Legacy Achievement Award Winner: Bruce Saito
Bruce Saito has invested 35 years of outstanding service into the Corps movement. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University in 1976, he joined the California Conservation Corps (CCC). The organization was less than a year old and the Conservation Corps movement in California was in its infancy. He was part of the team that initiated youth development programs and environmental enhancement programs in the state at a time when there were few other 501 (c)(3) non-profits in existence, and certainly none proposing a model like the CCC, which combined a high school education program with environmental training and job skills development. He rose to the level of Program Director, directing and developing work and education programs for youth.
In the area of environmental enhancement, Bruce was instrumental in coordinating emergency efforts during the Los Angeles floods and fires in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest, and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Both locally and nationally Bruce is recognized today as an expert in procuring and managing conservation corps projects.
By the mid-80s, Bruce was recruited by former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor to be part of a team to start the LA Conservation Corps. The organization started with 27 Corpsmembers participating in alternating weeks of school and work in the Young Adult Corps.
Since 1995, Bruce has served as the LA Conservation Corps’ Executive Director. Today, along with LACC’s flagship Young Adult Corps program, Bruce oversees dozens of holistic conservation, education and support programs and services in primarily low-income communities throughout LA County, with a focus on Pico Union, East LA, South LA and Watts. In fact, the Corps is the largest urban nonprofit conservation corps in the nation, impacting over 13,000 11- to 24-year-old young people annually.
In addition to his work at the LA Conservation Corps, Bruce has served as president of The Corps Network’s Board of Directors. He has also presided over the California Association of Local Conservation Corps (CALCC), the organization that represents the 12 certified urban conservation corps from San Diego to Marin.
He has been recognized for his service by the City and County of LA, the State of California and the federal government, and has been honored with a National Philanthropy Day Outstanding Professional Award.