It was the party of the year! On June 16, more than 320 friends of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance celebrated 20 years of dismantling barriers to inclusion and ensuring equal access and opportunity.
What began in 1996 as a good idea fostered by the vision of 18 like-minded individuals, quickly evolved into a community movement. LEDA has been successful only because of hundreds of volunteers – Champions of Racial Equity – who care deeply about racial justice and creating communities that are welcoming and inclusive.
“When we reflect on the key ingredient that launched LEDA’s success, we must look to the hundreds of volunteers who have worked on so many initiatives,” said Gail Harrison, executive director. “And this is the beauty of LEDA. A small staff and hundreds of volunteers can become a movement – and effective movement that can change communities. A movement that can create a very prominent voice for racial equity and inclusion.”
Racial Equity Leadership Awards
Bob Woodrick is known as the man who started the racial justice movement in West Michigan. In LEDA’s 20 years, Bob has been an advocate, sponsor and friend. Bob’s passion for people has enabled him to share his constant message: racism can and must be eradicated.
Dottie Johnson is a strong advocate for addressing racial inclusion and closing economic, educational and health disparities that exist in our state and our nation. She has served on the LEDA Advisory Council since its inception. Most recently, she led the development of an initiative now called LEDA North.
Jim Brooks has a reputation as a business leader and philanthropist in the region. He joined Bob Woodrick as the first co-chair of the LEDA Advisory Council and, upon Bob’s retirement, has continued to serve as the sole chairperson. Jim is tenacious in his passion for advancing an inclusive community that welcomes diversity.
Racial Equity Champion Award
Denny Chan was the first member of his family born in the United States. Growing up, he faced racial taunts. As a high school student, he spearheaded efforts to broaden LEDA’s middle school Calling All Colors program to include high schools. He also served on LEDA’s board for three years while in high school. Today, Denny is an attorney for Justice in Aging, a nonprofit in Los Angeles that works to ensure low-income individuals have access to quality health care.
During the event, Executive Director Gail Harrison announced that an anonymous donor had funded a $500 scholarship in Denny’s name. The Denny Chan Annual Youth Leadership Award will further the educational opportunities for a Calling All Colors or Migrant Mentoring participant who exemplifies Denny's legacy.
Thank you sponsors!