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2020 Local Heroes Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Ben Caldwell and Tam Nguyen Recognized by KCET and PBS SoCal For Continued Leadership, Innovation and Community Support During Covid-19

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Regional Visionaries Taking Care of Southern California During Troubled Times To Be Recognized at First Virtual Annual Holiday Community Celebration Luncheon


Pictured (from l to r): 2020 Local Heroes Honorees Ben Caldwell, Dr. Barbara Ferrer and Tam Nguyen.

Burbank, Calif. – Dec. 3, 2020 – PBS SoCal and KCET, Southern California's home for award-winning public media productions as well as premieres of new PBS programs, announced today the individuals named as the 2020 honorees for their Local Heroes initiative. The awards honor the accomplishments of those who are dedicated to making a difference in the community: recognizing activists, educators, community leaders and visionaries doing critical work that often goes unrecognized in the Southern California region. The 2020 Local Heroes honorees named are Ben Caldwell, Dr. Barbara Ferrer and Tam Nguyen. This year’s three Local Heroes honorees were chosen from a group of 12 outstanding individuals nominated by KCET and PBS SoCal’s Community Advisory Board (CAB). A short promotional video featuring the 2020 Local Hero Honorees can be viewed online at kcet.org/localheroes and pbssocal.org/localheroes and will begin running on-air on both KCET and PBS SoCal in the new year.

Additionally, the three honorees and the nine nominees for the 2020 Local Heroes Program will be recognized at a virtual Holiday Community Celebration Luncheon on Dec. 14 which will bring together the organization’s Board of Directors, the Executive Management Team and the 34 current members of the Community Advisory Board for both KCET and PBS SoCal.

Considered one of the region’s cultural leaders, Ben Caldwell is an artist, director, educator, independent filmmaker and mentor, offering professional advice and support through his Kaos Network media lab in Southern California’s historic Leimert Park neighborhood. It remains the only organization of its kind in South Central Los Angeles that offers courses in video production, animation, web development as well as video teleconferencing and the Internet. Caldwell created the highly-regarded Leimert Art Walk and has been connecting youth to art through technology for decades.

When she was appointed as the Los Angeles County Public Health Director by the LA County Board of Supervisors in January of 2017, Dr. Barbara Ferrer was deemed uniquely qualified to lead and serve the community’s diverse populations with over 40 years of professional experience as a philanthropic strategist, public health director, educational leader, researcher and community advocate. At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Ferrer became the voice and face of calm to millions of residents throughout California, dispensing consistent, knowledgeable and useful information; sharing the facts as she knew them and encouraging Southern California residents to follow evolving guidelines.

When the beauty and nail-care industry was devastated by this spring’s COVID-19 surge, Tam Nguyen joined other leaders in the Vietnamese-American community in Orange County to form Nailing It For America, which helped finalize safety guidelines for the reopening of nail salons throughout California. Nguyen also led the all-volunteer team to become an advocacy group to correct inaccurate information being spread to the public and to provide a voice for thousands to help combat prejudice and hate. Nguyen collaborated with other regional leaders and community resources to donate more than 1.2 million items of personal protective equipment worth more than $30 million to hospitals, senior-care centers, homeless shelters and other facilities. The effort also provided more than 52,000 restaurant meals to healthcare workers and other front-line employees throughout Southern California and across the U.S.

The 2020 Local Heroes nominees include Director of Organizing Carlos Aguilar for the Coalition for his work with the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) on tenant outreach, education and support; Teacher /Master Gardener Florence Nishida for co-founding L.A. Green Grounds; Minister/Founder/Homeless Advocate Pastor Kathy Huck for About My Father’s Business; Community Volunteer Frances M. Castro-Montoya for her work with AT&T Pioneers; Actress/ Writer/Comedian/Community Activist Kristina Wong for founding the Auntie Sewing Squad; School Teacher/Innovator/Student Teacher Supervisor at Vanguard University Pat McLaughlin for her work in the Newport-Mesa School District; Community Organizer/Nonprofit Executive, Dr. Philip Lance for L.A.-based Pueblo Nuevo Development, Physician /Community Advocate Rev. Dr. Phyllis Everstine Hayes-Reams for her work in the community and geriatric medicine; and Co-Founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco Wing Lam for the California Love Drop Project. The full list of the 2020 KCET/PBS SoCal Local Heroes nominees, their profiles and photographs, can also be found at kcet.org/localheroes and pbssocal.org/localheroes.

PBS SoCal and KCET’s community engagement efforts with its viewers and supporters would not be possible without the help of their Community Advisory Board (CAB). This active group of volunteer leaders is the stations’ eyes and ears of the community. The organization plays an integral part in the planning and implementation of many outreach programs including the Local Heroes initiative.

ABOUT PBS SOCAL AND KCET PBS SoCal and KCET are both part of the donor-supported community institution, the Public Media Group of Southern California, which was formed by the merger of PBS SoCal and KCETLink Media Group. PBS SoCal is the flagship PBS station for 19 million diverse people across California and delivers content and experiences that inspire, inform and educate – over the air, online, in the community and in the classroom. PBS SoCal offers the full slate of beloved PBS programs including MASTERPIECE, NOVA, PBS NewsHour, FRONTLINE, and a broad library of documentary films including works from Ken Burns; as well as educational content including PBS KIDS programs including DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD and CURIOUS GEORGE. KCET is on-air, online and in the community, and plays a vital role in the cultural enrichment of Southern California. KCET offers a wide range of award-winning local programming as well as the finest public television programs from around the world. Throughout its 55-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions and its website, kcet.org. For additional information about both KCET and PBS SoCal productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org and pbssocal.org Select original programming from both KCET and PBS SoCal is also available for streaming on Apple TV, Android TV, YouTube, Amazon and Roku platforms as well as on the PBS mobile apps.

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