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KHEF recognizes Shutt, Young, Iwama and Smith at annual awards luncheon

Photo caption: THE 10TH ANNUAL Katie Hall Educational Foundation held its Public Service Awards Luncheon on April 15th at St. Timothy Community Church in Gary. Pictured above (l-r) are Jacqueline Hall, John Hall, Christina Shutt, Junifer Hall, photograph of Senator Todd Young, Indiana State Rep. Vernon G. Smith and Chancellor Iwama, Indiana University Northwest.

On a sunny and warm April afternoon, the Katie Hall Educational Foundation, Inc. (KHEF) recognized four individuals for their compassionate and outstanding executive leadership and public service in the spirit of the State of Indiana’s first African American elected to serve in the United States Congress – male or female – The Honorable Katie Hall.

The Class of 2023 Awardees were Christina Shutt, Executive Director, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois; U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN); Ken Iwama, Chancellor, Indiana University Northwest; and Dr. Vernon G. Smith, Indiana State Representative (14th House District). The attendees gathered for the Awards Luncheon Program at the beautiful St. Timothy Community Church in Gary to witness the awardees receive their commendations from the Foundation.

Coincidentally, the Foundation’s 10th Annual Katie Hall Public Service Awards Luncheon was held on the 158th Anniversary of the death of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who was shot on the evening of Friday, April 14th at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., and died on the following morning, April 15, 1865.

Junifer Hall, Chairman and CEO of the Katie Hall Educational Foundation, Inc. presented the top award to both Executive Director Shutt and U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN). In the acceptance speech by Executor Director Christina Shutt for the 2023 Co-Katie Hall Public Service Award, Shutt reflected on President Lincoln’s legacy and relevancy to modern day audiences and future generations of Americans. She primarily spoke about the evolution of President Lincoln’s views on democracy for all citizens of this country, especially in 1863, the estimated 4 million enslaved Africans, who had toiled for hundreds of years for their owners without any type of financial compensation for themselves or their families. “Although, President Lincoln wasn’t perfect and was slow in his actions to address the issue of slavery during his lifetime – he eventually evolved and realized that all men regardless of race, economic or social status had a right to the vote, and other aspects and attributes of a democratic society,” stated Shutt.

U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) could not attend in person so a video message was played during the luncheon program for the attendees. In his statement of acceptance for the 2023 Co-Katie Hall Public Service Award, Young said, “U.S. Representative Katie Hall was a political trailblazer in light of her election as the State of Indiana’s first African American to serve in the United States Congress, and for her work in authoring and sponsoring federal legislation to make the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a national holiday in the United States of America.”

Chancellor Ken Iwama is the recipient of the Katie Hall Educational Foundation’s Chairman Award. Iwama spoke about the Foundation’s present partnership with Indiana University Northwest amidst his pride that all the family members of the late U.S. Representative Katie Hall attended Indiana University Northwest at one point in time during their academic careers.

In the statement of acceptance for the 2023 Merit of Distinction Award, Dr. Vernon G. Smith, Ed.D., Distinguished Professor of Education at Indiana University Northwest and Indiana State Representative (14th House District), described his warm personal and political friendship over many years with U.S. Representative Katie Hall and the Hall Family.

The VIP reception guests and the Class of 2023 Awardees enjoyed tasty pastries donated by Strack & Van Til Grocer prior to the start of the main program. L&L Caterers prepared the meal served at the luncheon. Awardees and guests each received a gift-wrapped one-pound box of Pixies candy. The gifts were donated by Fannie May Candies.

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