PHOENIX, AZ - Seven Valley residents were honored today for their lifelong commitment to creating a compassionate and socially just community at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards breakfast, ÂStand Up For Justice.Â
The Arizona Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and the Phoenix Human Relations Commission recognized recipients of the Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement award and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream award during the breakfast. The event was sponsored by the Arizona Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee.
Recipients are Nancy Jordan for the Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement award and Anthony Gathers, Rick Miller, Andrew F. Ortiz, Rev. Liana Rowe, Meg Sneed and Dr. Camilla Hester Westenberg for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream awards.
The Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement award recognizes an exceptional individual who has made Phoenix a better place through a lifelong dedication to promoting social and economic justice, defending civil rights and enhancing the dignity of all people. The award is named for former Phoenix City Councilman Calvin C. Goode, who worked to ensure these rights for all residents during his 22-year tenure with the council. It was during GoodeÂs service to the city that the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. state holiday was created.
Nancy Jordan, the recipient of the Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement Award, is being recognized for her five decades of work as an educator. In 1987, she created the ACE (Achieving a College Education) Program at South Mountain Community College, now a nationally recognized program recruiting high school students for college.
In 1991, while dean of community relations at Phoenix College, Jordan founded the Genesis Program to transition first-generation high school graduates into college. The program has become one of the most successful alternative high schools in the state. Recently retired as the associate vice president of community development at Arizona State University, she was an ASU loaned executive to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and assisted in the creation of the ASU downtown Phoenix campus.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Awards recognize six individuals who embody Dr. KingÂs ideas through their personal commitment to human relations and justice. The 2011 recipients are:
Anthony Gathers, owner of Ageez Barbershop and a 20-year Phoenix resident, mentors youth by providing them work opportunities at his business and demonstrating the value of hard work, honesty and integrity. He provides free haircuts to Boys and Girls Club of Phoenix participants and has a genuine interest in their progress in school. He offers a reading corner in his barbershop to encourage young people to read and counsels them on the value of sports, church and family.
Rick Miller is the founder and president of Kids at Hope, a program that enables schools and communities to create an environment where all children experience success. The program is offered in 60 Arizona schools and 400 schools throughout the country and Canada, reaching more than 475,000 children. University studies have shown that Kids at Hope principles reduce violence in schools, improve a childÂs self-confidence and create a culture of racial equality. Miller has touched the lives of more than 150,000 children, built five new clubhouses, opened a full-service dental clinic and established an after-school tutoring program as the former president and executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix.
Andrew F. Ortiz, president and CEO of Ortiz Leadership Systems LLC, is a founding member of Los Diablos, an ASU scholarship program for Latino students that helps these students attend university. He also is a founding member of VISION (Volunteers in Service in Our Neighborhoods), a mentorship program for Tempe Elementary School students. As a mentor for youth and a volunteer with the Homeless Legal Assistance Project, the Protecting ArizonaÂs Families Coalition and the YMCA Minority Achievers Program, Ortiz exemplifies the spirit of social justice.
Rev. Liana Rowe of the Shadow Rock United Church of Christ has worked tirelessly to enhance the quality of life for less fortunate members of the community, devoting her life to assisting and advocating for those in need. She has provided aid to individuals walking through the heat of the Arizona desert in search of work. Rev. Rowe brought help and hope to prison inmates and also started the first bilingual support network for friends and families of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual) Latinos.
Meg Sneed, co-founder of the human rights organization H.E.R.O. (Human and Equal Rights Organizers), has a never-ending commitment to community service. She has worked as a community organizer to improve the quality of life for Phoenix residents by providing food for the hungry and supplies for troops serving in Iraq. Sneed also developed a leadership and mentoring progam for GLBT youth ages 18 to 24. Through H.E.R.O., she organizes monthly town hall meetings on community issues such as homelessness and the needs of GLBT youth and creates coalitions for equal rights through service, action and education.
Dr. Camilla Hester Westerberg has fostered a sense of empowerment in her students during her 26 years as a professor of English at Phoenix College. On issues ranging from racial profiling to unequal access to resources, she is the first to speak up for those who do not have a voice. She has devoted considerable time to advocating for developmental education for under-prepared students entering higher education. Throughout her career, she has been a mentor and teacher to thousands, a voice for the disadvantaged and a keeper of the dream.
The Phoenix Human Relations Commission partners with the city of Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department and the Arizona Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee to coordinate the awards program.