Raincross Group Presents Annual Awards to Community Leaders

The Raincross Group held its 2014 Annual Leadership Recognition Reception at the Riverside Art Museum on March 26, 2014. The Raincross Group, a community advocacy group, acknowledged three recipients this year for outstanding contributions to the betterment of the community.

The 2014 awardees were George Flower, President for Life of the Friends of Mount Rubidoux; Ralph Nunez, retiring Director of the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of Riverside; and Dean G Richard Olds, MD, and the Inaugural Team for the UCR School of Medicine.

Of George Flower it has been said, “If mountains had mayors, George Flower would be the mayor of Mt Rubidoux.” Flower has chaired the Friends of Mt Rubidoux since its inception in 1994, and is in fact, their “president for life.” He has been active in raising funds and awareness for one of Riverside’s most treasured landmarks. He has led many projects to preserve and beautify the mountain, including restoration of the plaques on the mountain, restoring the hilltop flagpole, and planting and hand-watering trees along the trail. Mr. Flower was particularly involved in the recent campaign “Mt Rubidoux Forever,” a community-wide movement to prevent the sale of Mt Rubidoux to outside interests. As a result, Mt Rubidoux and the cross that sits at the top of the mountain remain the property of the people of Riverside. Mr Flower also visits third-grade school classrooms in Riverside each year to educate the students about the flora and fauna of Mt. Rubidoux and he has given out thousands of coloring books about the mountain to the children. He includes information about Evergreen Memorial Historic Cemetery, a treasured outdoor museum, which is another activity he is actively involved with since the late Judge Vic Miceli promoted the idea of raising funds and awareness to re-green Evergreen. Mr Flower is a past board member of Evergreen and continues to volunteer for their annual Front Row Fireworks fundraiser on the 4th of July.

Ralph Nunez will retire at the end of March as the Parks Director for the City of Riverside. Under his direction and during the Riverside Renaissance, he presided over a decade-long effort with undying energy to renovate existing parks and build new ones. Riverside’s parks today have more room to play, more fields to play on, special playground equipment for greater safety, and beauty to rival most any parks in the state. In fact, in 2011, after years of loving restoration and renovation, the once tired and rundown Fairmount Park was named one of the Great Public Places in America. Mr Nunez has been a great friend to all in the City who share a love of Riverside’s parks and open spaces, such as Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful and many non-profit groups who have been able to use our parks to hold fundraising events and just to gather and take in the beauty. From Fairmount to Hunt to Arlington to new parks like Doty-Trust and Bonaminio-Tequesquite, Mr Nunez has made us all quite proud to be able to say that we value our parks as a rich heritage of our city.

Dean G Richard Olds, MD, and his Inaugural Team at the UCR School of Medicine were also recognized for their leadership and accomplishments, beginning in November, 2006 with a plan to start a medical school at UCR. The school was approved by the UC Regents in response to the severe physician shortage in our state and region. Dr G Richard Olds was selected to be the Founding Dean of this new school, one based upon academic performance but also volunteer experience and commitment to serve. This school would offer a more holistic approach to selecting medical students while working with existing community medical facilities and hospitals. Dr Olds and his team redoubled their efforts and the hard work paid off. In July of 2012, while the situation seemed dire, the community rallied under Dr Olds’ leadership, and with political support from our legislators, funding was secured and accreditation was achieved. The “dream” became reality, and the first UCR Medical School students started classes in September, 2013.

Dr Old’s team was comprised of Executive Dean Phyllis A Guze, MD; Interim Senior Associate Dean, Research - Monica Carson, PhD; Senior Associate Dean, Clinical Affairs - John Heydt, MD; Senior Associate Dean, Education - Paul Lyons, MD; Senior Associate Dean, Finance and Administration - Jocelyn Nakashige, MA; Senior Associate Dean, Student Affairs - Neal Schiller, PhD; Senior Associate Dean, Community engagement (on leave) - Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD; Associate Dean, Clinical Affairs - Michael Nduti, MD; Associate Dean, Student Affairs - Emma Simmons, MD; Associate Dean, GME - Mahedr Kochar, MD; Associate Dean, Academic Affairs - Scott Allen, MD; Former Senior Associate Dean, Academic and Research Affairs - Craig Byus, PhD; and Chief of Staff Kathy Barton, all of whom were recognized with the prestigious Raincross Award.

The Raincross Group was founded in 1987. In the spirit of “Intelligent Growth,” The Raincross Group advocates for open and effective city government through the engagement with and development of local and diverse community leadership to improve Riverside’s quality of life. For more information on The Raincross Group, visit their website (address).

Contact Information: Donna Doty Michalka
Email contact: dmichalka [at] AOL


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