James P. McEntee Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award

In 2004, following the death of  Jim McEntee, the Jim McEntee Legacy Committee established the James P. McEntee, Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award to be given at the annual Human Relations Awards Breakfast each spring.  The award was created to honor an outstanding individual from the county community whose life honored the spirit of Jim McEntee by living a life dedicated to peace, human rights and social justice.


Judge Cordell retired from the Santa Clara County bench in 2001 after almost 19 years of service in both the Municipal and Superior Courts. During her tenure on the bench she was a tireless voice for fairness and equity in the judicial and criminal justice systems.

In 2001 Judge Cordell was selected as Vice Provost / Special Counselor to the President of Stanford University for On Campus Relations where she continued to focus on improving the campus environment for students of color – work she had begun earlier as the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Stanford’s Law School. She also became known as an articulate and knowledgeable legal analyst for CBS – 5 Bay Area Television, served as a guest commentator for Court T.V. and served on the Palo Alto City Council.

In April 2010, she was appointed to the difficult and controversial position of Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose where she has worked to strengthen the relationship between the SJ Police Department and the community, and has made it a priority to instill greater confidence in the complaint process involving police officer misconduct. Judge Cordell has involved youth in the effort to build better police/ community relations by initiating a Teen Leadership Council as part of the IPA’s Office.  One well-respected community leader has said that Judge Cordell “has already made the IPA Office highly visible, responsive, pro-active and has reached out to the diversity of the county community, including youth and immigrants.”

From December, 2013 to April, 2014 Judge Cordell served as the Chairperson of the Task Force on Discrimination at SJSU following a hate crime that involving racial bullying, that occurred on the SJSU campus.  Judge Cordell is expected to lead efforts to ensure the university implements the Task Force recommendations designed to improve the campus climate at SJSU.

Over the past 30 years, Judge Cordell’s extensive community involvement includes membership on many leading nonprofit boards in the county.  She has helped raise funds to support the legal rights of children and youth and has served as a mentor and role model to many girls and women.

Judge Cordell’s has a long and distinguished history of professional and community service and as a human rights activist. Her work has had a profound impact on our community and well beyond. We are proud to present her with the James P. Mc Entee Sr. Life Time Achievement Award

2013 : NO AWARD


Arturo Gomez has, for over 40 years, worked tirelessly with youth, seniors and  Latino immigrant families in both a professional and volunteer capacity, to increase individual and community power.  Arturo Gomez believes that all people can become active participants in their own history.  He has especially utilized theater, as a powerful tool which can inspire and engage, both participants and audience, to understand the conditions of their lives and work together on visionary solutions.

For the past eight years,  Arturo has worked at Somos Mayfair in east San Jose, where he has been “instrumental in bringing teatro and cultural work”,  to this innovative organization.  At Somos Mayfair, he helped to develop community leaders and present inspiring theater with Mayfair residents.  Prior to Somos Mayfair,  Mr. Gomez worked throughout the 1990s, as an actor, writer, graphic artist, director, and producer with organizations such as Teatro Familia Aztlan, Teatro Vision & the City of San Jose.

Here Arturo endeavored to create theater and cultural  activities to engage at-risk youth in the Sacred Heart, Alma & Gardner communities of San Jose.  Along with his professional work, Arturo Gomez has spent many years as a community volunteer,  serving as a Board member with Downtown College Prep & Teatro Familia Aztlan and working as a volunteer immigrant rights march oganizer.

One of Arturo’s longtime examples of  successful community building is his twenty year effort with Teatro Corazon based in the Sacred Heart parish community in San Jose.  Since 1993, he served as the Artistic Director and Manager of a living school of theater, that develops two annual productions involving more than 100 community participants, including children, youth and families.

While Mr Gomez  receives a small stipend for this work, it is truly a “labor of love” as he spends countless volunteer hours each year assisting in the production.   Each year he directs a dramatic musical play celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe to a packed house at the Mission Church at Santa Clara University (SCU),  and students from SCU volunteer to participate in and support the  production.


Friends of Human Relations honored the Hon. Blanca Alvarado in 2011 with the Jim McEntee Lifetime Achievement Award for her lifelong efforts on behalf of children and families.

The Hon. Alvarado was a close friend to Jim McEntee and The Jim McEntee Legacy Committee is very grateful for her leadership and guidance which was instrumental in helping us implement the Jim McEntee Legacy Art Project

Supervisor Alvarado has been a trailblazing leader throughout her decades of public service on the San Jose City Council and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Throughout her 28years in public office, she has always been passionate about supporting at-risk children and families. As a County Supervisor, Blanca led or supported many early intervention/ prevention efforts in county run health, hospital, social service and criminal justice programs.  She was instrumental in establishing the First Five Commission, the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Network and the Juvenile Detention Reform Initiative.

Alvarado was also a champion on women’s issues and spearheaded the establishment of the Office of Women’s Advocacy to give county visibility to programs which encouraged women and girls to succeed at all levels.

Today Friends calls attention to Hon. Alvarado’s work in two areas which are among her greatest legacies: her work to support early childhood development programs and to reform the county’s juvenile detention system.

As others before us, we recognize Blanca’s work as one of the pioneers of the early childhood movement in the State of California, years before such initiatives were launched statewide.

Supervisor Alvarado worked tirelessly with county leaders and child and youth advocates to promote greater investment in all children from birth through their successful transition to adulthood. As the Chair of the County’s First Five Commission for years, Hon. Alvarado today is often known as “the mother of First Five”.

Through the Board’s Public Safety and Justice Committee, Supervisor Alvarado also led efforts to implement innovative diversion programs so that fewer youth entered the juvenile justice system.

She was relentless in addressing the disproportionate numbers of children of color in juvenile detention, and in working with county and community leaders to address the unmet developmental, educational and mental health needs of youth in the criminal justice system.

Friends joins with the American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley which earlier this month, presented the Hon. Alvarado with the John Gardner Leadership Award for “exemplary leadership which demonstrates the core values of diversity, inclusiveness, civility, engagement and respect.”


Elisa Marina Alvarado, Artistic Director and founding member of Teatro Visión, has worked passionately for decades as a community activist and professional to promote peace, social justice, respect for diversity and cultural competency in Santa Clara County .

Over the past 30 years Elisa, a licensed clinical social worker, has made significant contributions to efforts to develop culturally competent social services. She was instrumental in developing the County’s first multi-disciplinary older adult mental health team specializing in helping Spanish speaking elders and the first Ethno-medicine Project that brought indigenous doctors to the U.S. to teach cultural competent practices to health care providers. As a member of the Native Family Outreach and Engagement Project, a culture based mental health initiative; Elisa continues to promote culturally competent human services.

As Artistic Director of Teatro Visión, Elisa has increasingly gained a statewide and national reputation for her creative, cutting edge work. She recently, in collaboration with theater educators, developed the Instituto de Teatro, a program that provides training in the use of theater for community education and organizing. Organizations such as, Somos Mayfair, MACSA, First 5 funded agencies, Legal Advocates for Youth and Asian Americans for Community Involvement have received training through the Instituto. Largely due to Elisa’s artistic vision, Teatro Visión has become one of the leading Chicano professional theatre companies in the United States .

Our community has benefited greatly from Elisa’s personal commitment to social justice and to the arts. She has truly made a positive difference in Santa Clara County .


Father Bill Leininger has been a highly visible local leader for social justice for almost fifty years and has worked with groups that promote accessible health care and low income housing.  Father Bill has also worked closely with environmental groups, immigration groups, day workers, homeless advocates and women’s groups seeking improvements in daily working conditions.

Father Leininger considers it an important part of his work to provide the presence of faith in support of community building and justice efforts.  He is passionate in his belief that churches and church leadership must be concerned and involved with the plight of the poor and marginalized.  His good works have touched the lives of many in the county community.


Wiggsy Sivertsen has dedicated her life to fighting for the civil rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities and has made it her personal mission to educate the community about LGBT and human rights concerns.

Wiggsy is a founding member of BAYMEC (Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee) the only political action committee dedicated to advocating for the civil rights of LGBT communities.  She is a Board member of the AIDS/ KS Foundation, former member of the City of San Jose’s Domestic Violence Council, and has served as chair of the Human Relations Commission, the Commission on the Status of Women and the Network for a Hate-Free Community for Santa Clara County.

Wiggsy is a remarkable and inspiring leader and advocate for all of us concerned about peace and social justice and respect for diversity.


Florene Poyadue, Founder Parents Helping Parents, is a registered nurse, and a credentialed teacher.  She has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s in Marriage/Family/Child/Counseling, and an Honorary Ph.D. in community service from Santa Clara University.  She has four children with special needs.

As the founder of Parents helping Parents, Inc. (PHP) a family resources and support center, Florene has worked with families and children with a need for special services for more than 30 years.  Through her dedication and leadership, PHP has been recognized as a national model by the federal Maternal & Child Health Bureau.  With Kaiser Permanente as her partner, Poyadue created a national consumer/provider model for activating family-centerd care as part of managed health care.

Poyadue has won numerous prestigious awards such as Woman of the Year award from the California State Legislature.  She has authored many professional papers and in 2007, “The Florene Stewart Poyadue papers” were archived at the San Jose State University/ Dr. Martin Luther King Library.


Richard Konda has worked at the Asian Law Alliance (ALA) since graduating from law school in 1978.  ALA began as an information and referral project started by a group of law students from the Asian Law Students Association at Santa Clara School of Law.  ALA  currently provides accessible legal services to Asian/Pacific Islanders and low income people and serves as one of the strongest justice advocacy organizations in the county.

As Executive Director of the Asian Law Alliance, Mr. Konda worked closely with Jim McEntee for decades on issues of peace and justice.  Jim McEntee helped to found ALA and continued his strong support of ALA until his untimely death in 2004.

As a staff attorney at ALA, Konda represented many recent immigrants and refugees with immigration related problems and counseled many other clients in a wide variety of legal matters. Konda was an active participant in the movement to obtain redress and reparations for Japanese Americans interned by the U.S. government during World War II.  In 1994, he was also an active member of the campaign against Proposition 187.   More recently, Konda has also been very active with the Committee on Justice & Accountability and efforts focused on improving community policing and community accountability.  Since 2002, Konda has also served as the President of Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN), a leading immigrant rights organization in the south bay.


Described by Jim McEntee as his hero, Gertrude Welch is a longtime community activist and a great inspiration to many.  Gertrude’s dedication to social causes and the peace movement has been so strong for so many years, that she is a catalyst for generating involvement and enthusiasm in others.  She is highly regarded as a person who initiates practical ideas and follows through to make them happen.  A few examples of her service to the community include:  providing leadership with the Human Relations Commission, the Council of Churches, Network for a Hate-free Community and the Jim McEntee Legacy Committee.

Gertrude has been a tremendous asset to our County and we all share in reaping the rewards of her lifetime of commitment to community service and human rights.


The first recipient of the award in 2004 was Rigo Chacon, President of Abrazos & Books, the longtime South Bay area news reporter and former Bureau Chief of KGO-TV and dear friend of Jim McEntee.  Born & raised in San Jose, Rigo Chacon served the community through his award winning reporting and also his considerable community involvement.  Rigo has provided college scholarships each year to hundreds of students, has served on the Board of Directors for the National Hispanic University and Community Services Organization and has served as a master of ceremonies for hundreds of charitable events locally.  Rigo has also mentored many young people, especially Latino youth, who are aspiring to a career in television broadcasting.

Rigo is a three-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  He has supported the County’s Office of Human Relations for decades and has been the master of ceremonies for most of the Human Relations Awards events for these past many years.