On Wednesday, February 18 the Raincross Group, a civic-minded organization which works for the benefit of Riverside, named three individuals to receive the 2015 Leadership Recognition Award. Cosme Cordova and Mark Schooley were awarded the honor for what they have brought to the city in the area of arts and community service, and Michael Esparza was honored for his dedication and years of public service.
Cosme Cordova, professional artist and creator/owner of the Division 9 Gallery in Downtown Riverside, is deeply involved in our community. He co-founded the Riverside Arts Walk (with Mark Schooley) that routinely sees thousands of people walk through arts venues on the first Thursday of each month. He has hosted a number of diverse events, including Artnival, Cinco de Mayo Festivities and the annual Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos) event. His events feature not only art but cultural celebrations that include traditional dances and food. Through his gallery and his community events he has provided opportunities that have allowed artists and local groups to become involved and attracted thousands of people into our City.
Artist Mark Schooley is the Director of the Riverside Community Arts Association, a non-profit organization that promotes the arts and its artist-members and organizes community events. He is also the co-founder (with Cosme Cordova) of the Riverside Arts Walk, an arts tradition in our downtown. Mark’s involvement with our Riverside Sister City Program (in particular, Ensenada, Mexico) is well-known. He has coordinated cultural art exchanges there that have gained recognition both locally and internationally. He himself has created over 70 artworks related to Ensenada, Mexico. He has also coordinated exchanges with Sendai, Japan and Jiangmen, China. A member of the IRC (International Relations Council), he currently sits on their Board of Directors.
Michael Esparza is a 33-year veteran with the Riverside Fire Department, whose last role was to serve as the Interim Fire Chief overseeing the department’s daily operations of 14 stations within our city. He began his career in 1981 in the City of Riverside, was promoted to Captain in 1989 and Battalion Chief in 1998. He was also instrumental in establishing in 1992 the Urban Search and Rescue Team (California Task Force 6) which responded to the World Trade Center collapse and Hurricane Katrina tragedies. “The Riverside Fire Department has been my life for more than three decades, so my roots with this organization run very deep,” he has said.
In addition to the three leadership awards, the Raincross Group also honored BB&K attorney and longtime Raincross member, Jack B. Clarke, Jr., with Emeritus status, and recognized outgoing President, Kathy Allavie.