2018 Annual Dinner Meeting

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2018 Annual Dinner Meeting

The Columbus Human Rights Commission invites the public to hear Ms. Lecia Brooks speak on Thursday, May 17, 2018, at the Commission’s Annual Dinner Meeting to be held at The Commons, 300 Washington Street, at 6:30 p.m.

Ms. Lecia Brooks is currently the outreach director at the Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”).  In her role as the outreach director, Ms. Brooks frequently travels nationally to give presentations that emphasize tolerance, inclusion, and diversity, as well as develops and manages organization-wide initiatives that promote SPLC’s mission to eradicate hatred and bigotry and to seek justice for society’s most vulnerable members.  During her time at the SPLC, Ms. Brooks has participated in and managed several important projects, including the Mix It Up at Lunch Day program through Teaching Tolerance, SPLC’s documentary film Bullied: A Student, a School, and a Case that Made History, and the two-year effort to resolve complaints of alleged race-based harassment at Alta High School in Utah in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice and NAACP.  Ms. Brooks has an extensive professional history in social justice and civil rights, including her roles as the director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama; founder and principal consultant for an independent consulting firm called Diversity Matters; and former director of special projects at the National Conference for Community and Justice.  Ms. Brooks is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University.  Ms. Brooks’ topic of discussion will pertain to immigration and hate and extremism.

In addition to Ms. Brooks’ keynote address, the 2018 William R. Laws Human Rights Award recipient will be honored at the dinner. The Commission is pleased to announce Ms. Sherry Stark as the recipient of its 2018 William R. Laws Human Rights Award.  During the Commission’s regular monthly meeting on March 28, the Commissioners selected Ms. Stark for her commitment to creating a welcoming community and her advocacy of the LGBT community.  The Laws Award Nominating Committee, comprised of Commissioners Rich Gold, Greg Lewis, and Annette Barnes made this recommendation as a way to award Ms. Stark for her work, volunteerism, collaboration, and attitude towards creating a welcoming community.  In the nomination for Ms. Stark, she is described as an individual who is vital to the human rights “health” in the community and “the kind of person who shines her light on others – she doesn’t care who gets the credit.  All Sherry cares about is helping Columbus, Indiana be the uniquely welcoming community it has grown to be.  Sherry never tries to make Columbus be a different community – only the very best Columbus can be.”  Ms. Stark was the recipient of The Republic’s Woman of the Year award in 2013, and she has held several prominent positions including, but not limited to, president and CEO of the Heritage Fund – the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, Inc., executive director of the Centra Foundation, Inc., and senior deputy mayor and executive director of the Community Development Department for the City of Columbus.

Past recipients of the William R. Laws Human Rights Award include, but are not limited to, Larry Perkinson, 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 2018 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 “Fair Housing for All.”  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 Friday, April 13.  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 11, 2018 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.