By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña
Driven by the same dedication to the community of San Diego, several leaders in the county were honored for their work on Saturday, April 7, during the National Conflict and Resolution Center’s 30th annual Peacemaker Awards Dinner.
The organization, which provides resources to organizations, communities, and individuals to solve conflict, held the dinner at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina and saw an attendance of about 700 people.
The event honored individuals and organizations who follow the NCRC’s mission and have made contributions to conflict resolution.
This year, four San Diego women were honored as the 2018 San Diego Peacemaker Honorees.
Elizabeth Bustos, community engagement director for Be There San Diego, a coalition of healthcare systems, said to La Prensa San Diego that she was accepting the award with humility because there are many other “heroes” who are doing good work in San Diego.
Bustos was honored for her work in directing the San Diego Cardiac Disparities Project that aims to reduce heart disease among African-Americans.
“What is very unique about our approach is that it’s not just clinical we really take a look at the disparity and inequity in heart health as an injustice, it’s a social justice issue,” Bustos said.
Advocating for communities and co-leading efforts is what excites her about her work, she shared.
Anne Wilson, senior vice president of housing and real estate development for Community HousingWorks, was awarded for her work in providing affordable housing to low income families and seniors.
Elizabeth Lopez, founder of the Southern California Immigration Project that provides free to low-cost legal services to asylum seekers, was awarded for her dedication to helping those individuals.
Diane Takvorian, executive director of the Environmental Health Coalition, was honored for her work in environmental and social justice.
This year, the honorees of the 2018 Philanthropy in Peacemaking Honorees were Peter Seidler, managing partner of the San Diego Padres, and Dan Shea, restaurateur and partner at Paradigm Investment Group, LLC.
Seidler and Shea partnered to help San Diego’s homeless population by providing a temporary solution to the housing crisis with housing tents.
The 2018 National Peacemaker Honoree was No Labels, a national organization that focuses on problem-solving politics.
The NCRC also presented their restorative justice program that aims to prevent youth from entering the pipeline to prison.
Through this program the person responsible takes accountability for their actions and makes amends with the victim or victims and charges are dismissed.
Francisco Carbajal, program manager and lead facilitator with the NCRC, said the program brings healing to the person harmed, families, communities and the individual who committed the crime.
He said that rather than giving the courts the last word, this program gives the community, victims, families, and the individuals responsible their voice back.
“It creates emotional and social skills almost immediately for youth that would have been far from that if (they) would have stayed in juvenile hall or gone through the court system,” Carbajal said.
The NCRC received a donation of $1 million from Jeanne Herberger, Rancho Santa Fe philanthropist, that will help the organization with their fundraising goal of $20 million by the end of 2020 for the NCRC’s Endowment Fund Campaign.
The endowment fund will help sustain four of their initiatives including the Avoiding the Pipeline to Prison program.