California Heroes 2015

Dear Friends,

Last year, I was able to partner with my constituent Daisy Tate, who proposed the wonderful idea that eventually became Senate Concurrent Resolution 97. This resolution declares every September to be “California Heroes Month” as a way to honor local everyday heroes in our community. These heroes are those who actively take selfless actions to help their neighbor in need, and inspire others to become involved as well.

Of the many nominations we received this year, I had the privilege of honoring 17 altruistic people as 2015 California Heroes by welcoming them to my district office. Below, I would like to present to you the 2015 California Heroes, as well as a brief description of why they are so valuable to our community.

If you have an unsung hero that you would like to recognize, I would love to provide them with a Senate Certificate of Recognition. It is my honor to honor those deserving of recognition for their accomplishments, and those who donate their time and treasury to improving our community. Please contact Collin Hoyos for more information at or 619-596-3136.

2015 California Heroes:

Kathi Anderson

Kathi AndersonKathi co-founded Survivors of Torture International in 1997. Survivors of Torture helps to build a healing community in San Diego County for survivors of politically motivated torture. She has had extensive experience in health care, human rights, refugee resettlement, and education. Kathi was recently elected as the chair of the San Diego Refugee Forum and is one of the co-founders and officers of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs. She currently serves on the advisory boards of San Diego State University School of Social Work, University of the Pacific School of International Studies, and Lutheran Office of Public Policy. Kathi has also served on national boards of directors such as Amnesty International USA, Center for Employment Training, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

Colin Archipley

Colin ArchipleyColin has served 3 tours in Iraq as an Infantry Squad Leader. Upon his return, he established his own Organic Hydroponic Farm which uses up to 90% less water for growing Organic food.  Colin then re-enlisted and with his wife created The Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program.  Due to his advocacy, Sustainable Organic Agriculture is recognized as a career track for every branch of the service. Colin has also worked to enable Veterans to be able to get a VA Home Loan to purchase a farm, helping to re-invigorate family farming throughout America. 

Nassir Azimi

Nassir AzimiVoted the best in his field three years in a row, Dr. Azimi is known as an exceptional doctor that speaks with warm words and maintains a positive attitude. Enrique, a former patient that was diagnosed with angioplasty, says, “As if I was his brother, he spent a lot time with me in the early mornings at hospital while my destiny was uncertain.” Dr. Azimi’s selfless nature is what makes him a California Hero.

Joe Beyer

Joe BeyerAs the founder and only member of Support Team Bonsall and Team Fallbrook, Joe has regularly performed many duties on behalf of Bonsall for many years.  Most notably, Joe has formally adopted a stretch of South Mission Road as “Support Team Bonsall and Team Fallbrook”. Along with his adoption, he regularly picks up trash from Camino Del Rey all the way out to State Route 76.  Also, with the closure of the San Luis Rey Downs Golf Course, Joe has also taken on the task of ensuring trash is picked up on the golf course and is currently arranging to have graffiti removed from the abandoned buildings.

Besma Coda

Besma CodaBesma has over twenty years of refugee-related experience in areas such as refugee assistance, processing, education, outreach, and grant management. She has designed and implemented programs to assist newly arriving refugees in achieving economic and social self-sufficiency. Besma fights for policies and strategies to improve the lives for many ethnicities including Iraqis, Chaldeans, Middle Eastern, Latinos, and the Spanish. Besma opens doors for men and women whose stories of hope and transformation epitomize the refugee journey.

Anna Cuevas

Anna CuevasAnna has been selfless in advocating for consumers through her blogs and writing, including her work with The National Urban League.  She has written 3 books: Fight for Your Dreams, Save Your Home Without Losing Your Mind or Your Money, and The Credit Fix Work Book. Anna does this to help the millions of people affected by financial crisis and to prepare consumers for the future by encouraging financial literacy and self-advocacy skills.

Elissa Davey

Elissa DaveyElissa is the founder of Garden of Innocence. Garden of Innocence is a charity that provides burial services with dignity for abandoned and unwanted children. Elissa’s efforts have made a strong statement in support of the dignity of life, and it is through this dedication that makes her a California Hero.

Jim Dell

Jim DellJim Dell closed his for-profit legal practice and works exclusively on a pro bono basis to help families of sick and injured children. He has helped them obtain critical public benefits, legal documents, and court representation. Jim has done all this with no compensation, providing thousands of hours of free legal assistance to hundreds of families.

Dan Foster

Dan FosterDan is a Vietnam Veteran and one of the founders of the Alpine Veterans Wall of Honor.  He is very active with the upkeep of the wall and the surrounding fountain and flowers.  Dan passionately speaks at the events when new Veterans are added to the wall.  Even when he developed cancer in the throat due to his interaction with Agent Orange, Dan still never misses an event. Watch Ford’s featured YouTube video of Dan.

GySgt Travis Jones & Claudia Jones

GySgt Travis Jones & Claudia JonesTravis is in the USMC and a father to 3 children. Despite his demanding military duties and multiple deployments, Travis and his wife Claudia spend a considerable amount of time helping others in the community. They are active in supporting the Camp Pendleton Catholic Community, including serving as religious education instructors, mentors, and supporters of younger military families. He is also known to take military children fishing, camping, or on other related activities. Travis and Claudia are a selfless, dynamic couple who are a positive example and inspiration to all.

Dave Kebert

Dave Kebert

Dave is a former distinguished president and a current active member of the Alpine Kiwanis Club. He has been on all the committees the club has to offer and is always willing to help out and give advice.  In addition, Dave is on the VFW board of directors and has contributed to them greatly. Dave is also a founder of the Alpine Wall of Honor.

Dale Maxwell

Dale Maxwell

Dale works for Habitat for Humanity building housing in the community for those less fortunate. He also goes to "in need" areas spending weeks at a time rebuilding other communities whenever his abilities are needed. He has spent time rebuilding homes after hurricane Katrina and recently went to New Orleans to build new houses there. Dale serves weekly at his church as an usher and is on many committees there as well.

Martine Mednansky

Martine Mednansky

Martine is a scientist who was diagnosed with cancer but kept working without pay to start her own non-profit company involved with basic research of bacteriology. Today, 11 years later, she has beaten the cancer with her own discovery but it left her disabled. Despite this, Martine actively contributes to the scientific world by reviewing published scientific work, specifically peer reviewed works.  This in turn helps steer young scientists away from faulty published work.

Tezza Phillips

Tezza Phillips

Tezza is a color guard coach at El Cajon Valley High School and built the program from the ground up. To her students though, she means much more. She is a mother figure that cares about their well-being, home life, and grades. Tezza goes above and beyond the normal call of duty and has become a role model and a hero.

Todd Reed

Todd Reed

Todd has put himself through the POST police academy so that he could become a Reserve Deputy Sheriff. This training is the same for active duty sheriff.  So far this year he has volunteered over 500 hours as a patrol Deputy and will probably donate another 200 hours before the end of the year, all without pay.  It is through this dedication to serving Californians that makes Todd Reed a California Hero.

Marlene Ruiz

Marlene Ruiz

S. Marlene Ruiz, RN, BSN, MA is a Champion for Nursing Education and a volunteer extraordinaire. Marlene is the Director of Education and Consulting Services at Kaiser Permanente, and has been with them for 48 years. She is also co-chair of the San Diego Nursing Service-Education Consortium, assisting colleges in securing essential clinical placements for nursing and allied health students. She is a champion for nursing education in San Diego and throughout the state, and is an active member of countless professional organizations, such as Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society and the Association for California Nurse Leaders. She is tireless in her volunteer work with SDSU Nursing Students, and with organizations such as MANA de San Diego, the International Relief Team, and Survivors of Torture, International. She currently serves on the GCCCD Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee and the Health Workforce Initiative Statewide Advisory Board.

William Taylor

William Taylor

William has been a member of the California Air National Guard for 15 years and a member of the United States Air Force for over 30 years.  He has done many great things such as delivering water to families at Qualcomm Stadium during the fires in 2003, and taking vehicles, equipment, and personnel to the fire fighters in Yosemite National Park during the fires of 2007.  William also volunteers his time as a Team Leader for the Escondido Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).