The 2022 Human Rights Awards were presented Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, during a small ceremony. The ceremony is available online for those who were unable to attend. The program runs for approximately 45 minutes and can be viewed here.
The Iowa City Human Rights Commission honored the following individuals and organizations:
- Mary Issah has been awarded the Isabel Turner Award for her work as the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Johnson County for more than 15 years. In that role, Issah has forged relationships throughout the country and community in order to more effectively serve those with mental illness in Johnson County and across Iowa.
- Na Li has been awarded the Rick Graf Award for long-term commitment to a specific cause for the benefit of a specific group of persons. As president of the Iowa City Area Chinese Association (ICACA), Li has organized numerous events to make Iowa City and the surrounding area a welcoming and more inclusive place for the Asian community. Li has also spoken out against bigotry and violence directed at Asians.
- Francine Spencer-Thompson, executive director of the Emma Goldman Clinic, has been awarded the Linda Severson Award for contributions to human rights by an individual in a service organization. Spencer-Thompson was lauded for 35 years of serving the community at the clinic and for inspiring younger generations to continue the fight for reproductive justice.
- The Iowa City Bike Library and its executive director, Audrey Wiedemeier, are the recipients of the Bill Reagan Community Award for contributions to human rights by an organization. Since its inception in 2004, the Bike Library has strived to eliminate financial and cultural barriers to bicycling for all individuals in the community. Wiedemeier is co-founder of Women Empowerment Ride (W.E. Ride), a program for girls to develop confidence and skills through biking and has also encouraged all women-identifying and persons who are gender non-conforming to participate in at W/T/F (Women/Trans/Femme) Night.
- Jocelyn M. Williams has been awarded the Kenneth Cmiel Award for actively working in the human rights field in a dedicated and determined way. Williams, a former intern with The Housing Fellowship and graduate student in the University of Iowa's School of Planning and Public Affairs, has demonstrated a strong commitment to the idea of housing as a human right and shows curiosity in how to best achieve greater equity in housing in the community.
- Mary Kenyon is the recipient of the International Award for significant contributions to human rights in the global community. Kenyon has drawn praise for the countless hours spent helping people of diverse backgrounds within the community, particularly persons of color. Kenyon is Secretary and a member of Black Voices Project and has worked behind the scenes to help persons of color running for public office.
- State Sen. Joe Bolkcom has been awarded the Heather L. Shank Lifetime Achievement Award for his three decades of service to the people of Johnson County. After serving with the Johnson County Board of Supervisors from 1993 to 1998, Bolkcom was elected to the Iowa Senate in 1998. Bolkcom has championed human rights across the state throughout his career and has been a strong advocate for families and individuals whose incomes do not exceed 50 percent of the median income, public education, affordable housing, disability rights, labor rights and more.