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Monday, May 20, 2024

Fernando Award Ceremony Crowns Bill Allen, Adds Honors

Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. leader Bill Allen won the San Fernando Valley’s prized Fernando Award at a black-tie dinner on Oct. 6. “Each and every one of you had an impact on my life,” Allen told the audience of 300 of many of the Valley’s most engaged citizens after accepting the award, which, for 60 years, has gone to a local leader for significant and longstanding volunteer work. “We couldn’t have built the Valley Economic Alliance without your passion and commitment, (but) there’s a lot of work yet to be done… “It’s an honor to be your neighbor,” Allen told the crowd. Allen is a lifelong Encino resident who was instrumental in creating the economic alliance in 1994 following the Northridge Earthquake. Also, as chief of the LAEDC in downtown Los Angeles, Allen is L.A. County’s top economic development official. Last year’s Fernando Award winner, Paul Davis, announced Allen as this year’s recipient. Across six decades, there have been 750 nominees. Allen became the 60th recipient of what is widely considered the most prestigious award in the Valley’s civic circles. Allen’s win came from a distinguished pool of nominees. Fazio Cleaners owner Steve Fazio; Jeffrey Friedman, vice president of marketing at Dynamic Nursing; realtor Scott Silverstein of Lee & Associates; and UltraGlas Inc. founder and Chief Executive Jane Skeeter were the other finalists for the award. At the Saturday evening event held at Warner Center Marriott hotel in Woodland Hills, several changes were announced for the local tradition. Most prominently, Impact Awards were begun; those are to recognize outstanding individuals, teams of people or local businesses that engender positive change through local community work. The inaugural Impact Awards went to teacher and community organizer Sister Carmel Somers, who is known for her work at the Valley Family Center; Northridge Beautification Foundation leader Don Larsen; and State Farm Insurance agent Gwyn Petrick, who is an active member of the Rotary Club of Woodland Hills and president of Soroptimist International of the San Fernando Valley. The ceremony, helmed by Fernando Award Foundation Chair Wayne Adelstein, also introduced its first-ever International Award, delivered to Yan Kan, Bel-Air-based scion of a Hong Kong banking firm who underwrote the 2018 Fernando event. “To me, education and philanthropy are the two most important things in my life,” Kan said from the dais. Other program highlights included a video tribute to 2006 Fernando Award recipient Armand Arabian, who died earlier this year; and the entertainment of California State University, Northridge a cappela group CSUN Acasola, which performed a medley of Stevie Wonder and Bruno Mars songs. David Honda, longtime chairman of the Fernando Award Foundation, told the Business Journal that the proposal to create the new award category gestated for a few years before being endorsed by Adelstein and Dale Surowitz, other community leaders who serve on the foundation board. Surowitz wrote the qualifications for the new award, Honda said.

Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk is a managing editor at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. She previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has done work with publications including The Orange County Register, The Real Deal and doityourself.com.

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