What a Celebration!

Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership and presenting sponsor Union Bank honored Marin nonprofits and volunteers on Thursday, January 12, 2017. All nominees were recognized and awards were presented to the 2016 Heart of Marin recipients.  

This year, 850 members of the community packed the Marin Center Exhibit Hall to honor nonprofits, volunteers, leaders, and businesses who give back. Whether you nominated, were a nominee, or attended to support a friend or colleague, thank you for taking the time to recognize the people and organizations who are moving the needle in our communities. Scroll down to read more about the winners and browse photos from the celebration (all photos provided by Stuart Lirette Photography). The official press release can be viewed here.

Drum roll… and the winners are

Excellence In Leadership

_DSC6850Michelle Latvala, Executive Director, Spirit Rock Insight Meditation Center. Under Michelle’s leadership over the last five years, program offerings have doubled, livestream access has been introduced, attendees have increased 100%, and she lead a $17.3 million dollar capital campaign to include the new administration offices, a new community meditation center with 3 classrooms, a bookstore, meeting rooms for teachers and students, and a residential village for teachers and staff. She has committed to increasing Sprit Rock’s diversity, equity and inclusion including board, staff and faculty, and has raised scholarships for underserved communities from $300,000 to $500,000. Michelle’s brilliant leadership has made the corridor to West Marin a world renowned destination for spiritual wellness with a focus on issues of equity.

SPONSOR: Marin Community Foundation

Achievement In Nonprofit Excellence

jon markerYouth Leadership Institute (YLI). Founded in Marin 25 years ago to build communities where youth and adults come together to create positive social change, YLI has grown to reach 89,000 young adults age 12-26 in 220 communities across California. Through policy and coalition-based work, YLI has been instrumental in passing 103 local policies that improve our communities. YLI provides training, tools, research, collaboration, and leadership skills to young adults to identify community needs and implement solutions — 72% of youth practiced public speaking; 69% engaged in a research project; and 46% spoke in a meeting with an elected official about a policy they were working to change. Empowering youth voices from nontraditional communities to affect change at decision making tables, while training adult allies to partner with youth people, YLI has made a tremendous positive impact. Pictured is Jonathan Marker, CEO. 

SPONSOR: Bregante + Company LLP and Nugget Markets 

Volunteer of the Year

_DSC6761Margaret Beyer, Hospice by the Bay. Serving 65 patients over the past 5 years, Margaret’s skill as a Reiki Master is requested by hospice patients and their families to ease pain and stress in the dying process. She is also a vigil volunteer, available 24 hours a day, on call, to sit bedside patients as they transition in the last hours of life. She is full of compassion, a respected mentor for new volunteers, and serves as an advocate by leading educational panels.

SPONSOR: Redwood Credit Union

Youth Volunteers of the Year

_DSC6836Olivia Lang-Brown, Senior, San Domenico SchoolOlivia is a consistent volunteer with the Marin Humane Society supporting all of their annual events, such as the Animal Film Festival and Woofstock. She’s a dedicated summer volunteer for the elementary school aged week-long camps and leads programs that teach animal education. In the last year, her 100 hours of dedication to the Rabbit Romper Room has enabled rabbits to be adopted using her gentle nature to sooth animals who were at first under-socialized.

_DSC6833Jose Gomez, Senior, Novato High School. Under Jose’s leadership and vision, he restarted Novato High School’s local Friday Night Live chapter that had been dormant. Friday night Live is a statewide network. He created a platform that brought student and adult allies together to create healthier communities and reduce substance use. Jose lead a project aimed at reducing alcohol and tobacco advertisement in Novato stores, translated guidelines into Spanish, met with local storeowners, and brought the issue to the Novato City Council.

_DSC6829Noa Zimmerman, Senior, Redwood High School. Nominated by the former Principal of Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, Noa propelled a peer driven music program for underserved elementary students to continue despite budget cuts and obstacles. Noa recruited fellow band members willing to come to Marin City on Saturday mornings to give lessons on a variety of instruments – piano, guitar, and clarinet. Through her volunteerism and leadership, the program teaches music, encourages youth to find their ‘voice,’ and offers positive role models and creative outlets for underserved youth with no access to art and music programs.

_DSC6826Benjamin Bloomberg, Sophomore, Terra Linda High School. Ben started a baseball team for physical and developmentally challenged children through his local little league, the Challenger Program. The program has been in existence for three years and is still going strong. Ben approached the president to form another Challenger team, spoke before the board to present, gained approval, secured a sponsor, bought team uniforms and equipment, and recruited special needs students who wanted to play baseball. For Ben, Challenger has evolved into an equal opportunity and justice issue. He has helped to create an environment in which all people have a chance to play baseball, regardless of their abilities.

_DSC6825Noah Block, Senior, Sir Francis Drake High School. Volunteering with the YMCA Marin County Youth Court for the past 4 years, Noah has been juror, bailiff and a thoughtful and compassionate advocate for his peers. Noah is a member of Marin’s Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Commission and a board member of the Marin Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. His activism around youth rights earned him a scholarship to the ACLU Summer Advocacy Institute at Georgetown University. Noah designed and produced “Marijuana: Myths vs. Facts,” a peer driven workshop that was chosen by the Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth as a prevention tool for Novato Schools, and was then further presented to 2 regional conferences. Noah also serves on the Marin County Youth Commission as Secretary. He helped save the Tamalpais School District Student Wellness Center by recruiting 35 student petitioners who gathered 600 signatures.

SPONSOR: Bank of Marin

Excellence In Board Leadership

_DSC6774Diane Doodha, Marin Art & Garden Center (MAGC). Under Diane’s leadership as board chair, MAGC has emerged out of chaos where the 70-year-old historic landmark nearly closed. Diane not only saved MAGC by doubling their financials, but she led the board to hire its first Executive Director, transitioned from an operating to a governing board, renovated the historic gallery, drove a historic inventory, and built partnerships to diversify MAGC’s visitors.

SPONSOR: Sutter Health Novato Community Hospital

Excellence In Innovation

_DSC6796Downtown Streets Team. Downtown Streets Team is ending homelessness through the dignity of work in a hands-on approach that practices accountability, work ethic and teamwork. They guide homeless team members to create a personalized plan to overcome barriers to housing and employment. With the support of a case manager and an employment specialist, they overcome challenges such as health care access, obtaining identification, learning to drive, navigate the housing market, resume building, interview skills, legal issues and job placement. Being accountable for their time, and working together as a team, they find self-confidence and dignity while showing others that homelessness is an experience to move beyond, not an identity one should learn to live with. Pictured is Logan McDonnell, Project Director, Marin. 

SPONSORS: International ProInsurance and Pacific Union

Corporate Community Service

Corporate Visions, Inc. (CVI)  Headquartered in Larkspur, CVI is a global marketing company with offices worldwide, and partners with nonprofits to address local needs, including human & sex trafficking, breast cancer support, food security, and children’s bicycle access & safety. They match employee donations, encourage consistent volunteer work, and offer unlimited paid time off during the workweek to their employees. Pictured is Charlotte Kobayashi, Office Manager/Community Outreach. 

SPONSOR: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Lifetime Achievement

_DSC6918Tom Wilson. For 25 years, Tom has been a vocal leader and advocate for the rights of immigrants, changing local policies and practices regarding immigration and influencing public opinion about poverty in Marin. As Executive Director of Canal Alliance from 1992-2016, he led the development of services for the Spanish speaking community in the Canal and throughout Marin. Tom developed a seamless wraparound approach to assist immigrants with multiple services to give them the tools and skills they need to thrive, such as language, technology, job search, money management, work authorization, stable health and an academic afterschool program. Tom played a critical role in ending immigration raids and altering the actions of Immigration Agents and law enforcement practices, and creating dialogue with employers to respond legally and effectively.

_DSC6907Steve Kinsey. For 20 years, the breadth and legacy of Steve’s leadership in supporting and collaborating with the nonprofit community for the greater good has strengthened access to social services, legal resources, childhood education, affordable health care and the essential necessities of affordable housing and healthy food. Steve pursued a vision of sustainability and is a stalwart supporter of nonprofits serving in the environmental protection arena with an emphasis on the importance of protecting agriculture, watersheds, open space and trails and addressing climate change through transit and non-motorized transportation. Steve has been a tenacious advocate in support of equity for all people. He supported the engagement and empowerment of organizations promoting social justice and access to equity through opportunity; community centers providing essential social services; and programs dedicated to providing a safety-net services for children and families.

SPONSOR: Kaiser Permanente, San Rafael



The Heart of Marin Awards is produced by CVNL and presenting sponsor, Union Bank. As a prominent member of Marin County’s business community, Union Bank supports economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Union Bank is proud to participate in the Heart of Marin Awards and help recognize outstanding Marin nonprofits and the individuals who serve them.