Tickets Available April 12 for Columbus Human Rights Commission 2017 Annual Dinner Meeting

The Columbus Human Rights Commission invites the public to hear Ms. Sheila Suess Kennedy speak on Thursday, May 11, 2017, at the Commission’s Annual Dinner Meeting to be held at The Commons, 300 Washington Street, at 6:30 p.m. 

Ms. Sheila Suess Kennedy is currently a professor of law and public policy at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (“IUPUI”). In her role as a professor, Ms. Kennedy’s academic fields of expertise include constitutional culture, charitable choice, civil liberties and civil rights, religion and public policy, nonprofit organizations, and media and public policy. Ms. Kennedy has an extensive professional history in public policy and civil rights, including her roles as a former Republican candidate for the 11th Congressional District, former executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, faculty fellow with both the Center for Religion and American Culture and the Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence, and the founder of the Center for Civic Literacy at IUPUI. Ms. Kennedy’s topic of discussion will pertain to civic literacy. 

Ms. Kennedy is an accomplished author of several books, articles, and columns. Some of her books include Giving Civics a Sporting Chance (2016 with co-author Matt Impink), American Public Services: Constitutional and Ethical Foundations (2010), and What’s a Nice Republican Girl Like Me Doing at the ACLU? (1997). Ms. Kennedy is also a contributor to the Indianapolis Business Journal and Indiana Word and was a past columnist for the Indianapolis Star. In addition to her publications and role as an academic, Ms. Kennedy has been the recipient of over 30 honors, including, but not limited to, the ENACT Faculty Fellow from Brandeis University (2016), the IUPUI Inspirational Woman Award (2015), and Chancellor’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement (2010). Ms. Kennedy is a graduate from Stephens College for Women, Indiana University, and Indiana University School of Law. During her time in law school, Ms. Kennedy was the managing editor of the Indiana Law Review. She is married to her spouse, Bob, and has five children and four grandchildren. 

In addition to Ms. Kennedy’s keynote address, the 2017 William R. Laws Human Rights Award recipient will be honored at the dinner. The Commission is pleased to announce Mr. Larry Perkinson as the recipient of its 2017 William R. Laws Human Rights Award. During the Commission’s regular monthly meeting on March 29, the Commissioners selected Mr. Perkinson for his commitment to the community and his advocacy of all students. The Laws Award Nominating Committee, comprised of Commissioners Rich Gold, Greg Lewis, and Wan Baba, made this recommendation as a way to award advocacy of the local youth. In the nomination by Jason Maddix, former chief of police, he writes that “Larry views every student as a unique human being with God-given talents . . . [and] Larry is the voice for the nearly 400 students in our community who are either homeless or between stable homes.” In Mr. Perkinson’s forty years in the field of education, he has worked with students, their families, and school faculty regarding issues of discrimination, substance abuse, homelessness, bullying, suicide, and domestic violence. 

One supporter described him as a champion of human rights beyond his job at BCSC and another stated that he cares about the community and in creating a positive impact by helping students succeed. Because of his extensive connections and work with the local youth, Mr. Perkinson was inducted into the prestigious BCSC Hall of Fame in 2016. 

Past recipients of the William R. Laws Human Rights Award include, but are not limited to, Dr. Marwan Wafa, Ala’a Wafa, Gil Palmer, Lorraine Smith, Arlette Cooper Tinsley, Tom Harmon, Tracy Souza, Sondra Bolte, the Honorable Mayor Fred Armstrong, Jim Henderson, Ted Marston, and J. Irwin Miller. The criteria states that nominees should have made a significant contribution by doing one or more of the following: (1) improving relationships among all people; (2) increasing the sensitivity of one group toward another; (3) educating people about the barriers or eliminating the barriers facing people of color, women, persons with disabilities, religious minorities, or others who have been treated unequally because of prejudice; or (4) using existing means or creating new safeguards to protect the rights of others. 

Additionally, the winners of the 2017 Benjamin M. King Essay and the J. Irwin Miller Art Contests will be honored at the dinner. The theme for this year’s art and essay contests is “Advocating for Others.” More details about the winners will follow at a later date.

Admission to the dinner is by advance ticket purchase. Tickets for the dinner can be purchased for $30.00 per person. Ticket sales will begin on Wednesday, April 12. Tickets can be purchased at the Human Rights Commission office located in City Hall at 123 Washington Street in Columbus, Indiana or online at www.columbus.in.gov/human-rights/. Tickets for tables of 8 may be purchased. The deadline for purchasing tickets is Friday, May 05, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. 

EARLY TICKET PURCHASE IS RECOMMENDED. When Annual Dinner tickets have sold out, a waiting list will be created in the event of a cancellations. For further information, call (812) 376-2532 or e-mail humanrights@columbus.in.gov. The Commons is wheelchair accessible. For other accommodations or for financial assistance in purchasing tickets, please contact the Commission in advance. 

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