Annual Niagara Foundation Peace and Dialogue Awards – 2015, Michigan


Fr. Mark Ingot

Fr. Mark Ingot is the pastor of St. John’s Church and St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. Fr. Ingot is an extraordinary contributor to community development and promotes the human development values. He works across faiths and belief systems; he serves as a model peacemaker serving thousands of people within the greater Lansing area.

He has a wonderful ability to listen and guide young people, provide thought provoking ideas for consideration in how we as a community might rise to the occasion of the greatness that resides within every one of us and works tirelessly to support a higher way of being, thinking, doing, and living. He graduated from MSU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. He received a Master of Divinity from St. John Provincial Seminary and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State University

The mission of the Center for Peace & Conflict Studies is to develop and implement projects, programs, curricula, research, and publications in areas of scholarship related to international and domestic peace, war, social justice, arms control, globalization, multicultural awareness and constructive conflict resolution.

The Center for Peace & Conflict Studies addresses this mission in three ways. CPCS supports undergraduate and graduate student excellence through its academic programs. CPCS staff and students engage in scholarly research initiatives on aspects of domestic and international conflict management. CPCS provides community outreach programs that emphasize: conflict resolution, development of intercultural understanding, and enhance local knowledge of global affairs.

Dr. Don Cooney

Dr. Don Cooney is an associate professor at WMU’s School of Social Work. He teaches courses on the history of social welfare, community practice, social change, and race and culture. Dr. Cooney is active in many social justice organizations, and serves as a City Commissioner for Kalamazoo. Dr. Cooney has a committed interest in community practice, social justice, and confronting institutional prejudice and inequality. Dr. Cooney has been a peace activist for more than fifty years. He has worked on the international, national, state and local levels toward peace and social justice for all. He is an icon in his field, who has worked to end Apartheid in South Africa.

Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion

Since 1941 The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion has been a not-for-profit civil rights organization located in Detroit working to overcome discrimination and racism by crossing racial, religious, ethnic and cultural boundaries.

They bring together community leaders from government, law enforcement, education, faith, grass root organizations and business to understand different points of view and then take action to overcome structural impediments to inclusion and equity. Their programs are recognized by national organizations for bringing about sustainable change. They work to address inequity throughout our region through a process of recognition, reconciliation/reorientation and renewal. They aim at building relationships that create social justice and build sustainable inclusive communities.

Dr. Chaunda Scott

Chaunda Scott is an Associate Professor of Human Resource Development at Oakland University. Her scholarly research interests lie in the areas of workplace diversity training and education, multicultural education program development in higher education settings, adult learning, training and development, workplace ethics, cross-cultural mentoring and coaching. In addition to the above, Dr. Scott is the proud founder and president of the Diverse Voices initiative. This 17 year-old conference provides a forum for Michigan higher education students to speak out on the importance of valuing all aspects of human diversity today. In October of 2015 Dr. Scott, a Fulbright Specialist recipient, will be leaving for Cape Town, South Africa.

She has been asked to replicate her Diverse Voices Conference there as well as assist the higher education commission in developing a diversity-focused higher education curriculum to help South Africa move forward. She is also a member of the Academy of Human Resource Development’s newly formed diversity committee and a board member for the National Association of Multicultural Education Michigan Chapter.

Linda Peckham

Linda Peckham is a highly respected author, teacher and community leader living in Lansing, MI. She has worked as a Professor of English at Lansing Community College for 30 year. Linda Peckham is a master educator in creating a rigorous, inspiring, and mutually supportive atmosphere in which students could not only learn but thrive and excel. Ms. Peckam also serves on the Bioethical Review Board at MSU as a volunteer, devoting many long hours on this crucial endeavor. In addition, Linda Peckham had offered her expertise in a program for first year Human Medicine students who are required to make home visits to people with chronic conditions.

Linda Peckham has also given of her time and energy to our community. She developed and taught a special seminar in conjunction with the Smithsonian, to locate, photograph, measure, and complete research on mid-Michigan outdoors sculpture as part of a nation first time endeavor. She founded A Rally of Writers, an annual conference that has supported writers and journalists for 28 years, served as President of the Historical Society and vice-president for City Visions. Linda Peckham continues to host annual gatherings in her home every year for students, professors, writers, and published authors, to come together and find community and moral support.

Melody Arabo

Melody Arabo has been a third grade teacher at Keith Elementary in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District since 2002. In 2008, she was named Keith Elementary’s Teacher of the Year and was first runner-up for Walled Lake’s District Teacher of the Year in 2009. She was named Michigan Teacher of the Year on May 15, 2014. In her role as MTOY, Melody plans to highlight all of the outstanding advancements of the public school system and celebrate the hard work and unmatched dedication of public school teachers.

Recently, Melody was selected to be a Michigan Educator Voice Fellow and was named 2015’s Oakland County Elite 40 Under 40 winner. In addition to working with the Michigan Department of Education and attending State Board of Education meetings, she has been speaking and presenting in districts throughout Michigan and working with influential education organizations in the United States. Melody facilitates professional development workshops in a range of topics, including implementation of Common Core State Standards, reading comprehension strategies with an emphasis on metacognition, math fact fluency, and her biggest passion, bully prevention.

She recently published a children’s picture book called Diary of a Real Bully, which teaches kids the difference between real life bullying and the bully stereotypes we see on TV and in the media.

Daniel Varner

Mr. Daniel Varner is the Chief Executive Officer of Excellent Schools Detroit, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that every child in Detroit has an excellent education. Before this position, Mr. Varner was a program officer with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In this role, he worked with the Education and Learning team to develop programming priorities, identifying and nurturing opportunities to affect positive change within communities. His responsibilities included reviewing and recommending proposals for funding, conducting site visits and maintaining strong relationships with grant seekers and external partners. He managed and monitored a portfolio of active grants, providing technical assistance to grantees on model development, partnership negotiations, leadership capacity building and coaching.
Mr. Varner joined the Foundation in 2010, after serving as chief executive officer for the youth development organization Think Detroit Police Athletic League (Think Detroit PAL), which he co-founded as Think Detroit in 1996. He earned both a bachelor’s degree in history and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan. Daniel has won numerous awards for public service, and has served on the board of directors at Think Detroit PAL and the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

Alan Headbloom

Alan Headbloom is the host and co-creator of Feel Like You Belong, a multi-resource web portal and TV show. On this show, Alan interviews immigrants and expatriates to learn how one goes about belonging in a new land, new language, and new culture. For non-natives, he dissects American culture, American English slang, and even American humor. The mission of the show is to help U.S. newcomers fit in and be powerful participants in their jobs and their neighborhoods.

Through his TV show, Alan provides an opportunity for guests to share their diverse cultural experiences. Guests are able to share their challenges of trying to be part of another culture and how they have overcome adversity. Alan is a part of many different and diverse organizations throughout Grand Rapids and the State of Michigan. He desires to bring people together beyond cultural, economic, and racial divisions. Alan does this by encouraging and facilitating dialogue.

Bankole Thompson

Bankole Thompson is a highly successful and widely respected metro Detroit journalist. He is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle where his editorial leadership has put the paper on front street as a credible, relevant and intellectual voice on the issues shaping the lives of the paper’s readers and the African American community in Michigan. He is apolitical analyst at WLIB-1190AM New York, a senior political analyst at WDET-101.9FM Detroit. 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.

Metro Parent

Metro Parent Publishing Group is a Ferndale, Michigan-based company that produces family-focused publications, Web content, events and television segments. Its specific target audience is the southeast Michigan region, including the Detroit and Ann Arbor metropolitan areas. The group is a member of the Parenting Publications of America.

Metro Parent, the group’s award-winning flagship magazine, is published monthly., its Web presence, features unique weekly content. Its annual, local events are the “Camp and Activities Fair,” “CoverKids Search,” “Education Expo” and “Native American Festival and Mini Pow Wow.” Its weekly television segment, “Parent Coach,” appears on the local WDIV-TV station. The group also publishes four bi-annual ancillaries – Metro Baby, Dr. Mom, Going Places and Party Book – along with African American Family Magazine, a lifestyle magazine geared at metro Detroit’s African American community. The correlating “African American Family Magazine Distinguished Speaker Series” features noteworthy individuals throughout the year.

Frank DeFrank

Frank DeFrank is a reporter for The Macomb Daily newspaper in suburban Detroit. Frank DeFrank’a continued coverage of education in Macomb County has highlighted the successes and struggles of area schools, and called our collective attention to be on youth. Annually he writes the “Daily’s” coverage of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice’s MLK Holiday Celebration, MLK Holiday School Contests, Listen, Learn, & Live programming, and Black / White Exchange between primarily Black and predominantly White congregations in Macomb County.

Alternatives for Girls

Alternatives For Girls (AFG) is a Detroit-based 501(c)3 nonprofit serving homeless and high-risk girls and young women. Since 1987, AFG has provided critical services to the girls and young women we serve, including safe shelter, street outreach and educational support, vocational guidance, mentoring, prevention activities, and counseling. The goal is to empower the girls and young women we serve to make positive choices.

SafeHouse Center

SafeHouse Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault in Washtenaw County, Michigan. SafeHouse Center provides free and confidential services for any person victimized that lives or works in Washtenaw County. Every year the center supports more than 4,000 women, men and children who have experienced these crimes through its 24-hour crisis intervention services and emergency shelter, counseling and support groups, court accompaniment and personal advocacy.

IVC Detroit

The International Visitors Council of Metropolitan Detroit (IVC Detroit) is a nonprofit organization that administers international exchange programs on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other organizations that have an interest in promoting international relations. Founded in 1972, IVC Detroit belongs to a national network of organizations through our membership in the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV) headquartered in Washington, DC.

Each year IVC brings hundreds of international visitors to Detroit introducing them to the city, its citizens and the metro area’s vast professional resources. IVC Detroit is governed by a Board of Directors and is volunteer membership driven by Detroiters who promote citizen diplomacy. Citizen diplomacy is the concept that the individual citizen has the right, even the responsibility, to shape U.S. foreign relations “one handshake at a time.” Along with the IVC national counterparts, the Detroit volunteers were nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

Jen and Mike DeWaele & Molly and Jerry Mechtenberg-Berrigan

Jen and Mike DeWaele & Molly and Jerry Mechtenberg-Berrigan have chosen to live and raise their families in a poor neighborhood to use their homes to help underprivileged children in Kalamazoo get ahead. The Peace House they founded provides a safe, nurturing place for kids to play and learn. Peace House is an intentional community in the Eastside Neighborhood of Kalamazoo dedicated to nurturing the next generation of peacemakers. In the summer and through the school year, the organization offer activities that let kids stretch their bodies and minds, experiment with nonviolence and learn fun and useful skills.

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.