Dave Ward at Crime Stoppers Annual Houston’s Heroes Awards Luncheon 2024

HOUSTON (April 18, 2023) – Nearly 300 public safety minded Houstonians joined Crime Stoppers of Houston on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel for their annual Houston’s Heroes Awards Luncheon, which honors outstanding community members who have made incredible contributions to public safety.

The celebration began in the foyer before welcoming guests into the beautifully decorated Legends Ballroom where the program kicked off with welcome remarks by Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious, followed by a warm Board of Directors’ Chairman’s message from Lindsay Aronstein. Before pausing for lunch, Houston Mayor John Whitmire delivered passionate support for the Crime Stoppers mission and all those who support working together to make Houston the safest city it can be. With public safety his number one priority, he applauded all the event honorees, Crime Stoppers’ volunteers, supporters, and brave law enforcement in attendance.

Mistress of ceremonies Deborah Duncan, KHOU Great Day Houston host, continued the program providing an inspiring presentation of awards, recognizing each of the admirable honorees with words reflective of their contributions, generosity, and committed investment to our communities. Honorees took to the stage with recorded remarks that engaged and inspired the crowd.

The luncheon concluded with a very touching award presentation by Houston media icon, ABC13 anchor emeritus, Crime Stoppers Chairman’s Council Chair emeritus and author, Dave Ward. On stage, Dave presented The Dave Ward Excellence in Media Award to Kim Nordt-Jackson, ABC13 Vice President Programming and Community, in recognition of her superb contributions and impact in media and community initiatives. The moment was truly touching and as significant as each of the noteworthy Houston Heroes being honored, and Dave made it that much more special!

The following 2024 Heroes were presented with distinguished awards for being positive contributors to the community through their long-standing support of crime prevention and public safety initiatives that make Houston, and Texas, safer for all:

The Johnny Klevenhagen Award – Larry Baimbridge, Spring Branch ISD Police Chief: Chief Baimbridge was recognized for his significant impact throughout his career in law enforcement. After serving 31 years at Houston Police Department, Larry Baimbridge now serves as the Chief of Police for the Spring Branch Independent School District where he works diligently to keep over 35,000 students in SBISD, as well as the faculty, families, and other officers safe. In creating solutions, he has called upon community partners, including Crime Stoppers of Houston Safe School Institute, to bring additional assets and tools to SBISD. His goal to keep all campuses safe and secure has been felt by all.

The Fenner Weller Award – Robert Arnold, KPRC CH 2: Robert was recognized for his significant contributions as an investigative reporter for over 24 years who has investigated everything from corruption to terrorism, to major storms, to gang violence, to our criminal justice system, to immigration and our southern border with Mexico. Over the years, Robert has worked closely with the Crime Stoppers’ team on countless cases and stories and with victims who need to tell their story or are in search of justice.

The Leiv Platou Award – Griselda Castillo, Grizzy Hood News: Known as Grizzy from “Grizzy’s Hood News” is a Houston native doing enormous things. After falling into the wrong crowd, circumstance took her though the criminal justice system in 2003 and eventually led her to serving a prison sentence. Coming from a great home and a wonderful community, she decided to focus her efforts on volunteering in a way that brought justice to crime victims and uncovered criminal activity. “Grizzy’s Hood News” was born in 2019 and comprised of Grizzy simply showing – literally everywhere as criminal activity was breaking. Today, her “Hood News” platform’s philosophy is for the community to “love one another”, bring unbiased coverage on pressing issues to the community and engage her massive following for solutions and good.

The Corporate Citizen Award – Aramco Americas: Recognized for their philanthropic commitment and support of many community causes. Through their corporate citizen program, they partner with others to enhance STEM education, the environment, and vital social needs. Their spirit of service extends to each employee who shows up willing to volunteer and serve. Crime Stoppers has seen this firsthand through this Houston Heroes luncheon but also through Aramco’s commitment to expand the reach of the Crime Stoppers Safe School Institute. Ultimately, the reach of Aramco goes beyond what any of us can fathom and we remain deeply thankful for their culture, their values, their service, and commitment to Houston.

The Safe School Award – Wendy Dawson – CEO Spectrum Linx, Michelle Heinz – Crime Stoppers of Houston Board Member and Colleen “Coach” Russo – ED The HUB Houston:

As parents and teachers, Wendy, Michelle and Colleen “Coach”, have made an incredibly significant contribution to keeping all kids, now including neurodiverse students, safe in all situations. The three came to Crime Stoppers of Houston last year with a dream and a plan and because of them, the NEEDS Program was created. With a mission to champion the safety, well-being, and empowerment of the neurodiverse community, they brought issues, solutions and a powerful team behind them. Of course, their passion comes from their heart as mothers and teachers.

The Women Who Shape Houston Award – Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle: Recognized for her incredible contributions throughout her career in journalism. Joy has served as Houston Chronicle’s culture columnist and fashion editor, interviewing everyone from Oscar de la Renta to Beyonce. Named Houston Chronicle’s First Black Woman News Columnist, her focus is to cover social justice issues who has a long-standing relationship with many charities including Crime Stoppers of Houston.

Partner of the Year Award – Astoundz: Steve Winter and Leisa Holland-Nelson were recognized for their dedication, commitment, and significant contributions to our city and communities. They have helped Crime Stoppers shape their web and digital footprint to better serve and reach our community with the latest safety information, news, free programming, events and more that regularly come out of the organization. Two years ago, they stepped up to help Crime Stoppers create a website for The Glenda Gordy Research Center to provide Houstonians a user-friendly hub for real time crime analysis.

The Dave Ward Excellence in Media Award – Kim Nordt-Jackson, ABC13 Vice President Programming and Community

“Such a special event honoring some of Houston’s finest! This year’s honorees were truly a reflection of the many men, women and institutions who share a common goal to make Houston the best place to live, work and play. We were thrilled to honor all of the Houston Hero honorees and look forward to continuing to work together. It was also absolutely moving to see so many familiar faces in the room as well as an array of Houston City Council Members, Harris County Commissioners, Harris County Judges, the Harris County District Attorney, Chief of Police and others in attendance.” shares Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious.

Wednesday’s celebration was supported by many individuals, community partners and generous sponsors, including Safety Champions Amerapex, Brigitte Kalai and Susan Boggio, Strake Foundation; Safety Friends ABC13 Houston, Aramco Americas, Buffalo Bayou Resources, CenterPoint Energy, Connectivity Source, Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Judge Ted Poe/Justice Freedom & Liberty PAC, Michelle and Mike Heinz, PPI Security, Shana and Jim Jones/Energy Rental Solutions, The Children’s Assessment Center Foundation, and United Protective Services; and Kathryn & Kirk Hachigian and Susan & Jim Baker.

Among supporters were Crime Stoppers Chairman Lindsay Aronstein, Jim McIngvale ‘Mattress Mack’, Laura Ward, Ilona Carson, Barnet Gershen, Sam Gershen, Amy Leibman, Brenda Love, Genny McIntyre, Melanie Meeks, Maria Moncada Alaoui, Mayte Weitzman, Tena Lundquist Faust, Tama Lundquist, Larry and Linda Levy, Cora Robinson, Patricia Ritter, Ricardo Nazario, Wendy Baimbridge and many more.

Notable guests include Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg; Harris County Commissioners Leslie Briones and Tom Ramsey; Harris County Judge Erika Ramirez, Harris County Constable Alan Rose, Houston City Council Members Twila Carter, Mario Castillo, Mary Nan Huffman, Amy Peck, Julian Ramirez; Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner, Assistant Chief Adrian Rodriguez, and Commander Jim Dale; Katy Police Chief Noe Diaz, Houston Independent School District Chief of Police Shamara Garner, and command staff of Texas Rangers.

For those unable to attend the event this year, donations are still being accepted here: https://app.mobilecause.com/f/2zrk/n?vid=c8huy

If you would like to learn about Crime Stoppers of Houston and how to get involved, visit www.crime-stoppers.org.

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