The College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State will celebrate 10 individuals for their contributions to the community during the seventh annual Health and Human Services Hero Awards at 6:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, at North Gym, Room 118 (5305 N. Campus Dr.).

The awards recognize those making a difference in the fields of health and human services through their work, volunteerism and advocacy on behalf of children and families in the Central Valley region. Each honoree was nominated by an academic department, school, center or institute within the college.

The 2017 Health and Human Services Heroes are:

  • Lynne Ashbeck — With a career that spans 30 years in civic service and community engagement, Ashbeck has been a driving force in the community and now addresses the healthcare needs of children as the senior vice president of Community Engagement and Population Wellness for Valley Children’s Healthcare.
  • Michelle Bronson — As the executive director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center of Fresno, Bronson remains committed to serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community by providing job training, educational support and social services.
  • Nikki Cornell — When she founded the Central Valley Ghostriderz adaptive power soccer team, Cornell’s mission was to show those with physical disabilities that anything is possible, regardless of limitations.
  • Carol Giovacchini — Through her position as a speech-language pathologist at Valley Children’s Healthcare, Giovacchini has treated thousands with pediatric brain injury and has helped educate countless students going into the field.
  • Nancy Hoff — With a nursing career that spans five decades, Hoff has made a lasting impact in nursing education, serving leadership roles in programs that have increased the number of registered nurses in the Valley.
  • Freda Kaprielian — A desire to elevate the work of early childhood professionals is what drives Kaprielian’s work each day as the program specialist of Early Childhood Education at KC Kids in the Kings Canyon Unified School District, where she has worked for nearly 20 years.
  • Laurie Misaki — In her role as the breastfeeding promotion coordinator for the County of Fresno, Misaki helps bring awareness to breastfeeding and under her guidance, has seen breastfeeding rates double in Fresno County.
  • Manuel Mollinedo — During his time as director of Parks, After School, Recreation and Community Services for the City of Fresno, Mollinedo was influential in creating more green space for the city and developing more parks in areas where it was most needed.
  • Andrew Quesada — As an educator, Quesada strives to be a positive and driving force for the students he teaches, many of which come from broken homes and neighborhoods marred by violence.
  • Dawan Utecht — For the past 26 years, Utecht has been addressing issues like mental health, substance abuse and behavioral health through her many leadership roles, most recently as director of Behavioral Health for the County of Fresno.

“Through their impactful work and tireless dedication, each of our heroes are creating change in the communities around us,” said Dr. Jody Hironaka-Juteau, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “We are proud to recognize this remarkable group of individuals as our 2017 health and human services heroes.”

The College of Health and Human Services provides a professionally oriented education at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels for more than 4,750 students enrolled in seven academic departments.

For more information on the Health and Human Services Hero Awards, contact Beth Wilkinson at 559.278.3603. 

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