SALINAS — The Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will recognize Seaside residents Mel and Regina Mason, who will be receiving the “Distinguished Trustee Award” from the Community Foundation for Monterey County.
The dual resolutions are being introduced by Board Chairwoman Wendy Root Askew, whose district the Masons reside in. Every year, the foundation recognizes individuals or couples who “have demonstrated philanthropic leadership in our region,” the resolution reads.
They will receive the award on Oct. 19.
Both Masons have been instrumental in social justice movements in the county, particularly for the African American population.
Mel Mason, a lifelong resident of Seaside, launched his activism in the late 1960s with the Black Panther Party. He later earned an undergraduate degree in social science from Golden Gate University and a master’s degree in social work from San Jose State University with an emphasis on mental health.
Regina Mason, also a native of the Monterey Peninsula, pursued social work with a focus on children. She earned her undergraduate degree in business management from St. Mary’s College in Moraga and her master’s degree in child welfare from San Jose State University.
She retired as a child welfare supervisor with the county of Monterey, overseeing the county’s Emergency Response Investigations Unit.
Mel Mason’s career focused on his counseling and therapy work as a licensed clinical social worker.
But it’s likely the pair’s social justice volunteer work is what many in the county know them for. Both have served at different times as president of the Monterey County Branch of the NAACP, a nationwide organization fighting for civil rights for African Americans. The Monterey branch is leading fights against police brutality, attacks on unions and job discrimination.
Regina Mason has also served as a board member for the Sand City/Seaside Chamber of Commerce and a commissioner for Monterey County’s Commission on the Status of Women. Mel Mason co-founded the Village Project, an African American-based family resource center designed to meet unmet needs of the Black community, particularly in mental health services.
Meanwhile, Regina Mason is serving as the chair of the Poor People’s Campaign for Monterey County.
Awards are nothing new for the couple. Both were recipients of the 2018 Monterey Peninsula College President’s Award and now the Distinguished Trustee Award.
“(They) have strengthened Monterey County by using their voices and talents for equity, inclusion and talents for a more just society for all,” the resolution reads.
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