The Open Society Institute-Baltimore awarded yesterday its “Audacious Individuals Awards” to James DeGraffenreidt, Dan Rodricks, Bebe Verdery, and The Core Alliance of Youth Leaders at a standing-room-only gathering of business, philanthropic, and political leaders, who came together to discuss ideas for moving Baltimore forward. The event, “Big Change Baltimore: A Forum of Ideas That Are Reshaping Our Future,” marks the organization’s fifteenth year of working to create changes in the city.
“We are thrilled to present this year’s ‘Audacious Individuals Awards’ to members of our community who have displayed exemplary efforts to improve the quality of life in the city in which we live,” said Diana Morris, director of OSI-Baltimore.
“Fifteen years after beginning our work here in Baltimore, we continue to be enriched by the ideas of individuals who persist in their audacious efforts, and never tire in dedication, commitment and determination. Our city is better off because of these individuals.”
About the Award Recipients
The Core Alliance of Youth Leaders of Community Law in Action was recognized for working over the past three years to stop the construction of a new jail in Baltimore for youth charged as adults and for their continued fight to end the automatic prosecution of youth as adults. Rashad Hawkins, youth organizer; Jabriera Handy, assistant youth organizer; Corryne Deliberto, executive director; and Kara Aanenson, director of Advocacy Initiatives, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
James DeGraffenreidt, member and former president of the Maryland State Board of Education, was recognized for leading the board in reforming the state’s school discipline policies to ensure equitable discipline practices and lower suspensions. His work helped make sure that kids stay connected to school and on track to graduate.
Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun columnist and WYPR radio personality, was recognized for his work as a long-time reentry advocate and courageous voice against unfair juvenile and criminal justices practices in Baltimore.
Bebe Verdery, director of the ACLU of Maryland’s Education Reform Project was recognized for her years of work orchestrating research and advocacy that resulted in this year’s $1 billion win for Baltimore City school construction.
At the Big Change event, speakers addressed the crowd about what Baltimore is doing right and what tactics are working in other cities. Presenters included former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, CNN’s “Crossfire” host Van Jones and Shankar Vedantam, journalist and author of “The Hidden Brain.”
Since opening in 1998, OSI-Baltimore has developed a strong presence in the city, launching initiatives to help keep kids connected to school, tackle drug addiction, reduce incarcerations without compromising public safety, and tap the ingenuity of talented social entrepreneurs.
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