Union Bank and KCETLink Honor Local Heroes

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, two outstanding Latinos are recognized for their work In the L.A. community

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: September 16, 2013

Union Bank and KCETLink Honor Local Heroes

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and as part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and responsible banking, Union Bank has joined KCETLink to honor two inspirational Angelenos as local heroes. The 2013 Hispanic Heritage Month honorees are: Father Richard Estrada, founder and president of the board of directors of Jovenes Inc.; and Robert Garc?¡a, founding director and counsel of The City Project. Both will be recognized with other heritage month honorees during an October celebration in Los Angeles.

The Local Heroes program recognizes and pays tribute to exemplary leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others by improving their workplace, community, region and the world. The 2013 Hispanic Heritage Month honorees share a passion for providing their communities with the tools to thrive in today's changing world.

Father Richard Estrada (pictured) is founder and board president of Jovenes Inc., a nonprofit organization in Boyle Heights that is a place of personal transformation for homeless youth, helping them become active and integrated members of the community. Founded in 1991, Jovenes Inc. helps homeless youth find a safe haven with services such as case management, employment, life skills training, leadership development and mental health. Its Continuum of Care program provides emergency shelter and transitional and permanent supportive housing to youth regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Father Estrada served as Jovenes Inc.'s executive director from 1991 to 2007. He is also associate pastor of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church (La Iglesia de Nuestra Se??ora la Reina de Los Angeles), located in the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District. Father Estrada has received numerous awards, including the American Institute for Public Service Jefferson Award, and he was recognized by the Los Angeles City Council for his exemplary work in the community.

Robert Garc?¡a is founding director and counsel of The City Project, a nonprofit legal and policy advocacy team that engages, educates and empowers communities of color and low-income communities. Working with community allies, Mr. Garc?¡a and The City Project played a pivotal role in the development of the Los Angeles State Historic Park at the Cornfield on the edge of Chinatown. They helped prevent 32 acres of warehouses from being built on the land, and under Mr. Garc?¡a's leadership,

The City Project also helped prevent land on the Rio de Los Angeles State Park at Taylor Yard to be used to repair railroad cars. The community now enjoys hiking trails, wetlands, sports fields and a children's playground. In 2010, Mr. Garc?¡a received the President's Award from the American Public Health Association. He's also been recognized as one of the most influential Latinos in the United States by Hispanic Business Magazine. Mr. Garc?¡a is a graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School.

"We are proud to recognize these two remarkable men who give so much of themselves," said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre P. Habis, head of Community Banking. "Their passion for improving our communities is admirable, and while they positively influence all of our lives, the impact they have on our youth and underserved is extraordinary."

"The wonderful accomplishments of these men will leave an indelible mark on Angelenos for generations to come," said Al Jerome, chief executive officer of KCETLink. "They are true community champions by creating new opportunities for those in need to lead productive and happy lives."

Throughout the respective commemorative heritage months, KCET, the Southern and Central California public broadcast service of KCETLink, airs a video profile of each honoree, highlighting how they have made a difference in their community. The 2013 on-air profiles can be viewed on the Web at local_heroes. KCET showcases the rich, effervescent history and cultural diversity of our region with special programs during the respective heritage months and throughout the year.

For more information about the Local Heroes program, or to nominate a 2014 local hero, please also visit

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