Community service awards honor Tahoe Truckee advocates |

Community service awards honor Tahoe Truckee advocates

Special to the Sun
Courtesy photoThe Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee honored community members for outstanding service. From left: Alison Schwedner, director, Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee; Laura Brown, director, Excellence in Education; Maria Torres Bernal, family advocate, North Tahoe Family Resource Center; Cecilia Morales, bilingual advocate, Tahoe SAFE Alliance and Amy Kelley, executive director, North Tahoe Family Resource Center.

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. – The Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee (CCTT) is pleased to honor Laura Brown, Excellence in Education Foundation Director, Maria Torres Bernal, North Tahoe Family Resource Center, and Cecilia Morales, Tahoe SAFE Alliance for their outstanding community service.

The CCTT Partner of the Year Award is given in recognition of regional collaboration and vision for the community. Laura Brown has demonstrated initiative and leadership in the education field regionally for the past eight years as the executive director of Excellence in Education. During the past year, Laura led a coalition of public and private agencies to develop a regional plan to address third-grade reading proficiency which resulted in the National Civic League designating the Tahoe Truckee region an All-America City. The community coalition included the Excellence in Education Foundation, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Placer and Nevada County Health and Human Services and First 5 Nevada and Placer County. Through Laura’s leadership, the coalition, now called Tahoe Truckee Reads, developed a comprehensive strategy to boost third-grade reading proficiency focusing on school readiness and attendance, summer reading, public awareness and increased coordination and systems change to better assess and track data in each of the target areas.

The Chris Ballin Award is given in recognition of those persons who advocate for cultural competency, equality and social justice in our community. Chris Ballin is remembered as the founding and longtime director of La Comunidad Unida (The United Community) formed in response to growing racial tension on the North Shore. Chris was an enthusiastic collaborator who had creative ideas, experience, and knowledge for working with communities and those in need. Maria Torres Bernal, with the North Tahoe Family Resource Center, is a steward for social justice through her work with Community House clients, where she has furthered the cultural competency, equality and social justice of the North Tahoe Community. Bernal became involved in her community as a volunteer in 1995 for La Comunidad Unida. She has been part of the North Tahoe Family Resource Center since 2001. Working as a family advocate, Maria helps community members with a variety of support services, including translation, information and referral and case management.

The CCTT Public Service Award of Excellence is awarded this year to Cecilia Morales of Tahoe SAFE Alliance. Cecilia has been helping immigrant victims of abuse apply for protected status through the U-Visa Program. She has been persistent in advocating for her clients with Placer County Sheriffs, Placer County District Attorney’s office, the Department of Homeland Security, Placer County CSOC and immigration attorneys. Cecilia has been dedicated to assisting her clients in accessing this life-changing program. Cecilia moved to the Tahoe Truckee region 1989 and is originally from Nicaragua. Her first job in the area was at AAA as an insurance underwriter, and started volunteering with Tahoe SAFE Alliance for five years before becoming a full-time employee. Cecilia works directly with the victims of violence and sexual assault, helping with issues from restraining orders, medical issues and financial assistance. She also identifies individuals and families who can qualify and benefit from the U-Visa Program.

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The Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee is comprised of 45 health, education and social service agencies who work together to address the fundamental needs of families in the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee region. For further information contact Alison Schwedner at or call 530-587-1776. The Community Collaborative is a program of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation.


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