress against Brian Bilbray.  While in the Assembly, she was named Legislator of the Year by four different organizations representing veterans, school nurses, women’s health and conservation interests.

MARTHA SULLIVAN AND RAY LUTZ, COALITION TO DECOMMISSION SAN ONOFRE:  In a true David vs. Goliath victory, the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre demonstrated that grassroots citizens’ activist could defeat the powerful utility industry.  Martha Sullivan, a former California Public Utilities Commission staffer and long-time political activist, was a driving force leading this successful community organizing effort along with Ray Lutz, founder of Citizens Oversight in El Cajon.  In the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns in Japan and revelations of radioactive leaks at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations just north of San Diego, the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre brought together diverse community groups to form the coalition and created a groundswell of public support for shutting down San Onofre, a facility located on an active earthquake fault amid heavily populated areas-- with the worst safety record and most violations of any nuclear plant in America.

DONNA TISDALE:   She’s been called the “Backcountry Warrior” by Supervisor Dianne Jacob.  For the past 25 years, Donna Tisdale has been fighting to protect people in rural, low-income communities.  Chair of the Boulevard Planning Group, she also found the nonprofit group Backcountry Against Dumps, leading a successful effort to halt a proposed landfill that she feared would contaminate groundwater.  She also cofounded the Protect Our Commuities Foundation.   She battled the Sunrise Powerlink and most recently, her two nonprofits have filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the Tule Wind project in McCain Valley.  Tisdale has traveled the state speaking out on the dangers of industrial-scale energy projects on neighboring residents and wildlife.  She has twice been named a Newsmaker of the Year by East County Magazine and is a very worthy recipient of this latest honor from KNSJ.

LISA KOVE:  Lisa Kove is a long-time activist fighting for equality.  The first person ever to win child support in a same-sex relationship in the U.S. she became an activist in the 1990s as an openly gay individual working inside the Department of Defense while the don’t ask, don’t tell policy was in place.  A survivor of hate crimes in her work place, she became an organizer for marriage equality, a speaker against Prop 8, and an active member of organizations locally standing up for equality including SDEC and SAME.  She co-founded the organization that evolved into the Equality News Network, ENN, a public broadcasting network the provides LGBT voices access to the media to tell their stories.


CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST FOUNDATION: The Cleveland National Forest Foundation is committed to sustainable regional land use planning in order to stem the tide of urban encroachment of our wild-lands. The forest has been under assault of late, ravaged by wildfires, beetles killing oak trees, and most of all, encroaching development.  Recently the Foundation has sounded the alarm over plans by Supervisors to gut the Forest Lands Conservation Initiative approved by voters. They also filed a successful lawsuit, along with the Sierra Club, challenging SANDAG’s regional transportation plan that placed emphasis on building new freeways over mass transit to reduce urban sprawl.

SAVE MISSION TRAILS:  Save Mission Trails is a nonprofit citizens group that successful y helped lead efforts to stop the Quail Brush Power Plant proposed near Mission Trails Regional Park. The organization launched a  petition, organized meetings, a Facebook page, and presented testimony on the health, safety and environmental hazards posed by the proposed gas-powered peaker power plant.  The result? One of the most successful community organizing efforts to stop a major energy project in our region. 


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