The Avenidas Lifetimes of Achievement 2018 fundraiser took place on May 20, 2018 at the Palo Alto home of Gina and Craig Jorasch, with music by the Jazz ConneXion.
From creating new gardens for nonprofit organizations, to implementing an anger-management program for at-risk youth, to delivering dozens of concerts a year at health centers and senior communities, the people honored with this year’s Avenidas Lifetimes of Achievement Award have engaged in meaningful and creative efforts to create change in their local communities and beyond.
When you think of powerhouses in the local community, these new Avenidas Lifetimes of Achievement honorees are the ones who first come to mind.Amy Andonian, Avenidas President & CEO
Meet the 2018 Honorees
The recipients of the annual award for 2018 are John and Kristine Erving, Jim Gibbons, Christy Holloway, Ellie and Dick Mansfield, and Nancy Mueller.
Click on each honoree’s name to see a photo and read a short history of accomplishments.
Kristine started as an elementary school teacher but gave up that career when they started their family. Ever since, for some forty-five years now, she has been a volunteer in our community.
Kristine credits the Junior League, which she served as President, for providing the training she needed for all her future volunteer and paid work in the community which included chairing the Boards of The Peninsula Center for the Blind (now Vista Center), the YMCA Assn., Avenidas and Bring Me a Book Foundation, as well as serving on the Board of Managers for the East Palo Alto YMCA.
While deeply involved in these community efforts she accepted a position as
the Community Relations Coordinator for Stanford hospital. In that position she co-founded and co-directed the “Stanford Health Library.” This entirely new entity provided much needed medical information for patients and families to empower them in their own medical research and advocacy. Such information was hard to come by in the pre-internet days.
The Health Library lives on in several sites locally and via its website it provides cutting edge health and medical information around the world.
Together this couple sometimes pooled their efforts, as when co-chairing the first ever Peninsula Habitat “blitz build,” called “Raising the Roofs,” building 6 houses in 6 days in Redwood City. Likewise when Kristine agreed to lead an
effort to engage in a public private partnership with the City of Palo Alto to build the Heritage Park Playground, John was with her every step of the way.
John, like Kristine, is a graduate of the University of Oregon and a long suffering, ardent Duck fan deep in Stanford country. In fact his suffering is such that they retreat to Oregon each year for several months.
John had a successful career in real estate development with Vintage Properties and after his retirement, it seemed a natural extension to become
involved with Peninsula Habitat for Humanity. Habitat is the international organization that builds affordable housing with and for deserving families, which on the Peninsula is a problem of epic proportions.
John volunteered twelve years with that organization and Board, included two years as Chairman, during which time his expertise, energy, initiative and
commitment saw the organization grow rapidly until it was ready to merge with the San Francisco affiliate. John also used his real estate experience to help Families in Transition to relocate and remodel their family support facility, while serving on their board.
Next, John’s strong long time interest in landscaping led him to seek to become educated in the art and he reinvented himself as a landscape designer. Since then he volunteers pro bono his expertise for schools, public projects and nonprofit organizations, especially Canopy.
It is difficult to summarize Jim’s career and his contributions in a few words. Jim, a former Dean of the School of Engineering at Stanford, is known internationally for his important achievements in higher education and for his development of fabrication technologies that are foundational for the modern semiconductor industry, in Silicon Valley and around the world. Less well known is the fact that his work has also contributed significantly to the social well-being of our community at large.
Jim was born in Leavenworth, KS where his father, a country school teacher facing a pay cut, had taken a job as a prison guard to provide for his family during the Great Depression. The family subsequently moved to Texarkana, TX , the location of a minimum security prison, where they lived on the reservation for officers.
Jim learned things there that he would use much later in his programs for at risk youth. The thing he remembers best from those years was being introduced to the trombone by his brother at age 13. By age 15 he was “playing the dance club circuit in North East Texas.” He would choose electrical engineering over music as his college major, but he continued to play for many years.
Jim graduated with a PhD from Stanford, and soon thereafter joined its faculty. He was tasked to bring nascent transistor technology from Shockley Labs—the birthplace of Silicon Valley—to Stanford. The lab that he founded, the first university lab in the field, quickly attracted new faculty and graduate students, whose work allowed Stanford to participate in the development of Silicon Valley from the beginning.
In addition to his pioneering work in semiconductor technology, he was one of the early creators of high efficiency solar cells and has worked more recently in creating other clean energy sources. As Dean of Engineering Jim initiated a multidisciplinary approach and encouraged the students to enrich their lives with humanities and the arts. Jim served on the boards of several companies in the valley (among them Cisco, Raychem, SRI, Lockheed Martin, and the Children’s Health Council ).
In the educational field, he vastly expanded and improved the Stanford Instructional Television Network, which provided topnotch education via television to thousands of engineers at local companies. Again this provided a crucial piece of “infrastructure” to the Valley, and was a forerunner of present internet courses.
His engagement with the Santa Clara Juvenile Hall in 1996 led him to form SERA Learning, a company that created a successful program for teaching at
risk youth how to manage their anger and walk away from fights. In the next
decade, SERA’s “Skills for Managing Anger” course was used in over 400
schools and juvenile justice applications across the country.
Christy has been described as “a champion and steward of open spaces and environmental education and has dedicated her energies for decades to land preservation and educating the next generation of stewards of our environment.”
Christy was born in England. When WWII threatened her family crossed the Atlantic and made their way to the safe haven of her maternal grandparents’ home in Los Angeles. Christy eventually went to a Cal Berkeley and worked toward an elementary teaching credential in English and history.
She married Charles (“Chuck”), and they moved to Washington DC where she completed her degree at George Washington University. They now live on the Stanford campus where Chuck is a much-admired professor of entrepreneurship at the Business School.
Christy developed her skills as a professional volunteer in The Junior League of Palo Alto where she served as president. She gave structure to the newly formed Environmental Volunteers as their first board chair and led the effort to take Hidden Villa from a private, family philanthropy to a viable non-profit that thrives today. Christy was the first Co-Director of the new non-profit Trust for Hidden Villa. She took her experience on to serve both POST and Yosemite National Park through The Yosemite Association and the Yosemite Conservancy over a 28-year period. Christy provided leadership, raised funds and helped build the community support network and brand for these organizations.
During her years of volunteering for Yosemite she was one of the leaders of the successful effort to merge two non-profits serving the park, the Yosemite Association with the Yosemite Fund, into one cohesive entity that is now the much admired Yosemite Conservancy.
She is admired and thought of as a friend, by POST, the EV, the Yosemite Conservancy Board and its Council, the National park Service and the greater Yosemite community.
Ellie has been described as “a consummate volunteer” who has served many organizations in a variety of ways. She is a lawyer by training (Stanford Law School), was on the board of the County Bank of Santa Cruz and continued on the board until it became the California branch of Comerica Bank. She served on the Loan Committee.
Ellie sang in the Stanford University Chorus while a student there. Later in life, Ellie started singing with the Clef Hangers, a small group of women who give about 24 concerts a year at health centers and senior communities.
Ellie was a PTA president when their 3 children went to P.A. Schools, was a Girl Scout leader, an active member of AAUW, the P.A. League of Women Voters, the Pacific Stroke Association, Cap and Gown at Stanford, and was an Avenidas Board Member for 3 years. She is most noted for her work at Sempervirens Fund.
Helping organizations fulfill their purpose has been Ellie’s life work, her ever willingness to share her expertise by generating handbooks, using calligraphy for invitations and mailers, creating the well known story boards for Lifetime, repairing needle work, acting as a seamstress for projects such as sacks for straw bedding for Manzanar.
Ellie and Dick make a formidable team. Dick grew up in Seattle, attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Stanford University where he was Editor of the Stanford Daily and Stanford Law School where he was president of the Law Review.
Dick was a distinguished lawyer who spent his career first in private practice and then for 19 years served on the judicial staff of California Court of Appeal. He was president of the Palo Alto Bar Association and a member of the Santa Clara County Bar Association. He was Chair of the Committee on Administration of Justice for the CA State Bar.
Dick was a scoutmaster for Troop 57 and led several fifty milers.
For over 15 years Dick has been a dedicated volunteer at the Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the ten “relocation centers” that incarcerated a large number of Japanese Americans during WWII. Manzanar is located on the other side of the Sierras. Both Dick and Ellie work as docents at the facility and, as an accomplished woodworker and a keen photographer, Dick has been involved in several of their projects.
“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today and always do the hardest thing first,” were her Father’s words.
Nancy Mueller grew up in Latham, New York and came to California after graduating from Russell Sage College with a degree in chemistry.
Together with her husband Glenn she moved to Palo Alto and she worked as a chemist for Syntex while he studied for his MBA at Stanford. In her free time she volunteered with Bay Window Restaurant which benefited the Family Service Association.
Nancy has two children, Gregory and Carin. When the two children entered grammar school, Nancy founded Nancy’s Specialty Foods. Over 22 years, Nancy became the largest processer and marketer of frozen quiche products in the world.
Sadly, Nancy was widowed in 1994. She and Glenn had enjoyed sailing and racing, so in 1999 after she sold the company, Nancy turned a dream into a reality by commissioning a super yacht and traveling the world’s coastlines.
Even with such a busy lifestyle, Nancy spent from 1966 to current times offering her business acumen and support to many local non-profits, including 6 years on the Avenidas Board.
Nancy lives in Palo Alto with Bob Fox, a successful retired consumer product CEO.