Community Spotlight Award

The 2017 Community Spotlight Award finalists have all been recipients of the monthly 10News LEADership Awards, which are presented in partnership with LEAD San Diego.

Honoring those who serve our community

The 10News LEADership Award recipients were nominated by community members for making our region a better place to live by standing up for those who need help, initiating or creating solutions for others, serving as role models or fulfilling local needs.

Patrick Crop 200pxThe 2016 Community Spotlight Award Winner

Patrick Russell of Veterans Treatment Court was presented with the 2016 Community Spotlight Award at the 14th Annual Visionary Awards on May 26.


Here are the 2017 Community Spotlight Award finalists:

Bobbi Brink Headshot

Bobbi Brink

Lions, Tigers & Bears

Bobbi Brink is founder, director and Vice President of Lions, Tigers & Bears, a big cat and exotic animal rescue in Alpine. She has been working with and advocating for captive exotic animals since the early 1990s. Bobbi has made it her personal mission to work to end the neglect and abuses inflicted on captive exotics victimized by the exotic animal trade.

Bobbi is a prolific fundraiser and tireless advocate for abused and displaced wildlife. Bobbi has testified before Congress, helping instill legislation that would regulate the trade of these animals She has won multiple awards and recognition for leadership and public service.

Ursula Kuster Headshot

Ursula Kuster


Ursula Kuster created and currently serves as president/chair of FREEDOM FRONTLINE, which organizes a food drive for Military Outreach Organization; provides leadership courses for young professionals who study political science and criminal justice; and works with a community youth athletic center.

FREEDOM FRONTLINE also establishes webinars to provide education about the Constitution of the United States. In addition, the organization has packed and chipped dozens of CARE packages, filled with food items, snacks, hygeine products, cards of support and letters and drawings by schoolchildren, to our military overseas.

Mark Shaffer Headshot

Mark Shaffer

Chopper the Biker Dog

Mark Shaffer and his therapy dog, Chopper the Biker Dog, are considered local heroes because of their constant presence at charity events, military and law enforcement events and nursing homes. This dynamic duo brings happiness to those who are in physical and emotional pain.

Mark and Chopper volunteer out of genuine love and concern, not for publicity. In addition to his volunteer commitments, Mark is a well-known real estate agent.

James “Jas” Arnold Headshot

James “Jas” Arnold

Jas Arnold Trail for All People

A volunteer member of the Black Mountain Open Space Park Citizens Advisory Board, Jas Arnold saw a unique opportunity for a loop trail adjacent to the parking lot that could be navigated by wheelchair. He has tirelessly and patiently led efforts to get the trail developed, and after nearly 10 years, it is now done.

The trail is a five-foot-wide path with moderate grades that are ADA compliant. The trail promises a wide number of people – including those who need wheelchairs, walkers or strollers – the opportunity to enjoy views previously available mainly to hikers.

Dr. Lenora Langlais Headshot

Dr. Lenora Langlais

Naval Medical Center

This disabled veteran volunteers to teach active duty U.S. Navy members Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support at the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park. Through her volunteerism, training gaps due to limited availability of critically trained instructors are closed.

Dr. Langlais is a retired Commander after 25 years in the service – four years in the US Air Force, five years in the US Army and 16 years with the US Navy. A mother of five, she is the US Navy’s only African American female and Nurse Corps Officer to receive a Purple Heart.

Rick Collins Headshot

Rick Collins

Veterans 360 + Carry the Challenge

The founder and Executive Director of Veterans 360 + Carry the Challenge, a San Diego-based 501 (c)(3), Rick has developed and is advancing a process and plan to engage today’s young veterans who are struggling with both transition and PTSD-related challenges.

The CTC program empowers veterans to provide the one-on-one service that young veterans need; participants are provided with certified career assessment tools, resiliency training, likeability/mindfullness training and fiscal responsibility.

Eric Occhipinti Headshot

Eric Occhipinti

March for Mothers 5K Run/Walk

Eric created an annual 5K fun run/walk where 100 percent of proceeds go to supply impoverished, single new mothers in urban desert communities with one year’s supply of fresh, organic, made-to-order baby food delivered twice a week, along with educational resources.

Not only does he help our families in need locally, his partnerships with the International Rotary Club and The Flying Samaritans give him the ability to assist them with their work across the border.

Lisa Jennings Headshot

Lisa Jennings

Special Needs Teens' Dance Parties

Lisa Jennings recognized the need for teens with special needs to have a place where they can feel safe and have fun. She began opening her home to teens and adults who liked to dance so that at least once a month, they could go sing, dance and hang out.

Lisa’s been doing this for at least two years. She provides all the fun and does not ask for payment of any type. Her initiative helped other parents form connections, and now small groups offering activities for teens and adults with disabilities have sprouted

Maja Wichtowski Headshot

Maja Wichtowski

Dog Dreams Foundation

Maja Wichtowski is a state registered veterinary technician with more than 18 years of extensive experience in all fields of western veterinary medicine. She opened her own rehabilitation practice, “Tsavo’s Canine Rehabilitation Center,” in 2006.

Maja is the co-founder and president of Dog Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit, first of its kind to provide low cost surgical and rehabilitation services to dogs currently being fostered in rescue organizations. It is Maja’s intention that Dog Dreams Foundation be a template for future facilities of its kind throughout the U.S. and worldwide.