MARTINEZ -- It's hard to pinpoint all the people who make a difference in the Contra Costa Community College District.

But the district has decided to start with a list of 27.

The district announced this week the winners of its inaugural Unsung Hero Awards, which will be presented during a showcase and celebration of the district's 65th anniversary Saturday.

Trustee Vicki Gordon, a member of the nominating committee, said the idea came from an American Governing Boards Association conference she attended with now-deceased trustee Sheila Grilli.

During a speech at the event, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich said higher-learning institutions shouldn't take community colleges for granted, and that they are the unsung heroes of education.

"We brought that idea back here, because there are a lot of people in this job that make a difference for our students, but they do it quietly and behind the scenes," Gordon said.

Nominations were made in eight categories: Faculty, Classified Staff, Manager, Student, Alumni, Retiree, Volunteer and Community Partner.

"We probably missed a lot of good ones," Gordon said.

The honorees are:

Los Medanos College: alumni Lindsay Bertolucci; student Ahmed C. Burden; classified staff member Teresa Ferguson; manager Ruth Goodin; faculty member Michelle Price; faculty member Patsy Sherman; and retiree Janhari Stewart.


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Contra Costa College: alumni Robert J. Campbell; faculty member Jon Celesia; alumni Robert Creer; faculty member Dr. J. Vern Cromartie; volunteer Hok Gouw; classified staff member Zolayma Martin; manager John Wade II; and faculty member Al Zuniga.

Diablo Valley College: faculty member Henry Hall; retiree Jack Smith (posthumous); faculty member Jayne Smithson.

District community partners: Sean Casey of First 5 Contra Costa;, the city of Brentwood; the district's Citizens Bond Oversight Committee; Kate Ertz-Berger of the Contra Costa Childcare Council; Steve Kahn, Kennedy King Scholarship Fund; Willie McGee.

From the district office, classified staff member David Harris and volunteer Jack Weir.

Saturday's event will be held noon to 1 p.m., followed by a showcase and celebration, at the Universal Sports Academy, 330 Ferry St.

"To be able to give back to someone that's given so much, it's a wonderful feeling," Gordon said. "It's like opening a package on Christmas; the person receiving it is ecstatic, and so is the person giving it."

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.