Upstate diversity leaders recognized at award dinner

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Leaders in diversity were recognized at the 14th Annual Upstate Diversity Leadership Awards Dinner held at the TD Convention Center on May 24. The event honoring individuals and organizations for diversity and inclusion efforts was presented by the Greenville Chamber and the Riley Institute at Furman University with partner Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

The keynote presentation at the dinner was given by Juan Johnson, president of Diversity Leadership in Action.

“The Greenville Chamber is honored to work alongside the Riley Institute at Furman to celebrate and honor the diversity champions in the Upstate working tirelessly to build an inclusive community,” said Greenville Chamber President/CEO Carlos Phillips. “We are thrilled to highlight the outstanding accomplishments of these leaders, and hope it inspires others to ensure our region is an inclusive place where businesses succeed and people prosper.”

The following award recipients were honored at the event:

-Senior Minister of Greenville First Baptist Jim Dant received the Calder D. Ehrmann Outstanding Individual Award for his efforts to make the church a place of peace, justice, and inclusion for all people.

Born Jewish, raised Catholic, and educated Baptist, Dant strives to make First Baptist welcoming to the LGBTQ community for worship and service in the church. Dant recently wrote the book “This I Know: A Simple Biblical Defense for LGBTQ Christians.”

-Founder of For Frankie free laundry service Adahlia Nix was named for the Outstanding College Student Award. As a human services student at Greenville Technical College, Nix began the initiative at Coin Laundry on Poinsett Highway as a Wednesday night program that allowed homeless and low-income individuals to do their laundry, chat with volunteers, and eat snacks.

Now Nix’s organization has expanded to include a mobile laundry truck, making it possible for her to go directly to those in need. She also works as a house parent at Miracle Hill Children’s Home in Pickens, and she is involved with the SWITCH initiative that fights human trafficking and sexual exploitation in the Upstate.

-Mauldin High School senior Charlotte Capers Snoad received the Outstanding High School Student Award for her efforts in promoting justice and equality for women and the LGBTQ community.

In middle school, Snoad organized a Girls Leadership Conference with a trip to Washington, D.C. During her time at high school, Snoad has created EmpowHER, a nonprofit that inspires young women to become leaders in all areas of their lives.

Adela Mendoza was recognized for her work in representing every nationality, cause, and perspective, especially that of the Hispanic Community, with the Outstanding Contribution to International Diversity Award. Mendoza is the executive director of the Hispanic Alliance Network, which has more than 2,500 individuals and organizations.

She also created a model for empowering Hispanic students with knowledge and advocacy called the Student Dreamers Alliance. Beginning work in South Carolina in 2009, Mendoza served as the statewide program manager for the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, which worked to increase access to legal services for immigrant victims of crime.

-Honored with the Outstanding Business Award, GE encourages women in STEM careers with its Balance the Equation campaign, which has a goal of 20,000 women in technical positions by 2020. Working to have a 50-50 representation for technical entry-level programs, and ensure a positive workplace atmosphere, GE provides internal training programs, displays a commitment to supplier diversity, and offers employee affinity groups.

GE is also dedicated to investing in students outside of the company. GE Girls connects 28 female middle school students in Greenville with female employees in STEM careers. GE’s Hispanic Forum works with local Spanish-speaking students, and the African-American Forum provides tutoring with Southside High School.

-With the highest Hispanic population in the Greenville County School district, Monaview Elementary School received the William “Bill” T. Wylie Valued Lives Award for School Excellence in Diversity. In the atrium of the school, 23 large flags represent the nations within the student body.

The school aids in teachers’ understanding of diverse students’ needs through family engagement, poverty simulations, book studies, and involvement with the Hispanic Alliance. Monaview offers a Parent Resource Room to aid in parents’ learning of English, as well as a Hispanic psychiatrist with workshops after school for parents.

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Carolinas (VCOM) received the Outstanding Nonprofit Organization Award for its minority student recruitment and programs that work with underserved and rural communities. VCOM is a four-year osteopathic medical school that offers the Doctor of Osteopathic medical degree and provides licensing in every state and field of medicine ranging from family practice to neurosurgery.

With the mission of producing globally minded, community-focused physicians to meet the needs of the underserved and improve health, VCOM recruits diverse students who are underrepresented in healthcare. The student body at VCOM is 27 percent nonwhite, and 14 percent of its students identify with an underrepresented population.

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