To thank and honor Santa Clarita’s residents, employees and volunteers for their dedication to the community, The Signal hosted its annual Top 51 event, acknowledging those who take their contributions to the “Next Level.”
For the second year, the event shifted its focus to 51 people who do most of their work out of the spotlight instead of in it, giving their time in impactful ways without much fanfare.
“They are the ones who make things work because of their work,” Russ Briley, The Signal’s vice president of community relations said. “We are seeing such excitement recognizing some amazing folks.”
Honorees were recognized in 10 categories, including emerging leaders, volunteerism/unsung heroes, non-profits, health care, economic development, technology, business, government, hospitality/philanthropy and education.
Recognized as the top one of the 51, 27-year-old Taylor Kellstrom was honored for his work as an entrepreneur and philanthropist.
“I just try to lead a new generation of leaders,” Kellstrom said. “I know what it is like to be young and face adversities.”
Kellstrom, a West Ranch High School and College of the Canyons alumnus, works with three businesses, including the SCV Book Exchange to equip College of the Canyons students with affordable textbooks, SCV Educational Outreach and as a Realtor for HomeSmart.
Among his nonprofit efforts, he leads Circle of Hope as the organization’s president and has been on the Board of Directors for six years.
He also launched his own charity event in 2012, “Bowling for Kids,” to fundraise for the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and continues it annually.
Though Matt Nelson has worked with the Santa Clarita Boys & Girls Club in different capacities since 2003, it is his newfound role as the chief executive officer that earned him a spot on the Top 51 under the nonprofit category.
“It is really exciting to speaking on behalf of the kids and broaden my reach in the community,” Nelson said.
In addition to those who have been longtime members of the community, The Signal highlighted those who are newer to Santa Clarita.
Serving as the city’s voice and storyteller, City Communications Manager Carrie Lujan was recognized in the government category, just a year into the role.
Lujan has nearly two decades of public relations experience, which she uses as the go-to media relations contact, a social media pundit, editor-in-chief for Seasons magazine and State of the City newsletter and a member of the city’s leadership team.
“Everyone has been so welcoming,” Lujan said. “I interviewed for my job about this time last year and it’s really come full circle.”