The 65th annual Fernando Awards were held last Friday night at the Skirball Center, and Mel Wilson was named the 2023 Fernando Award winner.
The Fernando Award is the highest accolade in the San Fernando Valley, and is given to someone who exemplifies outstanding service to the community. Wilson is a valley Realtor and Real Estate Asset Manager, owner of Mel Wilson & Associates.
He was nominated for the Fernando Award by Bob Khalsa, Lee Kanon Alpert and Rich Pisani.
Wilson is the son of a single mother who cleaned houses for $12 a day when the family moved to the San Fernando Valley from Alabama.
He has devoted himself to improving the quality of life for those in under-served communities throughout Los Angeles, especially in Pacoima, where he grew up.
Before embarking on his real estate career, Wilson was an All-American, 5th Round NFL draft pick for the New York Giants, and played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Calgary Stampeders.
As a Realtor he is particularly proud of bringing the first grocery store to Pacoima. He told Valley News Group, “Before that we had to go miles from home just to get groceries.”
He also has a passion for creating workforce housing opportunities to close the homeownership gap, saying, “Homeownership and investment housing is a stepping stone for creating generational wealth.”
Wilson is Founding Chairman of the Pacoima Enterprise Zone Advisory Commission and a founding member of the Valley Economic Alliance.
A two-time appointee to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board and past Vice President of the L.A. Fire Commission, he also served on the Los Angeles County Citizen Planning Council and the L.A. City Small Business Advisory Commission.
With his appointment to Metro, Wilson helped secure the North Hollywood and Universal City Metro Lines and the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project. He secured an additional 500 paramedics to give the city 24/7 coverage while on the Fire Commission, and he arranged for Pacoima a designation among the first 10 Enterprise Zones in the state while on the Enterprise Zone Advisory Commission.
His many honors include the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Department, the Distinguished Service Award from the Valley Intercommunity Council, and the Valley of the Stars Humanitarian Award from the Valley Economic Alliance.
The other four 2023 nominees up for consideration were Armida Colmenares-Stafford. First Vice President of Pacific Premier Bank, Steve Fazio, CEO of Fazio Cleaners, Kevin Tamaki of Tamaki Consulting and Sharon J. Udkoff, CPA.