Dr. Candice Lyons named "Black Star Assistant Professor of Black Studies" thanks to generous endowment from Mr. Otieno Okatch (UCSB, Class of '92)

The Black Star Award
The Black Star Endowment and its annual award was created to support the Black Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and honors the Department’s brightest and most promising scholars each year. The name of the award takes its inspiration from Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-born journalist, publisher, leader, and organizer who studied at Birkbeck College (University of London) and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) which by 1920 had hundreds of chapters around the world. After immigrating to the United States, Garvey led the largest Pan African movement in the world to-date. Marcus Garvey and the movement he led faced enormous odds at a time when most African countries were struggling under colonial governments and Black Americans faced great adversity at every turn. Marcus Garvey’s vision and movement—though short-lived—served as an inspiration for tens of millions of Black people worldwide. The Black Star award follows in that tradition of audacious effort and excellence in the face of adversity and seeks to carry forth the call by Garvey: “Forwards ever, backwards never.”  
-Otieno Okatch
Mr. Otieno Okatch Bio
Otieno Okatch is the founder and President of Per Ankh Life Skills, Inc., dba PALS, Inc., and the son of a Kenyan immigrant father, and an American mother. While originally from Kansas, grew up in Ventura County and attended Santa Clara High school, in Oxnard where he then matriculated to UCSB. 
PALS, Inc. is a leading southern California provider of therapeutic day services for adults with intellectual disabilities who have a history of trauma, with offices in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. For over 20 years, PALS’ specialty has been providing supports for people who have challenges in daily living in the form of severe behavioral deficits or excesses. Many of PALS’ participants have a history of Court involvement, or co-occurring socio-emotional disabilities. PALS’ Santa Paula program utilizes an innovative approach, incorporating group & individual therapy provided by licensed providers into the day service model.
After graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 1992, Otieno served as a graduate intern in the Information & Public Affairs Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya. He went on the obtain a Master of Arts in African Area Studies from UCLA, with a concentration in Public Health, and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University.
Otieno’s early career development was as a Behaviorist under Supervision, providing in-home behavioral consultation for parents and families on challenges in the home; he developed his professional skills in providing functional assessments and task analyses as well as in creating and monitoring the effectiveness of behavioral interventions to address the myriad challenges families have, ranging “potty training” to mobility and job skills. In 2001 Otieno created Per Ankh Life Skills, Inc., to reflect his own philosophy and approach: the expression “Per Ankh” is from the ancient Egyptian language and translates as a “place of instruction” or “Temple University” for life skills. His agency motto is ”Behavior change begins with a SMILE!” to reflect the interventionist’s approach: begin with a proactive, positive thrust in any intervention.  Thru his creation of the Mable Iola Brown Fuller Endowment in Black Studies at UCSB, Otieno continues to emphasize the importance of increasing positives in the restoration of the traditional greatness of African culture.
Otieno is a resident of Long Beach. He also serves as a Trustee of the UCSB Foundation, and was recently nominated by Mayor Rex Richardson, City of Long Bech, to serve as a Commissioner for the newly created Office of Police Oversight.