Benito Lubazibwa, Ruth D. Shepherd and Dr. Michelle Smith were the honorees at Just Communities of Arkansas' 58th annual Humanitarian Awards Celebration, held Dec. 1 at The Venue at Westwind in North Little Rock.
Mimi San Pedro and Dr. Chad Rodgers were the co-chairs of the event, designed to honor those "who have demonstrated a significant commitment to building inclusive communities" and who "have had a meaningful impact in improving social justice and human rights efforts through their work and community service."
Attendees partook of libations and a buffet of heavy hors d'oeuvres and desserts from ARTfully Delicious Cuisine prior to the program, which included an interfaith invocation; performances by Nia Kelley, Miss University of Central Arkansas; acceptance speeches by the awardees and closing remarks by Just Communities chief executive officer Hilary Trudell.
Lubazibwa is the chief executive officer of ReMix Ideas and founder and executive director of Advancing Black Entrepreneurship, both created to nurture and empower Black business owners. Shepherd, former executive director of Just Communities, has served in multiple professional, civic and volunteer capacities. Smith is the former director of the Office of Health Equity at the Arkansas Department of Health and has received national recognition for her work to address health disparities related to covid-19. (Smith is now director of Dillard University's Minority Health and Health Equity Research Center in New Orleans.)
Just Communities of Arkansas' mission is "to build inclusive and equitable communities through capacity-building, connection, and collaborative action."
-- Story and photos by Helaine R. Williams