George L. Pla, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist whose business and civic activities have helped communities across California, was recently honored with the 2016 Joe Shapiro Humanitarian Award during Cal State LA's 19th annual Billie Jean King & Friends Event.
A Cal State LA alumnus, Pla is president, CEO and founder of Cordoba Corporation, a nationally recognized civil engineering, program and construction management firm specializing in transportation, education, and water and energy infrastructure. Cordoba Corporation is ranked by Engineering News-Record as one of the top professional services firms in the nation and transported the Space Shuttle Endeavour through the streets of Los Angeles in 2012 as more than 1 million cheering bystanders watched the historic event.
Pla was introduced by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a Cal State LA alumna. She noted that Pla has dedicated his life to helping others. "He is a caring humanitarian," Waters told the more than 500 people who filled the ballroom of the Langham Huntington Hotel for the October 22 gala.
The Joe Shapiro Humanitarian Award is presented in memory of Joe Shapiro, who was a member of King's executive committee. Shapiro was known for working enthusiastically to help student-athletes reach their educational and athletic goals.
"I am honored to be mentioned in the same breath as Joe Shapiro," Pla said as he accepted his award.
Added Cal State LA President William A. Covino: "George Pla is one of our most distinguished alumni and is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the neighborhoods we serve. We are pleased to honor him with the Joe Shapiro Humanitarian Award."
King is a Cal State LA alumna and played on the university's women's tennis team. A world champion athlete and champion for social justice, she has helped raise more than $3 million in scholarships for student athletes through her annual gala.
For more than 30 years, Pla has led Cordoba Corporation. It is one of the top firms of its kind, providing services for large public infrastructure projects across the western United States. His professional achievements have been recognized by the Hispanic Business Magazine, where he was named as one of the 100 Most Influential Latinos in the nation.
Pla's dedication to supporting higher education includes serving as a regent emeritus at Loyola Marymount University, presidential associate at the University of Southern California, and co-founder of the USC Latino Alumni Association.
Pla currently serves as the co-chair of the Southern California Leadership Council, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy partnership comprised of business and community leaders. He is a co-founder of the City Club, a premier private business club in downtown Los Angeles that embraces and reflects the diversity and spirit of the city.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the California Science Center Foundation, and he chaired the planning and engineering efforts of the transport of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Pla is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Catalina Island Conservancy, which stewards approximately 42,000 acres on Catalina Island through a balance of conservation, education and recreation.
Pla earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Cal State LA in 1972 and earned a master's degree in public administration from USC in 1974. In 1991, he was honored as Cal State LA's Alumnus of the Year.
This year's Billie Jean King and Friends Event also included a special tribute to James M. Rosser, president emeritus of Cal State LA, and an awards presentation to Dodger great and 10 time All-Star Steve Garvey.