Fairfield University to present Vision Awards to four who have helped fulfill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dream


Fairfield University will award the Martin Luther King Jr. Vision Award to four people whose lives reflect Dr. King's vision, at the annual dinner commemorating the civil rights leader on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m., in the John A. Barone Campus Center. They are: Charles B. Tisdale, executive director of Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc. (ABCD); Barbara Kiernan of Black Rock, director of university publications for Fairfield University; and two women who helped launch a new initiative at Fairfield this year, Student Diversity Grants: alumna Danielle K. Hawthorne of Stratford and senior Ashley Toombs of Newburgh, N.Y.

C TisdaleMr. Tisdale's service to ABCD has formed the bookends to a career that has played out on the regional and national stage. As executive director of ABCD, Inc. from 1968 to 1977, he developed the agency into a $9 million agency with a staff of 300 full-time and 225 part-time employees, providing programs in economic development, job training, day care, legal services and housing development.

He was tapped by President Jimmy Carter to serve as director for the Housing and Urban Development/Youth Conservation and Community Improvement Program and later as Staff Director of the Federal Inter-agency Committee on Integration of Human Delivery System at the White House. He returned to Bridgeport in 1985 as Director of the Office of Policy and Development for the City of Bridgeport. In 1995 he returned to the helm of ABCD where he remains as executive director.

Mr. Tisdale is a recipient of the Roy Wilkins Civil Rights Award from the State of Connecticut NAACP and served as a member of the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment Task Force and the President's Summit for America's Future.

B KiernanAs director of university publications for Fairfield University since 1995, Barbara Kiernan has earned regional and national awards for "Fairfield Now," the quarterly alumni magazine and its special edition, "The President's Annual Report." Other publications under her direction include "Campus Currents," the employee newsletter, and a wide range of academic brochures, capital campaign and admission literatures and academic catalogues. In recent years she has added newsletters for several of the schools on campus.

From 1989 to 1995, as a development writer, Ms. Kiernan wrote grant applications for the University and drafted presidential correspondence. Through her writing and publications she has shown a light on issues of diversity, leading to her receiving the 1998 Administrator of the Year Award from the Center for Multicultural Relations.

In addition, she was honored with the university's Distinguished Administrator Award at the 2004 Fairfield Awards Dinner, honorary membership in Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit national honor society, and the 2003 Human Resources Choice Award.

D HawthorneDanielle K. Hawthorne, who completed her Associate of Arts Degree in 1991 and will earn her Bachelor of Arts Degree this May, and senior Ashley Toombs, are both being honored for their work in bringing to fruition a Student Diversity Grant Program that enlists the creativity and support of students to build a welcoming community for all individuals. Announced last winter, the program invited students to develop proposals for projects that would increase respect and understanding on the Fairfield University campus for the contributions and lifestyles of various under-represented racial, cultural, and economic groups in our society while maintaining, enhancing, or establishing multicultural, gender-fair, disability-sensitive, inclusive environments that are conducive to success for students currently at Fairfield University. In October three student groups were awarded grants of $1,500 each and are currently working on their projects.

Prior to joining the University of Bridgeport last November as assistant director of marketing communications, Ms. Hawthorne was a marketing consultant working with small businesses, start-ups and nonprofit organizations. In addition, as a certified motivational speaker for the "Making It Count Programs" division of Monster.com, she delivered inspiring programs including, Making Your College Search Count and Making College and Career Count.

At Fairfield University, Hawthorne serves on the Student Diversity Grant Program Advisory Committee and is a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honor Society. In addition she is a mentor in the Shelton Public Schools, a leader in numerous community service and fundraising activities, and a mayoral appointee to Stratford's Economic and Community Development Commission.

Most recently Hawthorne created the nonprofit organization, Timeshare To Share Charitable Foundation, which accepts donated timeshare weeks and matches them with an adult challenged with a life threatening illness and his/her immediate family members, the primary caregiver and a travel companion. The mission of the foundation is to provide an unforgettable experience for the recipient and family members, and a recuperative respite for the caregiver.

A ToombsWith a double major in international studies and Spanish and a minor in Caribbean Studies, Ashley Toombs has nonetheless managed to contribute extensively to the academic and service areas of the university. In addition to her work on the Student Diversity Grant Program, she has served on the Fairfield University Student Association Executive Cabinet as Secretary of Academics and was selected the 2005-2006 Senator of the Year.

As an intern with the New Haven-Leon Sister City Project, she brought the pilot program and fundraiser, "Educate a Nicaraguan Child for a Year" to the Fairfield University campus and created educational books for Peace and Justice interns who will be traveling to the country.

Toombs was also a group leader for a project that brought a group of 12 volunteers to New Orleans during Spring break to work on the reconstruction of two houses. In addition, she serves as the student representative to Fairfield University's Environmental Steering Committee and on the Center for Faith and Public Life Committee.

Bookmark and Share

Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 10, 2007

Vol. 39, No. 119