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May 27, 2009 > Cho to be honored as Citizen of Year

Cho to be honored as Citizen of Year

By Ceri Hitchcock-Hodgson

Steve Cho is a man of many hats. He has served the Fremont community in almost every capacity imaginable from Planning Commissioner to Vice Mayor for the City of Fremont; from homeowners' associations to the League of California Cities, and community organizations supporting children, education, arts, community service, business and Chinese Americans.

These are just a few of the reasons this esteemed man has been named Ohlone College Foundation's Citizen of the Year for 2009.

"I'm no different from anybody else serving the City of Fremont," Cho modestly says of the honor.

In fact, he was surprised when told he would receive the honor. But to those who know and respect him, it is long overdue. Cho is regarded as a role model of what good citizens could and should do for their community. In fact, he is called the "ubiquitous" Cho because he is seen everywhere.

Cho's story begins in Los Angeles a little over 50 years ago. He earned his B.A. in Mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. and his M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Southern California.

He embarked on the road to Citizen of the Year over three decades ago when he and his wife Amy decided to set up residence in a little town called Fremont. Here they raised their only child, daughter Beverly, who recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry. In his professional life, Cho succeeded in creating and operating his own software consulting business.

A life such as this would be enough for anyone else, but for Cho it is only a fraction of one's potential.

His first elected position came upon his arrival in Fremont, serving as vice president of the Parkmont Gardens Homeowners Association from 1974-76. While involved in the Organization of Chinese Americans of Southern Alameda County from 1977-92, Cho served as Director, Secretary, Treasurer and President. From 1992-93, he was a committee member on the Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Committee.

His interest in the community began to take shape in 1993 when he was elected vice president of Warwick Elementary PTA. In 1998, Cho found himself serving as a member of the City Charter Citizens Committee. Somewhere during this period, he decided the City of Fremont needed an individual who would listen to the people and answer their questions.

Fueled by his desire to change the city he had come to know and love, Cho decided to make himself known to the community. In 1998, he was appointed to the Fremont Planning Commission, during which time he worked diligently to ensure that each and every individual and business that came before the Commission was recognized and their voices heard.

The period in which Cho feels he made the most difference for the City of Fremont was from 2000 to 2008 when he held a seat on the Fremont City Council and served as vice mayor at one point.

Although he values all positions he has held throughout the years, Cho accepts the fact that people "pay attention to titles," thus making his time "in charge," a time "of change."

Currently, Cho holds membership in Niles Rotary, Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Centerville Business and Community Association, Warm Springs Business and Community Association and South Bay Chinese Club.

His time as a board member for the Fremont Symphony helped to inspire Cho's latest cause, creation of a Performing Arts Center. The East Bay is lacking a much-needed center where music, dance and the like can converge, he notes.

He and others are looking for a way the City of Fremont can create a sustainable source of funds that in no way takes away from the city's budget. Cho and his fellow artistic believers envision that one day the city will be home to a flourishing arts scene based on their vision - Fremont's Performing Arts Center.

Until that day comes, Cho is content to create new avenues for change. His continued attentiveness and regard for Fremont will be honored at the Citizen of the Year luncheon.

Cost is $75 per person. Advance reservations are required.

20th Annual Citizen of the Year champagne luncheon
Saturday, May 30
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Ohlone College Newark Center for Health Sciences and Technology
39399 Cherry St., Newark
(510) 659-6020 or

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