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Willis, Cole Among Speakers Set for Local Martin Luther King Jr. Events

January 13, 2003

[ Kenneth Cole Photo ] DELAWARE, OHIO -- Keynoting the tenth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Breakfast Celebration on Monday, Jan. 20, is Catherine Willis, president of the Ohio Wesleyan University Upward Bound Community Advisory Board. Willis is known well for her work with Chess in the Hood and Friends of Art for Community Enrichment (FACE) programs that she founded and helps to fund for bringing youth and adults together in mind-challenging and culture-enriching activities. Willis' address at the morning breakfast is entitled "What Have You Done for Me Lately?"

A kindergarten teacher, Willis moved to Columbus from Cleveland, where she grew up in a housing project. "There was always someone there who reached out to kids like me, in the projects," she says. "And since I couldn't pay them back because they were all dead, I decided I would pay them forward."

Willis' forward-paying investments have been made through a veritable host of social service agencies, organizations and schools. And Columbus has not let the good work of this tireless advocate for children go unrecognized. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jo Ann Davidson, cited her as "a shining example of how mind and passion can come together to change lives." Numerous other speakers spoke in equally glowing terms of her at a recent luncheon, at which she was presented with Columbus' Champion of Children Award.

The theme for this year's breakfast celebration is "Dr. King's Legacy: A Summons to Do Justice," with the program beginning at 8 a.m. in the Benes Room of the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center. Local participants in the breakfast celebration program include the Rev. Diane Turner-Sharazz, Methesco; Marianne Gabel, local attorney and mistress of ceremonies; the Rev. Father Kevin Kavanaugh, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church; OWU President, Tom Courtice; students from Al-Eva's Learning Center; Mayor Windell Wheeler; Buckeye Valley Vision, a choir directed by Sue Sterni, music teacher and choir director at Buckeye Valley High School; Chuck Ash, Corey Hinshaw and Erin Nichol, Hayes High School students a members of the Ecumenical Youth Group directed by Syd Schnaars; Nancy Snook, President of Delaware County Church Women United and chair of the Martin Luther King Scholarship Committee; Ricardo Murph, 2002 winner of the MLK Scholarship; and Tenisha Taylor, a junior at Ohio Wesleyan.

On the preceding afternoon (Jan. 19), Dr. Kenneth Cole will be the featured speaker at the 18th Annual Martin Luther King Worship Service at 3 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Zion A.M.E. Church, 140 S. Washington Street. The title of his sermon is "The Road to Equality: Many Steps Taken -- Many Remain." Cole is a licensed clinical psychologist currently living in Los Angeles. He spent his pre-adolescent years in Delaware County. He received his bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University and studied at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where he received a Doctor of Psychology degree. An author and illustrator of children's books, Cole has recently traveled the country doing book signings for No Bad News, his latest book for children.

Special music at the afternoon service will be provided by OWU Professor Emeritus Robert Nims, accompanied by Sally Casto.

For more information about the King Breakfast or the afternoon service, contact Dr. Theresa Byrd, Director of Libraries at OWU, at 740-368-3246. Tickets may be purchased for the breakfast, and reservations must be received by Jan. 17.