2005.03.03 > For Immediate Release
contact: Becky Bohan Brown - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.2243 - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Five UNO Women of Color Award Recipients Honored at 2005 Luncheon
OMAHA - An author, a business owner, a director, an educator and a student are the 2005 recipients of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Women of Color (WOC) Awards. More than 400 attended the third annual luncheon, which was held Thursday, March 3, at the Holiday Inn Central. This year's theme was "Sharing Our Legacy."
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken and UNO Chancellor Nancy Belck were in attendance to congratulate this year's nominees and winners.
The awards acknowledge outstanding contributions and leadership by women of color in the Omaha area. Organizations and individuals were asked to nominate women of color for the awards in five categories: arts and humanities, business/entrepreneurship, community service, education and youth leadership.
"The Women of Color Awards recognize and celebrate the achievements of exemplary role models throughout greater Omaha. Our community is fortunate to have such compassionate and dynamic leaders in its midst, and this luncheon allows us to publicly thank them for all they do," Belck said. "As always, the 2005 award recipients reflect extraordinary dedication to education, youth, the arts, community service and entrepreneurship."
The 2005 award winners are as follows:
Arts and Humanities Award Honoree — Kim Whiteside
Whiteside, an author, writes under the pen name Kim Louise. She has penned more than nine novels writing for BET and Genesis Press and has developed several workshops for up-and-coming authors to provide advice on how to get published. Her books have been chosen as Black Expressions Book Club selections and as "Top Pick" buys for Romantic Times BOOKclub. "She is an inspiration to all women because she took a chance and quit her full-time job as a training consultant to pursue her dreams," one nominator wrote. "Kim is a hopeful romantic who still can't believe that she gets paid to do what she loves, write."
Business/Entrepreneurship Award Honoree — Jamie Gutierrez Vela
Gutierrez Vela is the president and owner of Midwest Maintenance Company Inc., a building services company. Her company has doubled in size in the last four years and now has more than 350 employees. According to the Midwest Business Journal, "Midwest Maintenance has been the community's largest minority-owned business since 1998." Gutierrez Vela co-founded the United Latino Endowment to provide college scholarships to Latinos, as well as to the Creighton University Latino Student Association. She is the recipient of numerous awards and citations.
Community Service Award Honoree — Karen Tibbs-Nnawulezi
Tibbs-Nnawulezi is director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries Archdiocese of Omaha. She worked as an attorney in private practice for a number of years before entering the non-profit sector. One nominator wrote, "She has a strong commitment to community outreach, especially in the African and African American communities." Tibbs-Nnawulezi has developed a number of outreach programs to meet community needs, including the "Rise 'n Shine" Program for African American youth, St. Bakhita's Women Outreach Program (an African and Sudanese outreach ministry), and an ecumenical ministry, Blacks Working with AIDS Inc./BWA. Inc.
Education Award Honoree — Carol T. Mitchell
Mitchell, associate professor of teacher education at UNO, received various letters of nomination illustrating that she is a positive force in the local, regional and national educational community. Mitchell is dedicated to enhancing the learning opportunities of students from underrepresented populations, particularly in the areas of science and math. She has had a tremendous impact on the education of Omaha Public Schools students and teachers through her work as co-principal investigator of the Banneker Partnership. "As a female scientist and educator, Dr. Mitchell is a role model for girls and women of color," one nominator wrote. "She exemplifies what a woman can accomplish when she puts her intellect, heart and soul into it."
Youth Leadership Award Honoree — Gretchen Gonzales
Gonzales is a sophomore student majoring in computer engineering at The Peter Kiewit Institute on the UNO south campus. She has served as secretary of the UNO Asian American Cultural Society since its inception two years ago. In addition to participating in several career-related organizations, Gonzales also serves as a student member on the Executive Board for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). "She is stable, responsible and dependable," one nominator wrote. "Gretchen indeed is serving as a positive role model for other Asian American students." As an education intern at the Strategic Air and Space Museum, she taught the basics of flight to young people and developed hands-on projects for youth groups.
Amy Mossett presented the 2005 luncheon address. Mossett is a Sacagawea scholar and member of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes of North Dakota. She is the national coordinator for tribal involvement with the National Council of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial, and has spent more than 15 years researching the oral and written histories of Sacagawea.
"We thank the public for supporting our efforts to identify new women of color as role models for our youth and the community as a whole," said Mary Mudd, WOC committee chairperson and university consultant. "At this year's event, we recognized our honorees and nominees for their efforts in fostering a commitment of service to the community while 'Sharing the Legacy.'"
UNO, ConAgra Foods Inc., State Farm Insurance Bank, Pfizer Inc. and Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. sponsored the sold-out luncheon. It will be broadcast by Cox Communications Sunday, March 6, on COX/UPN Channel 2 at 6 p.m. For photographs of each honoree, visit the Web at http://avalon.unomaha.edu/woc/.
For more information, call (402) 554-2243.
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