On February 23, 2019, the Cypress College Foundation held its 44th Annual Americana Awards at the Disneyland Hotel Grand Ballroom, honoring and recognizing Citizens of the Year from the college’s eight surrounding communities and 2019 Woman of the Year Jill Bolton.
The Americana Awards is the Foundation’s signature event attracting roughly 600 guests. It is also the college’s major annual fundraiser with proceeds supporting the work of the Foundation, including funding student scholarships, providing student book loans and emergency assistance, offering faculty grants, developing the college’s endowment, and more.
Woman of the Year, Jill Bolton
Jill Bolton recently retired from a 24-year career at the Disneyland Resort where for the last 18 years she served as the executive overseeing all of the resort’s Corporate Citizenship efforts.
She joined the Public Affairs Division as manager of Disney Educational Programs in February, 1994 and was responsible for implementing numerous educational programs with Orange County school districts. She created an educational arts partnership program that provided teachers over $700,000 in grants to enhance the arts in their classrooms, offered cultural performance assemblies to over 100 schools annually and arts and entertainment workshops for teachers. She oversaw the Disneyland Band Concert Program serving 40,000 second graders annually, implemented the “Creativity Challenge,” a performance-based competition for middle and high school students and started a mentorship program.
She established strong relationships with school district superintendents, the Orange County School of the Arts, the Orange County Department of Education, supporting hundreds of teachers through their annual Teacher of the Year awards program, and with the California State Department of Education by hosting the California Distinguished School Awards at the Disneyland Resort.
In 1998, Jill’s responsibilities expanded to encompass all of Disneyland Resorts community relations efforts overseeing all donations to the community and a variety of outreach programs, including the annual Community Service Awards providing hundreds of thousands of grants to local nonprofit organizations, the Disney Wish Program, The Community Involvement Program, a ticket program for individuals with disabilities, The Disneyland Dreamers and Doers Program, which supports high school students who focus on efforts to improve the local community and the annual CHOC Walk, the largest fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Orange County. She also became responsible for overseeing the Disneyland Ambassador Program, a legacy initiative that was started back in 1965 during the 10-year anniversary of Disneyland.
On January 1, 2000, Jill was promoted to the executive level as director of Corporate Citizenship, overseeing all Disneyland Resort’s philanthropic giving, including all cash and in-kind giving valued between $17 and $20 million annually. In this role she created several new programs such as Show Your Character, the Disneyland scholarship program, and the Happiest Class on Earth – a ticket donation program to encourage sixth graders to complete a project to enhance their community. She was also instrumental in establishing the relationship with the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! to help build nine playgrounds throughout Orange County – each designed by neighborhood children to bring play to underserved communities. She also was the creator of a marketing effort, raising funds for Make a Wish called “Share Your Ears.” During her tenure, Jill also had the responsibility of placing leaders on community boards – such as Michael Cooper, Disneyland Director of Sourcing and Procurement, who serves on the Cypress College Foundation Board of Directors. Her role was further expanded in 2008 when she became responsible for the Ambassador program on a global level supporting Parks and Resorts in Florida, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Paris.
Jill’s interest in youth led her to be involved with numerous organizations that support the needs and development of the young. She launched a comprehensive school to career program for Anaheim High School students and partnered with the Anaheim Parks and Recreation Department to provide funding to build local skate parks and refurbish sports fields. She currently serves on the Festival of Children Foundation Board, having been involved with that organization since its inception more than a decade ago. From 2013 to 2017 she hosted the Carousel of Possible Dreams event at the Disneyland Resort, helping to raise over $1.2 million for local children’s charities. She served as a longtime board member of the Anaheim Family YMCA, 15 years on the board and serving as its chairman in 2013, and 2014 as vice chairman and secretary. She chaired the Governance Committee and served on the Executive and Personnel committees and led the effort to build a new YMCA facility, the Active Living Center at Ross Park, scheduled to open in 2019.
Born in San Diego, Jill was raised in Huntington Beach and graduated from Marina High School. She matriculated to the University of California, Irvine, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and an Education Administrative Credential in 1982. In 1985 she graduated with both a master’s degree in Counseling and a School Psychology Credential from California State University, Long Beach. She also earned a certificate in Corporate Community Involvement Management from Boston College. Prior to joining Disneyland, she was employed as a full-time school psychologist for Huntington Beach City Schools.
City of Anaheim, James and Lori Dinwiddie
James and Lori’s story began in 1983 when they first met in photography class at John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma. High school sweethearts, they have been married 26 years, live in Lori’s childhood home in Buena Park, and have devoted most of their volunteerism and community service to Anaheim.
The Dinwiddie’s dedication to community service began when their sons entered Luther Elementary School. Lori, a stay-at-home mom, quickly became involved with PTA and was “bitten” by the community volunteer bug. From there, Lori began serving in numerous capacities for the Cypress School District. Her involvement in education continued through her children’s middle and high school years.
In addition to her work in education, Lori has supported numerous organizations. Since 2016, she’s been an Anaheim Sister City Commissioner and has been chairman of the Government and Cultural Exchange program, which brings exchange students from Mito, Japan to Anaheim. She is also involved with the Anaheim 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Anaheim YMCA Good Friday Breakfast Committee, and the YMCA’s Art Auction Committee. She has been a director of the Anaheim Fall Festival Board and the coordinator for both the Anaheim Halloween Parade and Miss Anaheim Fall Festival Teen Ambassador program. For many years she was also a member of the Anaheim Arts Council Board of Directors.
Following high school, James attended California State University, Long Beach, where he earned his degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis in power design and controls. James is a registered professional engineer and the president & CEO of Power Design. James belongs to the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers and the California Society of Professional Engineers.
While supporting his family and running his business, James was inspired to get involved with the Anaheim Family YMCA, and in particular its Indian Guides program. Indian Guides is the catalyst for James’ involvement in the community, as this program helped him grow with his children and give back to support the community. James served as the Indian Guides Nation Chief, and in 2002 he joined the Y’s board of directors and has co-chaired its annual support campaign.
James served as an Anaheim Sister City Commissioner from 2010 through 2016 and was the Government and Cultural Exchange Chairman for 2013-16. In this capacity, he was involved with the exchange program with Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain. James is also involved with Anaheim Cops4Kids and has devoted countless hours to helping the Anaheim community. Like Lori, James was also involved with the JFK Shamrock Regiment, where he served for 9 years. Within his role on the Board, he was both Ways and Means Chairman and the Board president.
Outside their various individual roles, James and Lori have grown to be heavily involved in the Anaheim community and participate together in a number of major community organizations including the Anaheim Flag Day Committee as well as the Nutcracker Christmas Tree Lighting Committee. One of their favorite activities is their participation as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, where each year nearly 1000 children visit with them and tell them what they want Santa to bring them for the holiday season. This has slowly evolved from assisting with the taking of photos nearly a decade ago to donning the Mr. and Mrs. Claus suits at Anaheim’s and other regional events.
City of Buena Park, Leslee Milch
Leslee Milch is a National Board Certified Teacher, Early Childhood Generalist, and has been a teacher and reading specialist in the Buena Park School District for 25 years.
Leslee was born in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Her family moved frequently before settling in Garden Grove. After graduating from Rancho Alamitos High School, she became a waitress for Bob’s Big Boy restaurants, and at 21 a manager. Later, after her divorce and as a single mom she waitressed at Charley Browns restaurant and volunteered at her son’s school. Accepting a friend’s challenge to return to school, she earned both her bachelor’s degree and teaching credential from CSULB. In 2002, she earned a Master of Science degree and Reading Specialist credential from CSUF.
Besides being well-respected professionally, Leslee is intimately involved with the school community at Gilbert Elementary School as a kindergarten teacher. Over 20 years ago, she started a summer READ WITH ME! program, where she helps children overcome the summer lag by reading to them at Bellis Park.
Leslee says it all began when she was mentioning summer vacation to her class. One little boy asked, “Who’s going to read to us?” Her response was, “I’ll go to the park and read to you.” That first summer between 10 and 40 children would show up to hear her read, sing songs and nibble on pretzels that she brought. Over the years, the summer program grew and the Buena Park Library asked to partner with her. The library staff brought books in their own cars until procuring a ‘cool’ mobile van for community outreach. Leslee now reads to 100 or more children of all ages each Wednesday for a couple of hours, while the library staff checks out books to the children. For many of these children, who would not otherwise have transportation to the library, Leslee’s program is the only access to books or connection to school and learning during the summer months.
Leslee’s involvement in the community goes beyond her summer READ WITH ME! program. Each year the City of Buena Park has a student art show, and Leslee submits art work for every child in her class. Leslee financially supports Buena Park Goes to College, where high school students are provided with access to information to prepare themselves for college. She is also a founding member of the Buena Park School District Education Foundation and has written grants for over $40,000 to help students from the Buena Park School District attend outdoor science camp.
City of Cypress, Charles Williams
Charles Williams is fondly called “coach” by the hundreds of boys and girls who have played hockey, softball, baseball or football under his direction.
He first coached the South Coast Sabers, a hockey team for 15-16 year olds that he led to championships during his several years as coach when his daughter Amanda began playing softball, Charles coached her first team. When his son Nathan began playing baseball, Charles slid into coaching that team, while still supporting his daughter and leading her Y2K Softball Team to the West Coast Softball Championship.
Charles was born in San Pedro, but Cypress has been his home since 1968. He attended Cypress Elementary School, Morris Elementary, Oxford Junior High, and graduated from Cypress High School in 1979. He enrolled at California State University, Fullerton, where he was a bullpen catcher until he hurt his arm, an injury that ended his baseball career. He then focused on math and earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science at National University. He spent his career in the computer field, and with a friend in 1992, began National Creditors Connection, a business he still oversees.
A few years ago, Charles was approached by members of the Boys and Girls Club of Cypress who were seeking a reliable vehicle for the transportation of the Club’s kids. His response was, “What do you need, and how can I help?” From this meeting, he agreed to financially support the Boys & Girls Club in its efforts to purchase three, 14-passenger vans. This allowed the club to more than double the number of children attending the main branch after-school program.
Along with this gift, he continues his generosity through the “Change of Life” Scholarship program and the “Keeping Kids on Track” annual event. Charles and his family also sponsor a child every year to help low income and military families who can’t afford to pay the membership fees. His new focus is the Teen Center at the club. He and his wife donate monies to the program as well as coordinate golf tournaments to help raise needed funds.
For his community-wide efforts, Charles has twice been recognized by the Cypress School District and named Cypress Volunteer of the Year by Cypress Parks and Recreation. He has also received the Service Above Self Award from Cypress Rotary.
City of Garden Grove, A.G. and Kelly Anvari
When it comes to selecting caregivers for their agency, A. G. and Kelly Anvari promote “Character Counts.”
A.G. and Kelly, owners and operators of Visiting Angels, Living Assistance Services in Garden Grove, not only list “character counts” in their business brochure, but their own character counts in all they do in their community of Garden Grove.
A.G. was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, and at 15 he immigrated to the United States. He settled in Charlotte, where his sponsor, a professor at Gaston College, resided. A.G. attended two-year Gaston College before transferring to UNC.
A.G. and Kelly met while students at the University of North Carolina. Both were working their way through school by waiting tables at “Slugs” in Charlotte, a fine dining restaurant on the 30th floor of the 1st Union Bank Building. Kelly was a political science major and A.G. was a chemistry major. The couple married in 1984 in York, South Carolina, and later moved to Poconos, Pennsylvania, the state where Kelly spent some of her childhood before her family settled in Charlotte.
In 1997, A.G. and Kelly moved to Garden Grove where they got involved in the community, and in 2004 they began their Visiting Angels home care business. They also like working with baby boomers, whom they employ as caregivers. “We are always looking for exceptional caregivers, those with experience and compassion,” said A.G. Through their business they partner with many local organizations that serve the senior population
Kelly was a volunteer member of Friendly Visitors, taking care of one woman for a total of three years. For four years she was employed as a librarian at Peters Elementary School.
In 2004, Kelly and A.G. joined the Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce – Kelly the Women’s Division and A.G. the general organization. Kelly was a board member nearly six years, serving as president for two years. Both A.G. and Kelly have been honored by the Chamber’s Women’s Division with the group’s Silver Spoon Award for Volunteerism.
Kelly was also on the board for four years of Acacia Adult Day Care and has been a member of Assistance League Garden Grove for nearly six years. Although not a member, she supports the Veterans Program of the Women’s Civic Club of Garden Grove.
A.G. joined Rotary of Garden Grove in 2013, has been secretary since 2014, and continued in that role while serving as president from 2017-2018, and again February – June 2019. Through Rotary, he helps raise dollars for scholarships for sixth graders at the city’s schools. The scholarships are awarded during a lunch ceremony for the recipients and their families. Funds for the awards are raised through a dinner, opportunity drawings, and an event at the Gem Theater. A.G. helps fundraise so Rotary can donate $3,000 annually to Assistance League Garden Grove for its Operation School Bell program that provides clothes, shoes, and books for elementary school children whose parents need assistance. Other funds A.G. helps Rotary raise assist local centers such as Magnolia or Buena Clinton Center and international grants to support the needy in Vietnam and Mexico.
City of La Palma, Greg Goodyear
Greg Goodyear is the epitome of a man of integrity, honor, volunteerism, and dedication to his community and it is exemplified by his decades of service to all of our service organizations in La Palma, said La Palma City Councilman Peter Kim.
Greg was born in Adrian, Michigan and was raised in the same area. After graduating from Sand Creek High School, he attended Michigan State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. In 1974, he earned his CPA License, also in Michigan, and his first career-path job as an accountant was with Alexander Grant and Company in Muskegon, Michigan, where he worked from June 1972 until December 1975. After moving to California, he went to work for Linford, Jensen & Bradford in Long Beach, and since August 1982, he has been a principal at “Goodrich & Goodyear, an Accountancy Corporation” in Long Beach.
Greg was initially invited by a friend to get involved with the Kiwanis Club of La Palma, and then saw that what others did helped make La Palma a “great city to live in.” His initial volunteer efforts soon evolved into a significant yearning to give back.
“I wanted to use talents I had developed to earn a living to use in the community,” said Greg, whose expertise as a certified public accountant has made him an important connection.
From his first involvement – with Christian Life Church in Long Beach in 1976 – Greg began taking on leadership roles elsewhere. He joined La Palma Kiwanis and La Palma Neighborhood Watch, both in 1988. Early into his Kiwanis membership, he became the program chair, a position he held for two years. He then followed that role with a term as president from 1990-1991. In 1995, he took on the duties of treasurer and has continued in that position ever since – a total of 24 years. He was also treasurer of the community’s Neighborhood Watch program from 1988 until 1991.
Seeing that there was a need for fundraising, Greg joined other community leaders in forming two foundations—in 1997, the John F Kennedy Scholarship Foundation and in 2004, the La Palma Kiwanis Foundation. Greg continues to support both groups as treasurer. Three years ago, in 2016, he was also one of the founding members of the La Palma Community Foundation, of which he is still treasurer.
City of Los Alamitos/Rossmoor, Emil Jorge
Emil Jorge has earned the respect of the Los Alamitos Community by his dynamic leadership and facilitation skills through his involvement in nonprofit, civic and business projects.
Emil was born and raised in Los Alamitos as his parents were original owners in Rossmoor. He only left the area to further his education at the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned a B.S. degree in geography. His original intent was to earn an MBA and to explore the classes offered at Berkeley from its “wonderful professors,” but the MBA curriculum didn’t allow for many electives outside of the core MBA classes.
Emil’s first involvement in Los Alamitos was with Casa Connection, a group made up of young professionals brought together by Karen Klabouch, whose goal was to raise money for Casa Youth Shelter. In the beginning, he helped this small group raise between $5,000 and $10,000 per year. He’s still involved, and they now raise over $20,000 annually, mostly through a “Poker Night” event with professional dealers. One of the primary reasons Emil first got involved with Casa Connection was for his kids.
“I wanted my kids to see me give back,” he said.
Emil’s volunteer efforts spread to other organizations. He became involved with the Los Alamitos Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Commission and is currently on the Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce Board, serving in 2017 as chairman. He has also chaired the annual Wings, Wheels, Rotors and Expo event at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, and served on the committee to hire the current Los Alamitos police chief. Recently, he was asked to join the Los Alamitos Hospital Board of Governors
In 2007, Emil was named a World Leader Business Person, and was also the recipient of The Bizz Award as a Master in Business Leadership, both for being a successful leader.
City of Seal Beach, Greg and Gina Phillips
As individuals and as a couple, Greg and Gina Phillips have served the community of Seal Beach with distinction, doing much to improve the town and to help the less fortunate.
Greg was born in Long Beach and is a lifelong resident of Seal Beach, having attended local schools and graduating from Los Alamitos High School. Gina grew up in neighboring Anaheim, attending St. Anthony Claret Elementary, Sycamore Junior High and Anaheim Union High School.
Greg is a long time community servant and an active member of the Seal Beach Lions Club. For three years, he was a coordinator for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. His alma mater, as well as the entire Los Alamitos High School District, receives his support as he has been a sponsor of the Robotics Team, the Los Alamitos Education Foundation (LAEF) and the Science Technology Engineering, Art, Math (STEAM) program.
Greg’s most significant involvement in the community is as president of Run Seal Beach – a position he has held for the past four years. This single event is one of the largest in the city and produces more funds than any other community fund-raising event. Run Seal Beach contributes about $150,000 per year to local non-profits and organizations in and around Seal Beach.
Gina started her community involvement in 2012 as a volunteer with the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce. This grew into her being named as the Chamber’s Director of Operations. She also served on the Chamber’s board of directors for two terms, 2009-2010 and again from 2015-2016.
An active member of the Seal Beach Lions Club since 2010, Gina recently represented the club at the organization’s international convention. She has chaired numerous events and has received recognitions such as: President’s Medal of Courage and the President’s Award, and the Lions Project for Canine Companions Abdul Fellowship Award.
The couple’s major commitment is to the Seal Beach Police Foundation, which was formed in 2014, due in large part, to their interest and dedication in supporting both the police department and the community. The Foundation is responsible for obtaining important tools for the department and helping with community engagement and community policing.
Besides the couple’s dedication to the Foundation, the Lions Club and to Los Alamitos High School, the couple regularly supports other organizations in the community through their donations, event attendance, and volunteerism. Seldom does an event in Seal Beach occur that the Phillips are not seen at, said Scott Newton, Seal Beach Lions Club member and Seal Beach Police Foundation Director. “In most everything the Phillips do as individuals, they are backed up with significant and unconditional support from their spouse. This ‘force multiplier’ is what makes their individual contributions so notable,” said Scott.
City of Stanton, Glenn McElroy
Glenn McElroy had an idea 43 years ago that would transform a typical American auto wrecking yard into an environmentally friendly and affordable community business. His idea soon gave birth to Pick Your Part Auto Wrecking (PYP), which opened its doors in the early 1970’s in Monrovia.
Glenn was born in Texas and grew up in the San Fernando Valley and Compton, graduating from Compton Union High School. In his 20’s, he moved to Cypress where his family had settled, and then spent the next 40 years living in Huntington Beach before moving to Anaheim.
As a youth, Glenn went to work as a “lot boy” at his father’s car dealership, and in 1957 he moved up the ranks and became a car salesman. By 1960, Glenn had become the owner of three used car lots – two in Compton and one in Bellflower. It was while dealing with people shopping for used cars that Glenn got the idea of an auto wrecking business.
With Orange County being his home, Glenn has supported numerous nonprofit organizations in Stanton and Anaheim as well as in other cities since 1988. He is a founding member of Stanton’s Boys and Girls Club, supports local fire departments by donating vehicles for use in exercises using the Jaws of Life to rescue victims and extinguishing vehicular fires, and is a 60-year member of the al Malika Shrine in Los Angeles and a lifetime member of the Los Caballeros Horseback Riding Club.
What Glenn says is one the most rewarding things he does is supporting a few families in need during Christmas. Currently, Glenn and his longtime partner, Pamela Ball, provide Christmas gifts, clothing and food for four families. “I buy the junk food and Pamela buys the staples,” he said. One of the families is chosen from the elementary school where Pamela’s daughter Brooke teaches, two are from the Boys & Girls Club of Stanton, and one family is that of a former employee who is now deceased. It’s been 13 years since they’ve been Santa for this family.