All month long, America celebrates Black History Month. On campus and in our communities, we pay tribute to generations of African Americans, the struggles they have endured, and the triumphs they continue to achieve. Emory University commemorates Black History Month with lectures, panel discussions, and events.
To commemorate Dr. King’s powerful legacy, Emory’s Goizueta Business School, Rollins School of Public Health, School of Medicine, and Nell Hodgson School of Nursing presented the 2023 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Awards to organizations and individuals who embrace his message of non-violence within the Emory and greater Atlanta communities, carrying on a 27-year tradition for this honor. “Each honoree takes up the mantle and led people through love and peace while promoting justice for all,” says Alina Bills, Goizueta’s Start:ME Accelerator program manager at the Business & Society Institute and co-chair for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Awards. Her fellow co-chairs are Stella J. Clarke-Dubose, executive administrative assistant, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing; Sheryl Heron, professor and vice-chair of faculty equity, engagement and empowerment in the Department of Emergency Medicine, associate dean for community engagement, equity and inclusion, and associate director of education and training for the Injury Prevention Research Center at Emory; Tiffany Kady, associate director of technical support services, Rollins School of Public Health; and Aparajita Maitra, associate director of programs, School of Medicine. Kady adds, “Honorees act and take initiative to address an issue or challenge raised by institutional racism or social injustice.”
We recognize that despite the difficult times our communities and country have faced these past few years, there are people and moments that lift us up.The MLK Service Awards Committee
2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award Recipients
- The Latino Community Fund: The Latino Community Fund (LCF) is a nonprofit supporting Latinos in Georgia. Their community outreach includes the design and implementation of hundreds of vaccination drives, food drives, voter registration drives, and fundraising to help people with critical needs, including farmers and other fragile communities. This included developing culturally relevant outreach programs to understand the Mayan community, an indigenous population living in Georgia. With coalitions of support across the Black, Asian and immigrant communities in Atlanta, Executive Director Gigi Pedraza has guided the organization to build effective and service-oriented, cross-sectional relationships in the private, government, and nonprofit sectors.
- Policing Alternatives & Diversion: Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative (PAD) is an independent nonprofit that works to reduce arrest and incarceration of people experiencing extreme poverty, problematic substance use, or mental health concerns. PAD connects with people as people, addresses their basic needs, and works with these individuals with quality-of-life concerns to reduce harm to themselves and to their neighbors. PAD believes that arresting and jailing people who are causing disturbance or harm because of survival activities does not serve our communities. Communities are safer and healthier when people have the support they need to survive. PAD’s services address the actual issues people are struggling with (lack of housing option, food access, substance abuse, mental health support, etc.) and attempts to stop the cycle of arrest and incarceration. The PAD organization does all this by engaging with community members with dignity, patience, and care.
- ZAMI NOBLA: In 2011, Mary Anne Adams, a Metro Atlanta community activist, social worker, and public health researcher noticed that in increasing numbers, many Black lesbians older than age 50 were beginning to disappear from community-based activities and organizations. To increase opportunities for networking and social support, and to explore the healthcare needs and coping strategies of Black lesbians, Adams founded ZAMI NOBLA: National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging. Deeply rooted in Atlanta with a national reach, ZAMI NOBLA is committed to building a base of power for Black lesbians over the age of 40 living anywhere in the country. As the only organization in the country expressly building power for Black lesbian elders, their projects and programs aim to build community, advance women’s and LGBTQ rights, and increase and sustain power. They offer support groups, housing and food justice, educational and wellness activities, social networking, scholarships, a community music program, skills-based training, lobbying, public policy development, and needs-based community programming. Their work fights actively against racialized ageism, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia.
- Randi Smith: Dr. Smith is an associate professor of surgery, trauma/surgical critical care at Grady Hospital and vice chair of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the Department of Surgery at the Emory School of Medicine. She is involved in pipeline programs that bridge the gap between youth from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine and the medical field. She is a member of several committees charged with achieving diversity, inclusion, and health equity, including the DEI Committee of the American Association of Trauma. In 2022, she became the inaugural DEI Vice Chair for the Department of Surgery. Dr. Smith teaches two courses promoting firearm injury prevention and violence as a public health problem. She has gained a national reputation for her work with hospital-based violence intervention programs and youth violence reduction strategies. She will lead efforts at Grady Hospital and in the community in a program that will reduce violence on a large scale. This new program will stop the cycle of violence, using “credible messengers” who’ve lived through it, bringing support and resources to a patient’s bedside. These Hope Hustlers will help both in the hospital and in the community. She has a long track record of these successful partnerships. She will lead the hospital component, which will launch in January. This effort is part of a three-year crime intervention effort in Dekalb, supported by $1.5 million Department of Justice funds.
- Dr. Fayron Epps: Dr. Epps is the founder and leader of the Alter program, a first-of-its-kind program designed to respond to the needs of African American family caregivers and persons living with dementia via the delivery of dementia relevant resources and supportive services. Dr. Epps works to provide programming to strengthen churches’ capacity to serve as valuable, contributing, and supportive partners within systems of care to reduce health disparities associated with dementia. Dr. Epps is “making good trouble” with work that is a significant piece within the puzzle to address structural inequities in the African American community.
- Javan Wyche: Javan is the School Engagement Manager at Carver STEAM Academy. Javan began her current journey as the after-school coordinator for the Thomasville Heights Elementary School (a Title 1 school whose families face huge challenges every day including access to healthy food). When one of the teachers at the school initiated a collaboration with the Paideia School to build their own school farm on the athletic field out back, Javan immediately saw what this could mean for the children, their families, and the community. Under her guidance, the farm has become an educational platform that provides hands-on opportunities to promote academic success and to connect with the natural world. Students now work in the soil, growing and harvesting fresh food. Most of the children, who had never had a fresh strawberry, would take them home in their pockets to share with their family. When the nearby Forest Cove housing project closed and the families were displaced, necessitating the closure of Thomasville Heights Elementary School and Farm, Javan organized a larger farm at the local middle school.
“I am inspired by the award winners and honorees who are creating change and are committed to advancing social justice and equity through peace and love,” Bills shares. “Dr. King’s teachings and writings remain relevant today as we continue to fight to make Dr. King’s dream a reality. Let us be proactive, intentional, and use every day to be radical and work to dismantle systematic oppressions, making the world a better place.”
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are integrated into everything we do at Goizueta. We are goal-oriented and strategic in creating structural and sustainable initiatives that nurture and challenge the unique perspectives that will shape the future of business. Learn more about Goizueta’s commitment to creating meaningful change.
Each MLK Community Service Awardee receives a physical award and a monetary gift to the registered 501(c)3 of their choice. Learn more about the history of this enduring program and previous honorees.