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Tall Tree awardees unveiled

Allan and Mary Seid, Shashank Joshi, Ada's Café and SAP to be honored for community work

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Longtime Palo Altans Allan and Mary Seid have spent more than five decades devoting themselves to social causes and fighting injustice. They have been named this year's Outstanding Citizen Volunteers. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Five dedicated individuals and organizations that have focused on social causes, mental-health issues, sustainability, workplace diversity and helping those with disabilities will be honored at the 2018 Tall Tree awards on May 17 at Palo Alto's Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The 39th annual event, sponsored by the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and the Palo Alto Weekly, will recognize Allan and Mary Seid, Shashank Joshi, Ada's Café and SAP.

Allan and Mary Seid are receiving the award for Outstanding Citizen Volunteer.

For more than 50 years, the longtime Palo Altans have devoted themselves to social causes and fighting injustice.

"The Seids have repeatedly stepped up when their community has called upon them to do so, and Palo Alto would not be what it is today without them," Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian wrote in a letter supporting their nomination.

Together, the Seids co-founded Asian Americans for Community Involvement in 1973 to advocate for Asian-Americans and other minorities living in Santa Clara County. The organization assists non-English-speaking immigrants with health care, legal and government services.

Allan helped start Pathway Society, which operates a drug-addiction rehabilitation facility that serves teens and adults in the county. He created substance-abuse prevention discussions as part of Pathway's education program used in Palo Alto schools. He also chaired the Palo Alto City Council special task force on drug abuse and authored the final report that helped create a downtown teen drop-in center.

In the midst of raising a family, Mary worked alongside the Palo Alto Council of PTAs to ensure that textbooks used in California's pubic schools would be free of race and gender bias — a three-year effort that led to a statewide mandate. She also taught Asian-American studies at local colleges.

Both Seids partnered with the Palo Alto Unified School District in 2014 to address a growing number of suicides among high school students by establishing school-based counseling and support services.

Shashank Joshi is receiving the award for Outstanding Professional.

Joshi has gone beyond his role as associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University to assist troubled youth in the Palo Alto area. As a suicide-prevention expert, he played a central role in the community response to the mental health crises apparent among high school students in Palo Alto in 2009 after a cluster of suicides.

Joshi is a founding member of Project Safety Net, formed to prevent teenage suicide and promote youth well-being. The organization aims to develop and implement an effective, comprehensive community-based mental health plan with strategies that together provide a "safety net."

Joshi is a mental health consultant for Palo Alto Unified and collaborates with teachers and administrators at Gunn High School to help identify students with mental health risks. Through the organization, he has played a role in supporting the creation of the school district's suicide prevention toolkit, organized mental health awareness campaigns and brought in more students to work with the organization.

Joshi also works as part of the Santa Clara County Suicide Prevention Oversight Committee.

Ada's Café is receiving the award for Outstanding Nonprofit.

Since 2012, the nonprofit has empowered people with disabilities through work opportunities, changing the face of retail out of a small, inviting coffee shop next to the Mitchell Park Library and in the commercial kitchen in Mountain View, where all the food is made with organic ingredients.

Kathleen Foley-Hughes, a longtime Palo Altan and mother of four, founded the nonprofit that began with catering gigs and expanded to a café open seven days a week.

"Our goal is to bring people together that usually don't have an opportunity to connect," Foley-Hughes told the Weekly before the organization opened its Mitchell Park location in 2014.

Ada's has hired more than 50 adults with developmental disabilities and has integrated students from several local schools into its summer intern program.

Al Kenrick, a Wells Fargo Bank regional manager who has worked with Ada's, said he believes the cafe is changing the perception of what it means to have a disability.

"By integrating current high school students into its programs today, Ada's is sowing the seeds of positive change in the minds of tomorrow's leaders," Kenrick wrote in a letter supporting the Ada's nomination.

SAP is receiving the award for Outstanding Business.

Tech giant SAP is known worldwide as a leader in enterprise application software, but locally, the company's Stanford Research Park campus is recognized for its community partnerships, sustainability efforts and dedication to workplace diversity.

SAP is among the 229 companies recognized by Best Workplaces for Commuters. In Palo Alto, SAP provides employees transit subsidies, commuter shuttles and carpool matching and free ride-share access.

As a zero-waste campus, SAP runs off of 99 percent renewable energy credits, has installed more than 650 solar panels, and on average, saves 3.1 million gallons of water at its data canters annually.

Former Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt called SAP "one of Palo Alto's greenest companies ever" in 2015 when awarding its third Mayor's Green Business Leader Recognition Award.

As a partner of the Foundation for a College Education in East Palo Alto, many SAP employees have mentored students through various programs. Employees also have worked with the foundation through SAP Social Sabbatical, a pro bono volunteer program where employees are given a six-week leave to provide their expertise toward helping nonprofits solve challenges.

The company entered the spotlight in 2015 when Sam Yen, SAP chief design officer and managing director of SAP Silicon Valley, joined the White House Tech Inclusion Pledge as part of SAP's goal to promote workplace diversity.

By 2017, women made up one in four management positions and the number of female leaders rose from 18 percent to 25 percent over the past six years, according to a company press release.

"SAP embodies partnership, innovation and sustainability — quintessential values to Stanford Research park and the City of Palo Alto," Tiffany Griego, managing director of Stanford Research Park wrote in in a letter supporting SAP's nomination.

More information about the Tall Tree Awards, including ticket information, can be found at paloaltochamber.com.

Related content:

2017 Tall Tree awardees

2016 Tall Tree awardees

2015 Tall Tree awardees


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

About the video: On May 17, 2018 the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and the Palo Alto Weekly presented the 2018 Tall Tree Awards honoring the outstanding professional, business, citizen volunteer and nonprofit. Video by Palo Alto Online.

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10 people like this
Posted by Virginia
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 6, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Congratulations to Ada’s Cafe! Well deserved! Ada’s also provides catering services and did a great job providing delicious food for a family birthday party at Foothill Park.

4 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 6, 2018 at 6:54 pm

Congratulations to Dr. Allan and Mary Seid, as well as the other honorees. Great to see a set of honorees who are diverse contributors to our city.

6 people like this
Posted by Charlene
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2018 at 10:16 pm

Congratulations to Ada's Cafe and to Dr. Allan Seid and his wife Mary Seid. You are all well deserved organization and individuals!

I wrote a support letter to nominate Ada's Cafe for a Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce/Palo Alto Weekly 2018 Tall Tree Award as “Outstanding Non-Profit.” In this letter, I wrote: "I am very impressed with the work that Ada’s Café is doing in the café at Mitchell Park and at its commercial kitchen. Ada’s is a non-profit organization that exists to create job opportunities for adults with disabilities, while also engaging with local community with its offering of high quality food and varieties of drinks. As a local café, it has to compete every day against the likes of Peets, Starbucks, Philz and Mikes Cafe as well as a number of local catering companies. Despite the competitive commercial pressures, Ada’s Café manages to create opportunities for adults with disabilities like my daughter to engage with customers, prepare high-quality, retail ready food in the kitchen and be responsible for value added, “front-of-the-house” jobs that are integral to the business and to public awareness of disabilities and diversities among us. "

I highly recommend people to visit Ada's Cafe next to Mitchell Park Library. Your purchases and orderings are the best support for this thriving business and an asset in our community!

2 people like this
Posted by William Hall
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2018 at 8:52 pm

Who deserves this more? No one I know.

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