The Signal’s Top 51 event honors dedicated community members
Overall No. 1 winner Taylor Kellstrom stands up to receive his award during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal's 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
By Gina Ender
Thursday, October 26th, 2017

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.”

Bruce Fortine walks up to the podium to deliver a speech as the crowd applause during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.”

Click here to see The Signal’s full list of photos available from The Top 51 event. 

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.

Jeff Preach walks up to receive his Top 51 award in the government category during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.

Capt. Robert Lewis, chief of the SCV Sheriff’s Station, mingles with the crowd at The Signal’s 2017 Top 51 at the Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

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.”

Recently retired Saugus High School principal Bill Bolde greets Dante Acosta, state assemblyman from California’s 38th District, on the patio of the Sand Canyon Country Club at The Signal’s 2017 Top 51 on Thursday evening. Ryan Painter/The Signal.
Bill Bolde, the retired principal from Saugus High School, applauses during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
Overall No. 1 winner Taylor Kellstrom sits with his mom and fiance during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
The crowd applause during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2-17 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

About the author

Gina Ender

Gina Ender

Gina Ender is a journalist covering city government and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in February 2017. You can contact Gina Ender at gender@signalscv.com, 661-287-5525 or follow her on Twitter at @ginaender.

The Signal’s Top 51 event honors dedicated community members

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.”

Bruce Fortine walks up to the podium to deliver a speech as the crowd applause during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.”

Click here to see The Signal’s full list of photos available from The Top 51 event. 

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.

Jeff Preach walks up to receive his Top 51 award in the government category during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.

Capt. Robert Lewis, chief of the SCV Sheriff’s Station, mingles with the crowd at The Signal’s 2017 Top 51 at the Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

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.”

Recently retired Saugus High School principal Bill Bolde greets Dante Acosta, state assemblyman from California’s 38th District, on the patio of the Sand Canyon Country Club at The Signal’s 2017 Top 51 on Thursday evening. Ryan Painter/The Signal.
Bill Bolde, the retired principal from Saugus High School, applauses during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
Overall No. 1 winner Taylor Kellstrom sits with his mom and fiance during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
The crowd applause during The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s 2-17 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

About the author

Gina Ender

Gina Ender

Gina Ender is a journalist covering city government and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in February 2017. You can contact Gina Ender at gender@signalscv.com, 661-287-5525 or follow her on Twitter at @ginaender.