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Red Cross Announces 2017 Silicon Valley Heroes Honorees

Media Contact: Cynthia Shaw

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Awards Luncheon to be held on Thursday, September 28

SAN JOSE, CA (July 19, 2017) – The American Red Cross of the Silicon Valley will be honoring six community members for their acts of courage or compassion at the Chapter's upcoming Heroes Centennial. Presented by Camille McCormack, PG&E, and Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation, the event will be held on Thursday, September 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

“The American Red Cross is proud to honor extraordinary people in our community who have made a difference in the lives of others at home and around the world,” says Ken Toren, the Chapter's Chief Executive Officer. “On the 100th anniversary of the Red Cross being in Santa Clara County, this year's Heroes event — more than ever — reminds us that any person can be a hero at any time or any place.”

Dr. Richard Slavin will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented to a local community leader whose achievement, influence, and commitment in their field embody the principles of the American Red Cross – humanity, impartiality, independence, neutrality, voluntary service, unity, and universality.

A committee of local community leaders also selected five other honorees whose acts of heroism or compassion have had a lasting and positive impact on Silicon Valley. These five are:

• Disaster Services Hero: Quyen Mai – San Jose
• Disaster Services Heroes: Ric Smith and Jenna Garner-Smith – Los Gatos
• Health and Safety Hero: Nadia Ghaffari – Los Altos
• Health and Safety Hero: Dr. Harpreet Pannu – San Jose
• Service to the Armed Forces Hero: All the Way Home Campaign – San Jose

The actions of each of this year's honorees are described below.

Because this year's Heroes event is taking place during the Chapter's centennial celebration, the luncheon will also honor the contribution of local Red Cross volunteers who, for the past 100 years, have made the communities in Silicon Valley safer and more prepared. Their work has also built the foundation for the next century of Red Cross support and service locally.

The Computer History Museum is located at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd in Mountain View. Registration for the Heroes Centennial on September 28 will open at 11 a.m., and the lunch and program will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Garvin Thomas of NBC Bay Area will be the Master of Ceremonies.

The 2017 Heroes Centennial is made possible because of the generosity of our sponsors – Presenting Sponsors: Camille McCormack, PG&E, and Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation; Gold Sponsors: El Camino Hospital and E-Nor; Silver Sponsors: Chris & Jeff Carlton; and Bronze Sponsors: ActionCoach of Santa Clara, Patti Fry & David Hauk, and Northern Trust.

The 2017 Heroes Centennial is a community event that supports the lifesaving programs and emergency services the local chapter provides for the nearly 2 million residents of Santa Clara County. Table sponsorships and individual tickets are still available for the event. To purchase tickets, please go to To help with sponsorships or if you have other questions about the event, please call 408-577-2112.


About American Red Cross of the Silicon Valley:

With offices in Santa Clara County, the American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit our web site at or call us at 877-727-6771. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.



Lifetime Achievement Award – Dr. Richard Slavin
Dr. Richard Slavin has shaped the way medical care is delivered in Silicon Valley and beyond. He was a principal architect of the 2000 merger of Camino Medical Group and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF). Dr. Slavin served as president of the Camino Division of PAMF until 2010, when he became PAMF’s CEO until he retired in January 2016. During his tenure with PAMF, Dr. Slavin led a period of unprecedented growth, including the design and construction of distinctive new medical centers in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and San Carlos. Under his leadership, PAMF’s patient base reached 1 million; simultaneously PAMF was recognized statewide and nationally for exceptional quality and patient experience.

Dr. Slavin contributed in many Sutter leadership roles outside of PAMF, including serving on the boards of Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Sutter Physician Services, the Sutter Medical Network, and the ACME Executive Council. Before Camino Medical Group joined PAMF, Dr. Slavin was chairman of the board of directors of the Sunnyvale Medical Clinic / Camino Medical Group for many years, overseeing its growth and expansion. Between 1994 and 1997, he was vice chair of the Board of Directors of Camino Healthcare, an integrated delivery system in Silicon Valley. Dr. Slavin has also served on the board of the Integrated Healthcare Association since 1994.

A highly regarded general, thoracic, and vascular surgeon, Dr. Slavin attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduated from Washington University Medical School, and completed his surgical training at Stanford University Medical Center. He served two years in the U.S. Air Force before beginning his civilian surgical career. Dr. Slavin’s surgical practice was at El Camino Hospital, where he was chief of the Surgical Department. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, former president of the San Jose Surgical Society, and was for many years on the volunteer clinical faculty at Stanford Medical School, involved in the teaching of surgery to students and residents at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Disaster Services Hero: Quyen Mai – San Jose
Quyen Mai is the Executive Director of the Vietnamese Voluntary Foundation (Vivo) in San Jose. While the organization’s initial mission was job training and placement, Mai updated the mission a few years ago to be more focused on community service, education, and culture. During the local flooding this past winter, the organization played a huge role in providing relief to the Vietnamese community — no small task because San Jose is now home to the largest number of Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam. Not only did Mai rally his volunteers to organize and provide assistance to the flood victims, but his team also worked as a conduit between the Vietnamese community and the Housing Authority to find homes or apartments for the flood victims – many of whom had Section 8 vouchers. Also, they provided translation services for the victims at various assistance centers that popped up in the area, as well as coordinated and collected donations for the community. During the floods, Mai and his team registered more than 400 families as needing assistance. While they did not have the resources to help everyone during the floods, they are partnering, wherever possible, with the city and other non-profits to advocate for the Vietnamese community. They are now working with Catholic Charities to assist with long-term casework.

Disaster Services Heroes: Ric Smith and Jenna Garner-Smith – Los Gatos
Jenna Garner-Smith and her husband Ric Smith, residents of the Santa Cruz Mountains, found themselves in the middle of last year’s Loma fire zone. Both were already involved with a volunteer firefighting team in the area, but when the fire broke out, the couple filled a large stock trailer with animals and drove them down their mountain road to safety. Jenna then went to work, battling the blaze in 12 hours-on, 12 hours-off shifts for two weeks. The couple's home remained undamaged due to the excellent job they did clearing the brush from around their home; because of that, their home became a Red Cross relief center, providing support and supplies for over 30 families. Cal Fire also used the location for relief and considered it a safe spot for fire chiefs to meet and rest. In fact, Cal Fire has officially named their home, “Drop Zone 60.” In the aftermath of the fire, Jenna and Ric talked about some lessons learned. Realizing that everyone is so isolated in the hills, the couple has begun promoting the importance of ensuring that escape routes down the mountain are accessible and cleared on a regular basis so that emergency vehicles — and the Red Cross — can access people in need.

Health and Safety Hero: Nadia Ghaffari – Los Altos
Nadia Ghaffari, a soon-to-be senior at Los Altos High School, has started a nonprofit organization with a growing teen community called Driven by clusters of teen suicides in a neighboring school and by her own experience with friends, Ghaffari wanted to find a way for teens to cope with stress and mental health issues. Realizing that teens would be more open to talking to other teens about their problems, Ghaffari’s organization and web site allows teens from around the world to upload videos about their aspirations, challenges, and setbacks. Ghaffari built the web site herself, and it launched in March 2016. The TeenzTalk organization is dedicated to “creating a platform for all teens to come together in a positive environment” and partners with many mental health agencies to bring resources and information to the teens. This September, TeenzTalk will be participating in a Teen Wellness Conference in Mountain View.

Health and Safety Hero: Dr. Harpreet Pannu – San Jose
Dr. Harpreet Pannu is an Internist at Kaiser Santa Clara, and in his spare time, he runs a free medical clinic at the Sikh Gurdwara, Gurdwara Sahib of San Jose. Located in the Evergreen area of San Jose, the gurdwara is the largest in North America. Opening in November 2014 with a mission to provide healthcare to the uninsured in the community, the clinic is open only on Sundays for two hours. Dr. Pannu and his volunteers greet long lines of people from the surrounding community, all of whom are hoping to receive health care at the clinic. Although the clinic closes at 3:30 p.m., patients are regularly seen well after closing. Dr. Pannu not only staffs the clinic, he sometimes provides the funding necessary for needed lab work or prescriptions, and even recently, for a system for patient tracking. Currently, the clinic runs with 3-4 nurses and medical students, all volunteering their time to the community.

Service to the Armed Forces Hero: All the Way Home Campaign – San Jose
With Santa Clara County having among the highest rate of unsheltered homeless veterans in the country, the All the Way Home Campaign has established an ambitious goal: to end veteran homelessness by the 100th anniversary of Veteran’s Day in 2018. The City of San Jose, the County of Santa Clara, the Housing Authority of Santa Clara, and Destination Home are all collaborating to address this community crisis; as of now, they are halfway through the campaign. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese have both taken this program to heart and are passionate about meeting the goal. The campaign works with landlords and apartment owners to access rental units for homeless veterans and their families. Also, the campaign does outreach to corporations and faith-based groups to aid with land acquisition, housing development, access to rental units, and financial assistance.