The SVCN Change Maker award started in 2000 with a very simple goal – to put a spotlight on community activism in Santa Clara County. As we end 2018, we are pleased to acknowledge this year’s Change Maker award recipients who have helped create significant change in our community.
Who are Change Makers? Change Makers leverage innovation and collaboration to address some of our county’s most pressing challenges. They inspire us with their passion and directly help create positive, lasting change. They leverage the power of activism to change the way we think about and treat all members of our community.
Several Change Maker recipients are public servants who are retiring or changing roles this year and have demonstrated a strong commitment to community change.
2018 Change Makers
Alum Rock Coalition – The Alum Rock Coalition exemplifies the power of community activism and how a group of concerned, organized residents can affect change. A coalition of parents, policy makers, teachers, nonprofit leaders, and neighbors, challenged traditional power structures. The group organized community events to shed a light on decision making in the Alum Rock School District. The coalition was successful in changing the composition of the Alum Rock School Board, resulting in greater transparency, community participation in decision making, and implementation of budgeting and education best practices. Most importantly, the coalition demonstrated the power of democracy and the importance of making quality education a priority for all students in East San Jose. Members: Alum Rock Educators Association, Community for Better Alum Rock Schools, EMPUJE, Indivisible East San Jose, and Rise Up Alum Rock.
Office of Equity and Social Justice – Santa Clara County is the first in the nation to focus on creating an office solely focused on Women’s Policy, LGBTQ Affairs, Cultural Competency and Immigrant Relations as a strategy for justice. The office works together to eliminate barriers and focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion in countywide service delivery to ensure the rights of the disenfranchised are included and uplifted. Together these offices break down silos and increase collaboration, which includes community and nonprofit stakeholders.
Staff person Johnathon Perez accepts for California State Senator Jim Beall
California State Senator Jim Beall – A long time housing champion, Jim spearheaded two propositions for the November 2018 ballot, resulting in a $6 billion investment in the creation and preservation of affordable housing statewide. Specifically, Proposition 1 will provide $4 billion to fund specific housing assistance programs to build low income housing, as well as provide loans for veterans, farmers and funds for the Self-help Housing Fund. Proposition 2 will provide $2 billion to fund “No Place Like Home,” a state program that builds housing for homeless individuals with mental illnesses. Through his leadership, Jim ensured a significant and urgent investment in affordable housing for some of our state’s most vulnerable populations.
Redistricting in Santa Clara Coalition – A coalition of Santa Clara residents, elected leaders, nonprofit and community leaders came together to leverage the power of activism both in the courts and through grassroots organizing. They launched a movement to create an electoral process that is in line with the California Voter Rights Act and increases ethnic and cultural diversity on the Santa Clara City Council. Their collective advocacy is working to change the City Council election system from at-large seats to a representative system comprised of smaller, neighborhood districts that gives minority candidates and neighborhood leaders a better chance of being elected. This change in electoral politics will empower communities of color to run for office and participate in city government. In addition, other Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits Change Makers for 2018 cities in the County are looking at moving from at-large to district elections creating much needed change in voting rights and electoral politics in our County. Led by the Asian Law Alliance and Community Activist Wes Mukoyama.
Denise Boland – Retired Director of Santa Clara County’s Social Services Department of Employment and Benefits, Denise provided exemplary leadership in prioritizing the needs of low-income clients. Under her leadership, eligibility workers are now located off-site in community-based centers to enroll lowincome clients in Medi-Cal and Cal Fresh benefits. This has resulted in in one-stop access to services and an increase in benefit enrollment. Additionally, the creation of a strong partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank and Emergency Assistance Network agencies created a one-stop access point for low income families to receive an array of services.
Maya Esparza – For the past two years, Maya has led the All The Way Home campaign to end veteran homelessness in Santa Clara County at local nonprofit Destination: Home. Through the campaign, Maya has been instrumental in working with local landlords and apartment owners to house homeless veterans and their families. She has developed valuable partnerships with government, corporations and faithbased organizations to aid in land acquisition, housing development, access to rental units, financial assistance and services. Under her leadership, the campaign has made tremendous strides by housing 1237 veterans, partnering with 740 landlords, and increasing placement of veterans with housing vouchers from 60% to 92%. We are excited by the non-profit experience and perspective Maya will bring to her new role as a San Jose City Councilmember.
Michelle Lew received the award on behalf of Todd Hansen
Todd Hansen – For 22 years, Todd has been a guiding force as COO at The Health Trust to ensure funding, programs, and advocacy support the health of vulnerable populations in our community. To date, The Health Trust has provided over $200 million of community benefit through grantmaking and program services. Todd’s sharp intellect and gentle hand have steered The Health Trust to award hundreds of grants to local nonprofits and expand direct service programs to include HIV/AIDS case management services, Meals on Wheels, and health education. He has been instrumental in advancing efforts to fluoridate San Jose’s water and provide permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals through Project Welcome Home. Todd’s decades of thoughtful vision have resulted in lasting changes to health policies and systems, benefiting thousands of Silicon Valley residents. We say “aloha” to Todd as he moves to Hawaii in early 2019.
Ken Yeager – As a Santa Clara County Supervisor for 12 years, Ken has worked tirelessly to build a more vibrant and healthy community. Ken has been a champion in making Santa Clara County a healthier community by addressing chronic disease, obesity, poor nutrition, and lack of physical activity. Ken served on the FIRST 5 Commission and brought leadership support for quality early childhood care within the County and the broader community. His leadership in LGBTQ issues by ensuring access and equality is truly the model of inclusion. Ken has been a tireless supporter of public transportation and improving the environment. Throughout his tenure, he has been a strong supporter and partner of the non-profit community. He has helped give the nonprofit community a voice in public policy decisions and has always shown respect for nonprofit views and expertise.