On September 26, during the 2021 Women of Color (WOCI) Awards Celebration, students, faculty, staff, deans, non-profit executives, industry leaders, sponsors, and supporters gathered to celebrate the exceptional contributions of women of color from across the greater Atlanta area.
The 2021 WOCI Awards Celebration, hosted by the Office of Minority Educational Development (OMED) at Georgia Tech in partnership with The Women of Color Initiative (WOCI) Atlanta Collaborative in Higher Education, is the only celebration of its kind in Atlanta.
OMED director and founding chair of the WOCI Atlanta Collaborative steering committee, Dr. Sybrina Atwaters stated, “in 2019, I had a vision to create a collaborative focused on advancing and recognizing the contributions of women of color. I was aware of the impactful work that women were doing across multiple sectors within Atlanta. The data, however, suggested they were scarce when it came to professional reward and recognition. There is a concerning practice of capitalizing off their ideas without acknowledging the women behind them.” Atwaters continued, “as a native Atlanta, I knew addressing this issue did not need to occur in isolation. I reached out to a few amazing people outside of Georgia Tech who eagerly responded and the WOCI Atlanta Collaborative in Higher Education was established.”
WOCI Atlanta Collaborative in Higher Education is a city-wide strategic partnership between Emory, Georgia Tech, Spelman College, STEM Atlanta Women, and STEAM-DB (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math, Design, and Business) industry leaders.
The aim is to develop a multi-dimensional network committed to enhance the advancement of women in industry, research, and higher education through advocacy, accountability, cultural awareness, leadership development, recognition, cultivation of productivity spaces, and strategic collaboration.
The annual award celebration allows the collaborative to gather and honor women who have made notable contributions in social justice, higher education, industry, or community committed to the advancement of women and addressing disparities at the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender.
Dr. Beverly Guy- Sheftall, founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center and Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College, inspired the crowd with her keynote address. As a 52-year veteran in higher education and women studies, Dr. Guy-Sheftall shared wise strategies, championed by women like Coretta Scott King, for continuing the necessary work of educational activism and leadership.
All attendees exchanged best practices, ideas, and areas for further consideration during the round-table discussions led by Dr. Chanel Tanner, director of the Women Resource Center at Emory.
Women of color vendors from across the greater Atlanta area rendered the catering, photography, videography, DJ sounds, and décor in alignment with WOCI’s mission.
Ashaki Wilham, director of Flavor Systems, the Coca-Cola Company, chaired the 2021 WOCI Awards nomination committee with representatives from Microsoft, Georgia Tech, Emory, and STEM Atlanta Women. “After careful review,” Wilham proclaimed, “we are excited to present our 10 stellar finalists and 5 outstanding award recipients.”
The 2021 WOCI Award recipients are:
- Women of Color Initiative Outstanding Student Impact Award-Maya Kelly
- Women of Color Initiative Industry Impact Award- Kaylyn Crawford
- Women of Color Initiative Outstanding University Faculty Award- Kaye Husbands Fealing, Ph.D.
- Women of Color Initiative Outstanding University Staff Impact Award- Shardonay Blueford
- Women of Color Initiative Outstanding Community Leader Impact Award LaShaun Solomon
Each recipient received a custom blue flamed WOCI award and will be awarded a monetary stipend to further their work in their respective fields.
The 2021 WOCI Awards Celebration was sponsored by: Accenture, Amazon, the Coca-Cola Company, Emory Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and OMED within Georgia Tech Institute Diversity’s Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion.