An Inspiring Evening – PSR-LA 2009 Gala
“Heroes for Health: PSR-LA’s 2009 Annual Dinner” was held at the Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles on June 7th. Physicians, medical school students, board members and volunteers came together to celebrate progress for the “prevent what we cannot cure” aphorism we so strongly hold true. Honored were Her Majesty Queen Noor, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Ph. D., and Dr. Jose Quiroga, M.D. A musical tribute was presented by Jacqueline Fuentes. The gala dinner was dedicated to the memory of Dr. James Curren Warf, Ph. D., a Manhattan Project scientist who became a lifelong peace activist and scientific resource and advisor for PSR.
Ira Shorr, National Field Director of PSR and Emcee of the night, presented the Healing the Planet Award to Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, an international public servant and world peace and justice activist. Her expertise is in conflict recovery and peacebuilding between Arab and Muslim cultures but also focuses on education, sustainable development, human rights, poverty issues and refugees. She is actively involved with international and UN organizations, chairs the Noor Al Hussein Foundation, which promotes pioneering programs for women’s empowerment, environmental conservation and poverty eradication, is Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons to promote reconciliation and conflict resolution for missing persons, a board member of Refugees International, and a Founding Leader of Global Zero, an international effort to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide. Queen Noor indicated that now there is a historic opportunity to “renew our collective commitment to a nuclear-free world… and finally begin to lift the nuclear shadow of the last century” so that we may “bequeath to future generations a safer, healthier and more responsible world.” She accepted and thanked PSR-LA for its work and the award via video.
The Founders Award was received by State Senator Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for his leadership in helping PSR-LA pass legislation against condemning medical professionals’ participation in torture. President and CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center Jim Mangia presented the award commending Mark’s “sincerity as and his desire to be a true advocate for underserved low-income communities in Los Angeles.” Mark has authored and co-authored a landmark policy to create and expand school based health centers throughout Los Angeles County, to provide Universal health care, to preserve more than $100 million in federal funding that the County of Los Angeles would have lost due to the closure of Martin Luther King Medical Center. He has also worked to create access to low-cost prescription drugs for the elderly, to prevent fraud in In-Home Supportive Services, to direct the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to develop a Health Care Master Plan for the County, and to create the office of Inspector General to conduct audits and investigations of the County’s system and improve patient care.
The Environmental Health Champion Award was given to Dr. Sandra Steingraber by Environmental Journalist Marla Cone. Sandra is an ecologist, author, and cancer survivor who has become an internationally recognized expert on the environmental links to cancer and human health. Hailed as the “new Rachel Carson,” she has become the link between scientists and activists. Her books Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment and Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood explore the ways in which toxic releases affect public health issues such as cancer and fetal development. Sandra has been named a Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year and has received the Jenifer Altman Foundation’s first annual Altman Award, the Will Solimene Award, and the Rachel Carson Leadership Award.
The entertainment came from special guest Senator Jess Trussme, played by Ira Shorr, and musical guest Jacqueline Fuentes. Trussme provided comic relief for the audience with his zealous and outrageous jokes. Fuentes’ deep, spiritual musical tribute was a sensation with the audience. She captured their attention with “Gracias Por La Vida” whose words sang truly of…
Francisco Letelier ended the night congratulating and awarding Dr. Jose Quiroga the Socially Responsible Medicine Award for his work with torture victims. This work includes taken of care of patients and people with medical needs, teaching future generations, working in the community and doing research. As a cardiologist, Co-Founder and Director of medical services at the Program for Torture Victims, board member of PSR National and PSR-LA and member of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, he works not only on issues with torture, but also with issues on nuclear terrorism. Quiroga mentioned that nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism are the greatest security threats to America and to resolve these threats the US government must ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (PT). He ended on a positive note saying that President Obama and President Medvedev have signed a Joint Statement in April demonstrating leadership in reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world with an ultimate goal of achieving a nuclear free world and hopes that the new administration with sign the Nuclear Posture Review to reduce and eventually abolish nuclear weapons. The most important reason for the importance of this legislation for Quiroga was that “we have to do these efforts for the future of our children and grandchildren” because “they have the right to live in a better world that the one we have lived.”
PSR-LA wishes to thank all who participated in our 2009 Gala Dinner. Funds raised from the event will help us continue our efforts to create a safer and healthier Los Angeles.
Special thanks to our gala sponsors: NBC Universal Network Television/Wolf Films, Mark Magidson, Rita Magidson-Haft, and Debra Magidson, Donald Broder M.D. and Judy Broder M.D. , Nancy Gibbs M.D., Kaiser Permanente, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Agape International Spiritual Center, Californians for Patient Care, Fabian Nunez and Maria Robles, Jill Belasco, Margaret Wacker M.D., The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills, and Lora O’Connor.