Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Join us as we pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His words and selfless actions continue to be an inspiration and call to action for peace with each new generation.
2024 EVENT RECORDING
Watch the complete event video from the 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Dignity Award Breakfast hosted by the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA and the YMCA of San Diego County on Friday, January 12, 2024.
Human Dignity Award
The YMCA's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Dignity Award is annually bestowed upon a person who exemplifies Dr. King's work and character. The inaugural award was given to Rufus DeWitt, the first African-American executive director in our YMCA association who served at the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in the 1960s.
2024 Human Dignity Award Winners
We are proud to announce this year's Human Dignity Award Winners, Dr. Cecil Steppe and Dr. Kathleen Harmon. We look forward to honoring these two individuals who reflect Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s principles and ideals in both philosophy and action.
Dr. Kathleen Harmon
Dr. Kathleen Harmon is a virtuous woman who has dedicated her life to building God’s kingdom and fighting for the empowerment of her community. Born in 1931, she has witnessed significant historical events that set the foundation for her passion and lifetime service to San Diego. She has been a nurse, social worker, community activist and continues to be a role model to many. She is the mother of seven children, three dozen grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren. In 2017, the city of San Diego renamed Welling Way and Madrone Avenue in honor of her longtime community activism. She has received several accolades in recognition of her tireless work to unite the community and stand behind impactful movements. She proudly completed her PhD in 2023 and is the founder of San Diego Peace Coalition and San Diego Democratic Delegate.
Dr. Cecil Steppe
On June 27, 2001, Cecil H. Steppe began serving as the President and CEO of the Urban League of San Diego County and retired on October 2007. On June 29, 1999, Cecil retired from the county after serving for 35 years. He served as the Director of Community Initiatives, Health and Human Services Agency. As Director, he was responsible for the administration of Project Heartbeat; the Commission Children Youth and Families; the Office of Violence and Injury Prevention; the Family Home Visiting Partnership; and the Faith Community Coordinator. Between 1980 and 1992, he served as the Chief Probation Officer for the County of San Diego. At that time, the San Diego County Probation Department operated with a budget in excess of $40 million with a staff of 1,039 persons. Mr. Steppe’s success lies in an ability to combine his varied background and skills in working to meet the needs of youth and families. He has successfully blended an aggressive program that includes accountability and compassionate service delivery that allows people to believe in themselves. He has brought together county departments, schools, city agencies, and private sector organizations to share in the responsibility of providing social and health services to families.
A strong advocate for welfare reform, he aggressively supports family-centered practice, program integrity, and the need to strengthen employment and training programs to move welfare recipients to self-sufficiency. Mr. Steppe’s dedication to his profession is underscored by his involvement not only with the San Diego Community, but also at the state and national levels. He currently serves on the Vista Hills Board, Project Save Our Children, Sharps Memorial Hospital Board, Reading Legacies, to name but a few of the advisory boards and boards he is involved with. His achievements have been recognized with numerous awards “San Diego Songs of My People: 100 African American Role Models.” He was selected by the San Diego Rotary Club as “Mr. San Diego, 2004.” Mr. Steppe received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from California Western University. He received a lifetime Community College Teach Credential and taught at Grossmont Community College for 4 years. He is married and has five grown children, twelve grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
Since September 2005, Mr. Steppe has served as the Board Chair of the Gompers Preparatory Academy, a conversion charter school serving students from the 6th grade through the 12th grades. Gompers Preparatory Academy was one of the most violent schools in the district prior to becoming a conversion charter in partnership with the University of San Diego. Currently enrolling over 1,300 students with 100% graduation for the classes of 2012 through 2013 with all graduates enrolled either in a university or community college of their choice. On May 20, 2017, Mr. Cecil H. Steppe was granted the Honorary Degree of Doctor Humane Letters by the trustees of the California State University San Marcos in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments and his dedication to creating environments where change can occur.Those who work with Mr. Steppe find his positive attitude and sense of humor infectious. His personal and professional history embodies his belief in the value of working to make things better and the “all things are possible.”
2024 Keynote Speaker: Nate Stewart
Pastor Nate Stewart, a Macon, Georgia native, answered his call to full-time ministry in 1997. For over 20 years he ministered internationally and in the United States, which included serving as the executive pastor at both locations of the House of Hope in Georgia.
Pastor Nate was then called to serve as the senior pastor of Greater Life Church in San Diego. Under his leadership, Greater Life Church is quickly becoming one of the city’s fastest-emerging, multicultural, and multigenerational churches. Greater Life Church acquired a new $3.8 million, 4-acre campus in October 2022, which includes a 500-seat sanctuary.
Hosting "The Faith Room" web series with a monthly reach of over 20,000, Pastor Nate is an accomplished author of the best-selling book "The Servant’s Playbook: Survival Strategies for Success in the Support Chair." He serves on the Black Advisory Group for San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) San Diego Branch.
In 2019, Pastor Nate was named San Diego Pastor of the Year. He received the Good Shepherd Award at the 2023 Gala of San Diego Voice & Viewpoint. He holds a bachelor’s degree in theology and a master’s degree in Christian counseling from Christian Bible College in North Carolina.
2024 Event Program
View the event program for the 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Dignity Award Breakfast.