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Valley College’s Singing Chef Combines Culinary and Performing Arts

William Lacey, Class of ’18, provides live vocals for “I Will Never Leave” by Maura Townsend’s Project21Dance.

William Lacey, Class of ’18, provides live vocals for “I Will Never Leave” by Maura Townsend’s Project21Dance.

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- Good food and fine entertainment always seem to go well together, especially for San Bernardino Valley College student William Lacey, 26, of Highland.

This master of the arts is not quite sure which one will win out in the end?—?his standout vocals or culinary prowess. Eventually, he would like to combine them at his own restaurant where he can train chefs to prepare Cajun cuisine, and maybe indulge his operatic side every now and again.

Lacey is a natural classical aficionado. He has had three years of classical vocal training at SBVC, and credits his instructors for keeping him on track with his career and education.

A private voice class helped Lacey hone his skill, and one day after choir, he sang the national anthem for SBVC Music Department Chair Matie Manning Scully.

“She looked at me and said ‘Kiddo, you’ve got a great voice. I would love to work with you.’ It started from there.”

Lacey also performs regularly with choreographer Maura Townsend and her Project21Dance Company. During Black History Month, he sang his richly-layered baritone rendition of Paul Robeson’s “Ol’ Man River” as part of Townsend’s “Hope Through the Struggle” event held at San Bernardino Valley College.

He said that Ms. Townsend, an adjunct professor at the college, has also been instrumental in giving him a creative venue for his artistic side.

“From that point, we kind of hit the ground running. She asked me to join her company, and I continue to do pieces with her dancers,” he said.

Lacey grew up in the city of Highland, where his grandmother was his best critic at church and home. It’s also where he, his mother and grandmother would often sing gospel and cook large family meals together. When his grandmother passed away, it was the toughest time of his life. He barely spoke complete sentences throughout junior high school.

In 2018, Lacey is on track to graduate with an A.S. in Restaurant Management and an A.S. in Business Administration. He credits SBVC with giving him the tools to move forward with confidence. 


Over the past four years, he has worked as Chef De Partie at Forest Home, Inc., where he navigates a fast-paced food environment, oversees utility workers, and handles about one million meals per year. In the past, he has interned at the Hilton Hotel and the Sun Room Cafe as a line cook.

When he first started at SBVC, his goal was culinary arts, but he soon fell in love with opera in his choir class elective. Without any prior formal training, developing his operatic side came with a learning curve. It took about two months for his voice to readjust to a classical tone.

“I’m connected to it, I listen closely to the detail, the emotion in their voices because I understand it now,” he said.

In his day job, he prepares breakfast, lunch, and dinner with finesse, and is also known as “the singing chef.” It’s an unexpected niche that often draws an encore.

“I’ll sing a song about halfway through the meal. If the people like it, they say, ‘Oh, can you sing another song before we leave?’ It works, I get to sing opera to an audience that actually enjoys it.”

Law Office of Zulu Ali Names One of the Best 10 Law Firms in California by AIOLC

RIVERSIDE, CA- The Law Office of Zulu Ali in Riverside, California has been named one of the 10 Best Law Firms in California for Client Satisfaction in the areas of Criminal Defense, Immigrations, and Personal Injury by the American Institute of Legal Counsel (AIOLC). The annual list honors exceptional performance by California law firms in selected areas.

The AIOLC is a third-party attorney rating organization that publishes a yearly list of the Top 10 Law Firms in each state. Attorneys and firms selected to the “10 Best List” must pass AIOLC’s rigorous selection process, which is based on client and/or peer nominations and AIOLC’s independent evaluation of attorney’s relationships with and reputations among their clients.

The law firm was founded by its owner and principal attorney, Zulu Ali, a Tennessee native, former police officer, and U.S. marine veteran, who was inspired by the work and legacy of civil rights attorneys Thurgood Marshall, Avon Williams, Jr., Charles Hamilton Houston; and other advocates and leaders of the civil rights movement. The mission and philosophy of the firm is to advocate for changes in the law when the law is unjust.

Although the mission and diverse makeup of the law firm subjects it to immense scrutiny, the firm continues to be inspired by its mission to preserve and fulfill the legacy of those leaders and advocates of the past who sacrificed to make a more just society.

“I believe the mission of a lawyer should be to strive for change and challenge the courts when there is injustice. In our firm, we put it on the line despite the immense scrutiny and consequences we may face. But for brave attorneys and advocates who are willing to step out the box, we would still be in segregation or servitude if the laws and courts were not challenged. Many attorneys and advocates are chilled and neutralized because they are usually targeted, ridiculed, and subjected to reprimand or worst when they test the status quo, but it is necessary despite the risks” Principal Attorney Zulu Ali adds.

The firm’s founder and principal attorney, Zulu Ali, been named Top 100 Lawyers by the National Black Lawyers – Top 100; Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers; Premier 100 Trial Attorneys by the American Academy of Trial Attorneys, also known as the National Academy of Jurisprudence; Top 10 Best Lawyers by the American Institute of Legal Counsel in the areas of Criminal Defense, Immigrations, and Personal Injury; and Top 10 Criminal Law Attorneys by the American Jurist Institute.

For more details about The Law Office of Zulu Ali, visit www.zulualilaw.com

Community Colleges Launch Campaign to Educate Californians About Career Training Programs

By Manny Otiko | California Black Media 

California Community Colleges have kicked off a new campaign to inform underserved populations about the good-paying jobs available through career education.

According to a press release, there is a skill and an information gap in California, as many high-paying jobs go unfilled because employers can’t find employees with the right training.  This includes jobs in the information technology, healthcare, biotechnology and digital media fields. 

Many people are put off by the cost of college education, but advocates say community colleges offer a low-cost alternative to career education programs and are expanding new efforts to ensure people are aware.

“Both adults and high school students hesitate to pursue higher education to gain new skills and refresh existing ones because they worry about student debt,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor of Workforce and Economic Development at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. “Career education offers a great pathway to increase earnings and make a living wage without that type of debt burden.”

She added that the legislature had allocated money specifically targeted for students interested in training for new careers.

The campaign will target potential students through ads on traditional and digital media, a website and an app. The promotional campaign is part of a $200 million recurring investment made by Gov. Jerry Brown and the California legislature, according to a news release. 

Ton-Quinlivan also said community colleges would work with local organizations to spread the message.

“We will get the advice of community leaders on how to get the word out,” she said.

Cassandra Jennings, president of the Greater Sacramento Urban League, said working alongside community organizations was an important part of spreading the word in the Black community.

“What’s going to be critical to their success is working with non-profit organizations, community-led organizations to really do a targeted outreach to reach certain populations,” said Jennings.

The California Community College system has 114 campuses and educates more than 2 million students. It is the largest provider of workforce training in the nation.

African-American students make up 6.5 percent of the students at community colleges. About 5 percent of the more than 6 million students in the K-12 system are Black. Black students make up 6 percent of students enrolled in four-year colleges.