Lead 2015 PCHR Award recipients named, nominations still open for public awards

PHILADELPHIA, March 2, 2015 – The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations today unveiled its four lead recipients of the PCHR Awards, where civic leaders helping to advance social equality and justice here have been spotlighted since 1987. Those lead recipients are:

Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of POWER

Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of POWER

Bishop Dwayne Royster and POWER – Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild – will receive the Clarence Farmer Sr. Service Award. POWER, a multiracial interfaith coalition established in 2011, has been a leading entity in grassroots efforts pushing for holistic social change throughout Philadelphia.

Gloria Casarez

Gloria Casarez

The late Gloria Casarez, inaugural director of LGBT affairs for Mayor Michael A. Nutter, posthumously will receive the Sadie T.M. Alexander Leadership Award. For two decades, Casarez served as a civil rights leader, advocating for fair and equal treatment in housing, access and employment for people of color, the impoverished and LGBT residents in Philadelphia, particularly transgender people of color.

Adrienne Simpson

Adrienne Simpson

Adrienne Simpson and the late Lt. Joyce Craig each will receive recognition as recipients of the PCHR Chairman’s Award. This year, the honor emphasized acts of bravery that benefit others, in the face of consequences.

Lt. Joyce Craig

Simpson publicly challenged the leadership of Philadelphia Magazine after publication of an article deemed racially inflammatory, despite being the lone African American there. Craig had a stellar career as a Philadelphia firefighter before losing her life last year while battling a blaze, making her the first female firefighter in the city’s history to die in the line of duty.

Ellen Somekawa

Ellen Somekawa

Ellen Somekawa, executive director of the FACTS Charter School and former head of Asian Americans United, will receive the PCHR Executive Director’s Award for her years of distinguished service to Philadelphia’s underserved.

In addition, five publicly-nominated awards for work in corporate responsibility, nonprofit stewardship, arts and culture, public safety and community service will be presented.

Nominations remain open through Friday and recipients will be notified by March 20.

“Our commission is thrilled by the strong character and the diversity of our award recipients and the positive impact they have had on our great city,” said PCHR Chair Thomas H. Earle. “We may be giving them an award, but it’s truly an honor to know that people of this caliber choose to give of themselves in such deep ways to our community.”

The awardees or their representative loved ones will be honored during the 2015 PCHR Awards, which will be held on Tuesday, April 28, at the Arts Ballroom, 1324 Locust St., Philadelphia.

The awards event celebrates the people and organizations actively working to reduce discrimination and intergroup tensions while promoting tolerance and respect among all people, regardless of differences in race, religion, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Clarence Farmer and Sadie Alexander both were seminal figures in Philadelphia, both in leading the commission during various eras and as civil rights icons who forged bonds across educational, business, legal and public service sectors. This event pays homage to their legacy and serves as a reminder of the work still to be done, said Rue Landau, PCHR executive director.

“What we do on this commission impacts real people every day, and we take this work seriously. But we could not do it without partners, everyday people who dedicate themselves to improving the quality of life in this city for all who live here,” Landau said.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate their achievements, and look forward to who the public thinks who else should join this distinguished group as 2015 PCHR Award winners.”

For criteria, nomination applications, tickets or event details, visit www.phila.gov/humanrelations/awards  or call (215) 686-4670.

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