Merced County Times Newspaper
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Public Defender Andrade to be honored at regional Champions of Justice Awards

Vincent Andrade
Vincent Andrade

At the upcoming Champions of Justice Awards Reception, Central California Legal Services (CCLS) will recognize those who contribute to justice and equity through their extensive community work.

This year, the organization is excited to honor three outstanding individuals: Vincent Andrade, Dr. Carole Goldsmith, and Lali Moheno.

Vincent Andrade, Merced County Public Defender, is the recipient of the Cruz Reynoso Legacy Award for his dedication to public service.

Andrade interned as a law student to assist immigrants and defend incarcerated individuals. As a CCLS board member, he was instrumental in the Merced Free Legal Clinic’s public education work, helping underserved residents understand and vindicate their legal rights. He worked to develop both the Mental Health Court and the Drug Treatment Court, creating an essential pathway to rehabilitation for individuals within the criminal justice system.

This award proudly recognizes the life of Cruz Reynoso, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California, and his enduring impact on civil rights and social justice.

Dr. Carole Goldsmith, Chancellor of the State Center Community College District, is the Ronald M. George Equal Justice Award recipient. She has a long history of creating systemic change and championing equity and diversity in education and throughout the community. Dr. Goldsmith is the immediate past president of Fresno City College and has committed her life to helping students succeed. She served as president of West Hills College Coalinga and was vice chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development. Dr. Goldsmith started her career as a K-12 teacher at a rural school, and employed in leadership positions in adult education and with a private post-secondary college.

This award is named in honor of Ronald M. George who was Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court from 1996 to 2011. Chief Justice George provided nearly 40 years of equity-focused judicial leadership and championed initiatives to ensure access to the justice system.

Lali Moheno is the recipient of the Mary A. Curry Communities Rising Award for her life-long commitment to improving the wellbeing of farmworker women. She is the founder and driving force of the Farmworkers Women’s Conference. Since 1999, thousands of women have gained access to critical information regarding health care, fair wages, sexual harassment, domestic violence and childcare. She grew up in a migrant farmworker family, working alongside her mother and witnessed first-hand the violent situations women endured. She holds an undergraduate and master’s degree in education.

This award is named after Mary A. Curry who continues to devote her life to community activism and create positive and long-lasting change in the community.

Celebrate these honorees on Sept. 22, at the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust from 4PM to 7PM. For information about tickets please contact Ms. Luisa Medina at [email protected], (559) 570-1242 or Kasey Madden at [email protected], (559) 570-1277. For updates, please visit the website www.centralcallegal.org.

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