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The Richmond region benefits from the selfless contributions of numerous residents and groups that give their time, talent and resources to improving our community. We applaud this year’s recipients of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ awards, which celebrate those who have made signficant humanitarian contributions to the Richmond community.

The awards began 57 years ago “to honor the work of our friends, neighbors and family members who gave to others the same rights, respect and dignity that they sought for themselves.” The organization describes its focus as working “with schools, businesses and communities to achieve success through inclusion.” It does this through such programs as its Connections Institute, Prejudice Awareness Summit, Diversity Dialogue Day and the Educational Equity Initiative.

We salute the work of the VCIC, and the recipients of this year’s Richmond Humanitarians Awards:

Danny T.K. Avula, director of the Richmond City and Henrico County Health Departments. He is a public health physician specializing in pediatrics and preventive medicine and is a past chair of the state Board of Social Services.

Christy S. Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum. As the VCIC said, “She has been instrumental in furthering discussion around the Civil War, its legacies and its relevance to our lives today.”

Frances F. Goldman, co-founder of The Tax Complex. She has an extensive record of community involvement, including serving as chair of the Richmond Jewish Foundation. She also is a member of the RTD Opinions’ Community Advisory Board.

Catherine W. Howard, who recently retired as the vice provost for community engagement at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has served numerous local organizations, including the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg.

Kenneth S. Johnson, CEO of Johnson Inc., a marketing and communications firm. He has served as a gubernatorial diversity and inclusion consultant. Board participation includes the RVA Chamber and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The 2019 Richmond Distinguished Merit Award recipient is the Valentine, the Richmond museum dedicated to collecting, preserving and interpreting the city’s diverse history. William J. “Bill” Martin, who’ s led the Valentine for 25 years, excels in pursuing bold ideas and innovative programs to tell Richmond’s complex story.

The awards celebration will take place on Oct. 28 at the Hilton Hotel & Spa in Short Pump. To find out more, visit We appreciate their efforts to build a better community.

— Pamela Stallsmith

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