Karen Kawanami, director of Enterprise Social Responsibility Programs for The Walt Disney Company, and the Disneyland Resort are among the recipients of the 2018 California Governor’s Volunteering and Service Awards and the Hoffman Prize. The prestigious awards are given to individuals and organizations that lead the way in service and volunteering.
Kawanami, a 30-year veteran of the Company, will receive the Hoffman Prize, which recognizes an exceptional California business executive who demonstrates outstanding and impactful work fostering volunteerism in his or her local community, the State of California, the nation and the globe. As the manager of the Disney VoluntEARS program, a role she has held for 16 years, Kawanami connects volunteers from Disney around the globe to with projects that make a positive local impact and share best practices on volunteerism. She has spearheaded the Disney VoluntEARS Global Service project, which enables Disney employees to volunteer their time and work together to make a difference globally. In its inaugural year, the Global Service Project brought 30 VoluntEARS to Ecuador to support a local village by helping to build a school house. Kawanami has also instituted a program that engages Disney employees through skills-based volunteerism to help build nonprofit capacity. In addition to her work at Disney, Karen plays a leadership role in advancing community service through her activities with the Points of Light Corporate Service Council, the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) Global Corporate Volunteer Council, and is a member of the CaliforniaVolunteers Business Partners Program.
In recognition of the Disneyland Resort’s service and volunteer efforts, the resort will receive the award for California’s Business Volunteer Program of the Year, which honors an outstanding California business that gives back to the community. The Disneyland Resort introduced the VoluntEARS program in 1983, and the program has grown exponentially over the past 35 years. In 2017, cast members volunteered more than 85,000 hours of their time at 240 local events and nominated dozens of organizations to receive more than $350,000 in grants through the employee-managed Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund. Additionally, the EARS to You program allows cast members to turn their hours of volunteer service into a financial contribution to a nonprofit organization of their choice, directing more than $225,000 to local nonprofits in the past year.
The awards were presented Wednesday April 11th in a special ceremony at the State Capitol in Sacramento. California’s Chief Service Officer Karen Baker, who will preside over the event with CaliforniaVolunteers Commission Chair Kathy McKim, said today, “Our communities are made better and more resilient thanks to these remarkable honorees that inspire us with their selfless acts of service, and we are excited to present them with these awards.”