Jeff Bleich J.D. ’89 (2018, Social Service) has distinguished himself as the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Special Counsel to President Obama, and as a lawyer. He graduated with highest honors from Berkeley, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the California Law Review. Ambassador Bleich then clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Judge Howard Holtzmann of the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague. He has devoted countless hours without compensation to serving indigent clients and non-profit organizations. He helped lead a team that invalidated the anti-immigrant measure Proposition 187, defended detainees’ rights before the U.S. Supreme Court, represented homeless and foster youth, helped overturn restrictions on gay and lesbian individuals in the military, assisted in prosecuting war crime in the former Yugoslavia, defended common sense gun laws, and successfully represented victims of gender-based violence in the California Supreme Court. He has given his time to numerous organizations, including as Chair of the Fulbright Board, Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees, President of the California State Bar, Chair of Legal Services for Children, Chair of Legal Community Against Violence, Co-Chair of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and Chair of the White House Commission on Youth Violence under President Clinton. Ambassador Bleich has been named one of the most influential lawyers in the United States, and has been recognized for his commitment to public service with the State Department’s highest honor for a non-career ambassador, as well as the highest civilian honors for public service from both the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of the Navy.
Angela Glover Blackwell J.D. ’77 (2017, Community) started PolicyLink in 1999 with the mission of advancing economic and social equity. Under her leadership, PolicyLink has championed the use of public policy to improve access and opportunity for low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, and infrastructure. Previously, she was senior vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation, founder of the Oakland Urban Strategies Council, and a partner at Public Advocates, a nationally known law firm. She is a frequent commentator for top news organizations including The New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN.
Robert “Bob” Tanem ’53 (2015, Community) retired from his career as a commercial nursery owner and founded the gardening program at Homeward Bound of Marin, a homeless shelter and service center in Novato, California. Tanem transformed a parking lot into an organic garden, which provides produce for shelter residents and donated 400 pounds of food to a local charity in its first year. More recently the center expanded the program by turning a courtyard into an edible landscape, and the garden supports Homeward Bound’s culinary academy and catering program.
James A. Kowalski, Jr. ’86 (2014, Community) is a preeminent civil trial attorney who has advanced legal rights for the most vulnerable members of the community, ranging from adults and children who have suffered from a violent crime to those who have been victims of predatory lending and collection practices. He is the executive director of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and is widely credited as being among the first attorneys in the country to uncover the mortgage servicing tactic known as “robo-signing.” He has been recognized with numerous awards for his work to advance civil justice.
David E. Smith ’60, M.D. (2013, Health Care) is a pioneer in the field of addiction medicine and founder of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics. A product of the golden era of California’s public education system, Smith affirms that experience led directly to his belief that “health care is a right, not a privilege.” His conviction that drug addiction is a treatable medical disease shifted the medical community’s perception of the problem.
Patricia A. Kinaga M.C.P. ’77 (2011, Community) combines her work as a civil litigator with volunteer advocacy and creativity to give a voice to Asian Americans with unmet needs. She produced About Love, one of the first U.S. films about domestic violence, and cofounded a safe house for women and children. She directed Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, the first documentary to confront the late diagnoses of breast cancer — and uncounted losses — among Asian women. She also cofounded the only U.S. nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of Asians with physical and mental disabilities.
Joseph Myers ’72, J.D. ’75 (2010, Community), a Pomo Indian of Northern California, is the executive director and founder of the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC), a nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, California. A graduate of Berkeley’s School of Law at Boalt Hall and a lecturer in Native American Studies at Berkeley for the past 20 years, Myers has been nationally recognized as a significant contributor to the improvement of justice and the quality of life in Indian country.
Judge Harry Pregerson J.D. ’50 (2009, Community) has dedicated much of his life to helping underserved members of our society. He structured a consent decree that created thousands of affordable housing units for those displaced by the I-105 Century Freeway in Los Angeles. The Century Housing program also created training and employment programs for women and minorities, and established childcare centers. In recognition of his service, the I-105/110 freeway interchange was officially named after him.
Frederick L. Moore ’96 (2008, Education) has helped carve a path to careers in the sciences for hundreds of students. While finishing his Ph.D. at UCSF, he made it his mission to expand access for others, cofounding the nonprofit Building Diversity in Science, which provides mentoring and resources to underrepresented minority students at Bay Area colleges and universities. More recently, he launched the Scientific Empowerment Movement, a statewide initiative that uses sports and entertainment to inspire urban high school students to pursue careers in science, medicine, and technology.
Washington Burns B.S. ’52, B.A. ’57 (2007, Community) has spent a decade working to improve the lives of low-income residents in West Oakland. As executive director of the Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement, Dr. Burns oversees a wealth of community-based health, arts, and education programs including an immunization clinic, a computer lab, as well as music, theater, and reading workshops for youth. The center is home to programs like Another Road to Safety, which works with families to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to keep children out of the foster care system.
Jody Lewen Ph.D. ’02 (2006, Education) is the director of the Patten University extension site at San Quentin State Prison. Unlike any other at a California penitentiary, this program enables prisoners to earn an associate of arts degree in liberal arts. Ms. Lewen faces numerous obstacles in maintaining the program. Yet many instructors, all of whom are volunteers, return repeatedly, and students are empowered to redefine their lives. To date, nearly 70 students have graduated.
Chia-Chia Chien M.P.H. ’74 (2005, Community) has an unyielding commitment to public health and public service. She has worked beyond her profession to help promote awareness for mental health concerns of Asian Americans, an under-served community in this area. After retiring, she has continued with her passion to serve the mentally ill. In 2001, Ms. Chien founded the Chinese Mental Health Network, a philanthropic organization that already has actively supported work to enhance mental health in the Chinese community.
Barbara C. Staggers ’76, M.P.H. ’80 (2004, Health Care) is a board-certified pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist who serves as a determined advocate for children. A leader in adolescent medicine and a national authority on high-risk health behaviors of youth, urban and minority youth, youth violence, and health care issues of multicultural societies, she has worked at the grassroots level to help disadvantaged minority youth in the East Bay. She founded Oakland’s first school-based clinic for teens at Oakland’s Fremont High School, providing youth with sex education and birth control, in addition to treating minor health problems.
Corinne S. Jan ’76 (2003, Community) is a passionate and dedicated community activist who has devoted her life to providing access to essential services — from health to legal services — to seniors and minority groups in the Bay Area, with an emphasis on the Asian community. In addition, she provides non-English speaking communities increased access to legal services through the East Bay’s Legal Language Access Project and Neighborhood Law Corps.
Armando de la Libertad ’93 (2002, Education) serves the needs of low-income Latino students in Southern California through a grassroots commitment to education. As chair of the volunteer-driven Orange County Hispanic Education Endowment Fund (HEEF), Mr. de la Libertad established a permanent $1 million, community-based endowment for merit-based scholarships targeting students of low-income families. Today Mr. de la Libertad is a banking professional devoted to individual and community empowerment through education.
Joanna Lennon ’70, M.S. ’81 (2001, Community) worked at the grassroots level to provide the resources for East Bay youth and young adults to improve their lives through community service and public education reform. She is the founder and executive director of the East Bay Conservation Corps (EBCC), a nonprofit organization located in Oakland, California, dedicated to pioneering programs that promote the civic engagement of children and youth within the context of improving public education and strengthening the larger community.
Amy L. Lemley M.P.P. ’98 (2000, Community) helped establish the First Place Fund for Youth, a nonprofit organization that assists foster youth — in part by offering micro-loans for start-up housing costs — in their transition from foster homes to independence and adulthood. She also spearheaded the development of the Alameda County Foster Youth Alliance, a comprehensive network of community resources for foster youth who have recently “aged out” of foster care. High percentages of participants in these programs find employment and earn a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
Dwight Steele ’35, J.D. ’39* (1999, Environment) served for decades as a volunteer for grassroots environmental causes. He led successful coalitions to stop the filling of San Francisco Bay; helped establish the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC); worked with the League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and the Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition; and helped organize the Tahoe-Baikal Institute, which has education programs at Lake Tahoe and Russia’s Lake Baikal.