By Linda Armacost
La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, the third largest chartered club in San Diego County, and serving the communities of Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, San Carlos, College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Santee and Casa de Oro, will have a fantastic speaker headlining their Wednesday, Feb. 4 meeting.
Recently named one of the most-admired CEOs by the San Diego Business Journal and one of San Diego’s new civic power brokers by San Diego Magazine, Christopher Yanov raised and awarded over $1 million in scholarships to inner-city students before turning 30 years old.
Mr. Yanov earned four college degrees in just five years. He graduated in two and a half years from both UC San Diego (with Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Spanish Literature) and the University of San Diego (with Master’s degrees in Peace & Justice and International Relations).
Previously, Mr. Yanov worked with gang members for five years before starting Reality Changers in May 2001 with just $300, yet now the program’s students have earned $60 million in scholarships from all sources. He credits his appearance on “Wheel of Fortune” in late 2001 for providing the initial financial support for Reality Changers to truly become a bona fide program.
Mr. Yanov has also served on the San Diego Commission on Gang Prevention & Intervention as well as the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Education & Workforce Development Committee.
Currently, Mr. Yanov serves on the Tijuana Innovadora Binational Committee, the University of San Diego’s Emerging Leaders Council, the Voice of San Diego Member Council, and the Federal Employees Scholarship Foundation. He is also presently putting the finishing touches on his book, “The Tightrope Theory: Why Prevention Programs May Do More Harm Than Good.”
Our club will also host the return of Larry and Arlene Howe, longtime club stalwarts, who will be visiting San Diego after an absence of nearly two years. The Howes are currently living in Italy, and will share details of their wonderful European experience with their many friends and admirers.
People are still raving about the environmental policy lesson they got from our inspirational January speakers, the dynamic duo from our local Sierra Club Political Committee, Davin Widgerow and Brian Elliott. The Sierra Club of San Diego shares our concerns about climate change, fracking, traffic and pollution, over-development of our open spaces and parkland, water quality, and so much more. We learned a lot about legal precedence in local environmental battles, issues that we will face with the new Congress, and the role the Sierra Club will play in the pivotal 2016 election. It turns out most of the 75 club members present were also members of the Sierra Club, so many of the beautiful photos and storied history of the Sierra Club shared by Davin and Brian were a great and meaningful refresher as to why our clubs share so many common goals. Many key battles lay ahead for progressives and environmentalists in San Diego County, the state of California, and nationally.
We also bid a tearful goodbye to our longtime treasurer and friend, Ann Stiles, who’s moving to Hemet to be closer to family. She will be sorely missed, and was always appreciated! Good luck Ann!
Our club meets at the very nice La Mesa Community Center, just up the hill from the intersection of Memorial Drive and University Avenue. We have a social half hour at 6:30 p.m., featuring snacks and desserts provided by members, and then meetings start at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend as our guests, and we promise to have you home by 9 p.m. Please visit our website at lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com, or like us on our Facebook page.
—Linda Armacost is president of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club