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Community of Character Announces Annual Award Recipients

Original post made by Ken mano, Willow West, on Apr 22, 2022

This year’s Juanita Haugen Awards recipients exhibit the values of the Community of Character through their great examples of service, while living the values of Responsibility, Compassion, Self-Discipline, Honesty, Respect and Integrity. Their examples inspire each of us to remember these important values in our own lives and do what we can to make a difference in Pleasanton.

The recipients will be honored at the Wednesday, May 18, 2022 Annual Awards Luncheon at 11:30 am at the Pleasanton Senior Center.
The luncheon reservation form is available online at the Chamber of Commerce website www.pleasanton.org. Cost of the luncheon is $40 and is open to the public, friends of the recipients are encouraged to attend and support them.


Lisa and Randy Brown moved from Turlock to Pleasanton 10 years ago. While in Turlock, they were actively involved with Relay for Life, raising funding for the American Cancer Society. Immediately after moving to Pleasanton, Lisa became Chair of the Pleasanton Relay for Life, breathing new life into the event, with Randy working by her side.

Lisa was on the board of the Livermore Valley Wine Auction coordinating efforts to raise over $150,000 over several years for Agape Villages. Lisa and Randy also served on the board for Stanford Health Care - ValleyCare’s Charitable Foundation. Lisa currently serves on the board for the Museum on Main, working on fundraising events. Lisa also serves as the President of the Board of Directors for Goodness Village and Randy serves as a member of the board, raising funds for the formerly unhoused.

This couple is truly a productive and supportive team; what Lisa works on, Randy is always right there by her side and vice versa. If this isn’t enough, Randy has been President of the Rotary Club of Pleasanton, is a current board member for the Pleasanton Downtown Association and was Chair of the Board for the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, all while running his own Real Estate Company.

Ron Andre is a long-time resident of Pleasanton of nearly 20 years, with his wife Nancy, and 3 children. He has been a coach for his children as well and hundreds of others. As a coach he always shows up with enthusiasm and a detailed plan, and he encourages sportsmanship while being a good role model for all. He has dedicated his time to coaching basketball, softball and baseball, while balancing his schedule with a full-time job.

He has coached 26 Pleasanton Youth Basketball teams with around 300 athletes, 12 Pleasanton Little League baseball teams (including All-Star teams) for about 180 athletes, and 17 Pleasanton Girls Softball teams mentoring about 220 athletes: a total of 55 Pleasanton Sports teams and about 700 Pleasanton youth.

Coaching and mentoring young athleltes is a passion of his, teaching them important life lessons, including the traits as found in the Community of Character values. He teaches by example and exemplifies the Juanita Haugen traits while doing so.

Ron’s award is not just his alone. The Community of Character board recognizes that by honoring Ron, they are also honoring all of the hundreds of coaches who volunteer and give of their time to make youth sports an integral part of our community of character. For all of you coaches, this overdue honor is for you too.


Aditi Balakrishna lives in Pleasanton with her parents are Sushma Balakrishna and Balakrishna Venkatrao, and her sister, Anavi Balakrishna.

The pandemic left many people, like our senior community, experiencing tough times, especially loneliness. Aditi saw the need and became determined to address it. She created HappyArt in an effort to lift the spirits of seniors. She gathered other interested peers who shared her compassion for others to participate and for their first project they donated 100 cards to the Pleasanton Senior Center. She partnered with Alisal Elementary to make even more cards, she engaged middle school students and more of her high school peers to expand the work they do. Her mission was to engage community members to provide support by inspiring others to give back in the way of making cards.

HappyArt brought joy to our senior community in Pleasanton and other parts of the Bay Area. These volunteers have produced well over a thousand cards, which translates to over 1,000 seniors who realized the joy that someone is thinking of and cares about them.

Aditi demonstrates her ability to care for others in our community like our senior members. During a time of a global pandemic that affected her community she saw a need and sought to fulfill it, this is an example of the sense of responsibility and compassion Aditi has. Her future looks bright as she brings joy and brightness to others.


Bernie Billen was a long-time resident of Pleasanton. She passed away last year due to lung cancer, she had been nominated for the award in 2020, but the last two Award dinners were cancelled due to Covid, so the committee decided to make the award posthumously.

Bernie moved to Pleasanton in the 1970’s and joined the Newcomer’s Club and immersed herself in many organizations and activities in the city. She was coordinator of the Hometown Holiday Parade for decades, was on the board of the Tulancingo Sister City Association and became treasurer. She was on the staff of the Chamber of Commerce and on the board of the Downtown Association. She worked tirelessly on numerous fundraising activities including those for the Senior Center , Firehouse Arts Center and Museum on Main. She was a key figure in the City’s Centennial Celebration, the Pasta Festival and the Great Race when it came through Pleasanton.

Even while undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, she continued on the boards of the Downtown Association and Hively. Before retirement, she was Senior Vice President of United Business Bank. Bernie exemplified the values of our Community of Character and is sorely missed.

The PUSD Estrella Del Pueblo Mariachi Music Program is the organizational recipient of the Juanita Haugen Award. The Mariachi program began in 2015 and has grown to serve an increasingly diverse population of students across the Pleasanton Unified School District. The program has helped put instruments in the hands of hundreds of students who may have otherwise not had the opportunity to access a music program, while immersing students and their families in rich culture and diversity.
The program is open to all students and has helped raise the academic scores of students involved. It has given participants self-worth and the students and their families a greater connection with their community and schools. The Mariachi program has provided instrumental and voice instruction, academic tutoring, story/play time for younger children, parenting workshops, social worker availability, and even tax preparation. The program has served more than 200 students and their families annually since its inception. The Mariachi group performs at many events in the Tri-Valley
A student from Pleasanton Middle School proudly said, "Mariachi connects me to my culture and it's a way to socialize more with friends who like the same things. When I am at Mariachi I feel like I am with family."
The Estrella Del Pueblo Mariachi was founded by former PUSD parent liaison Susana Lopez-Krulevitch and is currently orchestrated by Parent Liaison Viviana Suarez under the leadership of Director of Educational Options, Heather Pereira.

The Mariachi group has performed at many events in the Tri-Valley and will be performing at the Community of Character Luncheon in May.

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