Pleasant Hill Community Awards

March 17, 2020 Update

Due to COVID-19, the Community Awards Night has been postponed until further notice.


Since 1971, the awards have been recognizing the people, groups and businesses that make Pleasant Hill special. This year’s event has been postponed due to COVID-19 - look for details about a new date later this year.

The awards are co-hosted by the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, the City, the Recreation & Park District, the Pleasant Hill Community Foundation and the Foundation for Pleasant Hill Education.

Questions? Call the City’s Community Relations Manager, Gayle Vassar, at 925-671-5229 or email her at

Community Award Categories (with link to nomination form)

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR — The business has made significant contributions to the community and shown initiative and innovation in the business affairs of the Pleasant Hill area. This year’s nominees are Amy’s Hallmark Ship and Wisegirl Ristorante.

NONPROFIT OF THE YEAR — The nonprofit shall have made significant contributions to the community and shown initiative and innovation in accomplishing its mission.  This year’s nominees are the Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library; Hillcrest Church UCC Outreach Ministry; Pleasant Hill Lions Club; Bay Area Bike Project. 

TEEN OF THE YEAR — The candidate lives and/or goes to school in Pleasant Hill and has shown responsibility in his or her personal and school life. He or she should have a record of assisting and volunteering in the Pleasant Hill community and been involved in more than one area of community interest. This year’s nominees are Kai Arellano and Olivia Llamas.

TEACHER OF THE YEAR — The candidate must be an educator in a Pleasant Hill school who has made unique contributions toward educating our children, demonstrating dedication, innovation, and enthusiasm. This award is sponsored by the Foundation for Pleasant Hill Education (FPHE). This year’s nominees are Valon Beriginn (College Park); Dylan Bland (College Park); Nicolette Bornstein (Fair Oaks Elementary); Laima Haider (College Park); Khoa Pham (College Park); Jeanette Shearer (Valhalla Elementary); Kirsten Tharalsen (Valley View Middle School).

EDUCATION SUPPORTER OF THE YEAR - Schools thrive when parents and volunteers support teachers and students. This award honors an individual or individuals who have made a significant contribution in contributing to the ongoing success and student achievement at their school(s). This year’s nominee is Mary Gray.

GREEN AWARD — This Award recognizes a person, organization or business that has shown outstanding leadership in sustainability and protecting the environment in one or more of the following areas: energy conservation, water conservation, waste reduction and/or pollution prevention. This year’s nominee is Friends of Pleasant Hill Creeks.

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR — The candidate has made a significant contribution in the past year (2019) in supporting civic and/or community groups in Pleasant Hill, thereby improving our community. This year’s nominee is Robert Goldner, Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library Book Sales Manager.

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD — The candidate has a broad-based, multi-year record of assisting or supporting civic and/or community groups in Pleasant Hill, and has made substantial contributions toward improving our community. This year’s nominees are Nader Jazyeri; Buddy Scauzzo and Minako McMahon; Jill Scheidel; and Susan Wood.

2017 Award Winners (Photo by Susan Wood Photography)

2017 Awards Winners Group Shot webversioncropped

(Front row) – Liberty Dimick (Rec & Park Board Appreciation Award), Ethan Tuey (Teen of the Year), Allen & Sandy Vinson (Citizen of the Year), Connie Anderson (Chamber Ambassador of the Year), Sharrie Bettencourt (Green Community Award, representing DVC), Tom Guarino (Chamber President’s Legacy Award), Sara Cuff (Rec & Park Board Appreciation Award)

(Back row) – Jeff Eide (Education Supporter of the Year), Wade Cantrell (Chamber Business Hall of Fame Award), Laima Haider (Educator of the Year, CPHS), Kevin Suto (Business of the Year, Zachary’s Pizza), Michelle Diaz-Ramirez (Chamber Board Appreciation Award), Terrie Nixon & Tamara Helfer (Green Community Award, MDUSD Garden Education Program), Marian Woodard & John Matthesen (Mayor’s Award), and Sheila Hill (Green Community Award).

2017 Award Winners

Citizen of the Year - Allen & Sandy Vinson
Allen and Sandy Vinson have lived in Pleasant Hill since 1976. Both have been active in numerous school, sporting and charitable organizations and events for many years. In particular, Allen & Sandy have been key members of the Pleasant Hill Fourth of July Commission for the past 12 years and the Rotary Club for 15 years.

Mayor's Award - Marian Woodard & John Matthesen
Marian Woodard and John Matthesen of Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center received the Mayor's Award. Marian and John started the Urban Farm about six years ago and it has grown into a major teaching center and biodynamic garden, where sustainable living classes are held frequently.

Business of the Year - Zachary's Pizza (Kevin Suto)

Employee owned and operated, Zachary’s not only makes great pizza, they support many local causes and organizations. 

Educator of the Year - Laima Haider (College Park High School)
An AP History teacher at College Park, Ms. Haider is known for her dedication and love of teaching. She inspires her students to think critically and learn about issues on a global level. She is the perfect example of a teacher who is changing the world, one student at a time.

Teen of the Year - Ethan Tuey
A 12th grade student at College Park. Ethan serves as the President of the CPHS Interact Club and captain of the College Park Swim Team. He is a 7th year Pleasant Hill Teen Council member, current chair, and has contributed more than 600 hours volunteering for community events and fundraisers.

Green Business Award - Diablo Valley College 
(Sustainability Committee)

The DVC Sustainability Committee, led by Frank Ichigaya and Sharrie Bettencourt, has expanded recycling and composting programs on campus, and implemented other sustainable practices. 

Green Community Award- MDUSD Garden Education Program
The MDUSD (Farm 2 School) Garden Education project continues to expand a district-wide program that supports science and garden education while cultivating environmental stewardship.  This collaborative project is currently in two Pleasant Hill elementary schools - Fair Oaks and Sequoia, with successful and replicable education programs in place that teach children about gardening and nutrition, emphasizing Next Generation Science Standards.  

Education Supporter of the Year - Jeff Eide
This new award was given to Jeff Eide by  the Foundation for Pleasant Hill Education (FPHE). Jeff is a longtime parent volunteer in Pleasant Hill Schools and current president of the College Park Athletic Boosters.

Community Plus Award - Eric Hu (City of Pleasant Hill)
The Community Plus Award, which goes to an employee of either the City or the Rec & Park District, was given to Eric Hu, the City's Senior Civil Engineer. Eric oversees many of the City’s capital improvement projects and has brought in over $30 million in grant funding for these projects over the past 11 years.

Other awards:

  • PH Rec & Park District Board Appreciation Award – Liberty Dimick & Sara Cuff
  • PH Rec & Park District Community Service Award – Pleasant Hill Dog Owners Group (PHDog)
  • Pleasant Hill Chamber Board Appreciation Award – Michele Diaz-Ramirez
  • Chamber Ambassador of the Year – Connie Anderson
  • Chamber Hall of Fame Award – Wade Cantrell
  • Chamber President's Legacy Award - Tom Guarino
  • PH Community Foundation Cornerstone Award – David Durant
1allen and sandy vinson
john and marian
1laima haider
MDUSD Garden Education Project
1jeff eide