Tom Steyer in the spotlight at PACT awards luncheon

Sal Pizarro| San Jose Mercury News| Link to Article

Tom Steyer in the spotlight at PACT awards luncheon

Tom Steyer in the spotlight at PACT awards luncheon

Well before Tom Steyer began making political headlines with his massive ad campaign against President Donald Trump, People Acting in Community Together had chosen him as one of the honorees at Thursday’s annual leadership luncheon at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

The billionaire’s campaign endorsing Trump’s impeachment has created a delicate situation for PACT — a multifaith grass-roots organizing group that as a non-profit can’t advocate for or against particular candidates or elected officials.

“It’s going to be interesting,” said PACT Executive Director Akemi Flynn, who acknowledged there’s been a lot of extra buzz around this year’s event. “We don’t get involved in impeachment campaigns, so we won’t be talking about that at the luncheon. But there are lots of ways to talk about things that are a priority for us, with policies that may be inclusive or divisive.”

Steyer and his wife, Beneficial State Bank co-CEO Kat Taylor, are the recipients of PACT’s Hackworth Leadership Award this year. Their status as a political “power couple” and Steyer’s support of PACT’s voter engagement initiatives made them a strong choice, Flynn said. And they were selected months ago, before Steyer’s highly public feud with Trump and rumors that he may run for Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat.

They’ll be joined at the luncheon by Dolores Alvarado, CEO of Community Health Partnership, who is receiving the Community Builder Award.  Her 40 years of dedication to community health care and making sure people have access to health care makes her a powerful figure on her own, said Flynn, who expects the luncheon to have no shortage of fans of her.

“We don’t want to lose the focus,” Flynn said. “The overarching theme is celebrating community builders, and we’re really excited to have all three of these inspiring honorees this year.”

At a reception where the nominees were announced this summer, Steyer joked that he was merely the “warm up act” for his talented wife. But it’s safe to say that he’s grabbed a bit more of the spotlight since then.