Chamber, Weekly announce Tall Tree Awards | March 1, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 1, 2013

Chamber, Weekly announce Tall Tree Awards

Individuals, organizations recognized for outstanding achievements

by Carol Blitzer

Five individuals and organizations will receive this year's Tall Tree Awards, which are sponsored by the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and the Palo Alto Weekly.

The awards acknowledge the civic accomplishments of a citizen volunteer, professional/business person, business and nonprofit organization. New this year is a Global Impact Award, which recognizes a community member for work that has made a lasting impact beyond Palo Alto.

Ray Bacchetti is being lauded as "Outstanding Citizen Volunteer" for his work both on the Mayor's Public Safety Building Blue Ribbon Task Force and the Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission.

"Ray's hands-on leadership was instrumental in the commission's production of a comprehensive report analyzing the City's infrastructure backlog," the nominating letter said.

Earlier volunteer activities, which stretch back to 1978, included terms on the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education, the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees, Palo Alto Human Relations Commission, and the Channing House board, as well as service to the Palo Alto Police Department.

Referring to his leadership on the Human Relations Commission, the letter noted: "Ray's inclusive approach and thoughtful consideration of all sides of these issues often results in sensible recommendations and actions that benefit the community as a whole."

Named "Outstanding Professional," Becky Beacom's latest involvement with Project Safety Net, which deals with suicide prevention and student well-being, is just one more contribution through her long career as manager of health education at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. She has served on the school district's Student Health Council, the City/School Liaison Committee, Health Care Alliance for Response to Adolescent Depression and the Palo Alto Youth Collaborative, among others.

"No matter how full her plate may be she always has time for your concern or need and will make you feel as though there is no issue more important and worthy of her time than the one you have brought to her attention," resident Mary Ojakian wrote a nominating letter.

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati was cited as "Outstanding Business" for its extensive pro bono legal representation, financial support through its foundation and community service by individuals in the firm. Among its community-service projects have been habitat restoration for the environmental nonprofit Acterra; a back-to-school supplies drive for the East Palo Alto Charter School; Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; renovation projects for Rebuilding Together Peninsula; and quarterly blood drives for the Stanford Blood Center.

In addition, the firm's Green Team advocates for environmentally friendly activities at work.

"It is hard for me to imagine any company with a greater list of contributions, from the pro bono hours that first caught my attention, to their very substantial monetary donations, to their actual hands-on community service," wrote one nominator.

Recommendation letters for Breast Cancer Connections came from former clients and board members — and in some cases, both — who wanted to honor the group as "Outstanding Nonprofit" as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

"Breast Cancer Connections (BCC) does a phenomenal job at bringing together breast-cancer specialists and survivors to provide emotional support, breast-cancer education, and early detection services. Whether a client has just been diagnosed, or they are seeking wellness after treatment, BCC's compassionate staff and volunteers are with them every step of the way," wrote a former client, volunteer and board member.

Currently, Breast Cancer Connections is putting together a steering committee to plan how to expand its services and scope to include people with ovarian cancer, said Karen Nelson, the organization's executive director.

For the first time, a Tall Tree Global Impact Award will be given, this year to Stanford University President John Hennessey. The award will be made periodically, rather than annually.

All of the Tall Tree Award recipients will be honored at a dinner on Wednesday, April 10, at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel. Tickets range from $125 to $175, depending on membership in the Chamber and an earlybird deadline of March 20. They are available through the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, or 650-324-3121.

Associate Editor Carol Blitzer can be emailed at


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