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GRAMBLING, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley was the keynote speaker at Grambling State University’s Fourth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Leadership Awards Luncheon held Thursday.
“I am honored that Dr. Warrick asked me to address this group of outstanding citizens,” Finley said. “Their stories are incredible, and their commitment to our state is unwavering. These award recipients are an inspiration to me and everyone who hears their stories encouraging us to work harder to make our communities better. That’s what leadership is all about. It is not always glamorous and often the work is not easy, but it is rewarding when you make a difference.”
“United States Attorney Stephanie Finley’s motivating speech challenged the audience to lead and serve,” stated Grambling State University Interim President Dr. Cynthia Warrick. “She reminded us that it was just 50 years ago when justice advocates led and served through resistance; if they had not protested, we would not have the civil rights we experience today. It was an important message that inspired all in attendance and validated our honorees’ recognition.”
Grambling State University honored 10 recipients at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Leadership Awards Luncheon. Winners of the Fannie Lou Hamer Community Service and Leadership Award included: Mr. David Aubrey, the North Louisiana regional director of external affairs for AT&T Inc.; Ms. Janet Durden, president of United Way of Northeast Louisiana; Mr. Clarence W. Hawkins, Louisiana state director for U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Mrs. Hazel Hunter, a former manager with Louisiana Department of Social Services; Mr. Quentin Messer, assistant secretary for Louisiana Economic Development; Mr. Eldonta Osborne, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club of North Louisiana; and Mr. Willie Washington, federal programs director (No Child Left Behind) at the Lincoln Parish School Board in Ruston, La.
Artist Frank Kelly Jr. was the recipient of the Alvin Ailey Arts and Letters Award, and John Belton, newly elected district attorney for the 3rd Judicial District Court for Lincoln and Union parishes, and his wife, Alana Belton, a former prosecutor, received the Thurgood Marshall Justice Award.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Leadership Awards recognizes persons who, through their service to Grambling State University, the state, region and country, exemplify King’s character, leadership and selflessness. Each honoree must have been personally or corporately involved in making tangible, visible and meaningful contributions to the advancement of race relations and/or human rights causes in one or more of the following areas, including but not limited to, the arts, business, education, justice, politics, science and technology, religion and athletics. The awards are presented annually in February.
Grambling State University combines the academic strengths of a major university with the benefits of a small college, a combination that enables students to grow and learn in a serene and positive environment. It offers more than 800 courses and 68 degree programs in five colleges, including an honors college, two professional schools, a graduate school, and a Division of Continuing Education. To find out more about Grambling State University visit www.gram.edu.
Finley is the first female U.S. Attorney to serve in Louisiana. She was selected by President Barack Obama in January of 2010, after being recommended by U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June of 2010. United States Attorney Finley was sworn into office on June 2, 2010 to serve the Western District of Louisiana as the chief law enforcement officer for 42 of the state’s 64 parishes. In addition to her duties as the U.S. Attorney, Finley is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and currently serves as Chair of Attorney General Eric Holder’s Advisory Committee’s Office of Management and Budget Committee.
From left to right are: Frank Kelley Jr., Hazel Hunter, Quentin Messer Jr., Janet Durden, Eldonta’ Osborne, U. S. Attorney Finley, Dr. Cynthia Warrick, Clarence Hawkins, David Aubrey, Alana Belton, Honorable John Belton, and Freddie Washington (representing her husband, Willie Washington).