Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership Is Pleased To Announce The 30th Annual Heart of Marin Award Recipients

Christina Molcillo

Recognizing and honoring Marin County’s outstanding nonprofit volunteers, leaders, and organizations. 

Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 30th Annual Heart of Marin™ Awards. Over 500 community leaders, volunteers, elected officials, and business members gathered together, for the 30th Annual Heart of Marin Awards Luncheon on Thursday, January 12, 2023, from 11:00am to 2:00pm at the Embassy Suites Hotel, San Rafael. 

“This was the first time we’ve been back in person for Heart of Marin since the pandemic began,” said Linda Jacobs, CEO at CVNL. “The buzz in the room was palatable. It is clear we have all been eager to come back together again and celebrate the good happening in our Marin communities. With contributions of their time, talent, and resources, the individuals and organizations nominated for the Heart of Marin Awards demonstrate repeatedly that Marin is a community of great leaders that do the right thing.”  

“Heart of Marin celebrates the commitment and passion of Marin County residents who continuously give of themselves to help strengthen our community and the lives of their neighbors,” said Bank of Marin’s Head of Retail Banking Brandi Campbell. “This event—which Bank of Marin was honored to serve as a presenting sponsor of—gave us the opportunity to come together as a community to thank and recognize “Heart of Marin” nominees and award recipients for the work they do, and celebrate our community-minded youth and young adults who also participated in this event. They all inspire us to do better.” 

The Marin Independent Journal received the Corporate Community Service Award (sponsored by PG&E) for being a champion of the nonprofit sector in Marin. The Marin IJ supports dozens of nonprofit events each year as a media sponsor, and staff members volunteer their time at more than 40 nonprofit organizations in Marin and Sonoma by serving on boards, committees, and task forces. 

The Volunteer of the Year Award (sponsored by Harbor Point Charitable Foundation) was presented to John Beltran, The Marine Mammal Center. In his five years of volunteering, John he been deeply involved in the MMC’s Field Operations and Response Department, which includes Dispatch, Response, and Release of marine mammals. He has personally rescued seals and sea lions in complicated conditions from the Bay Area to Fort Bragg, Mendocino. And has created digital technologies for the Center, from digital mapping of 600-miles of California coastline for accurate rescue information, to 24-hour live-stream feed at the Center’s Point Reyes Sea Shore release site. Thank you, John, for your impressive contributions. 

The Excellence in Board Leadership Award (sponsored by BioMarin) was presented to Tiana Wimmer, Enriching Lives Through Music. Tiana has been instrumental in leading the organization through a five-year strategic plan and guiding the board in exploring supplemental ways to pursue ELM’s mission. She has raised a significant amount of money to provide emergency services and products for the community, inspired the board to contribute generously to their community, and has created and implemented board recruitment strategies to increase diversity in the board. Congratulations Tiana for the leadership you provide. 

The Excellence in Innovation Award (Sponsored by Potrero Group) went to Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Drought Resilience and Water Security Initiative (DRAWS). DRAWS was created to help farmers and ranchers cope with the increasingly dire conditions due to intense drought. MALT has allocated $750,000 in funding, enabling agricultural operators to quickly create new water catchment and storage systems, improve existing springs, extend piping, and decrease water loss. Congratulations and thank you for protecting Marin’s agricultural land.  

Five Youth Volunteer of the Year Awards (sponsored by Redwood Credit Union) were presented to: Oliver Goldman, Marin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, In the past 13 months Oliver has attended 16 incidents, 22 exercises, and 48 Search and Rescue events and was elected youth president of the team consisting of 60 adult and 40 youth members; Talia Harter, San Rafael High School, Youth Transforming Justice, Marin County Office of Education, Marin Suicide Prevention Collaborative, the County of Marin, and Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Through her work for Youth Transforming Justice, MCOE, San Rafael High, Marin Suicide Prevention Collaborative, the County of Marin, and Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Talia embodies the collective impact approach in service to students in Marin; Matteo Diaz, The Spahr Center, where he helped organize and produce Queer Prom, a dance and social event open to all LGBTQ+ teens and allies. Matteo along with a coalition of peers created a list of action steps that every school district should take to make their schools safe and inclusive for queer and trans students; Sophia White, Schurig Center for Brain Injury Recovery. Sophia was inspired to begin volunteering at the Schurig Center after her good friend suffered a brain injury after a concussion in a soccer game. She currently volunteers at the Marin Food Bank, Junior Giants, Rec Inc, St. Anselm Church, Marin Catholic High School, Schurig Center for Brain Injury Recovery, and The Buck Institute for Research on Aging; and Alysha Lee, County of Marin Student Elections Ambassador Program, League of Women Voters, Novato High, and Beyond Differences. Alysha has helped develop the Stop Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Hate” curriculum, designing AAPI art projects and researched stories that were geared toward middle schoolers. Alysha’s work has impacted 3.9 million students in 8,900 schools in all 50 states. Her work has been so transformative that it is being translated into other languages and adopted in schools across the country.  

The Excellence in Leadership Award (sponsored by Marin Community Foundation) was presented to Andy Naja-Riese, Agricultural Institute of Marin. Andy has put AIM on a path to a wider interpretation of its mission, leading to an expansion of programs, and has spearheaded the organization’s first-ever Path to Racial Equity with objectives that center on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

The Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence Award (sponsored by Comerica Bank) went to Mount Tamalpais College. Mount Tamalpais College exists to provide an intellectually rigorous, inclusive Associate of Arts degree and College Preparatory Program, free of charge, to people at San Quentin State Prison; to expand access to quality higher education for incarcerated people; and to foster the values of equity, civic engagement, independence of thought, and freedom of expression.  

Reverend, Doctor, Jane Adams Spahr received The Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by Kaiser Permanente San Rafael-Petaluma). Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr was ordained a Presbyterian Minister in 1974 to the Hazelwood Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. From 1975-1979, she served as Assistant Pastor of First Presbyterian in San Rafael. From 1979-1980, she was Executive Director of the Oakland Council of Presbyterian Churches, where the Council asked her to resign due to being a lesbian. In 1982, along with friends, she founded the Ministry of Light, where she served as their Executive Director for 10 years. Spahr led the activist movement in Marin during the AIDS crisis beginning in 1983. By 1984, as it was clear the AIDS crisis was not going anywhere, Janie and the team at the Ministry of Light launched the Marin AIDS Support Network. Ministry of Light was a beacon for the LGBTQ+ community of Marin, becoming Spectrum LGBT Center offering support groups facilitated by therapists, including a lesbian & gay parents’ group, a group for heterosexual men whose wives had come out as lesbians, an LGBT youth group, and a support group for teens whose parent had come out. In 2015 from a merger between Marin AIDS Project and Spectrum, the Spahr Center was created, the only organization in Marin dedicated to providing advocacy, support, and services for the LGBTQ+ community.  

All recipients were presented with certificates of recognition from Congressman Jared Huffman, Senator Mike McGuire, Assemblymember Damon Connolly, and the Marin County Board of Supervisors. Additionally, winners (except Corporate Community Service) received an award of $5,000 for their nonprofits. The five Youth Volunteers of the Year received $1,000 each. 

The 30th Annual Heart of Marin Awards was made possible by support from presenting sponsor Bank of Marin, Award Sponsors PG&E (Corporate Community Service), Harbor Point Charitable Foundation (Volunteer of the Year), BioMarin (Excellence in Board Leadership), Potrero Group (Excellence in Innovation), Redwood Credit Union (Youth Volunteer of the Year), Marin Community Foundation (Excellence in Leadership), Comerica Bank (Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence), Kaiser Permanente San Rafael-Petaluma (Lifetime Achievement), and media sponsor Marin Independent Journal. 

“In the 30 years CVNL has produced this event, we’ve been able to award hundreds of thousands of dollars to dozens of nonprofits,” said Jacobs. “CVNL is a resource, connection, and voice for the nonprofit community and the challenges we face, and has offices in Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma County. We stand united with and in service to our nonprofit community.” 

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