Horizon Awards Video Presentations

These videos were produced for the Fresno Arts Council by Megan Ginise and Marc Blake, Founder, Central California Conservatory of Visual & Performing Arts

Summaries written by Megan Ginise, Media Intern; Fresno Arts Council (Click here to visit their website)

Dr. Joseph Castro, President, Fresno State University

Joseph I. Castro was appointed as the eighth president of California State University, Fresno on August 1, 2013. He is the first Central Valley native to serve in this leadership position. Dr. Castro also serves as Professor of Educational Leadership in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. Prior to his appointment at Fresno State, he served as Vice Chancellor, Student Academic Affairs, and Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)from 2006-13.

Dr. Castro’s work as an inspiring leader in the Fresno Community is apparent with his efforts to build community relations, foster student interactions and maintain a healthy and exciting environment for Fresno State and the city of Fresno itself.

With Dr. Castro’s work and support of a plethora of programs, including the music education program at Fresno State, as well as the new Graduate Art Studios in Downtown Fresno, among many others, Castro has paved the way for a new foundation of artistic endeavors in the Fresno community, bringing students, artists and citizens together.

Dr. Castro is the grandson of farmworkers from Mexico and members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. He was born and raised in Hanford, CA and is the first person in his family to graduate university. He and his wife, Mary, have three children, Isaac, Lauren and Jess.


Janice Noga and Oscar Speace

Janka is the story of one woman’s haunting journey of survival and hope, from the beautiful Romanian town of Sighet, through two of history’s most notorious death camps- Auschwitz and Dachau, to the shores of the United States and the embrace of the American Dream. JANKA, adapted from Janka Festinger’s sixt page hand-written letter to her uncle of the events following the Nazis’ internment of Roamnian Jews in 1944, provides a deeply personal, moving, and often humorous account of her courageous life.

Written by her son, award-winning producer, director, and writer Oscar Speace, and performed by her daughter-in-law, acclaimed actress and singer, Janice Noga, JANKA is a ‘grueling odyssey of self-realization that is testimony to her love of life and her will to survive’, and poses the ultimate dilemma of whether or not to share painful personal information to illuminate an incomprehensible and unbearable truth.

Helga Medd

Helga was born in a snowstorm in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. She received her ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and won many piano Music Festival Competitions. 

When Helga and her husband moved to Fresno, she saw a need for a different kind of music education in the Central Valley. She became a founding member of the Alliance for the Arts, now Fresno Arts Council and was President of the Board during the first Horizon Awards dinner held at Sunnyside Country Club. 

We look forward to your participation in one of Fresno’s largest events to honor the arts in Fresno. She developed Helga’s Arts Community for piano and taught baby/toddler classes. With a CSUF psychologist, she did a research project in a Fresno Day care center. She presented the results at a UNICEF World Music Education Seminar and a colleague presented at the National Psychology Conference in New York.

“Music for the children, of the children and by the children!” -Carl Orff.


Chloe Mueller

Chloe is an aspiring and inspiring young artist and writer from Fresno Christian High School. She is currently the editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, The Feather. She has worked on the paper since joining Fresno Christian her sophomore year, and has loved writing ever since she can remember. Over the summer she spent a week at Stanford in the Newsroom by the Bay program, where she developed her journalism skills in an exciting new environment.

This summer Chloe was also one of a select group of students to attend the California State Summer School for the Arts, located at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA, where she was able to hone her craft as an artist, as a writer.


Soul Vang

Soul is the author of To Live Here, winner of the 2014 Imaginary Friend Press Poetry Prize, and co-editor of How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011).

Soul is a poet, teacher, and U.S. Army veteran. He received his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with emphasis on Poetry from California State University, Fresno, and he is a member of the Hmong American Writers’ Circle (HAWC).

Soul’s writing has appeared in Abernathy Magazine, Asian American Literary Review, Fiction Attic Press, In the Grove, The Packinghouse Review, Southeast Asia Globe, and The New York Times, among others.


Social Vocational Services (SVS) Tower Center

Social Vocational Services is a California based not-for-profit organization that started in Southern California in the late 1970s as a small after school program for teenagers with autism. Over the past nearly 40 years the agency has grown to now include over 80 locations across the state. Currently SVS serves the needs of over 4000 adults challenged with Intellectual,Developmental, and Physical Disabilities in highly integrated, community-based settings. SVS’s mission centers on assisting the individuals it serves to lead healthy and productive lives through programs that strive to engineer opportunities for individual choice, success and personal growth.

Through a variety of mediums (Drawing, Painting, Mixed Media, Poetry,Pottery, etc.), the Tower Center strives to create an environment that encourages and supports our artists’ exploration of their creative expression, and consequently foster positive changes that elevate self- worth and dignity for every individual.