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Jerry Sanders

Jerry Sanders’ phone rang, the caller ID flashed and suddenly San Diego’s former mayor stiffened his back. “When Ron Fowler calls, you take it and you kind of sit up straight,” Sanders said.

Their connection was as clear as Fowler’s intention, although Sanders had trouble embracing the message. Fowler, the Executive Chairman of the Hall of Champions, informed Sanders that he was this year’s Community Champion Award recipient.

“I was in shock when he told me,” Sanders said. “I was at a loss for words.”

San Diego would be a lesser municipality if not for having the indefatigable Sanders.

Sanders, 66, a San Diego State graduate, served in the city’s highest office with distinction from 2005 to 2012. After joining the San Diego Police Department during his senior year at SDSU, he served as the SDPD chief from 1993 to 1999.

It was during that time Sanders, now the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce president, implemented his community policing strategy. Following his addition of 1,000 SDPD volunteers, the bad guys took notice and crime plummeted.

Sanders would go on to assist the United Way of San Diego County and the American Red Cross San Diego / Imperial Counties Chapter. He’s on numerous other boards of directors, all working to guarantee San Diego never loses its title as “America’s Finest City.”

“I’ve always wanted to give back to San Diego because San Diego has given so much to me,” said Sanders, a longtime proponent of San Diego youth sports. “This is such a great honor because this community has been so special to me.”

PDF icon Listing of Community Champions90.98 KB