spirit of dt winners 2024

Left to Right: SINEAD FINNERTY-PYNE, RON HODGES (accepting for Riley Hodges as well), JIM GOODIN, EVELYN AVILA, & SACHA BRADDOCK (accepting for Andrew Fiorentino as well)

During the Downtown Long Beach Art Walk on the evening of April 13, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance recognized some very special individuals who, with their unique skills, tireless energy, and can-do attitudes, are contributing immeasurably to the positive progress of Downtown. Meet the 2024 Spirit of Downtown Award winners!


A Long Beach native and Downtown resident, Avila is the Founder, President, and Social Media Manager of the Long Beach Walking Club, which she created to help establish a safe environment for women to exercise and socialize in DTLB.

“To be honest, it feels surreal to win a Spirit of Downtown Award — and it fuels my determination to continue contributing to the betterment of the DTLB community,” she said.

Avila, a CSULB grad, deepened her attachment to Downtown through her father. “For more than 35 years, my father has dedicated himself to working on the Queen Mary, making it a second home for our family,” she shared. “I spent my childhood celebrating holidays and enjoying Sunday brunches on the ship, and it still holds a special place in my heart today.”

She expressed her joy about the Downtown events scene: “Witnessing the community come alive with activities like Beach Streets, parades, and music festivals is truly exhilarating to experience. Downtown has undergone significant development over the last 25 years, yet it retains its vibrant diversity and cultural richness. That’s the essence of Long Beach — a place where everyone can discover a sense of belonging.”

Avila’s top aspirations for Downtown: “I’d like to see it further transform into a pedestrian-friendly place. Also, it’s my wish that businesses recognize the importance of establishing grocery stores and retail outlets in the heart of Downtown.”


Finnerty-Pyne, who lives just up the road in the Wrigley District, is Director of Marketing and Special Projects for Studio One Eleven, a Downtown design studio and urban lab. “We at Studio One Eleven believe that thoughtful design can improve urban life and foster more vibrant, resilient, sustainable, and equitable cities,” she noted.

She went on to elaborate that “Downtown Long Beach is intriguing to me because of its unique position between Los Angeles and Orange County, and for being the only waterfront metropolis between San Diego and San Francisco. It has cultural venues, historic buildings, great restaurants, a waterfront, and regional public transportation. It’s bikeable and walkable. All the ingredients are there! It just needs more care and support from both Downtowners and other Long Beach residents to truly flourish.”

Some of Finnery-Pyne’s favorite Downtown attractions are right near Studio One Eleven. “Third Street between Long Beach Boulevard and Pine Avenue has a great vibe with its historic buildings, alleys, and a weekly farmers market. The East Village is another favorite spot, with its unique boutiques, record stores, and art deco storefronts. And Lincoln Park holds a special place in my heart! I start my Saturday mornings there with a Movement and Flow class led by Yogee Yancy.” Finnerty-Pyne, a dedicated park and placemaking advocate, is committed to establishing Friends of Lincoln Park.

Finnerty-Pyne’s vision for Downtown: “I see a lively and thriving creative hub, ideally by the time the Olympic Games arrive in 2028. At Studio One Eleven, we’re collaborating with like-minded partners to build the Downtown Long Beach Design District, an emerging hub with design-focused small businesses, artisans, makers, and art spaces. I truly believe that we are stronger together.”


Ron Hodges and his son Riley are long-time key figures in the development of Downtown. The ambitious duo has built four venues in the beautiful art deco Rowan-Bradley building at the northwest corner of Broadway and Pine: The popular pub Shannon’s on Pine, The Carvery Prime Rib Restaurant, Secret Island Tiki Bar, and At The Top nightclub.

The elder Hodges, born and raised in San Diego, began his entrepreneurial journey in 1959, after graduating from CSULB with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He launched a series of business ventures in Long Beach, eventually opening Shannon’s on Pine in 2012. In 2017 he co-founded the Downtown Entertainment District Association (DEDA), and when son Riley graduated from CSULB and got onboard he helped his father spearhead efforts to beautify and invigorate the Pine & Promenade area.

“The Spirit of Downtown Award was a great encouragement to us that our shared vision was being recognized,” said Ron. Riley added that “It feels nice to be acknowledged by leaders and community members. I have enjoyed meeting so many great people in Downtown along the way.”

The Hodges’ hopes and plans for their Downtown future: “I still have that passion,” said Ron. “We are in the planning stages for the ‘Downtown Core and Entertainment District.’ We are working hard to get help from the city.” Riley said he would “love to see more walkability, unique attractions, and the beautification of Pine Avenue as a destination. I hope we can bring back more of Pine’s vibrant events as well.”


Braddock and Fiorentino are Co-Presidents of the North East Village Neighborhood Association. They work closely with Councilwoman Mary Zendejas and her District One Team to advocate for families in this area of Downtown and instill a sense of pride in their community.

Both awardees were born and raised elsewhere but have made Long Beach the center of their lives. “Downtown Long Beach is the heart of the city,” said Braddock. “I have seen the evolution of DTLB since I moved from San Diego in 2003. I just love that we have access to so many wonderful restaurants and entertainment options. No city is perfect but Long Beach folks are just different; We care about our community and are willing to show up every day for our people.”

Fiorentino moved to Long Beach from North Carolina in 2021 with his now-fiancee. “We both felt a sense of community, eclectic energy, the West Coast spirit of innovation and a striving for a more inclusive tomorrow,” he recalled. “I felt the Downtown community needed an organization for people to springboard ideas, which is why I started the North East Village Neighborhood Association in 2022 with the help of Sacha, [Council District 1 Chief of Staff] Lynn Ward and Councilwoman Mary Zendejas. It is an area that has been previously underserved.”

Braddock and Fiorentino’s goals for contributing to Downtown’s future: “It sure has been a privilege to support critical government and commercial space missions during my day job as Mission Integration Engineer,” said Fiorentino. “I certainly aim to use that same energy for the Downtown community.” Braddock is equally energized. “For me, Long Beach is the best city in the country. My biggest hope is that we continue to place people and locally-owned businesses at the center of our efforts in DTLB.”


Goodin, a retired Air Force officer and Space Systems Program Manager for North American Rockwell who made significant contributions to the Apollo Program, is the Active Past President with the Ocean Residents Community Association (ORCA) and volunteer for the Downtown Residential Council (DRC).

“ORCA is the neighborhood association of the high-rise occupants along Ocean Boulevard from the 710 Freeway to Junipero Avenue,” he explained. “They hold monthly meetings at various Ocean Boulevard high-rise buildings to discuss issues of importance to the residents. The DRC is a forum for all Downtown neighborhood associations to meet monthly to coordinate and plan joint events.”

Born at Long Beach Community Hospital, Goodin moved around quite a bit during his college, military, and professional years, but moved back to Long Beach and became a Downtown resident in 1997. Meeting his wife helped him form a deep bond with DTLB. “I met my wife at Parker’s Lighthouse, got engaged at the Sky Room, and married her on the Queen Mary,” he told us.

Goodin loves the walkability of Downtown; He frequently strolls to the Terrace Theater, the International City Theatre, and favorite restaurants such as 555, King’s Fish House, and Modica’s Deli. “I have an amazing view of the ocean and harbor,” he said. “This past weekend I looked out at Turn 9 of the Grand Prix course.”

His number one wish for Downtown: “To prosper. I would like the Downtown residential income to be able to support a Trader Joe’s and equivalent stores.”