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SPRINGFIELD — The African Hall Committee of the Springfield Museums announced the recipients of the 2023 Ubora Award and Ahadi Youth Award, which will be presented at a ceremony at the museums on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m.

Lisa Green, a distinguished professor at UMass Massachusetts Amherst, is this year’s Ubora Award recipient, and Catherine Thompson, a 2023 graduate of Springfield Central High School who is headed to Johns Hopkins University, was chosen for the Ahadi Youth Award.

Named for the Swahili word meaning ‘excellence,’ the Ubora Award has been awarded annually since 1992 to an African-American adult who has demonstrated a commitment to Greater Springfield and has exhibited excellence in the fields of community service, education, science, humanities, or the arts.

Green is an expert in syntax and African-American English (AAE). She founded the Center for the Study of African American Language at UMass in 2006 and has directed it ever since. She is also the author of two books and is working on a third, all published by Cambridge University Press.

She as passionate about community service as she is about her academic specialty, according to Joe Pater, chair of the UMass Linguistics department, who nominated her for the award. She is an active volunteer and mentor with the Greater Springfield Chapter of Links Inc., the Western Massachusetts Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, and the Xi Xi Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. And since 1996, she has been running a children’s summer reading program that she started at a church in her hometown of Lake Arthur, La.

“I could not believe that I had been selected” for the Ubora Award, Green said, “especially because I was very familiar with a number of previous recipients and simply could not see myself even approaching being in such amazing company. It is an incredible honor.”

Thompson had a similar reaction to her selection as the Ahadi Youth Award recipient, given since 2009 to an African-American student (age 19 or younger) who embodies the Swahili word for ‘promise’ and excels both in academics and service to the Greater Springfield community.

“When I heard the news, I was amazed, joyful, and honored to have been chosen as the recipient among Springfield youth,” she said. “I am proud to say I was born and raised in Springfield. I am still beyond grateful to be recognized at this level.”

An outstanding student who graduated sixth in her class, Thompson is also passionate about community service, especially with regard to social justice. For instance, at the Pioneer Valley Project, she worked on getting teens to pre-register to vote; as a teen-advocacy board member for Girls Inc. of the Valley, she attempted to increase awareness of racial justice, mental health, equal rights, and sexual- and domestic-violence issues. She was also actively involved in myriad clubs and organizations throughout high school, including the Key Club, the National Honor Society, student government, and the varsity tennis and soccer teams, to name a few.

“Catherine’s drive to learn and master things is strong and powerful and comes from within,” said guidance counselor John Szymczyk, who nominated her. “She has repeatedly demonstrated the depth of her maturity, which in turn has strengthened her own moral commitment as it relates to social justice. Her eyes are wide open; she’s aware and sharp, bright and interested in the world.”

The African Hall Committee of the Springfield Museums is a volunteer group comprising educators, businesspeople, and leaders from the Black community. In 2022, the recipients of the Ubora Award were Dr. Gerald Cutting and Carol Moore Cutting, and Kayla Staley was the recipient of the Ahadi Youth Award.

Sponsored by Baystate Health and the Urban League of Springfield, the 2023 Ubora and Ahadi Awards ceremony is open to the public. Click here for tickets ($20 per person, $15 for children under 12), or to make a donation to the Ahadi Scholarship Fund.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums announced the 2022 Ubora Award and Ahadi Youth Award winners.

Now in its 31st year of celebrating leadership by people of African heritage, the Ubora Award honors Dr. Gerald Cutting and Carol Moore Cutting as exemplary leaders and role models. Meanwhile, the 13th Ahadi Youth Award honors the activist energy and artistic power of Kayla Staley.

The Ubora Award and the Ahadi Youth Award — conferred annually by the African Hall Subcommittee of the Springfield Museums — are awarded to black leaders from Greater Springfield who have gone above and beyond in demonstrating commitment to fields of community service, education, science, humanities, and/or the arts. The award ceremony will be held on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Wood Museum of Springfield History.

Dr. Gerald Cutting is the first and only African-American individual to own and operate a veterinary hospital and clinic in Western Mass. At age 11, he decided he wanted to be a veterinarian so he could help save animals. After graduating as a doctor of veterinary medicine from Tuskegee University in Alabama, he worked hard to achieve this dream of owning his own practice, mentoring and encouraging students to explore STEM careers. For almost 50 years until his retirement, he lived his dream of serving multiple generations of ‘pet parents’ at his clinic in Chicopee.

With the goal of connecting community through communication, Carol Moore Cutting applied in 1984 to the Federal Communications Commission for a radio frequency permitting her to build a FM station. After an exhaustive 15-year legal battle with an existing broadcaster, she prevailed all the way to the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals, and finally began test broadcasting in 1999. She became the first woman in Massachusetts and the first African-American in New England to be granted a construction permit to build, own, and continuously operate an FM radio station, WEIB-106.3 Smooth FM.

Kayla Staley is a rising senior at the Conservatory of the Arts in Springfield, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and earning more than $20,000 in vocal scholarships since January 2021, as she was selected to receive private coaching and lessons from Broadway stars, college professors, summer overnight music intensive enrichment camps, and master classes with Broadway coaches. She is a frequent guest artist with Grammy winner Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G), and she often performs in the community. Staley is among two students from the Conservatory of the Arts accepted into the Massachusetts Music Educator’s Assoc. Western Regional Honors Festival Choir, the first time in 20 years any student has represented the city of Springfield in this event.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums announced a call for nominations for the 31th annual Ubora Award and the 12th annual Ahadi Youth Award. These prestigious awards, conferred by the African Hall Subcommittee, honor African-American people from Greater Springfield who have — above and beyond — demonstrated commitment to the fields of community service, education, science, humanities, and/or the arts.

The African Hall Subcommittee is a volunteer group comprised of educators, business people, and community leaders from the African-American community. The nomination deadline for both awards is Thursday, March 31.

True to the Swahili word that comprises its name, the Ubora Award recognizes an adult of African heritage who exemplifies excellence in their commitment to creating a better community through service. In 2021, the Ubora Award was given to Robert “Cee” Jackson as an exemplary philanthropist and humanitarian.

Named for the Swahili word for promise, the Ahadi Youth Award is presented to a young African-American who excels in academics and performs admirable service to the Greater Springfield community. Eligible candidates must be age 19 or younger, live in or have strong ties to the Greater Springfield area, and be currently enrolled in grades 10, 11, or 12. In 2021, the Ahadi Award honored Tigist Dawit Terefe for her remarkable civic-minded volunteerism and outstanding academic record.

The Ubora and Ahadi awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Springfield Museums in September. Nominations forms can be downloaded by visiting springfieldmuseums.org/ubora. Nominations may be e-mailed to [email protected] or mailed to African Hall Subcommittee, c/o Karen Fisk, Springfield Museums, 21 Edwards St., Springfield, MA 01103.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Springfield Museums will postpone the 30th annual Ubora Award and Ahadi Youth Award ceremony, originally slated for Saturday, Sept. 18, until further notice.

“We would very much like to meet in person for this celebration,” said Gwen Miller, chair of the African Hall Subcommittee, which confers these prestigious awards. “We had a wonderful experience with a virtual award ceremony last year, but we are going to hold on until we can have a social gathering in person.”

The winners of the 2021 Ubora and Ahadi Youth awards for African-Americans with exemplary leadership in Springfield are Robert “Cee” Jackson and Tigist Dawit Terefe.

The African Hall Subcommittee is a volunteer group comprised of educators, business people, and community leaders from the African-American community. The group has administered this annual award since 1992.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The African Hall Committee of the Springfield Museums announced its annual Ubora Award and Ahadi Youth Award winners. Now in its 30th year of celebrating leadership by people of African heritage, the 2021 Ubora Award honors Robert Cee Jackson as an exemplary philanthropist and humanitarian. The 12th Ahadi Youth Award honors the remarkable energy and intent of Tigist Dawit Terefe, a junior at the High School of Science & Technology.

Robert Cee Jackson

As president of Jackson Security and Jackson Transportation, Jackson employs many community members and negotiates fees to help make his services affordable to all. As vice president of the African-American philanthropic organization the Brethren Community Foundation, he helps neighborhood youth with projects such as staging a celebration of Juneteenth that showcased remarkable community talent and providing college scholarships for youth.

Jackson’s community-minded leadership also includes the Urban League board of directors and the Springfield Partners for Community Action board of directors. In addition, he is an active member and distinguished leader of the Masonic Order.

For decades, Jackson has helped at the Stone Soul Festival, which is recognized as one of New England’s largest African-American festivals. He was a co-founder of the 5A football program, which is now called Springfield Youth Athletics. Its mission is to provide activities and opportunities for young people, regardless of race, religion, or economic status, in the urban Springfield community and surrounding area.

He volunteers with the Old Hill Neighborhood Council, which is dedicated to serving the needs and concerns of community members. And he was appointed in 2008 by Mayor Domenic Sarno to serve as a commissioner of the Community Police Hearing Board.

“This is such an unexpected surprise,” Jackson said. “I am honored to be the recipient of the 30th Ubora Award. The volunteer service that I do is because of my commitment to and love for my community. This is a prestigious award, and I am humbled and grateful to the African Hall Committee, Springfield Museums, and all involved in this honor.”

Tigist Dawit Terefe

Terefe maintains top grades while also pursuing difficult coursework, including advanced-placement classes. She has taken advantage of dual-enrollment opportunities with Springfield Technical Community College to earn college credits as well as the After Dark Vocational Program with Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, which allows her to graduate with both her high-school diploma and as a certified nurse assistant.

Terefe also works part-time at Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute, as an intern in the cancer-research lab, and looks forward to going into cancer biomedical research in the future. She participates in the Baystate Educational Partnership to expand her insight into the medical world. She is also one of the founders of the first-ever Springfield Leadership Advisory Council, which will work to connect students of Springfield public schools with district leaders.

Terefe is a member of District Attorney Anthony Gulluni’s Youth Advisory Board, which addresses issues facing today’s teens, researches effective prevention strategies, and works to give youth and residents in the City of Springfield a more powerful voice to make positive change. She is a tutor to other Youth Advisory Board members and leads the inclusion committee, which has created a series of podcasts to give insight on how people could be more inclusive, and what they have experienced as students in Hampden County.

“I am overjoyed to have received the Ahadi Award,” Terefe said. “I have always found people with an interest in their community impressive, and have worked in my academic ventures to do the same. I love working on topics of equity and inclusivity in the Springfield community and generally. I thank the committee for selecting me, and I thank my guidance counselor, Ms. [Amy] Quinlan, for nominating me. I hope I represent the award well throughout and after my high-school career.”

The Ubora Award and the Ahadi Youth Award are awarded to African-Americans from Greater Springfield who have demonstrated commitment, above and beyond, to the fields of community service, education, science, humanities, and/or the arts.