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Honoring Woodie Rucker-Hughes, Citizen of the Year

Waudier "Woodie" Rucker-Hughes accepts the Chamber's Citizen of the Year Award from Chairman Bob Stockton and past Citizen of the Year honoree Nick Goldware. Photo credit: Michael Elderman.

Waudier “Woodie” Rucker-Hughes accepts the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year Award from Chairman Bob Stockton and past Citizen of the Year honoree Nick Goldware. Photo credit: Michael Elderman.

By Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds

She has spent her adult life as an advocate for “the least, the lost, and the last.” She is a champion for social justice. For many she is a beacon of hope, serving simultaneously as a guide, an access point, a connector between what is plausible and what is possible. And last week, as the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce honored her as Citizen of the Year, I joined hundreds of our fellow citizens in tribute to Waudier Rucker-Hughes, known affectionately to most of us simply as “Woodie.”

Woodie is a problem solver. She’s one of the few people I can call with a difficult issue and know she will find a resolution. She never says “no I can’t…” Probably because she grew-up hearing the phrase, “can’t is a lazy animal that doesn’t try,” an adage her parents regularly repeated during her formative years. Many of her parents’ beliefs have been “indelibly imprinted” on her brain, “Your attitude about life will determine how far you get in this life.” Those beliefs inspired her and in turn she uses them to inspire others.

As the longtime president of the Riverside Branch of the NAACP and an advocate for homeless and foster youth with the Riverside Unified School District, the work she does on behalf of others is more than just a job. Like her hero Martin Luther King, Jr. she has the drum major instinct. She is a model of love, moral excellence, and generosity. In his address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967, Dr. King outlined those attributes:

“We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade…and the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.”

A citizen. A beacon. A drum major. A remarkable woman and community leader. Woodie earns the “citizen of the year” moniker every year through her giving spirit, her love for others, and her understanding that excellence is not a skill, it is an attitude, which is another lesson she learned from her parents:

“Good…Better…Best…Never Let Them Rest…Until Your Good Becomes Better…And Your Better Becomes Best!”

Workforce Development youth selected for national initiative

The Colton-Redlands-Yucaipa (CRY-ROP) was one of four agencies selected nationwide to participate in the Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT), a national initiative designed to get more youth with disabilities to partner with advocates and organizations to improve their opportunities for disabled young adults.  Pictured from left are Fernando Olivarez, Nicole Drazin and Branley Acevedo who represented the agency in Washington, D.C. recently.

The Colton-Redlands-Yucaipa (CRY-ROP) was one of four agencies selected nationwide to participate in the Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT), a national initiative designed to get more youth with disabilities to partner with advocates and organizations to improve their opportunities for disabled young adults. Pictured from left are Fernando Olivarez, Nicole Drazin and Branley Acevedo who represented the agency in Washington, D.C. recently.

The Colton-Redlands-Yucaipa Regional Occupational Program (CRY-ROP) was one of four agencies nationwide selected by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth  to participate in the Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT).  YouthACT is a national initiative designed to get more youth with disabilities to partner with advocates and organizations to improve opportunities for disabled young adults.  The initiative is led by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD/Youth). Program funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

The San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board (WDB) is a nationally recognized leader in workforce issues, and is often used as a model for other boards across the country.  CRY-ROP, one of the San Bernardino County WDB youth service providers, now joins the national ranks on the youth perspective, serving as a testament to how the Workforce Development Board’s funded youth employment programs are making a positive impact on the lives of at-risk youth.

CRY-ROP’s YouthACT team is working with teams across the nation to discuss and plan leadership, advocacy and transitional strategies for young adults.

“I am proud to be named the adult partner for the YouthACT team out of Colton-Redlands-Yucaipa ROP.  The partnerships between youth and adults that the program creates are powerful forces,” said Nicole Drazin, placement specialist.  “As we collaborate, we are creating a new energy in our communities that will pave the way to better opportunities for transitioning youth.”

The Workforce Development Board is making efforts to gain input from youth about what they need during their transitioning years.  This input helps provide the right opportunities, services, and support for this population.

YouthACT aims to increase positive youth-adult partnerships where young people and adults work together, share information and learn from each other. All individuals in the partnership have the opportunity to engage in planning, decision-making, and action consistent with their own interests and skills.

“It’s imperative for us to point youth in the right direction to succeed in life during their transitional years,” said James Ramos, Chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.  “Colton Redlands Yucaipa ROP is a voice for our San Bernardino County youth community and their needs will be heard at the federal level.”

In 2016, the YouthACT team and peer leaders from CRY-ROP’s WDD-funded employment program will be making presentations at community and school organizations on how students with disabilities can advocate for themselves and their families, and identify short and long term plans to support personal and career goals.

“We are very proud that one of our youth service providers was selected as one of four national cohorts to be the voice for YouthACT.  This is a testament to the high caliber of our Workforce Development Board funded youth programs,” said Workforce Development Executive Director Sandy Harmsen.

Attorney Zulu Ali Named Top 10 Best Lawyers by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys

Attorney Zulu Ali (PRNewsFoto/Law Office of Zulu Ali)

Attorney Zulu Ali (PRNewsFoto/Law Office of Zulu Ali)

RIVERSIDE, CA- Attorney Zulu Ali of the Law Offices of Zulu Ali in Riverside, California has been named Top 10 Best Lawyers by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys. The American Institute of Criminal Attorneys is an invitation only legal organization recognizing excellence of practitioners in the field. Each lawyer must be formally nominated, have attained the highest degree of professional achievement in his or her field, and have an impeccable client satisfaction rating.

Attorney Zulu Ali, a native of Shelbyville, Tennessee, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, who served with the Marine Security Forces. After graduating from the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, Attorney Ali served as a sworn police officer with the City of Shelbyville, City of Lewisburg, and Vanderbilt Police Departments, respectively.

Attorney Ali earned a Juris Doctorate (law degree) from Trinity International University Law School and a liberal arts degree with an emphasis in African Studies from Regents College through a consortium with Tennessee State University.

Attorney Ali has been admitted to the California State Bar; United States District Courts for the districts of Central California, Southern California, Northern California, and Colorado; United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits; and the United States Supreme Court.

In 2007, inspired by civil rights attorneys Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and Avon Williams, Jr., who used the law and courts as a vehicle to make change and protect all people against injustice, Attorney Zulu Ali opened the Law Offices of Zulu Ali with a focus on representing persons accused of crimes and seeking criminal justice, immigrants, victims of discrimination, and persons seeking civil justice. Attorney Ali and his law firm take on extremely difficult cases and matters that provide an opportunity to make changes in the law, through the courts, when the law is unjust.

Attorney Ali serves as Director of the American Committee for United Nations Oversight, an advocacy group lobbying the United Nations for police reform; Director of the Stop and Frisk Academy, which trains at risk youth and others to deal with police encounters; Director of the Southern California Veterans Legal Clinic, a legal clinic offering no cost and low cost legal services to military veterans; and a member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers. Attorney Ali was Honored Top 100 Lawyers by the National Black Lawyers-Top 100.

Attorney Ali resides in Southern California with his wife (Charito) of 30 years. Their four adult children, Christine, Whitney, Ashley, and Lynda; and two grandchildren, Amayah and Tye, also reside in Southern California.