They are all leaders in their own right and have had a lasting influence on the city's civic life as well as on its elderly, women, children and disenfranchised. Barbara Carlitz, Ann DeBusk, Bob Harrington, Gib Myers, and Allan and Mary Seid were announced on Tuesday as this year's recipients of the Avenidas Lifetimes of Achievement Award.
A reception for the honorees is planned for May and will also be a fundraiser for Avenidas, a nonprofit organization that has been serving seniors and their families on the Midpeninsula since 1969.
Over the years, Barbara Carlitz of Palo Alto has demonstrated her commitment to important causes by serving as chair or board member for six nonprofit organizations in the Palo Alto area: Association for Senior Day Health, Avenidas, Environmental Volunteers, Palo Alto Community Child Care, Palo Alto Community Fund and The Woman's Club of Palo Alto. Her thoughtful guidance and deep understanding of the nonprofits makes her an "immense community asset," wrote one person who nominated Carlitz for the Avenidas honor.
At the same time, she also carved out a successful career in the highly competitive field of architectural design.
Leadership has been the hallmark of Ann DeBusk of Stanford, who started and was director of Leadership Palo Alto, a training program for civic leaders, and then was founder and president of American Leadership Forum - Silicon Valley. Through both, DeBusk has used her energy and vision to bring together leaders from business, government and the community to strengthen their commitment to work on public issues of crucial concern, according to an Avenidas press release.
DeBusk also became a consultant to nonprofit organizations with a focus on building boards. She continues her involvement with American Leadership Forum as a senior fellow and adviser.
Bob Harrington of Palo Alto has been the quintessential "citizen volunteer," leading some of Palo Alto's most important initiatives over the years, including critical storm-drain improvements, flood protection and a citywide plan for faster and broader Internet connectivity known as Fiber to the Home (FTTH) (now known as Fiber to the Premises).
Professionally, Harrington was a financial adviser who made radio stock-market reports from his desk at Dean Witter. He was involved with the Band of Angels venture-capital organization that helped numerous startup entrepreneurs. In nominations of Harrington for the Lifetimes of Achievement Award, he was called both a "tireless advocate" and an "unsung hero."
Gib Myers of Atherton has become known as a "venture philanthropist." The emeritus partner of the venture-capital Mayfield Fund began the Entrepreneurs Foundation, a nonprofit with the mission of developing corporate citizenship and philanthropic efforts to benefit the community. He is also the chairman of the American Prairie Foundation, which has the mission of assembling the largest wildlife reserve in the lower 48 states, an American Serengeti.
Myers is also a co-founder of the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a senior fellow and board member of the American Leadership Forum.
Psychiatrist Allan Seid and wife Mary, a sociologist, are community builders. Their greatest achievement was the founding of Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) in 1974 in Palo Alto. That nonprofit organization has become the largest provider in Santa Clara County of human services to people of Asian heritage, offering culturally appropriate help in a variety of languages.
Among other achievements, Allan Seid was the first Asian American to serve on the California State Board of Education and the California State Mental Health Board, and Mary Seid was the board president and a director of the Midpeninsula YWCA.
Avenidas and its community partner, the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com, will host a garden party on Sunday, May 17, from 3 to 5 p.m., in honor of the six achievement awardees. The event, at a location to be announced, is open to the public.
"This party is important to both recognize the contributions of some highly dedicated older adults but also to help fund such crucial programs as transportation and social work services that Avenidas has been providing to Peninsula seniors for 46 years," Avenidas President and CEO Amy Andonian said in a press release. "I extend an invitation to the community to join us."
Tickets can be purchased for $75 by contacting Avenidas at 650-289-5445 or online at avenidas.org.