Community activists instrumental in Alabama Senate race lead roster of award honorees
by Vince Echavaria
San Francisco – Marking its milestone 30th year of providing affordable housing services in the City this spring, the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation (SFHDC) is centering its annual gala and awards dinner around a theme demonstrated by influential civic actions taking shape across the nation.
Power in Numbers, SFHDC’s 30th Anniversary Gala and Awards Dinner, will take place from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the stunning California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive in Golden Gate Park. The Bayview-based SFHDC is a nonprofit community organization that has provided affordable housing, financial empowerment, supportive services and economic development to low-income communities of color since 1988.
Hosted by comedian, writer and talk radio show host Brian Copeland, the landmark gala will feature a live and silent auction, cocktail reception, elegant seated dinner and live music. Guests will have full access to the Cal Academy’s popular exhibits, including the exciting Osher Rainforest and wondrous Steinhart Aquarium.
Power in Numbers, SFHDC’s 30th Anniversary Gala and Awards Dinner, will take place from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the stunning California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive in Golden Gate Park.
The event will honor several local and national figures leading change in the world at a time when growing numbers of voters are rejecting divisive rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C., and awe-inspiring numbers of women, youth and people of color are speaking up to transform the narrative.
SFHDC CEO David Sobel stated, “In a year that has seen perhaps unparalleled numbers of social movements making waves and headlines across the country, SFHDC proudly honors at this year’s gala a handful of individuals who have sparked change and achieved success for the greater good. Our 30th anniversary is the perfect time to celebrate their accomplishments together with our own, as we look forward to providing economic and housing opportunity to thousands of low- and moderate-income San Franciscans for at least another three decades.”
The Bayview-based SFHDC is a nonprofit community organization that has provided affordable housing, financial empowerment, supportive services and economic development to low-income communities of color since 1988.
Among this year’s award honorees are two individuals who represented a movement to organize the community by playing key roles in the successful 2017 Alabama special Senate race that drew national attention. Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, and Perman Hardy, community activist of Alabama’s “get-out-the-vote,” led separate instrumental efforts to rally African American and women voters who helped lift Doug Jones to victory over Roy Moore.
Another honoree who is taking charge to bring about results for the greater community is Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO of Oakland-based Black Girls CODE, which works to break down the barriers preventing women of color from achieving careers in tech. SFHDC will additionally recognize Sara Agah Franti, who, along with her musician and activist husband Michael Franti, co-founded Do It For the Love, a wish-granting nonprofit that brings people with severe challenges to live concerts; and Jay and Kathryn Cahill, representing two generations of CEO leadership at Cahill Contractors, which has helped construct thousands of affordable housing units in San Francisco.
Hosted by comedian, writer and talk radio show host Brian Copeland, the landmark gala will feature a live and silent auction, cocktail reception, elegant seated dinner and live music.
In recognition of local businesses that work hard to bring important information and services to our neighborhoods, SFHDC will pay tribute to Willie and Mary Ratcliff, publishers of the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper that has helped provide a political voice for prison inmates, and Susan Howell, a Fillmore Street small business owner for 34 years.
The celebration in support of affordable housing will feature live jazz music performed by the all-female Tammy Hall Trio, including Bay Area-based artist Hall (piano, vocals), Ruth Davies (bass) and Ruth Price (drums).
Following the awards gala – which is part of the Council of Community Housing Organizations’ San Francisco Affordable Housing Week festivities – SFHDC will host an Affordable Housing and “Get Out the Vote” Meet and Greet Forum from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at Rafiki Coalition, 601 Cesar Chavez St. Scheduled guests include gala honorees Simelton and Hardy, as well as SFHDC’s director of real estate development, Deven Richardson. The forum will address the successful campaign to rally African American and women voters in last year’s Alabama special Senate election, along with affordable housing issues affecting the Bay Area.
About SFHDC: The San Francisco Housing Development Corporation fosters financial stability through the development of affordable housing, the facilitation of homeownership and the economic empowerment and revitalization of Bayview Hunters Point and other neighborhoods of Southeast San Francisco. Since 1988, SFHDC has built or preserved over 650 affordable homes in San Francisco, empowered thousands of people to set and attain financial goals, and assisted hundreds of families in the purchase of their first home.
For more information, visit www.sfhdcgala.org.
Vince Echavaria is communications associate for SFHDC and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.