GVSU community members honored at Women's Commission award ceremony

By Meghan McBrady | 4/2/17 9:37pm

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GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Autumn Gorsline-Davis, the academic department coordinator for Modern Languages and Literatures, is awarded the Unsung Hero Award during the Women's Commission Awards inside the Kirkhof Center on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

by Kevin Sielaff / Grand Valley Lanthorn

As part of a partnership with several organizations at Grand Valley State University, the Women’s Commission hosted the Celebrating Women Awards Thursday, March 30, to recognize the achievements of members of the GVSU community.

Co-sponsored by the Women’s Center; Positive Black Women; and the women, gender and sexuality studies department, the awards ceremony focused on individuals who have made an impact on the lives of women inside and outside of the community.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Gayle Davis accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Women's Commission Awards inside the Kirkhof Center on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Kari Bonner (right) receives one of the three Positive Black Women Scholarship Awards during the Women's Commission Awards inside the Kirkhof Center on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Jennifer Palm, co-chair of the Women’s Commission and assistant to The Graduate School at GVSU, said the celebration demonstrated how the Women’s Commission advocates for all women on campus by acting on their issues. She said it promoted equity and social justice, while being mindful of the intersection of race, class, gender and individuals’ orientations.

“It is to celebrate our outstanding faculty, staff and students who promote positive change across campus and across the community,” she said.

Palm said a special recognition went to the student recipients from their respective organizations due to overall involvement in the GVSU community and their work in bettering, preserving and protecting a female’s voice on campus.

Kari Bonner, Courtney Holland and Chaka White were presented with the Positive Black Women Scholarship Endowment.

Kortney Ondayko, Jacquelyn Harmon, Chelsea Ortiz and Noemi Jimenez were presented with the Women’s Center Outstanding Student Award.

De’Chelle Richards was presented with the Jean Enright Scholarship by the women, gender and sexuality studies department.

Beyond the student recognition, Sue Sloop, the coordinator of mediation services for faculty and staff, also received a special recognition at the ceremony, and the Women’s Commission awarded several distinctions to members of the GVSU faculty and staff.

“I just wanted to take the time and say thank you to my team and faculty advisor,” said Allison Ford, head coach of GVSU's synchronized skating team and the recipient of the Community Impact Award.

The Community Impact Award is presented to a member of the GVSU community who promotes the well-being of women and their families. Ford’s distinction was noted due to her mentoring of student athletes and her leadership role in and out of their training.

“These girls inspire me each day to get up early in the morning and work with them,” she said. “They help me to bring my drive to help the community.”

Palm was awarded the Maxine Swanson Award, while Autumn Gorsline-Davis, the academic department coordinator for Modern Languages and Literatures, was awarded the Unsung Hero Award at the event.

Gayle Davis, provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs, also spoke at the event.

In her acceptance for the Lifetime Achievement Award, Davis, who is retiring in the summer of 2017, talked about how being a different kind of leader allowed her to persevere and cement her place as someone to respect in the academic world.

“I must admit that it was a bit of a red flag when during an interview I kept being asked, ‘Well, your leadership style sounds very nice, but can you really make hard decisions?’” she said. “I must have convinced the interviewers that I could make hard decisions but still be collaborative.”

After 15 years at GVSU, Davis said the recognition presented by the Women’s Commission as the provost of GVSU indicates her dedication for “the school of my heart” as she continues to encourage and support women as they rise up in the working world.

“My leadership has not been without challenges,” she said. “I do make mistakes. I do make hard decision(s), but it has been so fulfilling, well worth the work and worries.

"I try to take every opportunity to pay it forward, to open opportunities, to pass encouragement along to others.”

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