The Palm Springs Human Rights Commission honored six remarkable community leaders and organizations at its 19th Annual “Promoting Universal Human Rights Close to HomeCommunity Service Awards on Monday, Feb. 11.

2019’s recipients are:

  • Gloria Kapp has dedicated the last five years to administering the Safe Schools of the Desert Burton/May scholarship awards program. She has dedicated countless hours with graduating high school students and young adults to support them in completing their higher or vocational educations. Many of the youth she has assisted are first-generation college students.
  • Kate Concannon Castle is recognized for advocating for and raising the visibility of women’s issues, including health and safety, the workplace, and families. She has organized events to help prepare women to take on leadership roles as social change leaders and build the pipeline for greater representation and participation of women in city governance and service organizations. Kate is active in the Palm Springs Women’s Club raising scholarship funds and the Human Rights Campaign steering committees.
  • Rev Kevin A. Johnson – Rev Kev, as he is known to community members, is an advocate for those who are suffering and lonely in our society. He co-founded Bloom in the Desert Ministries 16 years ago in order to create a LGBTQ friendly prayer and public service community in Palm Springs. He has engaged in many community events and advocates for those who experience spiritual abuse and religious discrimination related to gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic heritage and bullying.
  • California Voting Rights Act Working Group – The CVRA Community Working Group, appointed by the City Council and consisting of eight community volunteers, have dedicated well over 700 hours to help engage historically disenfranchised and under-represented communities of color into the City Council districting process: Aftab Dada, Ed Dube, Grace Garner, Dixie Miller, Stephen Moses, and Co-chairs Alexis Ortega, Kathy Weremiuk and Tobias Wolff. Their work has advanced equality, diversity and inclusion in the city.
  • Tony Marchese – A local restaurateur with a big heart, Marchese serves on the board of directors for the AIDS Assistance Program Food Samaritans, Palm Springs Hospitality Association and is co-producer, with Palms Springs Life Magazine, of the Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival. Tony is a strong believer in giving back and supporting the community and has for many years been one of the top three revenue producers for Dining Out for Life in support of the Desert AIDS Project.
  • The V Palm Springs – The hotel served as host to some 200 firefighters while they battled the 12,300-acre blaze near Cranston. The hotel provided evacuees a place to call home and firefighters a place to get a short break from the reality of a 24-on, 24-off work day. They organized a community donation drive to collect toiletries, food, and clothing for evacuees and firefighters. The donation drive generated immediate support from the community and is a wonderful example of a socially minded local business committed to doing good.

The Palm Springs Human Rights Commission is a nine-member commission of volunteer citizens, appointed by the City Council for three-year terms. It meets at 3 p.m. on the second Monday each month at City Hall. For more information, visit