Photo courtesy of Angela Perry
left to right: Steve Ly, (ret) Major General Donald Ralph, Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana, Roy Herberger (seated), Darren Suen, Pat Hume, Karissa Trinchera, Stephanie Nguyen
Earlier this afternoon at the Multicultural Festival, Elk Grove leaders handed out keys to the city to 4 distinguished individuals.
Roy Herburger has played an integral role in Elk Grove’s political landscape for fifty-six years. Born in Cambridge, Nebraska and raised in Stratton, Colorado, Roy inherited an interest in the newspaper business by working with his mom and dad – owners of the Stratton Press. A graduate from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Roy’s reporting career was put on hold to serve as a navigator, First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force during the late Korean era. In March 1959, he purchased the Elk Grove Citizen and Galt Herald and settled in the south county area.
A resident of Elk Grove for over 58 years, Roy has four children, Elizabeth, David, Leah and Vanessa. As Owner, President and Publisher of Herburger Publications, Inc., Roy has reported the comings and goings in the Elk Grove area for five decades – at times being as much a part of the news as being the news reporter. His commitment to many community issues including education, incorporation, and the environment have earned him the respect and recognition of local, regional, and statewide organizations including a park and school named in his honor.
His awards are too many to list here, but they are numerous including the California State Fair Star from the Future Farmers of America, and Citizen of the Year for both the cities of Galt and Elk Grove. His commitment to local business is well known. He is a former President of the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce and the founder of the local Think, Shop, Live Elk Grove campaign. Roy remains closely connected with the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce and he was nominated for this honor by its Executive Director, Angela Perry.
Major General Donald Ralph retired in 2015 as the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, Air Force Special Operations Unit based at Hurlburt Field, Florida. He was the principle advisor to the Commander for all reserve component matters and oversaw reserve force readiness, integration, operations, and mobilization in times of crisis and war.
General Ralph entered the Air Force in 1980 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He served as a C-130 advanced flying training instructor pilot, followed by an Air Staff Training assignment at the Pentagon. He was selected initial cadre aircraft commander to fly the B-1B bomber at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. He attended the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and served as an instructor, flight examiner and operations officer of a tactical airlift squadron. He commanded the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the world famous “Hurricane Hunters.” In his civilian occupation, he was an international captain on the B-767 for a major airline.
But, long before military awards and accolades like the Distinguished Service Medal, General Ralph attended Pleasant Grove Elementary, Joseph Kerr Middle School, and graduated from Elk Grove High School in 1974.
Our resident historian Elizabeth Pinkerton, who nominated General Ralph for this honor refers to him as one of Elk Grove’s “Supergrads.”And many of the members of his family still call Elk Grove their home.
Ambassador Mukantabana is the Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States of America and non-resident Ambassador to Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. Prior to her appointment, she was a tenured Professor of History at Cosumnes River College (CRC) from 1994-2013. She is also the co-founder and President of the Friends of Rwanda Association (FORA), an Elk Grove based non-profit American relief association helping orphans and widows of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. In addition, through the United Nations Development Program, Ambassador Mukantabana started the academic program of Social Work at the National University of Rwanda in 1999, and taught a variety of subjects as an Invited Lecturer in their summer program.
Ambassador Mukantabana has been a passionate community organizer for several decades and co-founded many associations and organizations whose main purpose was to promote the positive collaboration of Rwandan communities in the U.S. with other groups and organizations for the benefit of their respective countries. She is an active Board Member of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program at Sonoma State University in California and belongs to various local and international organizations, including the International Association of Genocide Scholars and the Organization of African Leaders in Diaspora that she co-founded and for which she has acted as Board Chair. A featured presenter at several film festivals and in demand as an international speaker, she has organized numerous domestic and international workshops and conferences on genocide and on the Rwandan experience.
Her awards include the 2012 Peace and Justice Award from the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution; the Global Peace Award (on behalf of the Friends of Rwanda Association) from Global Majority, and the Crystal Apple Award for Best Instructor at Cosumnes River College, in 2012.
Karissa Trinchera is a Special Olympics swimmer who is showing people in Elk Grove and elsewhere that disabilities are not debilitating for exceptional people. Karissa was selected from 2.5 million athletes world wide to receive the award of International Athlete of the Year for her commitment to excellence and sportsmanship. Karissa is the only Northern California Special Olympics athlete to ever receive this honor.
Karissa is a graduate of Pleasant Grove High School where she was the first special education student to swim for the varsity team. She is also an entrepreneur, developing a line of competition swimwear specifically designed for individuals 5’2” and under with fuller figures such as the average female with Down Syndrome or other metabolic disorders.
Karissa started the foundation called Athletes for Officers in 2013 to help Special Olympic athletes give back to officers in their time of need. Karissa has raised funds to purchase ballistic vests for Police K-9 officers, purchased a new dog for the Stockton Police Department and has even organized a swim-a-thon to raise funds for Roseville Police Officers shot in 2013.
Karissa received the California Highway Patrol’s Commissioner’s Medal of Distinction in 2015 for her dedication to assisting law enforcement and is the current Miss Inspirational Ambassador 2017.