Annual Appalachian Hero Awards Presented

DAYTON, Ohio (05/18/10) – Sinclair Community College presented its 14th Annual Appalachian Unsung Hero Awards on Friday, May 14, at the Sinclair Conference Center.

The awards are given annually by Sinclair in conjunction with the college’s Appalachian Outreach program. The Unsung Hero Awards honor an individual or organization that performs good deeds and builds pride and self-esteem, but has gone unnoticed or unrewarded for his or her exceptional efforts. This year’s winners, included:

  • William Lewis Wilcox (45325) received the Sinclair Alumni Award. Currently the German Township Police Department Chief of Police, Lew was born in Whitesburg, Letcher County, Ky. and moved to Dayton as a child. The first in his family to earn a college degree, he is a graduate of Sinclair Community College and the University of Cincinnati. In 1994 graduated from a 12 week FBI National Academy program in Quantico, Virginia. Chief Wilcox has worked and volunteered for over 40 years in the Germantown/Farmersville/Jackson Township areas. 
  • Associate Professor of Reading Beth Withrow (45342) was recognized as the Sinclair College Employee of the Year. Originally from Valley Grove, Ohio County, West Virginia, Ms. Withrow serves on the Sinclair Appalachian Committee, works on various sub-committees, regional conferences, the REACH Across Dayton Conference and the Appalachian Festival held at Sinclair. 
  • Bryan Chodkowski (45424) received the Outstanding Government Leader Award for his role as City Manager of Riverside, Ohio. His family moved from Cranks, near Harlan, Kentucky in the late 1950’s to the Dayton area. The City of Riverside, predominately of Appalachian heritage, is home to the largest single-site employer in the State of Ohio, Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Working hard to build Riverside into a better community, Mr. Chodkowski has achieved many accomplishments during his tenure in Riverside. He has accomplished more in just three years with the City of Riverside than any other City Manager has before him. 
  • A 2010 Outstanding Education Leader Award went to Gary Walker (45415), supervisor for special education at Fairborn City Schools. Mr. Walker has worked in the Fairborn City School District for 12 years, which serves a large number of Appalachian students. He is currently working with the Greene County Family and Children First and the Greene County ESC to develop the district “Family and Community Engagement” plan. Mr. Walker is an advocate for families and children and realizes the importance of educating Fairborn families to be partners in their child’s education. 
  • A second Outstanding Education Leader Award was given to David Jackson (45440), current principle of Northridge High School and incoming Northridge School District Superintendent. Originally from the Appalachian region around Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, Principle Jackson is dedicated to serving the students and community of Northridge, whose residents are deeply rooted in Appalachian heritage. His innate ability to calm and bring peace to the most irritable of students, parents or staff was recognized by his nominator. He makes time to visit students in the hospital. He reaches out to grieving parents who have lost children and brings comfort and assistance to them. He attends community picnics and events in order to get to know the students’ families and so they can know him. Students of all ages love Mr. Jackson. 
  • Dr. Judy Hennessey (45469), Principle and CEO of the Dayton Early College Academy, was honored with the Youth Leadership Award. Born in Dayton, Dr. Hennessey spent the first nine years of her life in Knott County, Kentucky, being raised by her grandparents. A first-generation college graduate, she has been a superintendent, assistant superintendent, college instructor, principal and classroom teacher. Dr. Hennessey manages to find the brightest, most motivating teachers and instructors to mentor and provide role models for the students, so that students can experience what a functional family setting can do for one’s emotional and psychological health. 
  • A dedicated community leader and educator, Wendell P Dobyns (45324) served as Fairborn City Schools' supervisor of art for 23 years. He was honored with the Outstanding Leadership in the Arts Award. Mr. Dobyns is a charter member of the Fairborn Teachers Association and was a member of the Ohio and National Education Associations and the Ohio Art Education Association (OAEA). He served as OAEA representative for southwestern Ohio and served on the OAEA board for a number of years. He chaired the OAEA committee on minimum standards for art education in Ohio. Mr. Dobyns was an excellent teacher, and made a difference in the lives of many of his students and influenced the lives of many artists. 
  • The 2010 Outstanding Musician Award went to Joe Mullins (45385). Mr .Mullins started performing in the late 1970’s when he was 12 with his famous father Paul “Moon” Mullins. At the time, the Mullins were living in Tennessee. Mr. Mullins absorbed the styles of the great banjo players – Earl Scruggs, JD. Crowe, Sonny Osborne, Ralph Stanley, Allen Shelton. Mr. Mullins encyclopedic knowledge of bluegrass and country music, led to the purchase of WBZI-AM in Xenia. He was successful in creating a commercial radio outlet targeting the Appalachian population in southwestern Ohio. Since then, he has added stations in Wilmington (WKFI) and Eaton (WEDI); and a huge fall and spring Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival at the Roberts Center near Wilmington. 
  • The 2010 Bing David Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Jan Lepore-Jentleson (45410). Executive Director of East-End Community Services, Mrs. Lepore-Jentleson has dedicated a lifetime of service to the people of Dayton. East End Community Services is located in the Twin Towers neighborhood and serves primarily an Appalachian population with a growing number of new residents including African-American, Latinos, and Middle East immigrants. In her work, Mrs. Lepore-Jentleson implemented grassroots efforts to get community members involved and to truly listen to the needs within the community. She has created a renewed sense of hope in the Twin Towers neighborhood and has made outsiders believe in the potential for that community. 
  • Ms. Phyllis Shelton (41011), the Cincinnati Urban Appalachian Council Associate Director received the Wayne White Appalachian Goodwill Ambassador Award. Ms. Shelton grew up in the Over the Rhine area of Cincinnati, an Appalachian neighborhood, after her family moved from Eastern Kentucky in the late 1950’s. After graduation from college, she moved into a Client Advocate position for Over the Rhine and ran the Appalachian Identity Center program there. At the Identity Center she started an adult education program, developed an on-site child care program for adult students, organized a young girls’ pregnancy prevention program and summer programs for neighborhood youth. These services continue to form the backbone of the direct services UAC provides to Appalachian families and their neighbors in its Lower Price Hill and East Price Hill locations today. 
  • The Fairborn Community Center (45324) received the 2010 Outstanding Public Service Award. The Center provides a variety of assistance programs for the community including its’ large population of Appalachian residents. The Fairborn Community Center is a nonprofit resource, referral, advocacy, emergency assistance and educational facility. They collaborate with existing service agencies to support and promote their programs and services, as well as create programs and opportunities that do not currently exist. With services ranging from a soup kitchen to an extensive resource, referral advocacy and emergency assistance program, the Center has provided for hundreds of Fairborn’s citizens.

For more information about the awards or the Appalachian Outreach program, contact Carol Baugh at 937/512-2126.

Natasha Baker, APR
Director of Communications
P 937-512-2221
C 937-231-4957