USA Network Sets USA Unites Award Winners

USA Network has awarded 10 individuals with its annual 2015 USA Unites Awards for improving lives and strengthening their communities, the network said Monday.

The awards, sponsored by USA Network and local cable operators, are given to individuals who are working within their communities to confront the social injustices and cultural divides still prevalent in our society, according to network officials.

“From confronting social justice issues, to providing youth and adults with greater opportunities to learn and succeed, each of the unsung heroes being recognized is working diligently to make their communities safer, stronger, and more unified,” said Mac Budill, President, NBCUniversal TV Networks Distribution. “We are proud to continue our partnership with our distributors to recognize all of the incredible work these leaders accomplish.”

Each honoree will be acknowledged during hometown award ceremonies and will receive $5,000 grants from USA and participating distributors to support their projects or related nonprofit organizations. USA and distributors will also pay tribute to the Award winners on-air in a public service announcement, online at and on social media, according to the network.

The 2015 USA Unites Award Recipients, including hometowns and local cable company sponsors, are as follows:

--Kevin Cameron, Sacramento, CA (Comcast), the founder of Alpha K9, an organization that trains service dogs to assist veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

--Emersyn Harris, Alexandria, MN (Charter), the founder of Cards for Kids, which help comfort children suffering from an illness through visits to nursing homes, volunteering at local hospitals and pet shelters and ringing the bell for Salvation Army during holidays.

--Todd Lipa, Farmington, MI (Bright House Networks), Program Director, City of Farmington Hills After School Youth Center Program, an organization which now oversees five youth centers servicing more than 300 youths each day.

--Elia Moreno, Canyon, TX (Suddenlink), Community Engagement Manager for Cal Farley’s, one of America's largest privately funded child and family support providers specializing in both residential and community based services.  She also serves as the Director of Community Outreach for the No Excuses University Network of Schools, a growing network of 250 schools that promote college readiness for all students, especially those living in poverty, and has also authored Living Intentionally, a book that depicts her own personal journey.

--Janet Peery, Oklahoma City, OK (Cox Communications), CEO, YWCA Oklahoma City where she has been instrumental in establishing the YWCA as a leading provider of domestic violence and sexual assault services in Oklahoma.

--Jamie Raab, Springfield, MO (Mediacom) Director of Community-Based Services, GEM’s-Greene County Juvenile Office, which looks to promote healthy relationships, to focus on gratitude and positive community engagement, and to boost self-esteem in girls who are participating in services through the office, and to invoke a sense of hope into young girls in the community.

--Pastor Charlie Muller, Rensselaer, NY (Time Warner Cable), Founder, CURE Foundation and ENOUGH Initiative, an anti-gun violence program that was launched after the death of a young girl in his community. More than 450 guns were collected after Muller offered every teen a gift card to local malls to relinquish their weapon, leading to a severe drop in the occurrence of gun violence in Albany.

--Kathy Riddle, Larchmont, NY (Cablevision), President/CEO and Co-Founder, Outreach, a non-profit agency deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of individuals, families and communities affected by substance abuse.

--Kayla Dawn Begay, Navajo, NM, Founder, Dził Ditł'ooí School of Empowerment, Action and Perseverance, a charter school focusd on college and career readiness through an indigenous core of Navajo empowerment, experiential learning through agriculture, wellness, community leadership, and service learning.

--Kirk Johnson, Phoenix, AZ, Executive Director and Founder, SOUNDS (Students Opening Up New Doors with Strings) Academy, which mentors and provides musical experiences and opportunities for underserved youth in Phoenix.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.