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Catalyst California Honors Holly J. Mitchell, Max Arias, and Pete White at 10th Anniversary Champions for Equity Awards


Thank you to all who joined us on October 22nd for the 10th anniversary of our Champions for Equity Awards at the Rooftop Terrace at the GRAMMY Museum! The event was a special success thanks to YOU who make our transformative racial justice work possible.  

Ten years ago, we set out to create a different kind of fundraising event that reflected the best of Los Angeles and California with an event that brought folks together across geographies, generations, and ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds. This year’s event welcomed over 250 guests to celebrate the remarkable people we have recognized and featured over the years and honor three incredible leaders for their commitment to racial equity and improving the lives of all Californians: Holly J. Mitchell, Max Arias, and Pete White. 

Yesika Salgado Champions for Equity Awards 2023

“For me solidarity means a lot of things, but the biggest thing it means for me is to show up for folks.”

Yesika Salgado, who introduced Advancing Justice Award honoree Gabby Rivera at last year’s Champions for Equity Awards, was back this year to host the event. Yesika spoke to this year’s theme, “Celebrating Solidarity for 10 Years”, noting that we are all human and deserve compassion, solidarity, and justice. The heroes that we’ve honored at our Champions for Equity Awards over the last 10 years exemplify what it means to stand in solidarity in the fight for racial equity.

Max Arias Champions for Equity Awards 2023

“We believe access to equitable education must extend from cradle to college.”

Next, Max Arias of SEIU Local 99 was presented with the Advancing Justice Award by friend Hal Ruddick, Executive Director of the Alliance for Health Care Unions. All of Los Angeles was impressed with Max's leadership during the recent LA Unified School District strike – the gains SEIU made for low-income essential education workers will have real benefits in their lives, and the greater community, for years to come.

Our guests were treated to a short, but memorable performance from the Freedom Singers, who were recently featured on America’s Got Talent. Singing covers of “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins, the Freedom Singers brought our audience to their feet with their haunting vocals.

Pete White Champions for Equity 2023

"I look around this room and I see friends, and more friends and I’m saying we need to get real friendly in this time of trouble. We need to raise our voices for that which is right.” 

Our Transformative Partner Award was presented to Pete White, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN). For decades, Pete and LA CAN have worked to improve the lives of Los Angeles’ unhoused residents. They have creatively pushed, pulled, and tackled policymakers and elected officials to change the way they think about and respond to this human crisis. In his acceptance speech, Pete encouraged us all to stand up, speak louder, speak our truth, and be the LA that allows us to say, “We love LA!” 

John Kim Champions for Equity 2023

“We were built not for the moment, but for the long-term movement and fight.”

John Kim, Catalyst California’s President and CEO, took to the stage and gave poignant remarks about where we are in the modern movement for racial equity, likening it to a game of chess. He acknowledged leaders like Karen Bass, Maria Elena Durazo, Stewart Kwoh, and others who moved us through the opening phase of the fight.He then noted that we’re currently in the middle phase of the game, where our tactics must be updated to stay one step ahead of those who would have us backslide. Ultimately, itwill be the next generation of leaders, in solidarity with one another, who will get us to the end game of a more equitable California.

Holly J. Mitchell Champions for Equity 2023

“I don’t believe in sprinkling in equity; we’re baking it in.”

Our final honoree of the night was The Honorable Holly J. Mitchell, Los Angeles County Supervisor for District 2. Whether as a nonprofit executive, a member of the California State Assembly or Senate, and now as an LA County Supervisor, we have counted on Holly’s savvy, strategic, and principled leadership on behalf of this state’s communities of color. “It’s the organizing, it’s the trainings, it’s the showing up to create partnerships, to create synergies, to create the kind of LA that we all want to raise our children in to thrive.”

image of guests at Champions for Equity 2023

Guests also enjoyed drinks and bites while learning more about Catalyst California’s transformative work and catching up with fellow equity advocates .And when all was said and done, thanks to our generous donors and sponsors, we raised nearly $250,000to fuel our critical racial and economic initiatives.

We hope you enjoyed the celebration as much as we did. If you missed the live production or would simply like to see your favorite moments again, be sure to check out our online tribute journal and the recording of this inspiring event below. 

From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for showing up for us; for your unwavering support of our work and mission; for being a vital part of the Catalyst California community. Together, we are bending that arc and building a more equitable and just California. 

Watch the recording today