Lisa Goodman Drew Fennell

DSU announces inaugural Mitchell Awards for social justice

Jarek Rutz Headlines, Culture

Lisa Goodman Drew Fennell

A teacher, two nonprofit executives, the Twin Poets, two LGTBQ+ advocates and a former state legislator have been named the first recipients of Delaware State University’s Mitchell Awards.

The awards honor individuals who demonstrate leadership and success in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice.

They are named after Civil Rights pioneers Littleton and Jane Mitchell.

Littleton was a Tuskegee Airman and president of the Delaware chapter of the NAACP for 30 years. Jane, also a member of the Delaware chapter of the NAACP, was one of Delaware’s first African American nurses and a member of Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame.

The eight recipients of the award were chosen for their efforts to educate, inspire and impact communities across the state in an effort to improve opportunities for all, regardless of their race, abilities or background.

The awardees will be recognized at a ceremony in Newark Thursday, Nov. 9 at 11:30 a.m.

Tickets are $60. To attend the event, register here.

The winners are:

Reba Hollingsworth

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Growing up in a segregated Delaware, Reba Hollingsworth spent a lifetime in public education and became a leader for the Delaware Heritage Commission, the state NAACP and the African American Historical Society. 

Hollingsworth was inducted into the Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018.

Fayetta Blake

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Blake is the founder and executive director of Pathways to Success, a Georgetown nonprofit that helps at-risk children to finish their education and become career-ready.

She  first led a barrier-breaking career in financial services and founded Pathways to Success in 2006, and its accomplishments have earned her numerous accolades, including induction into the Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame in 2020.

Sheila Bravo

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Bravo is the president and chief executive officer of the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement, a group dedicated to helping nonprofits through  board governance and leadership training, enhancing a nonprofit’s sustaining strategies and more. 

Bravo’s early career included advertising and brand development, but she transitioned to nonprofits after leading the Rehoboth Art League.

Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills

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Brothers Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills, also known as the Twin Poets, are a spoken word duo that has earned acclaim as the state’s former poet laureates who have performed at the Delaware Humanities Forum, the Walt Whitman Arts Center, the HBO Def Poetry national and international tours and at the Philadelphia Art Museum. 

Their poems have given a voice to Wilmington’s residents and brought recognition to the city’s arts.

Drew Fennell and Lisa Goodman

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Drew Fennell and Lisa Goodman were the first couple to be joined in a civil union in Delaware in 2012, and the moment was a culmination of a lifetime of work by the two women for the civil rights and representation of the LGTBQ+ community in the First State. 

Fennell is a former leader of the state American Civil Liberties Union chapter and a chief of staff to former Gov. Jack Markell.

Goodman is a leader of Equality Delaware, a group that advocates for the LGTBQ+ community. 

Both were prominant advocates for the passage of the civil union law that led to today’s gay marriage law.

Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez

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Retired Republican State Sen. Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez made history as the first Hispanic American to serve in Delaware’s upper chamber when he was elected in 2012.

He served in the legislature for a decade, and his accomplishments include a state constitutional amendment to enshrine protection against discrimination based on race, color, and national origin as a fundamental right.

He also helped the state open medical marijuana treatment to epileptic children

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