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Fernando Award Nominations Open and Rebranding – Without the Indian

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Nominations are now open for the annual Fernando Award, the Valley’s highest honor for volunteerism. Applications may be submitted through July 28 at noon.

A nominee for the Fernando Award should clearly be making a difference in the greater San Fernando Valley through significant volunteer leadership with civic organizations, programs and/or critical social and community causes. 

Former elected officials are eligible to be nominated if they have been out of public office for five or more years and not expected to run for public office in the future. Current public officials, current and former staffers, current candidates for public office, current members of the Fernando board of directors and past award recipients are not eligible to be nominated.

Nominees who perform community service as a requirement of an employer will be considered. However, the nomination application should primarily include volunteer activities that are not required by their employer. 

This year, the Fernando Award Foundation has also announced a rebranding effort. Changes will include moving away from use of the American Indian symbol that has been its logo for decades. “Our board of directors and many others we have surveyed in the community the past two years feel that because our organization is such a fixture in our community it has an obligation to adapt to changing times as our Valley moves forward in the 21st century,” said Board Chair Pegi Matsuda. The board is in the process of developing a new logo that portrays the organization’s devotion to promoting volunteerism throughout the Valley. 

“We are not talking about knocking down the statue of the Indian brave at the Van Nuys Civic Center or the Fernando obelisk at Warner Center Park. Those are part of the Valley’s history,” said Mark Villasenor, Fernando’s vice chair and a member of the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians who were the first inhabitants of the San Fernando Valley. Both public monuments were commissioned by the Fernando Award Foundation many years ago. Throughout the Foundation’s history, use of the American Indian symbol has been a way for the organization to honor the tribe as the first members of the Valley community. These days, however, it is seen as a Hollywood-style stereotypical depiction of Native Americans. The Fernandeno Tataviam tribe says the symbol is not an accurate portrayal of them. Board Chair Matsuda said, “The organization cherishes its association with the Tribe and we both value and promote the goals of volunteerism in the community that we all love.” 

The 65th annual Fernando Award Gala announcing this year’s award recipient will be held on Friday, November 3, at the Skirball Cultural Center. Nomination forms can be found and  can be submitted at fernandoawards.org,


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