Four outstanding community members were honored Tuesday, April 20, during the Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College Women of Color Luncheon.
The event, sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs, is intended to honor those who have shown a commitment to treating everyone equally and who celebrate diversity. Michael Belmear, Vice President for Student Affairs, served as emcee for the event. This year's honorees were Priscilla Steed, Program Assistant for the FSU College of Liberal Arts; Janet Dudash, Administrative Assistant for the Office of the Assistant to the President and Director of Communications; and Laurie Johnston, Director of Student Activities.
"This event was created about 18 years ago with the purpose of honoring people in the community and on campus who have been fair, honest, kind and sincere to other people," Belmear said.
Pierpont President Blair Montgomery welcomed those gathered for the luncheon.
"As I thought about the phrase ‘Women of Color' - I thought of the ‘color' that women in general bring to our lives. I think of how - in my experience - women often lighten the atmosphere and bring brightness to what otherwise might be a drab day. I think of the intellectual ideas and perspective they have helped me see and consider. I think of the contributions women have made to my life," Montgomery said.
Rev. John McKenney of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Fairmont gave the invocation and introduced honoree Priscilla Steed.
"I thank you all because I could not stand here if it was not for all of you. I especially thank Fairmont State for this award. I have been here 20 years. I thank you all because it has meant a great deal to me to be on this campus. We all grow together," Steed said.
Steed is a program assistant in the FSU College of Liberal Arts, Departments of Social Science and Behavioral Science. For 20 years, she has performed administrative assistant duties for 23 department faculty and 11 adjunct faculty, worked under five different department chairs and has provided support service for students and visitors.
Steed works with various computer programs on campus in relation to contracts for faculty and adjunct faculty and participated in the first group of administrative assistants who headed a One Stop Shop Pilot Program designed to cross-train employees among different departments offering student services. She has worked on campus committees such as the Human & Equity Relations Committee, the Committee on Race Relations and the committee that established the first Women of Color Luncheon program. In 1999, Steed received the Fairmont State Achiever's Award, and in 2008, she was nominated for the Classified Employee of the Year Award.
A native of Fairmont, Steed and her husband Joe have three adult children, Robert, LeVar and Nila. She is a doting grandmother to two grandchildren, Robert III and Kordell. She is a certified foster/adoption parent. She is a member of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Fairmont. She serves as church clerk, president of the Gospel Chorus, secretary of the Deaconess Board, president of the Mission Society and is a member of the Edwards/McCright Undergraduate Scholarship Foundation.
Through the years, Steed has served her community through various organizations, such as attending the NeighborWorks Resident Community Leadership Institute conference as a team leader for the Fairmont Community Partnership which is a member of the NeighborWorks Network organization; served as a mentor for the Pearl & Diamonds for Young Girls program; as president of the Homeowners Community Club Partnership; and as chair for the Action Committee for Neighborhoods Revitalizing Windmill Park Area (Family section). She has also served as daughter ruler, Marion Temple #153-Elks, and as financial secretary, Marion Temple #153-Elks. She is a Daughter of Eastern Star, Ruth Chapter #37, and currently serves as vice president of the Marion County NAACP. She is one of the incorporating founders and a member of the Board of Directors of the Dunbar School Foundation, Inc.
Janet Dudash of Fairmont has been employed at Fairmont State since 1968. She is planning to go on phased retirement this spring. For many years, Dudash has worked at the hub of campus to help coordinate all aspects of campus life. Sarah Hensley, Director of Public and Community Relations for Pierpont and Dudash's former supervisor, presented Dudash with her award.
"Janet has worn many hats - always serving the campus, its students, faculty and staff with efficiency, fairness and respect. This individual has worked quietly, compassionately and with the greatest competence to help make sure Fairmont State and Pierpont have been run effectively, efficiently and ethically. I have observed her handling difficult and sensitive situations with dignity, decency and a quiet, sensitive touch," Hensley said.
Dudash said she was shocked by the award but was very appreciative of the honor.
Laurie Johnston's award was presented by Michael Belmear, who said that she treats people with decency and respect no matter who they are.
"This is quite an honor and means a lot to me," Johnston said.
Nursing student Amy Nunn of Shinnston could not attend the event, but she was awarded the Horace and Geraldine Belmear Outstanding African-American Student Award. Nunn will also be recognized at the FSU Academic Awards Celebration planned for Friday, May 7.