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News and Events

Mon, 28 Jun 2021 17:30:00 GMT

Secretary Gorbea Honors Local Civic Leaders at State House

PROVIDENCE, RI – Today Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea honored six Rhode Islanders with the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Medallion Award in a ceremony at the Rhode Island State House. The NASS Medallion Award is given annually by Secretaries of State to recognize individuals or groups in their state who display outstanding leadership in the areas of elections, civic education, service to state government, and philanthropic giving.

This year's ceremony also marked the first presentation of the NASS John Lewis Youth Leadership Award, named after the late Georgia congressman and civil rights activist. The award will be given annually to a civic-minded person under the age of 25 who demonstrates leadership abilities and a passion for social justice.

"Civic participation is vital to the health of our democracy and our success as a state, especially as we work to recover from the pandemic," said Secretary Gorbea. "Civic leaders like today's honorees empower Rhode Islanders by connecting them with their communities and helping them understand that we each have the power to be agents of change."

This year's Rhode Island NASS Medallion Award recipients are:

• Kennedy Arias, co-founder of Providence Sports and Leadership, for mentoring young members of his community and assisting them with the college application process.

• Sandra Lake, founder of the Woman Development Institute, which provides a multitude of programs to fulfill the needs of women, youth, and families in Rhode Island.

• Reverend Dr. Justin Lester, Pastor of the Congdon Street Baptist Church in Providence, for his work on voter education and his dedication to Rhode Island's African American community.

• Erin & Asher Schofield, owners of Frog and Toad, for their charitable contributions to the Rhode Island Foundation's COVID Response Fund.

• Volta Tran, Policy and Education Specialist at Thundermist Health Center, for working to improve access to voting in Rhode Island's LGBTQ+ community.

Secretary Gorbea presented the inaugural John Lewis Youth Leadership Award to Samia Nash, a Trinidadian-American and recent graduate from Classical High School in Providence. As a member of the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE), Samia applied her mathematical skills to develop financial plans to help disadvantaged minority families.

Today's NASS Medallion Award ceremony can be viewed here:


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Johnathan Berard
Deputy Communications Director
Email: [email protected]