Born in Montclair, New Jersey, Buzz Aldrin is a mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut best known for his historic 1969 moonwalk on Apollo 11.
Educated at the US Military Academy at West Point, Aldrin graduated third in his class with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He then joined the Air Force, where he completed 66 combat missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. After completing another tour of duty in Germany, he went on to earn his Doctorate of Science in Astronautics for his thesis on Manned Orbital Rendezvous at MIT.
Selected into NASA’s third group of astronauts in 1963, was the first astronaut with a doctorate. The docking and rendezvous techniques he devised for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit were critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs and are still in use today. He also pioneered underwater training techniques, as a substitute for zero gravity flights, to simulate spacewalking.
On the Gemini 12 orbital mission in 1966, he performed the world’s first successful spacewalk and set a new extra vehicular activity record of 5 ½ hours. On the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, Aldrin became one of the first humans to set foot on the moon and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the historic achievement.
Since retiring from his position as Commandant of the US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Aldrin has continued to pioneer advancements in space exploration. He devised a master plan for missions to Mars called the “Aldrin Mars Cycler,” a spacecraft transportation system with perpetual cycling orbits between Earth and Mars.
Currently residing in Los Angeles, Aldrin has received numerous awards for his accomplishments, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is also the author of 7 New York Times bestselling books, including the illustrated children’s books Reaching for the Moon andLook to the Stars and the 2009 autobiography Magnificent Desolation.
Elizabeth H. Blackburn is a leader in telomere and telomerase research. She discovered the molecular nature of telomeres – the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving the genetic information – and the ribonucleoprotein enzyme telomerase.
Currently Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, Blackburn and her research team are working with various cells with the goal of understanding telomerase and telomere biology.
Blackburn earned her B.Sc. (1970) and M.Sc. (1972) degrees from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and her Ph.D. (1975) from the University of Cambridge in England. She did her postdoctoral work in Molecular and Cellular Biology from 1975 to 1977 at Yale.
In 1978, Blackburn joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Department of Molecular Biology. In 1990, she joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UC San Francisco, where she served as Department Chair from 1993 to 1999. Blackburn is currently a faculty member in Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. She is also a Non-Resident Fellow of the Salk Institute.
Throughout her career, Blackburn has been honored with many prestigious awards. She was elected President of the American Society for Cell Biology (1998) and as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991), the Royal Society of London (1992), the American Academy of Microbiology (1993), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2000). She was elected Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences in 1993, and a Member of the Institute of Medicine in 2000. In 2006, she was awarded the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award in Basic Medical Research. In 2007, she was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most influential People,” and she is the 2008 North American Laureate for L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science. In 2009, Blackburn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Fr. Gregory Boyle was born in Los Angeles, one of eight children. Ordained a priest in 1984, he has worked in various locations in the U.S. and abroad, but is best known for his service as pastor of Dolores Mission in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles and for his creation of Homeboy Industries. This organization traces its roots to a program he created in 1988 to address the problems of gang-involved youth through positive alternatives, including establishing an elementary school, a day care program, and finding legitimate employment for young people.
In 1992, as a response to the civil unrest in Los Angeles, Fr. Boyle launched Homeboy Bakery to create an environment that provided training, work experience, and above all, the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side. Its success laid the groundwork for additional businesses, prompting the creation of an independent non-profit organization, Homeboy Industries, in 2001. Today it is the largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the county, and has become a national model.
An acknowledged expert on gangs and intervention approaches, Fr. Boyle is a nationally renowned speaker. He serves on the National Gang Center Advisory Board and the Advisory Board for the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy. Previously, he held an appointment to the California Commission on Juvenile Justice, Crime and Delinquency Prevention.
Fr. Boyle has received numerous accolades and recognitions on behalf of Homeboy and for his work with former gang members, including the California Peace Prize granted by the California Wellness Foundation, the Lifetime Achievement Award from MALDEF, the Civic Medal of Honor from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the James Irvine Foundation’s Leadership Award.
His first book, “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion,” was named as one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly.
The Beach Boys’ music, with its trademark harmonies and lyrics, has brought the spirit of California all around the world. Perhaps more than any other musicians, the Beach Boyshave symbolized the California Dream for over 50 years.
Formed in Hawthorne, California, the original group consisted of five young men: Wilson brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl, their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine. Brian’s remarkable musical abilities, particularly his brilliance with harmonies and chord progressions, were complimented by Mike’s lyrical, conceptual, and vocal abilities. The two co-wrote the band’s first recording, “Surfin’,” which debuted the fall of 1961, and the band’s first concert was New Year’s Eve that same year. Soon “Surfin’ Safari” got the attention of Capitol Records, and its release in 1962 began the Beach Boys’ touring career.
The Beach Boys gained immediate popularity for their vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting Southern California’s youth culture of surfing, cars and romance. At the height of their career, they challenged the Beatles in both commercial and critical appeal.
Their album Pet Sounds and their best-known single, “Good Vibrations,” frequently rank high on critics’ lists of the greatest albums and singles of all time. The group has had 36 Top 40 hits (the most by any American rock band) and 56 Hot 100 hits, including four number-one singles in the U.S. Rolling Stone listed the Beach Boys at number 12 on their 2004 list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”
The Beach Boys’ recognition has included the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
Doris and Don Fisher had a simple idea: to make it easier to find a pair of jeans. In 1969, they revolutionized the retail industry by opening the first Gap store on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco.
The Fishers, both born in San Francisco, were long-time family friends prior to marrying in 1953. Doris graduated from Stanford University, as one of the first women to earn an Economics degree. Don was refurbishing old hotels when a “lucky” happening occurred: he leased space to a Levi’s® jeans salesman. Don bought two pair of pants from the man, and when he found that they didn’t fit, he and Doris began a search for the right size at clothing stores in San Francisco. Their futile search ended with the idea that would lead to the Gap. With no retail experience, Doris and Don opened that first Gap store, selling Levi’s jeans and records. They delivered a shopping experience that was fun and the concept caught on. Credited with inventing specialty retail, the Fishers grew their company into a major global brand with more than 3,200 stores. The company portfolio today includes Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta.
To inspire and support Gap Inc. employees and customers to invest in the communities where they work and live, the Fishers formed Gap Foundation in 1977. The Fishers used the rewards of Gap Inc. to further personal commitments to education, the arts and community.
They became champions of public school reform organizations, including Teach For America. One of their most inspirational projects is growing KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) schools, a unique network of free, college-preparatory schools that now reaches over 32,000 low-income children.
Considered among the premiere collectors of contemporary art, the Fishers selected pieces that they could share and encourage a love of art. Their collection, with some 1,100 pieces by renowned names like Andy Warhol, Chuck Close and Roy Lichtenstein, will be permanently housed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Both Doris and Don demonstrated their desire to make a difference. They are known around the world for being in the business of improving lives of those they reach – through their business, civic, and nonprofit commitments.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson is an NBA superstar, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Named the greatest point guard of all time by ESPN.com, Johnson excelled at basketball from the time he was in high school. In college, he helped Michigan State win the national championship and was chosen MVP. The Lakers selected him as the first pick in the 1979 NBA draft, and he became the first rookie to start in an All-Star game. The Lakers won the NBA championship, and Johnson became the youngest player to be playoff MVP.
During his 12 years with the Lakers, the team won five championships and he was chosen playoff MVP three times. He was a 12-time All-Star and the 1990 All-Star game MVP. He averaged 19.7 points per game, pulled down 6,376 rebounds, and had 1,698 steals. In 1990–91, he set an assist record, finishing the season with a total of 9,921. The term “triple double” (when points, rebounds, and assists reach double digits in a game) was coined largely for him. Johnson was a member of the gold-medal-winning U.S. basketball team – known as the “Dream Team” – in the 1992 Olympics.
After learning he was HIV-positive in 1991, Johnson became a powerful voice for AIDS awareness. He is Chairman and Founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation, which focuses on scholarship, transformation and community empowerment through HIV/AIDS awareness & prevention programs, Community Empowerment Centers, and the Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program. Approaching its 20th anniversary, the Magic Johnson Foundation has become one of the most recognizable philanthropic organizations in the world.
Also a successful businessman, Johnson is Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises. His company is noted for unprecedented partnerships in ethnically diverse and underserved communities that serve as the catalyst for redevelopment in urban communities and the blueprint for successful engagement with urban consumers.
A civil rights leader for people with disabilities, Ed Roberts is recognized as the father of the independent living movement. After contracting polio at age 14 that left him paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on a ventilator to breathe, he embarked on a path that changed the world.
Although Roberts excelled in his high school classes, the school refused to graduate him because he had not taken physical education or driver’s education classes. Roberts won that battle, as he would many more throughout his life.
Next, he decided to pursue a public policy degree at UC Berkeley. Told that education would be wasted on him, he persevered and became the first student with severe disabilities ever admitted. Before long, others joined him there, and, taking inspiration from the feminist and civil rights movements, they organized to gain better accessibility on campus and in the community. Roberts knew all too well the barriers that prevented people with disabilities from exercising their rights to be integrated into society, and dedicated his life to dismantling them. Ramps and curb cuts – the first one in the nation was at Telegraph and Bancroft – were early successes. Eventually, Roberts would help shape access regulations that became the basis of a worldwide revolution in civic architecture.
Roberts also targeted paternalistic policies that discouraged people with disabilities from controlling their own lives and segregated them in separate schools and housing. While completing his BA and MA, Roberts helped launch the Physically Disabled Students Program, America’s first student-led disability services program. He also helped create the first Center for Independent Living, which served as a model for hundreds of similar organizations nationwide.
In 1976, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. appointed Roberts Director of the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation – the same agency that had once labeled him too severely disabled to work at all. There, Roberts changed policy to provide resources to people with severe disabilities, which became federal rehabilitation policy. In 1983 he co-founded the World Institute on Disability (WID) and, using the funds from his MacArthur Foundation fellowship, began spreading the concept of independent living all over the world. He served as president of WID until his death in 1995.
Delivered with a level of passion and soul equal to the sonic charge of his guitar, the sound of Carlos Santana is one of the world’s best-known musical signatures. For over four decades, Carlos has been the visionary force behind music that transcends genres as well as cultural and geographical boundaries.
After first rising to fame during the late ’60s San Francisco Bay area music scene, Santana emerged onto the global stage with an epic set at Woodstock ’69, the same year that his self-titled debut LP came out. Featuring Santana’s first hit, “Evil Ways,” the album stayed on Billboard’s album chart for 2 years and was soon followed by two more classics – and Billboard #1s – Abraxas and Santana III.
Over the last 40 years of his career, Santana has sold more than 90 million records and reached over 100 million fans in concerts around the world. To date, he has won ten Grammy Awards, including a record-tying nine for a single project for his 1999 release Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Smooth”). In 1998, Santana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone ranked him at #15 on the list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” and #90 on the 2005 list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”
With his latest album release in 2010, Santana joined the ranks of the Rolling Stones as the only two musical acts in chart history to score at least one Top 10 album in every decade since the 1960s. In 2009, Santana was the recipient of Billboard Latin Music Awards’ Lifetime Achievement honor, and in 1996, Billboard’s Century Award.
In 1998, Santana established The Milagro Foundation, a non-profit entity designed to support underserved children and youth through funding arts, education and health around the globe.
Born in Oakland, California, to Chinese immigrants, Amy Tan rejected her mother’s expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist. She chose to write fiction instead. Her novels are “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Kitchen God’s Wife,” “The Hundred Secret Senses,” “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” and “Saving Fish from Drowning,” all New York Times bestsellers and recipients of various awards. She is also the author of a memoir, two children’s books, and numerous magazine articles. Her work has been translated into 35 languages.
Tan served as co-producer and co-screenwriter for the film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club. She was the creative consultant for Sagwa, an Emmy-nominated PBS children’s television series based on her book. She performed as narrator with the San Francisco Symphony and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Her short story “Immortal Heart” was published in The New Yorker and performed on stages in the U.S. and France. Her essays and stories are found in hundreds of anthologies and textbooks, and they are assigned as “required reading” in many high schools and universities.
Recently, Tan wrote the libretto for “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” opera, which had its world premiere at the San Francisco Opera in September of 2008. Her other musical work for the stage is with a literary garage band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose members include Stephen King, Dave Barry, and Scott Turow. In spite of their dubious talent, their yearly gigs have managed to raise over a million dollars for literacy programs.
Her next novel, “The Valley of Amazement,” will be published in 2012. A lifelong California resident, Tan currently lives in Sausalito.
The son of Irish immigrants, Roger Traynor was born and raised in the mining town of Park City, Utah. From the time he was a boy, he displayed a love of learning and a commitment to his studies, so it was no surprise that his teachers encouraged him to pursue his education after graduating high school. He arrived at UC Berkeley in 1919 with savings of $500 and a fervent hope that he could earn his way through college. He did so through his studies – at the end of his freshman year, his academic record earned him a scholarship that took him to graduation with highest honors.He went on to teach at the university, while also working toward a PhD in political science and a law degree, both of which he earned in 1927.
He became a full-time member of the UC Berkeley law school faculty in 1930, where he initiated the first regular course in taxation. He earned a reputation as an inspiring teacher, and one whose students were actively pursued by law firms. During the 1930s he brought his expertise to bear in helping the Legislature draft much of the state’s modern tax code. Then, working with the State Board of Equalization, Traynor was responsible for creating the mechanisms for collecting the newly-enacted sales tax, a system that became nationally known as a model of efficiency.
In 1940, although he had no judicial experience, Governor Culbert Olson tapped him for the California Supreme Court, where he served as Associate Justice from 1940-1964 and as Chief Justice from 1964-1970. He authored over 900 decisions, many of which rank among the Court’s most innovative and influential. During his tenure, the decisions of the California Supreme Court became the most frequently cited by all other state courts in the nation.His 1948 opinion in Perez v. Sharp was the first instance of a state supreme court striking down a law prohibiting interracial marriage. In 1952 he issued an opinion that paved the way for no-fault divorce. And he is perhaps best known for creating the area of law now known as products liability.
His many awards include the American Bar Association’s highest award for jurisprudence, the Whyte School of Law Medallion, and the ACLU Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award.