2022 LBCC Unity Award Winners Announced

The LBCC Unity Celebration Planning Committee is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Unity Awards. The first Unity Celebration was held at LBCC in 2009, making this year’s celebration--held on February 25 via Zoom--the thirteenth annual. The Celebration was founded by a group of former LBCC instructors, including Dana Emerson, Robin Havenick, Gary Westford, and Analee Fuentes.

Established in 2013, the Analee Fuentes Unity Award honors its namesake, a retired LBCC art instructor and co-founder of the Unity Celebration. The award is presented to one employee (or employee group) and one student (or group of students) for their contributions to diversity and social justice on campus.

  • 2022 winners: 
    • Kristen Jennings (Academic Coaching Coordinator faculty)

From Kristen’s nomination:  “Kristen is an advocate for underrepresented students, staff, and faculty. She isn't afraid to speak up when she sees or hears about an inequity issue at LBCC. Kristen has strongly advocated for English Language Learner (ELL) students to receive the adequate academic support they deserve by the college. Students often share that Kristen makes them feel welcome and less intimidated to ask for help. They also mention she is extremely patient, kind, and resourceful. Kristen is an ally for faculty, staff, students, and community members of color and I believe she has earned recognition for her commitment to equity, diversity, and social justice at LBCC.”

    • Riley Coleman and Danae Fouts (students)

These two students were nominated by LBCC employees for their leadership roles in the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Co-Curricular Program, the Change Makers Co-Curricular Program, and leading the charge at cultivating a positive and forward-thinking environment for all students.

First awarded in 2015, the Gary Westford-Robin Havenick Community Connections Award honors its namesakes, both retired LBCC instructors and co-founders of the Unity Celebration. It is presented to an individual, organization, or business whose work with diversity, inclusion, social justice, and equity contributes to the college and community.

  • 2022 winner:
    • Casa Latinos Unidos, Corvallis

From their nomination: “I have observed this organization actively strive to serve the Latino/Latina/Latinx community in a variety of heroic ways from vaccine clinics to a wide range of paralegal support and translation services. They do a great deal with a limited budget and even during leadership transitions continue to serve the community. They have hosted LBCC Human Services interns for many years, including during the pandemic. Even during uncertain times they have remained committed to LBCC by supporting our students' professional growth.”

This year’s Analee Fuentes Unity Award nominees also included employees Anne Magratten, Lena Gates, Rob Camp, and Tania Mendez. Angel Harris, past president of Corvallis-Albany Branch of NAACP, was nominated for the Gary Westford-Robin Havenick Community Connections Award.

For more information on this event, please visit the Unity Celebration web page.

Also honored today was Keri Grigas, winner of the annual Black History Month essay contest.  Keri is a first-year student studying Networking & Systems Administration: Cyber Security. She is originally from South Florida and plays flute, piano, and oboe.  From her essay: 

We are strong, however we’re human all the same and need support. We are strong, but not numb and incapable of feeling pain. Even though I am seeking help for my mental health, I am no less capable of a black woman. I still succeed in whatever I put my mind to, while making sure to reach out for help when I need it. While it is taking some time for me to break away from certain parts of this trope, I am glad that it is being talked about as I feel that there are many black women that need to hear and have conversations like these. There is nothing wrong with being a strong black woman, but there’s a problem when it impacts our mental health. We are allowed to feel, we are valid. We are strong.

The second place winner was Krystal Overvig. Dahlia Seiter and Angelyna Geno tied for third place.

The Unity Celebration Planning Committee congratulates all of this year’s winners, and thanks everyone who nominated a student or coworker, as well as those students who entered the Black History Month essay contest.