The letter addressed to LaVar Watkins stated, “It is my honor…to share information about the 2012 Equal Opportunity Day: Diversity Summit and Awards Luncheon, and to share the good news that you have been selected as [the recipient of a] 2012 Urban Leader Under 40 Award. The Urban League of San Diego County [ULSDC] recognizes the importance of inclusion in business, educational, and political awareness practices, its effect on the urban community and the fine work of leading San Diego corporations in promoting best practices in socio-economic sustainability and growth. We look forward to seeing you there as we continue ‘empowering communities and changing lives’,” and was signed “Sincerely, Kea Hagan, Director of Administration & Programs.”
Lavar Watkins, KRA Business and Employer Services Manager at the San Diego Region One-Stop Career Centers Program, was nominated and selected for the under-40 award from a premier and diverse range of young professionals in the private, public, military, and non-profit sectors. The ULSDC’s signature Fall event highlighted their commitment to engage in programs, partnerships, and job-creation activities that diversify the County’s workforce and help individuals at all levels realize their career goals.
Maxine Suka, KRA Program Manager, stated “Lavar really deserves this recognition, as he is very committed to…and successful in…connecting our employer-customers in our community with our jobseeker-customers. He has been involved in numerous community outreach events and projects in which he maximizes the opportunities to connect with employers and inform them of all the services we offer, including On-the-Job Training programs, which he oversees. I am very proud that the community recognizes all of his hard work and efforts, as we all do in the Region in which we serve.”
The 2012 Equal Opportunity Day: Diversity Summit, which brought together hundreds of business, community, industry, social, and cultural leaders, began with a Plenary Political Awareness forum with guest speakers, the Honorable Bob Filner and the Honorable Carl DeMaio, followed by professional development workshops, panel discussions, and the Urban Leaders Under 40 Awards Luncheon. The 6-hour program provided an opportunity for organizations to connect with at least 350 corporate and community leaders, and provided encouraging messages that promoted diversity, civic responsibility, and professional success.
Watkins’ award nomination was long…more than 360 words…and illustrious, highlighting an incredible number of successful collaborative efforts with community, industry, and educational institutions. Excerpts include: He is a gifted young man with an extreme sense of calling to help others. His work in the community demonstrates a willingness to question, to challenge, and to offer sophisticated solutions to pressing social problems. As a community leader and agent of social change, his perspective as a Workforce Development professional is invaluable. His dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of underserved populations, as a creative leader fostering development and learning through effective counseling, assessment, and employment and career development services, is above reproach. Under his forward-thinking counseling and guidance, educational program implementation, and career pathways development, many people in the San Diego County community have become more independent through gainful employment.
Watkins thanked Suka and his other KRA/San Diego colleagues by saying, “I could have never gotten such an honor if it wasn’t for you all pushing and allowing me to be innovative and creative for the community.”