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Past Award Winners

The Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville has been hosting its Dialogue Dinners for over 10 years. In 2016 & 2017 we included an Awards ceremony to recognize some of the more unsung heroes in our community working toward cultural acceptance and fighting intolerance. Award recipients actively promote diversity and intercultural exchange in the workplace, government, or other vocational spheres in their communities. Winners are chosen by Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville’s board members. Awards are presented in the following categories to people who either live in our area or are from our region:

Community Service Award:

This individual has made a large contribution to our local community through involvement in community service, organized projects, and/or promoted diversity while still striving for excellence in community service projects.

 Media Award:

Given to an individual who, through blogging or journalism has made an outstanding contribution to promotion of diversity awareness, intercultural understanding, empathy between cultures and religious groups, or cooperation of diverse individuals in community improvement initiatives.

 Educational Service Award:

The individual has held a leadership role at a university or an institution that promotes education. This individual has distinguished themselves by generously contributing their time, energy, expertise, leadership and dedication in order to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.



Community Service Award

   gundyRev. R.L. Gundy
Born in Jacksonville, Pastor Gundy is a graduate of Troy State University with a BS Degree and hold two Masters Degrees, Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministries and Master of Divinity. A retired public school teacher, retired from the US Army with two Meritorious Service Awards. He is the recipient of the Congressional Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for outstanding and invaluable service to the community award, Jacksonville’s Florida Mayor’s Distinguish Award, Trailblazers Award, Teacher of the Year Award and many other U.S. Army Awards
With 33 years ministerial experience he is currently the Pastor of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, state director of African American Ministers in Action and past Jacksonville Local Chapter and State President Florida Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He has long been an early advocate on community issues in the African American ministerial community. Recently as a public moral voice on accepting non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ citizens with the Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance expansion, and a leading volunteer for those forgotten in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
2017      darnelt smithDarnell Smith
Darnell Smith is the 2017 chair of the JAX Chamber Board of Directors. He has been Florida Blue market president for the North Florida region since 2013. He will begin as chair-elect of the chamber board in January. He has served on the boards of directors for the Cathedral Arts Project, the Otis Smith Kids Foundation, the PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville, Ritz Theatre & Museum and the YMCA, as well as the Florida Blue Foundation, Florida Blue’s philanthropic affiliate. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Florida State University and is a graduate of the advanced management program at Harvard Business School.
2016      freedCRYSTAL FREED - Common Good Hero Award
Crystal Freed is an AV-rated attorney and is the managing partner of The Freed Firm, P.A. She earned her Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center. Since 2007, however, Crystal has devoted almost all of her professional time to the issues of child exploitation and human trafficking. While serving as co-Chair of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, Crystal transformed a 3 member entity into a thriving 25 member task force and started the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition. Ms. Freed was appointed to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission in 2012 and served as its Chair last year. Crystal is a graduate of the 2013 class of Leadership Jacksonville, served as Tri-Chair for the JAX2025 Community Cabinet, is a Legacy member of the Women’s Giving Alliance and a leader at Southpoint Community Church. Crystal currently serves on the Board of JCCI. She was awarded the State of Florida’s 2014 Community Advocate of the Year and in 2015, was bestowed FDLE’s award for unsung heroes, the Evelyn Williams Memorial Award. In 2015 Crystal was also named as one of the Jacksonville Business Journal’s 40 up-and-comers under 40. Crystal is married to Mike, an attorney and together they have two girls, Sydney and Samantha.



Media Award

   claireClaire Goforth
Growing up in an economically disadvantaged food desert in rural West Virginia inspired a lifelong commitment to helping others. Goforth obtained degrees in law from North Carolina's Pfeiffer University and Jacksonville's Florida Coastal School of Law. As a journalist and editor of Folio Weekly, Northeast Florida's independent voice since 1987, Goforth a draws upon the skills, knowledge and attention to detail instilled from studying and practicing law for over a decade. Goforth's work focuses heavily on minority rights, systemic injustice, the environment, and social welfare. Last year, she received the Best Writer award at the LGBT Awards in Jacksonville in recognition of her commitment to pursuing stories about LGBT rights and experiences.

Based on her continuing work to expose racial injustice in her community, she was also asked to speak at an annual event commemorating the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. by the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This year, she received the Jacksonville Junior Chamber's "Jacksonville Influencer" award at the Outstanding Young Professionals Awards.

2017      duvallTessa Duvall
Tessa Duvall is the education, children and families reporter at The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Florida. She presented at 2015’s TEDxJacksonville on her Butler Middle School reporting - “Learning the Truth About Bad Schools”. Previously a reporter with the Midland Reporter-Telegram in Midland, Texas. She graduated from Western Kentucky University with degrees in news/editorial journalism and sociology and a minor in political science. With experience including internships at The Arizona Republic (Phoenix) and The Commercial Appeal (Memphis), as well as three years on the College Heights Herald staff at WKU.
2016      boylanMICHAEL BOYLAN - Diversity in Media Award
Michael Boylan joined WJCT as its CEO in May of 1999 with the responsibility of overseeing the day-to-day operation of the organization and its long range plans and goals. Under his leadership WJCT has forged numerous community partnerships and encouraged the development of a wealth of local programs and outreach initiatives. While Boylan is recognized for his leadership of WJCT, he is being celebrated as a Humanitarian Honoree for his selfless community leadership and service. Boylan’s leadership and participation in the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission’s Study Circles spans fourteen years. Michael is a trustee member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce; an honorary member of the Jacksonville Rotary; and serves on the steering committees for Reclaiming Young Black Males for Jacksonville’s Future and Cultural Fusion. He recently joined the boards of Volunteers in Medicine Jacksonville and Yoga 4 Change.



Education Award

   ThrasherPresident John Thrasher
John Thrasher has demonstrated visionary leadership in his current role as President of Florida State University. He has embarked on a journey challenging the institution to think critically and engage deeply, in collaboration staff, the faculty and students. President Thrasher is countering the ongoing polarization in our educational society, championing the integration of different entities to a common cause, featuring students as key advocates and stakeholders with an important voice, providing a university-wide grassroots approach. It is his ability to connect, divine common ground, and facilitate meaningful discourse that has created constructive dialogue between people who vehemently disagree. It is his philosophy of encapsulating differences and his capacity to bridge and leverage them that are the impetus for fostering excellence and innovation.
2017      hopeHope McMath
Hope served at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens for 22 years, moving from Director of Education to Deputy Director, before seven years as the organization’s Director. She led the organization through an important period of growth, both through capital expansion and a significant increase in visitation. Her work at the museum and beyond has been recently recognized with the 2016 One Jax Humanitarian Award, a Cultural Icon Award from the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, and most recently the Voice of Equality Award from Equality Florida. She gives her time to a variety of organizations and causes including the State of Florida Council on Arts and Culture, Any Given Child Jacksonville, TEDx Jacksonville, We Are Straight Allies, and is co-leading White and Woke, a campaign and mobilization effort to raise awareness among white people to dismantle institutional racism.
2016      terrieTERRI FLORIO - Educational Service Award
Terri Florio serves as the Executive Director of the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation. She has been in that position since the Foundation began active programs in 1997. Terri has more than 25 years of management experience, primarily in the special event and professional sports business. Prior to working with the Foundation, she had her own special events marketing and consulting company in Atlanta and also worked for ProServ (now Clear Channel Communications) for eight years. She also worked on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Terri has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Rutgers College, Rutgers University and numerous continuing education courses. Terri lives in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. She serves on the Board of Directors of USTA Florida and the NJTL National Committee. She is a member of the Rotary Club of San Marco. She is an alumna and active volunteer with Leadership Jacksonville (Class of ’04).