Difference Makers

Each year, the MLK Celebration Committee awards a few local leaders, businessmen and women, pastors, and other people in the community that are making a difference in Sacramento.

The following are the criteria for the different categories:

Service and Advocacy: Those who have provided voice to the marginalized. We encourage nominations for individuals who provide services and/or advocacy for basic human rights or those marginalized by poverty, ethnicity, national origin, gender or age.

Programs for Children: Those who stand for children. We seek nominations for those individuals who invest their resources for the wellbeing of children – our future.  

Innovation for Change: Those who have the courage to innovate and change the status quo. We encourage nominations of individuals who apply innovation and creative approaches for addressing societal issues. Our aim is to address persistent challenges in the lives of the marginalized.

Historical and Cultural Preservation: Those who help to preserve history for future generations. The lessons from the past provide direction for the future; thus, we are seeking nominees whose focus is on preservation of the past as an avenue for community building.

Unity of the Church: Those who have created pathways for bringing the church together as one. Jesus never approached anyone with caution or suspicion. We are looking for nominees who have demonstrated a Christ-like approach to ministry by living a life of inclusion and acceptance.

Mentoring and Coaching: Those who are helping others achieve their business and career goals. We are looking for nominees who are engaged in intentional one-to-one relationships that are designed to empower others to grow and succeed in corporate America.

If you know someone in the greater Sacramento area that is deserving of one of these awards, please fill out the application at this link and return to us via email or usps:

Past Recipients


Judge Myrlys Stockdale – Service and Advocacy

Jackie Turner – Innovation for Change

Jim Wells – Unity of the Church

Pastor Rick Cole – Sherwood Carthen Lifetime Achievement Award



Patricia Dansby – Service and Advocacy

Tecoy Porter College Prep, a Fortune School – Programs for Children



Pastor Tamara Bennett – Service and Advocacy

Jane Paul, Ph.D., BCBA-D – Advocacy for Children

Pastor Bob Balian – Unity of the Church

Mark Haney – Mentoring and Coaching



Les Simmons – Innovation for Change

Ann Meyer – Unity of the Church

Pastor Dann Bryant – Coaching and Mentoring

Jackie Rose – Programs for Children

Rev. Dr. Samuel Gordon – Sherwood Carthen Lifetime Achievement Award



Stephanie R. McLemore-Bray – Service and Advocacy

Perseus Poku – Coaching and Mentoring

Loren and Rachelle Ditmore – Innovation for Change

Dr. Natalie Woods-Andrews – Programs for Children

Chaplain Mark O’Sullivan – Unity of the Church

Ted Rose – Sherwood Carthen Lifetime Achievement Award

*This award for the late Ted Rose is posthumous


Christopher Johnson- Innovation for Change

Chief Lee Seale- Innovation for Change

Dr. John Jackson- Service and Advocacy

Amaya Weiss- Service and Advocacy

Jeff Kreiser- Unity of the Church

Jerry Manuel- Programs for Children

Gary Fox- Sherwood Carthen Lifetime Achievement Award


Leah Albright- Mentoring and Coaching

Michael Blair- Service and Advocacy

Pleshette Robertson- Service and Advocacy

Jenna Abbott- Innovation for Change

Ralph Diaz- Innovation for Change

Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler- Courage


Pastor Cole Zick – Innovation for Change

City Councilman Rick Jennings – Service and Advocacy

Reverend Ted Rose – Unity of the Church

Jackie Guzman – Mentoring and Coaching

Doug Britton – Mentoring and Coaching


Judge Bunmi Awoniyi – Programs for Children

Sam Starks – Historical and Cultural Preservation

Bishop Francis Quinn – Unity of the Church

Chief Sam Somers – Innovation for Change

Raed Awabeh – Service and Advocacy

Ken Cross – Innovation for Change

Leanne Cameron – Service and Advocacy

Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie – Service and Advocacy


Chief Daniel Hahn – Innovation for Change

Sacramento Ceasefire Task Force – Innovation for Change

Michelle Raby – Service and Advocacy

Ed Manansala – Programs for Children

Scott Syphax – Mentoring and Coaching

CC Yin – Historical and Cultural Preservation

Dr. Bryce Jessup – Lifetime Achievement Award


Dr. Barbara Smith-Nash

Pastor Glen Cole- Lifetime Achievement Award

Bill Coibion

Jason Harper

Sam Harris

Pastor Scott Hagan

Greg Perkins

Lucy Oback

Susan Coslo


Debbra Otto Kent – Service and Advocacy

Michelle Karnes and Alton Nelson – Programs for Children

Mindi Russell – Innovation for Change

Anita Johnson and Rob Brown – Mentoring and Coaching

Jeff Johnson – Unity of the Church

Michele Steeb – Difference Maker

Dr. Henry Wells – Lifetime Achievement


Honorable Troy Nunley

DeWayne Norris

Derrell and Tina Roberts

Kevin Eastway

Pastor Samuel Gordon

Dr. Richard Ikeda


Chaplain Dan Thompson

Steve Lewis

Laura Reed

James Shelby

Clarence Caesar

Ida Otani

Bishop Sherwood Carthen

Phil Oates

Kevin Johnson

Dr. Ephraim Williams- Lifetime Achievement Award


Dorothy Montgomery

Kacie Stratton

Jan Schori

Professor Wayne Maeda

Pastor Jim Jessup

Omar Turner

Dr. William Lee