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Rebecca Delgado Rottman Receives "Heroes Award"

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L–R) Chairman of Kalayaan SF Committee Radi Calalang, Brian Flores, Atty. Rodel Rodis, Yobie Benjamin, Thelma Boac, Jennifer Cabalquinto, Rebecca Delgado Rottman, Maria Banatao, Lolita Kintanar, Consul General Henry Bensurto, Jr., Dado Banatao, Rudy Asercion and Lloyd LaCuesta. Photo by Jam Bilar.

One morning last month, Rebecca Delgado Rottman got dressed for a Philippine Independence Day party, where she was honored with a “Heroes Award” by the Philippine Consulate. Ladies were requested to wear a traditional dress called a Filipiniana. But Rottman didn’t have one, so she got creative. Combining an ivory Zara dress with a bolero by Bay Area fashion designer Crisanta Malig, she pulled off the perfect outfit. “I put it on and voila! I hit jackpot!” Rottman declared.

Academy of Art University’s Vice President of Community and Government Relations brings that fearless creativity and innovative style to many aspects of her life, including the work she does for both the Academy and the community—impressive accomplishments, which earned her the award last month. Presented by the Philippine Consulate General, the “Heroes Awards” honor Filipino Americans who “exemplify excellence,” are “community leaders” and “have the propensity for action.”

Rottman can put a big check mark beside each of those attributes. Since arriving in America from the Philippines in 1971, she has devoted herself to initiating change. From helping AIDS patients in minority communities, to championing art in public schools, her accomplishments are numerous.

“My passion is the driving force behind my enthusiasm,” Rottman explained. “I love empowering humanity. When I know that I am making a difference in people’s lives, particularly the youth, the college students, the kids in high school, I get excited, because these kids, these young adults, are the future leaders of our country and I’m all about empowering them.”

Rottman’s enthusiasm is contagious, and her track record is impressive. Since joining the Academy in 1992, she has inspired students to form clean up coalitions, plant trees and remove graffiti from public artworks. Last month, she presented a high school student at the Marin School of the Arts with an Academy of Art University Presidential Scholarship, and over the last few years, she has established partnerships with the city and local businesses that resulted in several public murals going up in places like Fisherman’s Wharf and a PG&E building in the Tenderloin—painted, of course, by Academy students.

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Academy of Art University Vice President of Community and Government Relations Rebecca Delgado Rottman is honored at the “Heroes Awards” by the Philippine Consulate General. Photo by Jam Bilar.

“Rebecca makes the world a better place every day,” said School of Fine Art instructor Carol Nunnelly. “The partnerships she establishes have created wonderful opportunities for our fine art students to gain real-world experience. She inspires students to make a real difference in the world and makes artists feel empowered to become community leaders.”

The first Filipino woman to win public office in San Francisco (she was elected to the SF Democratic County Central Committee in 1998), Rottman currently serves on the boards of five government and non-profit organizations, including Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center and the San Francisco Department of Public Works’ Graffiti Advisory Board.

Twenty-three years after joining the Academy, Rottman has as much energy and zest for work and for life as she did at day one. “Every day is a new day, particularly in the 21st century, when jobs are different, when ways of communication are different, when the needs of the people are different,” Rottman explained. “This is the most exciting time in my life. I am so excited to be alive right now, and have the opportunity to figure out how we all fit in this new world.”