2020 Volunteers of the Year in California

Volunteers are the backbone of FIRST. Without the commitment, talent and passion of the thousands of FIRST volunteers in California, our events would not be possible.

At FIRST Robotics Competition Regional events, the Volunteer of the Year award is presented to an individual, business, or organization that consistently excels in their efforts, with proven results in the areas of impact, leadership, personal commitment, community, and historical contributions. We are proud to recognize the following FIRST Robotics Competition volunteers for their outstanding efforts.


A FIRST alum, MIT graduate and team mentor, Ellen is a shining role model for young women. As our Judge Advisor at Aerospace Valley Regional she also stepped up as the Judge Advisor for another regional when needed. Additionally, she works with FLL and FTC and is FIRST through and through. She is simply the best!

Ellen McIssac

Aerospace Valley Regional

This incredible volunteer is a FIRST alum, team mentor, and has been our dedicated Volunteer Coordinator for many years. Garry’s creativity and friendly demeanor truly enhances the Volunteer experience making the Central Valley Regional an event full of fun!

Garry Gong

Central Valley Regional

To help commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Regional, the Volunteer of the Year Awarded goes to JPL who has been providing volunteer support to the Regional for 20 years!

Some people call JPL the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but over the years we have learned that JPL really means Just Plain Loyal as they have been with the LA Regional for 20 years providing thousands of volunteer hours with field set-up, inspecting, refereeing, queueing, judging, volunteer coordinating, and having members on the FIRST Robotics Competition Los Angeles Regional Planning Committee.

JPL Employees (award accepted by Kim Lievense)

Los Angeles Regional

Michael began as a parent mentor, has volunteered for the Ventura Regional since the inception and now Chairs the Los Angeles North Regional.  He helps other teams with their robots (even fabricating parts for them at his precision fabrication company) and is always available to help with off-season, FLL and any FIRST event.  He loves what FIRST does for students and embodies the attributes of FIRST on a daily basis.

Michael Sessa

Los Angeles North Regional

This dedicated mentor expanded volunteering beyond his FRC team to impact the growing Monterey Bay FIRST community. Robin is an integral region planning member, started FIRST LEGO League teams, and launched the FRC Kickoff for local teams to connect and celebrate together.

Robin Coyne

Monterey Bay Regional

This volunteer has been an integral part of the Sacramento Regional Planning Committee for years. Richard’s dedication extends beyond being a team mentor by his efforts in generating attention and excitement for the event with local media and community leaders.

Richard McCann

Sacramento Regional

Jodi has been with the San Diego Regional Planning Committee for many years and has been an active business mentor on Team 3965 Sultans. Leading our Invited Guest Event for the last three years, we are so appreciative of her support and pleased to recognize her as our Volunteer of the Year.

Jodi Siccardi

San Diego Regional

Melissa is known as an outstanding national FIRST alumni, role model for young women, but also dedicated member of the FRC family in San Francisco. She helped launch the San Francisco Regional 4 years ago and remained dedicated ever since, even when she worked abroad in Europe.

Melissa Smith

San Francisco Regional

We are grateful this seasoned FRC mentor recently moved to California and joined our FRC family. Debbie has become an integral Silicon Valley region leader, running robot build workshops, exhibiting FRC at tech conferences, supporting sponsor engagement, and recruiting volunteers from all walks of life.

Debbie Barone

Silicon Valley Regional

Michael stepped in to mentor a highly visible, award winning team in the county, plans and stages many outreach and off-season events, organized a new venue for FLL tournaments when their plans fell through, and all the while plays a role in the pandemic crisis.   

Michael "Doc" Staitman

Ventura Regional