2018 Dialogue and Friendship Awards Dinner
Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville hosted its annual Dialogue & Friendship Awards dinner on Thursday March 1. We were delighted this year to honor our three awardees Claire Goforth, Editor of Folio Weekly who was presented with the Media Award, for commitment to bringing greater awareness about Jacksonville’s diversity through the pages of Folio Weekly.
The winner of our Community Service Award was Rev. R.L. Gundy, Pastor of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. We recognized his outstanding leadership in promoting diversity, particularly during the contentious debates about expanding inclusivity for Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance and his work to support those forgotten in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
The Educational Service Awardee was John Thrasher, President Florida State University for his outstanding leadership at FSU in working with students to propel FSU to a nationally recognized university for its work on embracing diversity and inclusion.
The awards were followed by guest speakers from the UK, journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominated author Carla Power. A journalist specializing in Muslim societies, global social issues and culture, and author of If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran. Carla Power's eye-opening story of her year spent studying with longtime friend, traditional Islamic scholar, Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Through their unique friendship between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh they looked closely at the Quran. Their conversation and study of the controversial text highlighted a faith that preached peace, respect for women and not oppression. Carla was interviewed by FSU student Inam Sakinah, a student at Florida State University where she is a Presidential Scholar and the founding chair of a campus-wide initiative called “The Power of We”
Atlantic Institute Jacksonville are grateful for the evening’s sponsors First Coast Cardiovascular Institute, UNF Division of Continuing Education, WJCT, Yousif & Manar Abubakr and OneJax. Many thanks to all who came and contributed to such a vibrant and successful evening.
‘May diversity not be a token but a tool. May we make a difference with our differences’.
Thanks very much!
2018 – Dialogue and Friendship Awards
Community Service Award
|Rev. R.L. Gundy
Born in Jacksonville, Pastor Gundy is a graduate of Troy State University with a BS Degree and hold two Masters Degrees, Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministries and Master of Divinity. A retired public school teacher, retired from the US Army with two Meritorious Service Awards. He is the recipient of the Congressional Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for outstanding and invaluable service to the community award, Jacksonville’s Florida Mayor’s Distinguish Award, Trailblazers Award, Teacher of the Year Award and many other U.S. Army Awards
With 33 years ministerial experience he is currently the Pastor of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, state director of African American Ministers in Action and past Jacksonville Local Chapter and State President Florida Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He has long been an early advocate on community issues in the African American ministerial community. Recently as a public moral voice on accepting non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ citizens with the Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance expansion, and a leading volunteer for those forgotten in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Growing up in an economically disadvantaged food desert in rural West Virginia inspired a lifelong commitment to helping others. Goforth obtained degrees in law from North Carolina's Pfeiffer University and Jacksonville's Florida Coastal School of Law. As a journalist and editor of Folio Weekly, Northeast Florida's independent voice since 1987, Goforth a draws upon the skills, knowledge and attention to detail instilled from studying and practicing law for over a decade. Goforth's work focuses heavily on minority rights, systemic injustice, the environment, and social welfare. Last year, she received the Best Writer award at the LGBT Awards in Jacksonville in recognition of her commitment to pursuing stories about LGBT rights and experiences.
Based on her continuing work to expose racial injustice in her community, she was also asked to speak at an annual event commemorating the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. by the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This year, she received the Jacksonville Junior Chamber's "Jacksonville Influencer" award at the Outstanding Young Professionals Awards.
|President John Thrasher
John Thrasher has demonstrated visionary leadership in his current role as President of Florida State University. He has embarked on a journey challenging the institution to think critically and engage deeply, in collaboration staff, the faculty and students. President Thrasher is countering the ongoing polarization in our educational society, championing the integration of different entities to a common cause, featuring students as key advocates and stakeholders with an important voice, providing a university-wide grassroots approach. It is his ability to connect, divine common ground, and facilitate meaningful discourse that has created constructive dialogue between people who vehemently disagree. It is his philosophy of encapsulating differences and his capacity to bridge and leverage them that are the impetus for fostering excellence and innovation.
Community Service Award:
This individual has made a large contribution to our local community through involvement in community service, organized projects, and/or promoted diversity while still striving for excellence in community service projects.
Given to an individual who, through blogging or journalism has made an outstanding contribution to promotion of diversity awareness, intercultural understanding, empathy between cultures and religious groups, or cooperation of diverse individuals in community improvement initiatives.
Educational Service Award:
The individual has held a leadership role at a university or an institution that promotes education. This individual has distinguished themselves by generously contributing their time, energy, expertise, leadership and dedication in order to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.