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OTTA United hosts first-ever gala in December 2022 with awards, food, and celebration

OTTA United hosts first-ever gala in December 2022 with awards, food, and celebration

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Benjamin Wang, Staff

On Sunday, December 11th, Our Time to Act (OTTA) United was pleased to conclude our eventful 2022 year under “A Sky Full of Stars,” the theme for our first-ever gala. This gala provided the perfect opportunity to thank the community leaders who give us their much-appreciated support and to recognize the passion and dedication of the OTTA United team. 

Hosted at the Multipurpose Room at the University of California, San Diego, OTTA United was pleased to welcome San Diego leaders such as Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilmember Joe La Cava, and Councilmember Kent Lee to the gala. While the audience enjoyed local San Diego Chinese food from Fan-Fan and butter mochi from KatKatxMochi, Mayor Gloria kicked off the night by delivering his remarks to the OTTA United crowd through a personalized video. Aidan Lin, OTTA United’s executive director, followed up by sharing four vignettes that encapsulated some of the lessons that he learned over the course of OTTA United’s growth and development. Authentic empowerment, leading by nature, and sharing our resources freely were some of the insights shared. 

Tommy Jung, OTTA United’s Director of Operations, then proceeded to present the internal awards, which celebrated the outstanding accomplishments of individuals within OTTA United. Afterwards, Executive Director Lin returned to the podium to present the external awards, which acknowledged San Diego community groups and individuals who went above and beyond in their support of youth causes and issues. Melanie Cohn, Alex Villafuerte, Jean-Huy Tran, and Tama Becker-Varano received the Youth Ally Award, which recognized the relentless commitment of these individuals to uplift youth voices. The San Diego Communities Collaboration Map Coalition and the San Diego Asian Pacific Islander Coalition both received the Coalition Builder Award, which recognized coalitions who did an exceptional job in shaping and leading our communities as a whole. Youth Will and the Asian Business Association of San Diego received the Outstanding Community Partner Award, an award that acknowledged and appreciates those who have demonstrated their steadfast support for OTTA United. Rhianen Callahan received the Legacy Award, a nod to a former member of OTTA United who made a lasting impact on our organization, and Judy Ki received the Legendary Youth Champion Award for fearlessly commanding respect for youth and youth leaders and for her support of youth causes using her own resources and networks.

Next, President Janice Park, Ethics & Policy Committee Chair Gabrille Darisme, and Director Manu Agni of OTTA United’s Board of Directors answered the question “Why OTTA?” by delivering an interactive presentation about OTTA United’s values, determination, and accomplishments. Board Directors Park, Darisme, and Agni argued that supporting OTTA United is a phenomenal future investment – one that supports youth and the community. Finally, Councilmember Kent Lee delivered the closing remarks, wrapping up a monumental gala as he drew upon his own lived experience as a student at UC San Diego and a youth leader to reflect on the impact that the OTTA United youth have been able to make in the local community. Ultimately, this gala was a celebration of the bridge that OTTA United has built between youth and youth allies, a bridge more than 75 attendees and OTTA United board and staff are now able to cross for the benefit of the San Diego community. OTTA United would like to thank everyone who took time out of their day to share this special moment with us. 

OTTA United would also like to give a special thank you to Viet Vote, the Asian Business Association San Diego, and the YMCA of San Diego County for sponsoring our organization and gala! We would also like to thank Alex Villafuerte, the Asian Solidarity Collective, Judy Ki, Marina Tostado & Oliver Lin, Melanie Cohn, the Organization of Chinese Americans of San Diego, Ron Cho, Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Social Artistry, Tama Becker-Varano, and Trinh Le for being our lovely co-hosts. Because of your support, we are better equipped to fulfill our mission of organizing powerful youth for an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable future. We would also like to thank Councilmembers Joe La Cava and Kent Lee for making time to come to our gala. Last but not least, OTTA United would like to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers, staff, and board members who helped make this night possible. In particular, this event would not have been possible without Isaac Lara and Rachel Choy, OTTA United’s Director and Assistant Director of Communications. 2022 was a wonderful year of organizing, mobilizing, and advocating, and we here at OTTA United look forward to another year of great success. 

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