2018 MLK Award Winners
LEADERSHIP AWARD (ALUMNI)
Lynne Wideline Gassant
Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote a book in 1996, “It takes a Village to Raise a Child,” that’s based on an African Proverb. The proverb conveys the sentiment that we—our society and communities—have a responsibility to provide guidance, instruction and vision to our youth. Lynne Wideline Gassant lives this mantra in her everyday life by improving the lives of underserved students in South Florida.
As a first-generation college student, Gassant had to learn the American educational system on her own. She often struggled with English-language learning because Haitian Creole was her first language. She sought help and found a wonderful mentor to help her navigate the rigors of the educational system. It is these early experiences with American schools that helped her understand the many roadblocks for non-native speakers. Therefore, while still in her 20s, she founded the Scholar Career Coaching in 2012 so that other students, much like her, could excel in their academics too. Subsequently, these students would have a head start on a more stable future afforded by educational opportunities, like college, and have the potential to earn higher future income.
Scholar Career Coaching is a nonprofit educational organization that assists South Florida high school students, particularly ESL students in Title 1 schools, with college readiness, career planning, financial literacy and life skills through its after school mentoring services. To date, the organization has served more than 100 students and awarded 15 scholarships. In August 2017, Gassant’s work with Scholar Career Coaching was rewarded with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award. Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet presented the award to Gassant in Tallahassee.
Gassant is an exemplary role model in affording youth opportunities to succeed. In her effort to fill a need, she has found a purpose much bigger—being a mentor that models the “keys to success.”
She holds a bachelor’s degree in public management from FAU and master’s degree in human resources management from FIU. She leads the human resources office for a Boca Raton-based private company. She’s also a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (STUDENT)
Christian Allen is in his last year at PBSC studying computer science and plans to specialize in cybersecurity. He has excelled academically making the Dean’s List while maintaining a part-time job. Upon completion of his associate degree, he plans to attend Georgia Institute of Technology or the University of California, Berkeley to complete his studies.
He is the former president of Future Leaders United for Change, a youth council that serves as the voice of today’s Palm Beach County youth and sets the stage for change. He has served for two years as the male representative on the Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures Steering Committee. Birth to 22 is a collaborative effort between several government entities and stakeholders within Palm Beach County whose focus is to improve the lives of youth from birth to 22 years old. As a representative on the Steering Committee, Allen uses the voice of the Future Leaders to develop strategic plans for youth across Palm Beach County.
In the summers of 2016 and 2017, he was employed as a summer food monitor with the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department. He ensured that the children and youth in the western communities of Palm Beach County had access to adequate food during the summer months, so that no youth within the county went hungry.
Allen is invested in the community. He has volunteered at the C.L. Brumback Health Department in Belle Glade, organizing supplies and assisting at the food bank. As an active member of the American Red Cross, Allen has been instrumental in helping families in the western communities during the historic floods with distribution of food, shelter and water. At the Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, he has served as a member of the youth choir and usher board, and he participated in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. As the first president of Future Leaders United for Change, he was instrumental in developing the first budget for the council, establishing bylaws and several community projects.
He is currently employed with the School District of Palm Beach County as a substitute teacher, and serves as a mentor at Elbridge Gale Elementary, helping students with their homework and extracurricular activities.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (FACULTY/STAFF)
Dr. Louise Aurélien
Dr. Louise Aurélien is director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at PBSC and has been instrumental in the growth of the program designed for registered nurses with an associate degree or diploma. Prior to her promotion, she was a tenured member of the nursing faculty for 12 years. She remains active as a family nurse practitioner, practicing on a part-time basis, as well as volunteering at several community health fairs throughout the year.
She has been a part of the nursing profession for over 25 years. Her areas of practice include primary care, long-term care, medical-surgical, maternal/child health, pediatrics and school health centers. She volunteers as an international/visiting nursing faculty in the baccalaureate and master’s degree programs at the Faculté des Sciences Infirmières de Léogane in Haiti. She was instrumental in the formation/training of the first-ever graduating class of family nurse practitioners in Haiti in November 2017.
She is the co-editor for the Haitian American Nurses Association’s biannual newsletter. She co-chairs the National Black Nurses Association Women’s Health Committee, and together they published a position paper related to the shackling of incarcerated women of color during the labor/delivery period. She is one of the South Region leads for the Florida Action Coalition, with whom she is working on a project aimed at training and empowering nurses in Florida. She is also a national and international speaker on topics related to nursing education and nursing workforce diversity.
She serves on the Board of Directors for FoundCare, Inc., a federally qualified health center in West Palm Beach, where she chairs the continuous quality improvement committee and is a member of the finance committee. She is the immediate past president for Palm Beach County Black Nurses Association and is active in many other local and regional nursing and non-nursing organizations and serves on the board of regional corporations/organizations.
She holds a doctorate in education from the University of Florida, a Master of Science with a primary care nursing focus from Northeastern University in Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Massachusetts.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (INDIVIDUAL)
James Green is currently director of the Palm Beach County Community Services Department where he leads the county’s efforts in an array of programs for senior citizens, veterans, low-income residents and the farmworker population. He recently engaged leaders from various sectors to begin developing a comprehensive plan to end homelessness and reduce poverty in Palm Beach County.
In 2015, he served as director of the Outreach and Community Programming (OCP) division of the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department. As director of OCP, he served as a lead
strategist in the development of a cradle-to-career countywide youth master plan called Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures. He also led the My Brother’s Keeper Network in the implementation of a local action plan that outlined strategies to recruit mentors, review internal policies and create economic opportunities for boys and young men of color. In February of 2017, James worked with community leaders to host a Racial Equity conference to address racial disparities within the county’s healthcare, criminal justice, education and employment systems.
He is the former program director for the Palm Beach County Community Action Agency. In 2014, CAA received the Florida Association for Community Action, Inc. Agency of the Year Award for assisting the greatest number of families and individuals to achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency. This award also recognized local advocacy efforts, community participation, partnerships and collaborations formed by the agency to assist low-income citizens in their journey to economic security and self-sufficiency as well as the agency’s efforts to achieve organizational excellence and represent the best practices within the network.
He received his B.A. degree from Auburn University and his M.S. degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University and is currently a doctoral student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a devoted husband and father of two daughters. Green is an active member of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc. where he serves as chair of the Social Action Committee and mentors African American boys in the Omega Lamplighters Program. He has consistently stayed involved with various boards and civic groups throughout the community.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (ORGANIZATION)
League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County
The U.S. League was founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt to help newly enfranchised women become politically educated and responsible voting citizens. In 1953, a league was founded in West Palm Beach and eventually grew into a county league, which is now the third largest league in the United States. For almost 100 years, the LWV has fought to improve systems of government and has worked tirelessly to ensure that people have a free role in making democracy work. It is committed to reflecting the diversity and pluralism of the county by promoting inclusion in leadership, membership and participation in all league activities and programs.
During the general elections, the LWV contacted nine Palm Beach County high schools and registered over 450 graduating students. League members attended Senior Check Out Day at six schools. All schools were selected based on diversity and Title I status. Before the election, members texted each student it had registered three different times to remind them when early voting started, remind them when early voting was about to end, and to remind them to vote on Election Day. Of the 450 students, LWV had an 87% success rate of them voting. We also worked at the local university and college campuses to register voters.
In 2017, the organization worked with the High School Government Bee competition and doubled the number of schools who competed.
In each election period, the League holds public forums to explain the pros and cons of ballot issues and publishes and makes available online a Voters Guide which explains ballot issues and contains interviews of county and state candidates. Over 90,000 copies are distributed free of charge to voters.
The League encourages all citizens to be active in our democracy.