Cooper Honors Community Leaders with 2016 Legacy Awards

Friday, January 27, 2017

SACRAMENTO – In a ceremony yesterday, Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) honored residents from Sacramento, Elk Grove, Galt, and Lodi for their exceptional leadership and consistent positive impact on their communities.

“Today, I wanted to recognize and bring awareness to notable people in Assembly District 9 who have stepped up to make our community a better place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Assemblymember Cooper.

Recipients of the 2016 Legacy Awards included; Keith Herron and Amaya Weiss of Sacramento, Leo Fassler and Elizabeth Pinkerton of Elk Grove, Barbara Payne of Galt, and Steve Diede of Lodi.

Keith Herron is Founder and CEO of Target Excellence and has brought over $10 million into low-income neighborhoods in our community, making a difference in the lives of more than 9,000 students. Target Excellence helps students develop communication, critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving and other twenty-first century skills by offering service learning programs where students identify and solve problems in their neighborhoods and communities.

Amaya Weiss is the Executive Community Director of the Sacramento City Unified School District’s (SCUSD) Superintendent's Office and is founder of Hope Closet at John Still Elementary School. Hope Closet aims to provide basic nutrition needs to students at one of the lowest performing schools in the SCUSD. As Executive Director, Weiss connects the district with businesses and community resources to implement similar programs at schools throughout SCUSD.

Leo Fassler’s commitment to improving the City of Elk Grove and preserving its rural heritage is unmatched. Thanks to his leadership, Elk Grove has a solely dedicated rural community. A longtime resident of Elk Grove, Fassler has lived in the rural community for 53 years. Since the City’s incorporation in 2000, Fassler has been a constant and regular fixture at Planning Commission and City Council meetings, where he not only attends, but regularly provides meaningful public comment on pertinent issues. Fassler was also instrumental in helping establish the Folks for Oaks program, which has planted thousands of oak trees in rural Elk Grove. During Fassler’s professional career, he was the Assistant General Manager of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and served on various Boards and Commissions, including the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission.

Elizabeth Pinkerton is an educator, writer, consultant and local history buff. As a teacher and administrator with the Elk Grove Unified School District, she became a chronicler of Elk Grove history. She writes a weekly newspaper column for the Elk Grove Citizen, “History Happened Here” and has published several books on the history of the people of south Sacramento County and Elk Grove. Proceeds from her books are allocated for scholarships through the Elk Grove Community Foundation; in the past six years, she has provided 29 students with financial assistance for their college and career plans totaling an estimated $64,000.  

Councilmember Barbara Payne (Ret.) was a 12-year member of the Galt City Council and cofounder of the Galt Coalition of Character program and is a strong advocate for youth and seniors in Galt and South Sacramento County. Payne, a longtime Galt resident was instrumental in the construction of the Galt Library expansion and the Galt Community Garden.

Steve Diede’s legacy to the community of Lodi is one of service. Through Diede’s many philanthropic endeavors, he is making Lodi a better city and is improving the lives of its residents. As a Board Member of the Lodi Memorial Hospital, Diedi was instrumental in building a state-of-the-art building with top-of-the-line equipment and a high level of care due in part to his time, effort, and financial resources. In addition, Diede is a founding Board Member for the newly formed Giving Opportunities to Kids (GOT Kids) Foundation, a non-profit arm of the Lodi Unified School District. Over the past three years, GOT Kids has raised nearly $100,000 annually to help children expand their learning experiences with academic enrichment programs and extracurricular activities. Diede’s commitment to his community is unwavering and is evident in his construction company’s slogan, “Building Integrity, Defining Quality.”

“I am proud to honor Keith, Amaya, Leo, Elizabeth, Barbara, and Steve,” said Assemblymember Cooper. “Each of them is a hard-working leader in our community, devoted to improving the lives of families across our region,” Cooper added.

Yesterday, recipients received individual personalized Legacy Awards during a special ceremony on the California State Assembly floor.

Assemblymember Cooper represents the Cities of Sacramento, Elk Grove, Galt and Lodi.