Peace & Dialogue Awards – Michigan 2015

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

Niagara Foundation publicly recognizes individuals and organizations who have distinguished themselves in their profession and contributed their time, energy, leadership, and dedication to the cause of dialog, peace, understanding, education and community service.

Each year, Niagara Foundation recognizes individuals and organizations in the Midwest community who have demonstrated strong commitment to serving their community while maintaining a global mindset.

Date
Thursday, October 22, 2015

6:30 – 9:00 PM
Dinner & Awards Ceremony

Venue
Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel
Ballroom A, B
21111 Haggerty Rd, Novi, MI 48375

Registration Fee:  $30 

Program

6:30 – Reception
7:00 – Dinner
8:00 – Welcome & Opening Remarks
8:15 – Awards Presentations

RSVP

Registration is required as seating capacity is limited. Please kindly RSVP by October 20th.  You can register from this link.

Date
Thursday, October 22, 2015

6:30 – 9:00 PM
Dinner & Awards Ceremony

Venue
Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel
Ballroom A, B
21111 Haggerty Rd, Novi, MI 48375

Registration Fee:  $30 

6:30 – Reception
7:00 – Dinner
8:00 – Welcome & Opening Remarks
8:15 – Awards Presentations

Registration is required as seating capacity is limited. Please kindly RSVP by October 20th.  You can register from this link.

EDUCATION AWARD

Daniel Varner
CEO, Excellent Schools Detroit

Daniel Varner

Dan Varner is the Chief Executive Officer at Excellent Schools Detroit, a coalition of philanthropists, educators, civic organizations, and community-based organizations working to ensure that every Detroit student, cradle to career, receives an excellent education by 2020.  They define an excellent education as one that assures that 90% of students are well-prepared for kindergarten, 90% of students graduate from high school, 90% of graduates enroll in college or a high-quality postsecondary training program, and 90% of those enrollees are prepared to succeed in that program without remediation.

Prior to joining Excellent Schools Detroit, Dan worked as a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on both the Michigan and Education & Learning teams.  He is also the cofounder and former CEO of a nationally-recognized, award-winning youth development organization called Think Detroit.  Dan led Think Detroit through a merger with Detroit PAL and continued to serve as CEO after the merger, which created the largest provider of award-winning youth development sports programs in Detroit, serving over 10,000 participants annually.

Dan serves on numerous boards of directors, including the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Connect Ed, Detroit PAL, and the ACLU of Michigan, and served on Michigan’s State Board of Education for four years.  He is also a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.  Dan is an attorney by training, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School.


PEACE AWARD

Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion
received by Steve Spreitzer, President and CEO

Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion

The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion is a 74 year-old human relations and human rights organization helping make the places we work and live become places where all people are welcomed and treated fairly.  We do this through three core program areas: 1. Youth Leadership Development, 2. Cultural Competency and Organizational Development and 3. Community Engagement. We do our work through education, leadership development and convening conversations between law enforcement, business, government, education, the faith community and interested citizens.  You are welcome to view the following video to learn more about the work of the Michigan Roundtable https://youtu.be/iHFJmGTX49U.

Steve Spreitzer Photo2

 

Steve Spreitzer

Steve Spreitzer is the President and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, where he also worked servant led Interfaith Programs for twelve years.  Prior to his work with the Roundtable, he spent nearly twenty years working for the Roman Catholic Church in campus and parish ministry and diocesan service.  During this time he worked in youth ministry, parish social services, criminal justice ministry, legislative advocacy and interfaith relations.  Steve received his Masters in Social Work from Michigan State University where he studied the role of the faith community in the area of restorative justice.   He has received recognition from the Hindu American Foundation, Metropolitan Christian Council, the World Sabbath for Religious Reconciliation, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan and the Catholic Youth Organization.  Steve and his wife Mary are empty nesters living in Plymouth, MI with their three children away at college.


MEDIA AWARD

Bankole Thompson
Columnist, The Detroit News; Host, WDET-FM Radio

Bankole Thompson

Bankole Thompson is an Op-Ed columnist for the Detroit News where his insightful column appears every Thursday. For nine years he served as editor of the Michigan Chronicle, where his editorial leadership put the paper on front street as a credible, relevant and intellectual voice on the issues. He is the host of the weekly public affairs show “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” on WDET-101.9 FM, Thursday, 11am. Since 2008, Thompson has been selected as one of three leading journalists to form the weekly “Obama Watch” program on New York’s legendary station WLIB. He has interviewed several times world leaders like Barack Obama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others. But his work speaks beyond his media credentials.  Mr. Thompson was the recipient of the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Award given annually by Plymouth
United Church of Christ. In 2014 Thompson received the Frederick Douglass from the National Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club. In 2013, the Detroit NAACP presented him with the Great Expectations Award.

Mr. Thompson has done a lot to foster dialogue and create social transformation. He has served as a keynote speaker at major events seeking his leadership skills including the 2012 American Jewish Committee Distinguished Leadership Dinner at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, the 2011 NAACP 98th Freedom Fund Dinner in Providence, Rhode Island.


COMMUNITY & PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD

Alternative for Girls
received by Amanda Good, CEO

Alternative for Girls

Founded in 1987, Alternatives For Girls (AFG) is a southwest Detroit-based nonprofit organization.  Our mission is to help homeless and high-risk girls and young women avoid violence, teen pregnancy, and exploitation; and help them to explore and access the support, resources, and opportunities necessary to be safe, to grow strong, and to make positive choices in their lives.

This work is done through three program areas: Prevention, Shelter, and Outreach.

AFG’s Prevention Program serves girls ages 4-21 who are at risk of gang involvement, abusing drugs or alcohol, early pregnancy, and school truancy. We engage them through mentoring, after-school programs, a teen leadership program, and a summer camp.

AFG’s Shelter Program provides a stable home, counseling, support for getting their education back on track, job readiness and life skills training to homeless young women aged 15-21 and their children. The goal is to support their pathways out of homelessness to the point where they can thrive, with continuing education and careers with which they can sustain themselves and their children.

AFG’s Outreach Program helps teens and women engaged in high-risk activities, such as street-based prostitution, drug use, and gang involvement, to understand the risks of such activities and transition to safe choices and healthy lives.

Amanda Good Photo2

Amanda Good

Amanda (Amy) Good, CEO, Alternatives For Girls (AFG).   M.S.W., 1980, and B.A.: Psychology, 1977, University of Michigan.  Ms. Good has served as Alternatives For Girls’ director since 1988.  She has 31 years of experience managing and directing human services programs serving Detroit children and families, including directing a child abuse and neglect program prior to helping to launch the grassroots effort that created AFG in 1987.  Under her leadership, AFG has grown from a volunteer-led project to a full-service agency serving homeless and high-risk girls and young women, along with their families, through street outreach, emergency shelter, transition to independent living, and prevention services.  Ms. Good serves as a gubernatorial appointee on the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice (2004 to the present), as well as the Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit board. Her numerous awards include Oprah Winfrey’s “Use Your Life” award (accompanied by $100,000 for AFG’s capital campaign), the United Way Community Services “Executive Director of the Year” award, Leadership Detroit’s “Leadership Challenge” award, and the National Council of Jewish Women Josephine S. Weiner Award for Community Service.  She was awarded the University of Michigan School of Social Work Distinguished Alumni award in October, 2014.  Ms. Good and her husband raised their two children—now both college students and both dedicated community volunteers and activists throughout most of their lives, and continue to live, in their Detroit home.


Fethullah Gulen
Turkish Muslim scholar, thinker, and poet

M. Fethullah Gulen was born in the small village of Korucuk, in Erzurum Province, Eastern Turkey, in November 1938. Known by his simple and austere life style, Mr. Gulen has been from his earliest years a gifted Islamic scholar and thinker, and a creative writer and poet. His father taught him Arabic, and initiated in him his profound love of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his Companions. Later he continued his studies under the guidance of some of the most prominent Islamic scholars in Eastern Turkey. He received further training in the religious sciences.

Mr. Gulen, so distinguished himself that he was asked to begin teaching when he was only fifteen. He did so while continuing his studies in the religious sciences. Blessed with extraordinary oratory skills, even at young age, Gulen was recognized as one of the more accomplished Islamic preachers in the early 1950s, mentioned in the same breath with some of the more learned scholars, many years his senior, in Eastern Anatolia. Gulen devoted his life trying to solve society’s ills and spiritual sufferings, and inspired the establishment of many charitable organizations to serve the welfare of the underprivileged. He published a number of well-known books, most of which remain on the best seller list in Turkey, and have also been translated into English. These include The Infinite Light, Questions, Towards the Lost Paradise, and Truth through Colors. At a time when humanity is in a desperate need of leaders and role models, we find a true innovator and an inspirational leader as well as a deeply good man in M. Fethullah Gulen.

When he retired from formal teaching studies in 1980 he had inspired a whole generation of young students, many of whom are leaders in their communities today and of course, Niagara Foundation itself, especially they are the purpose of this evening, all based upon the work of this man

The views and opinions expressed on The Falls are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Niagara Foundation, its staff, other authors, members, partners, or sponsors.