2011 Chicago Finalist

Project SYNCERE

Special Recognition:Local

Project SYNCERE
Businessperson

Project SYNCERE (Supporting Youth's Needs with Core Engineering Research Experiments) is a non-profit organization based out of Chicago, whose mission is to increase the number of minority, female, and underserved students who pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Project SYNCERE provides a curriculum that integrates STEM into students' classroom activities through the use of project-based learning principles.

Project SYNCERE's staff assist and coach students in scientific inquiry, directing them to deeper levels of understanding. These actions have helped students by raising their test scores, improving their critical thinking and problem solving skills and increasing their overall enthusiasm for school. Students use prior knowledge, specifically the use of technology, to solve real world problems. The goal is to produce successful self-directed learners who are equipped to excel in the global market.

Project SYNCERE is the dream of three African American men, ages 27-34, with a passion for technology. These men grew up on the south side of Chicago and at an early age learned the power of technology. Their backgrounds consist of experience in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Business Administration. Although relatively young in age, the group's experience runs deep in the STEM fields and they are well positioned to motivate and "give back" to youth for whom they serve as positive role models.

Since its official launch in 2009, Project SYNCERE has been able to serve more than 1,500 students and establish its Empowerment Thru Engineering Program in more than 22 schools throughout Chicago. As a result of their engineering program, students' have increased their interest in the STEM fields as well as become more engaged in their studies.

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Talents of Chicago

Promoters of the Year, Male : Local

Talents of Chicago
Businessperson

24 years ago a gentleman by the name of Radcliff Hunter began a group called Talents of Chicago. At that time Talents of Chicago was a group of friends whose main focus was to promote comradely and brotherhood in the community. The gentlemen of Talents began throwing small fundraisers to provide outlets for the LGBT community to socialize with others like themselves. Talents Of Chicago INC. is a non-profit, multicultural, philanthropic organization which has the following as its purpose 1 .To enhance individual self-esteem 2. To promote intellectual and personal growth 3. To establish a spiritual and social bond 4. To share the talents and resources of the organization others As of today Talents of Chicago currently has 10 member s of which 3 are founding members. Alvernon Jackson, Michael Blake and Davidson Morales. Talents Of Chicago has become known for not only there upscale parties such as Exotica, Cruise Under the Stars and their annual Holiday Party but also for the organizations that they provide help for as Howard Brown, Tabitha House, South Side Help Center and Windy City Pride to name a few. Future plans for Talents of Chicago will be to expand the number of supporters and members they currently have and work with organizations that can thrive from their help. For a list of upcoming events checkout their website www.talentsofchicago.com or become a friend on facebook.

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Sukie  de la Croix

Outstanding Magazine Reporter or Columnist: Local

Sukie de la Croix
Writer

Outstanding Magazine Reporter or Columnist: Local Sukie de la Croix of Gay Chicago Magazine

St. Sukie de la Croix is an internationally published journalist, columnist, fiction author, playwright and photographer. His career began in Britain writing articles for the underground and alternative press, until the early 1980s when he turned his attention to GLBT publications. In Britain he wrote for Gay Times, Capital Gay, Vada and the Pink Paper. After moving to the U.S. in 1991, de la Croix became a columnist, reporter, editor and photographer for Outlines, Windy City Times, Clout, Blacklines, En La Vida, Nightlines, Nightspots, Chicago Free Press and Gay Chicago. In the field of creative writing, de la Croix has published dozens of short stories and poems in anthologies and magazines, and two of his dance plays — "A White Light in God's Choir" and "Two Week's in a Bus Shelter with an Iguana" ¬— have been produced in Chicago by the Innervation Dance Cooperative. In his capacity as a historian, de la Croix has researched and written dozens of articles about Chicago's gay history, scripted and acted as tour guide on the Chicago Neighborhood tours gay history bus, and wrote a 10-week series on Chicago's GLBT history for the Chicago Tribune. He currently writes Queer Street, Chicago, a blog for chicagonow.com and is working on a second book and a musical with artist Dan Crowley. He is also the author of the upcoming book "Chicago Whispers: A History of GLBT's Who Lived In, Loved & Visited Chicago Before Stonewall" to be published by the University of Wisconsin Press in the spring of 2012.

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Keith  (Founder of Dance for Life Chicago)  Elliott

Institutional:Local

Keith (Founder of Dance for Life Chicago) Elliott
Businessperson

Keith Elliott is the Founder of Dance for Life Chicago.

Keith Elliott recently graduated from Northeastern Illinois University completing a degree in Arts Management. Keith also attended Culver-Stockton College and Illinois State University majoring in Speech Communication and Theatre Education. After his first stint in college in 1981, Keith was employed with United Airlines as a flight attendant. Being offered a contract with the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre (JHCDT), Keith left the friendly skies and planted his feet firmly on the ground for 9 years with JHCDT. Keith is honored to have received the Ruth Page Award for "Outstanding Contribution to the Dance Community". This prestigious award recognized his vision and direction of Chicago Dancers United, Inc. and Dance for Life, which unify Chicago's dance community artistically and socially while promoting dance in Chicago. Most importantly, Keith has provided the dance community the opportunity to play a proactive role in the fight against AIDS. He has also been recognized by STOP AIDS Chicago for his commitment to help those living with HIV/AIDS and was presented the "Friend For Life" Award in 1998 by Howard Brown Health Center. This award recognizes members of the community who demonstrate their continuing dedication and commitment to fight AIDS. In 2001, Mayor, Richard M. Daly, inducted Keith into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for his dedication to helping those in need. In May of 2004, Keith was honored by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago for his continued efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS. On September 10, 2004, Keith was once again honored with the Ruth Page Award for his continuing efforts to further the art of dance in Chicago. In November of 2006, Bonaventure House honored Keith for his ongoing work in the HIV/AIDS community. In 2007, the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago also stepped forward and honored Keith and Chicago Dancers United with their "Advocate of the Year" award. Mr. Elliott was also recognized as "Chicagoan of the Year" in 2007 by Chicago Magazine. Additionally,, the Illinois Arts Alliance honored Keith at their annual awards ceremony in October of 2009 for all of his great work with Dance for Life. Five years ago, Keith co-founded along with Danny Kopelson and Todd Keich, the wildly successful Chicago Takes Off event which benefits Test Positive Aware Network.

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Mary Mitchell

Outstanding Newspaper Reporter or Columnist : Loca

Mary Mitchell
Writer

Outstanding Newspaper Reporter or Columnist : local — Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times

Mary A. Mitchell is an editorial board member and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Black Journalists; the Studs Terkel Award from the Community Media Workshop; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headliner Club; the Phenomenal Woman Award-Media from the Expo for Today's Black Woman; and the Humanitarian Award from the 100 Black Men of Chicago. In 2004, Crain's Chicago Business honored Mitchell as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the city. Mitchell earned a B.A. in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She joined the Chicago Sun-Times as an education writer in 1991, and has covered City Hall and the U.S. Federal Courts. Mitchell's columns continually raise community awareness about important advocacy issues, such as the questionable practices of Utah adoption agencies and the sexual abuse of women in Illinois prisons. In both of these cases, Mitchell's reporting led state legislators to strengthen laws protecting the rights of women and children. Mitchell's reporting often rallies African American readers to empower their communities by promoting education and by protecting the most vulnerable members of our society -- our children and our elderly. Her column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Mitchell is also co-host of "Chicago Speaks," a public affairs program that airs on Sundays from 6-8 a.m.. She is a frequent panelist on WTTW's Week In Review, and has appeared on national news programs, including Meet The Press.

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Joy  Morris

Outstanding Service, Transgender: Local

Joy Morris
Activist

Joy Morris is the Executive Director of Trans Actions Chicago

Joy Morris is a 48 year old African American transgender female that resides in Chicago. For 30 years, Joy has been a survivor of HIV/AIDS. She is an HIV/AIDS activist and advocate in her community and nationally. Joy is a liaison from the Chicagoland transgender community where she has been advocating for the transgender community for the past 10 years. In her most recent position as the Outreach Consultant for the Street Outreach Unit at Men & Women in Prison Ministries, Inc., she specializes in ex-offender re-entry into society. Joy is an active member of the NorthSide HIV/Health Coalition (NSHHC), and AIDS Research Alliance of Chicago (ARAC),. She also sits on the Community Advisory Board at Haymarket and the Needs Assessment Committee for the Ryan White Part A Chicago Area HIV Prevention Planning Council.

Joy recently founded the grassroots Chicago Transgender Coalition where all individuals of the wide spectrum of the Transgender community will set policy and development: addressing Transgender issues. Joy's motto is "For Us " Joy is a dynamic group facilitator for various agencies in the Chicagoland area related to HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, health and LGBT issues. Joy met Rev. Green when they were both featured in the documentary "Faith, Prevention and Suffering: Christianity and HIV/AIDS in America" (www.bossonemedia.com/audiovideo.html).

Joy is very excited about being a part of the orphanage planning process. On a global scale, she wants to dispel the stigma about HIV/AIDS. For a long time, Joy fell into the evil trap of believing the hysteria surrounding the disease and the people who considered HIV/AIDS a curse from God. Joy is a living testimony that this notion is not true! It has been 30 years later and she is still HIV undetectable, gainfully employed, and spiritually healthy. Joy said, "I know God loves me, what they said was a curse turned out to be a blessing in my life."

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Mary F.  Morten

Outstanding Service, Female: local

Mary F. Morten
Film Producer

Mary is a filmmaker, activist, and consultant and is committed to social change though video and film development. Mary has served as the producer/director for several films that have covered national policy initiatives, women's rights and the LGBT community. Morten has a B.A. in Communications from Loyola University of Chicago with a concentration in radio and television and minor in theatre.

Mary is the President of Morten Group (MG), a consulting firm specializing in social change through skills development, public policy and advocacy.

Mary is frequently seen in national and local media outlets for her expertise as a women's advocate. Mary's background includes 20 years of executive leadership at non-profits and a mayoral appointment in city government. Mary is the immediate past Director of the Office of Violence Prevention for the Chicago Department of Public Health. Prior to this position, Mary was an appointee for Mayor Richard M. Daley and served as a Director for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.

She has received numerous honors for work with women and girls and in the philanthropic community. In 2010, Mary received the Freedom Award from Equality Illinois. Past honors include recognition from Rape Victim Advocates with the Visionary Award, the Women's Bar Association with their Women with Vision Award and Changing the Face of Philanthropy Award from the Women's Funding Network. Mary is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Donors Forum of Chicago.

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Charles  Nelson

Outstanding Service, Male

Charles Nelson
Activist

A native Chicagoan, Charles in 1986, saw the lack of services around health and Wellness for the African American SGL community. He, along with a few colleagues, co-founded the Minority Outreach Intervention Project (M.O.I.P.) the project provided HIV prevention services to SGL men of color. M.O.I.P. was the first organization in the city of Chicago to focus on community outreach in gay identified bars where men of color assemble socially.

In 1995, he joined Sinai Family Health Centers as coordinator for the BROTHER 2 BROTHER men's prevention program on Chicago's south side.

In 1997 Charles started as Men's Prevention Manager for the BROTHERS Community Aware Network (BROTHERS C.A.N.) at HARAMBEE Wellness Center, a Howard Brown Health Center south side location.

In 2001, Charles was offered and accepted a position as Director of the Young Men who have Sex with Men Project (a Community Prevention and Advocacy project) at the South Side Help Center.

Charles lives by a motto of DR. King; "Today we must forge ahead, sure in our convictions, that no human force can stop our struggle or hinder our victory. We must be strong in our beliefs; open doors when they are nailed shut and walk boldly through them when they are opened. The future is not just ours; it is also those who have not spoken and those who are yet to come."

Continually BROTHER 2 BROTHER, BROTHERS C.A.N., and SSHC YOUNG MEN who have SEX with MEN Project, all have proven themselves as programs where SGL men of African Descent can have a safe haven to share with other SGL men about their lives and experiences while learning to establish and maintain positive prevention behavior.