SFHDC 2018 Gala

Power in Numbers

Brian Copeland - Master of Ceremonies
Brian Copeland is an award-winning actor, comedian, author, playwright, television and radio talk show host based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began his career in standup at the tender age of 18 performing in comedy venues in San Francisco. Soon he was traveling the country opening for such legendary performers as Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, The Temptations, Natalie Cole, Julio Iglesias, Ringo Starr and Gladys Knight. Copeland has performed his brand of biting, cutting edge social commentary in venues including the Universal Amphitheater and Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. 


Benard Simelton - President of Alabama State Conference of the NAACP
"Voting is Power Award"

Benard was instrumental in swinging Alabama's 2017 special Senate election in favor of Doug Jones by organizing an unprecedented grassroots movement among African Americans and women to defeat Roy Moore in a Senate race that has reshaped national politics. Working with the NAACP's national office and partners throughout the nation, Mr. Simelton's efforts resulted in over 40,000 calls to voters to persuade them to exercise their right to vote, as well as an unprecedented texting campaign that reached nearly 160,000 African Americans and women throughout the state. According to the Democratic National Committee, 98% of African American women and 93% of African American men who voted in the special election cast their ballot for Doug Jones. The committee also stated that black voter turnout was greater than for the 2012 Presidential election when Barack Obama ran for re-election. 

Perman Hardy - Rural Alabama Community Organizer
"Driving Power Award"

A daughter of Alabama sharecroppers, Perman Hardy is an active member of her local church who has been a public servant and voters’ rights advocate for more than 25 years. Ms. Hardy, who has two children and three grandchildren, continues to be an active leader in several local and state campaigns and community minority initiatives.

She has served as a voters’ rights advocate with much focus on African American men, women and other minorities, as well as women’s rights, and has received several honorary awards for her work in several communities in Alabama. Perman says she loves supporting African Americans and other minorities, and empowering them through all walks of life. Most especially, Perman enjoys building relationships, meeting new people and working with youths to help them as they set and establish their career goals in life. She encourages everyone to express themselves accordingly and execute the power of their voice, the right to vote. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and gardening.

Kimberly Bryant - Founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE
"Power of Opportunity Award"
Ms. Bryant is an African American electrical engineer who worked in the biotechnology field at Genentech, Novartis Vaccines, Diagnostics and Merck. In 2011, Bryant founded Black Girls CODE, a training course that teaches basic programming concepts to black girls who are underrepresented in technology careers. After founding Black Girls CODE, Bryant has been listed as one of the "25 Most Influential African Americans in Technology" by Business Insider. Bryant's motivation for founding Black Girls CODE came after her daughter expressed an interest in learning computer programming, and none of the available courses in the Bay Area were well-suited for her. African American women make up less than 3% of the workforce in the tech industry and Black Girls CODE fights to change and improve this percentage for the better. The San Francisco-based nonprofit organization has a goal of teaching one million black girls to code by 2040. 

Michael and Sara Agah Franti - Co-founders of Do It For The Love
"Power of Love Award"
Michael Franti is a musician, humanitarian and filmmaker who is recognized as a pioneering force in the music industry. Franti believes in using music as a vehicle for positive change and is revered for his energetic live shows, inspiring music, worldwide philanthropy efforts and connection to his global fanbase. Once an outlier in his message of positivity-minded political consciousness, Franti says he has found that message gaining momentum in the mainstream in recent years, a phenomenon that compelled him to push his artistry even further, stating, "I feel a deeper sense of purpose in music today than I ever have in my career. My goal is to make the most inspiring music I possibly can for this intense, crazy and wonderful time we're all living in." Franti & Spearhead will be kicking off their "Stay Human" Tour at BottleRock Napa on May 26, 2018 and releasing their tenth studio album in June.
Sara Agah Franti, an emergency room Registered Nurse, was inspired to create the Do It For The Love non-profit with her husband, Michael, after witnessing the power that music has to bring families together during their times of greatest need. Do It For The Love’s mission is to provide live concert experiences to children and adults living with end stages of life threatening illness or special needs, as well as wounded veterans. Sara is an active Board Member and the Chief Strategy Officer. In addition to her work in health and healing, she is also the owner and creative director of LUA a sustainable jewelry line, created to inspire individuality, and encourage the wearer to live free. Together with Michael, they own Soulshine Bali, a boutique hotel dedicated to yoga, soul and rock & roll.
Sara is dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of others. Her passion has driven her to pursue her master's degree in public health, which she intends to use as a platform to concentrate on health promotion and policy change. Her work, life, and play are all influenced by her mantra, "Be your best. Serve the greater good. Rock out wherever you are!”
Jay and Kathryn Cahill - Senior management at Cahill Contractors
"Building Power Award"
Jay Cahill is the third generation of the Cahill family in the construction business. He joined Cahill Contractors' predecessor company in 1969 and co-founded Cahill Contractors, Inc. in 1974. Jay served as Cahill's president for many years, during which time he grew the company substantially while still managing details of such large projects as St. Mary's Cathedral and the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Tower II & Plaza.
He currently serves on the San Francisco Committee on Jobs and is an Emeritus board member of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, for which he served as chair in 1995. Jay also serves on the Board of Directors of the California Casualty Group, and previously was a member of the Board of Directors of the DiGiorgio Corporation. 
Kathryn Cahill joined Cahill Contractors in 2007, becoming the fourth generation of the Cahill family to work in the construction business. While at Cahill, Kathryn has worked in project management and estimating for projects spanning affordable housing, market rate condominiums, senior housing and religious facilities. She is also involved with company operations including marketing, recruiting and technology.
Prior to Cahill, Kathryn worked in management consulting at Mercer Management Consulting (now Oliver Wyman) and in nonprofit management/strategy for the Bridgespan Group and Oakland Unified School District. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Youth Sports Foundation (BAYS), and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Willie and Mary Ratcliff - Publishers of San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper
"Power of Words Award"

Lifelong activists Willie and Mary Ratcliff took over publishing of the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper 15 years after it was founded by Muhammad al-Kareem in 1976. The couple, who met while living in Alaska, put out their first edition of the paper on Feb. 3, 1992, concentrating on economic equity. A small army of neighborhood children carried the paper door to door throughout Bayview-Hunters Point and nearby public housing, and papers were dropped at the county jail.

With mass incarceration at a fever pitch, most of those in jail soon transferred to state prison, where prisoners who read the paper were moved to write political commentary for publication, thus beginning the Bay View’s commitment to covering prisoners and prison abolition. Over its 42 years, the Bay View’s beats have covered the African diaspora from Hunters Point to Haiti to Congo, disasters in New Orleans, Iraq and Gaza, economic and environmental justice, and the spectrum of black arts and culture. “The Bay View is the realest, rawest, richest paper of all; don’t let it go broke,” a prisoner wrote recently.

Acknowledging that financing the paper remains a serious challenge, the Ratcliffs are seeking a new editor who will accept the torch and carry the Bay View into the future. To better spread the word, a new website and fundraising campaign are in the works.

Susan Vanasco-Howell - Owner of Susan Howell Gallery
"Creative Power Award"

A native of Old Westbury, NY, Susan Vanasco-Howell has operated a business at the same 1900A Fillmore St. address for 34 years. Susan launched the space as Susan Howell Textiles and pursued the art of conservation, focusing on Oriental rugs, tapestries and needlepoint. Susan says her tiny shop later “magically” filled with beads and became known as Surprise Party, as she began selling fine beads from around the world and doing jewelry repair and bespoke design for men and women. Her location expanded after her neighbor - a barber for over 30 years – passed away, and his son visited Susan and handed her the keys to his father’s space on the same day. Susan noted how she paid tribute to her late neighbor’s passion of fishing by filling the space with specimen seashells and other items. She intermittently presents her own artwork and that of other artists in the conjoined space now called Susan Howell Gallery. The gallery owner says her windows have always meant to be her special heartfelt gift to the neighborhood.