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Myra Curiel and Carmen Kcomt

Oceanside Foster Youth Advocate Receives ‘Hispanic Heritage’ Local Heroes Award

Oceanside CA– In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and as part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and responsible banking, MUFG Union Bank, N.A., has partnered with KPBS to honor two exceptional Latinas as local heroes. The 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month honorees are: Myra Curiel, foster youth advocate, and Carmen Kcomt, legal advocacy program manager at La Maestra Foundation. They will be recognized in September at a private dinner celebration with their families and executives from KPBS and Union Bank.

Since 1998, KPBS and Union Bank have collaborated on the Local Heroes program and recognized nearly 200 honorees. The program pays tribute to exemplary leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others by improving their community, region and the world at large. The 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month honorees demonstrate a shared commitment to providing their communities with the tools to thrive in today’s changing world.

In addition to the Hispanic Heritage Month local heroes, honorees were recognized during Black History Month (February); Women’s History Month (March); Jewish American Heritage Month (May); Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May); and LGBT Pride Month (June); and will also be recognized during Disability Awareness Month (October); and American Indian Heritage Month (November).

“We pay tribute to the dedication of our Hispanic Heritage Month honorees,” said Union Bank Managing Director Pierre P. Habis, head Consumer and Business Banking. “We’re honored to partner with KPBS as we celebrate all of the local heroes for their positive impact on our communities and world.”

“We are delighted that our long-term partnership with Union Bank gives us the opportunity to showcase these incredible individuals,” said Tom Karlo, KPBS general manager. “It is truly a privilege to broadcast the contributions of these extraordinary local heroes.”

The 2014 honorees for ‘Hispanic Heritage’ Month Local Heroes Award are:

Myra Curiel is a youth advocate and a survivor of the foster system. At 22 years old, she has made it her life’s goal to help other youth. After aging out of the system, she enrolled in Casa de Amparo’s New Directions transitional housing program in Oceanside. On her first day at her new home, she received a gift basket with toiletries and the essentials to create a fresh start. This gift inspired her to create “Move-In Kits” that are distributed through Power of Change (POC), a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children. Ms. Curiel’s work with foster youth led to her selection as a keynote speaker for Casa de Amparo’s 2014 Champions for Children event. She is now a job coach for Towards Moving Independence, an organization that helps individuals with developmental, mental and physical disabilities be part of their community. She is also enrolled at San Diego Mesa College working on a human resources bachelor’s degree.

Carmen Kcomt is a legal advocacy program manager at La Maestra Foundation in City Heights. She began her career in 1984 as a professor of human rights, family law, and children’s rights at two universities in Peru while also volunteering with the United Nations. She later served as a Superior Magistrate in Peru, and experienced persecution due to an unpopular legal decision against a political candidate. Fearing retaliation, she fled to the United States in 2003 she was granted asylum in 2008 and became a citizen in 2014. Ms. Kcomt holds a master’s degree in international law of human rights and has been a guest professor at the University of San Diego. She was also a victim services coordinator for the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, serving victims of human trafficking. Ms. Kcomt was recognized for her work with the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program and was a delegate to the 2013 United Nations Refugee Congress.

KPBS features a wide range of programing during Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15). For more information or to nominate a future local hero, please visit or

About KPBS

KPBS serves our local communities with news and entertainment programming that respects our audience with inspiring, intelligent and enlightening content. KPBS will deliver this content via multiple outlets, including television, radio, and digital media and will adapt and remain relevant in a rapidly changing world. KPBS values integrity, truth, transparency and lifelong learning. At KPBS we strive to engage with our citizens and showcase the unique neighborhoods and people that make our community thrive. And as a public service of San Diego State University, education is a core value – from our children’s programming to our local news coverage. KPBS is committed to being a reliable source for in-depth, thoughtful, and high quality content.

About MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

MUFG Union Bank, N.A., is a full-service bank with offices across the United States. We provide a wide spectrum of corporate, commercial, retail banking and wealth management solutions to meet the needs of customers. The bank also offers an extensive portfolio of value-added solutions for customers, including investment banking, personal trust, capital markets, global treasury management, transaction banking and other services. With assets of $108.8 billion (USD), as of June 30, 2014, the bank has strong capital reserves, credit ratings and capital ratios relative to peer banks. MUFG Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (NYSE: MTU), one of the world’s largest financial organizations with total assets of approximately ¥259 trillion (JPY) or $2.5 trillion (USD)1, as of June 30, 2014. MUFG Americas Holdings Corporation, the financial holding company and MUFG Union Bank, N.A. have corporate headquarters in New York City.

1 Exchange rate of USD=¥101.36 (J-GAAP) as of June 30, 2014

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