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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.