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2007.02.12 > For Immediate Release
contact: Becky Bohan Brown - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.2243 - email: rbrown@mail.unomaha.edu

Women of Color to Be Honored at March 7 Awards Luncheon

Omaha — Two physicians, a drama director, a banker, a community relations ambassador and a student are the 2007 recipients of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Women of Color (WOC) Awards.

The group will be honored at a luncheon Wednesday, March 7, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the DC Centre, 11830 Stonegate Circle.

University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken will be in attendance at the fifth annual luncheon to congratulate the nominees and winners. This year's theme is "Healthy Women." The guest speaker will be Alabama physician Dr. Regina Benjamin.

"This year is the fifth anniversary event, and we are proud to recognize the achievements of this diverse group of women," said Sharon Ulmar, WOC committee co-chair and assistant to the chancellor in the UNO Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity. "The honorees' insights, diverse perspectives and experiences are being highlighted and celebrated during Women's History Month in an effort to encourage continued and future involvement of women of color in our community."

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 six categories: arts/humanities, business/entrepreneurship, education, community service, science and technology, and youth leadership.

The 2007 award winners are as follows:

- Llana M. Smith, drama ministry director at Salem Baptist Church, is the recipient of the Arts and Humanities Award.

- Cynthia R. Swoopes, regional emerging markets manager at Wells Fargo Bank, is the recipient of the Business/Entrepreneurship Award.

- Maria Valentin, community relations manager at ConAgra Foods, is the recipient of the Community Service Award.

- Christina Fernandez, M.D., assistant professor at Creighton University, Creighton University Pediatric Clinic and the University of Nebraska Medical Center Pediatric Residency Program, is the recipient of the Education Award.

- Huiling Pang, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of anesthesiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is the recipient of the Science and Technology Award.

- Francesca Hannah, a student at Central High School, is the recipient of the Youth Leadership Award.

The event's keynote speaker - Dr. Benjamin - is the founder and CEO of Bayou Clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala. She is the first African-American woman, and the first person under 40, to be elected to the American Medical Association (AMA) Board of Trustees. Time magazine named her one of the "Nation's 50 Future Leaders Age 40 and Under." Dr. Benjamin also serves on the Board of Physicians for Human Rights. She is a 1998 Mandela Award Winner, a former Kellogg National Fellow, has been featured as ABC Television's "Person of the Week" and, in 1996, was chosen by "CBS This Morning" as "Woman of the Year."

Jamie Gutierrez, president and owner of Midwest Maintenance Company Inc., will serve as the mistress of ceremonies. She was a 2005 recipient of the UNO WOC Business/Entrepreneurship Award.

The luncheon is open to the public, and tickets are $25 per person. Organizations can reserve tables of eight for $300. The event is sponsored by UNO, State Farm Insurance and a grant by the Nebraska Humanities Council.

To access luncheon registration forms or for more information about the event, visit the Web at http://www.unomaha.edu/woc/. The deadline for registrations is Tuesday, Feb. 27.

For more information, call (402) 554-2779.

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