On November 12th, 2020, more than 100 people joined CCEJ online to celebrate the legacy of Gene Lentzner, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 97. Read more about Gene’s life here. Gene Lentzner was an instrumental leader for CCEJ for more than four decades. Due to COVID, our plans for an in-person celebration have been thwarted, but we didn’t want the year to end without paying tribute to Gene’s incredible legacy.

Gene shared his story during an interview in 2018
Tributes from Wende Julien, Naomi Rainey-Pierson (NAACP Long Beach), and Edie Brodsky (Jewish Long Beach).
Click the image to watch: “In Gene’s Words”
Tributes from Alyssa Gutierrez (Long Beach Human Relations Commission), Michael Neils (St. Mary Medical Center) and Chan Hopson, Gene Lentzner Human Relation Award honoree.
Click the image above to watch a retrospective of 30 years of Gene Lentzner Human Relations Award honorees

A Recap of the 31st Annual Gene Lentzner Awards

For the past three decades, the California Conference for Equality & Justice has celebrated individuals who have made significant contributions to improving human relations at the grassroots level with the Gene Lentzner Human Relations Awards.  In November 2019, honorees Marianne Drummond, Susan Sngiem, and Shay Sorrells were recognized for their service to the community, fostering inter-group cooperation, and for their commitment to promoting respect and justice among all people. Click here to learn more about the honorees.

The event was held at the Expo Arts Center in Long Beach. The evening started with entertainment from swing band Hedgehog Swing during our reception, which featured food from local restaurants: Aguas Way, Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, Naples Rib Company, Rasselbock German Kitchen, and Taboon Mediterranean Restaurant. The event also featured a photo gallery of past Gene Lentzner Human Relations Award honorees, a raffle, and an interactive art project to create a mural for CCEJ’s office.

Giovanna Ferraro and Jan Seymour Ford were presented with the City of Long Beach Human Dignity Award.

You can check out more photos of the event on our Facebook page!

If you would like to continue supporting grassroots leaders, help CCEJ continue celebrating their work by donating at this link. Stay connected with us to get updates on this year’s Gene Lentzner Awards Celebration, including date.

You can watch speeches from Gene Lentzner and all of the honorees below:


About Gene Lentzner: Gene was involved in social service, education, civil rights and human relations for most of his life. For more than 60 years, he led efforts to promote racial, religious and cultural understanding even in the face of great resistance. His exceptional work in the area of human relations at a grassroots level was the impetus for the establishment of the Gene Lentzner Human Relations Award by CCEJ’s Board, more than 30 years ago.

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Gene Lentzner Nomination Application

Nomination Application

Please make sure to tell us about your nominee in your 1-2 pages by including the following:

1) Significant contributions to the Greater Los Angeles or Long Beach Community in the area of social justice/human relations
2) How they promote respect and justice among all people regardless of differences in race, religion, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity
3) How they demonstrate commitment to social justice and human relations by way of service (if it’s at work, then above and beyond their paid scope of work)
4) Ways they foster inter-group, inter-faith cooperation
5) How they are connected to the Greater Los Angeles or Long Beach area

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