Madison – Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and City of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin today announced the recipients of the combined City-County Humanitarian Award honoring the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The award winners, selected by the City-County Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, are community members who reflect the values of the civil rights champion.
The County Executive and Mayor will present the awards at the 27th Annual City-County Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance on Monday, January 16, at the Overture Center Capital Theater, 201 State Street, Madison. The program begins at 6:00 p.m.
The 2012 City-County Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award recipient is Connie Ferris Bailey and the Youth Award goes to Ashleigh Hubert. Information regarding each of the award winners is below.
The City-County annual award is given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions and exemplified Dr. King’s non-violent philosophy. Each award winner, past and present, has enhanced the fabric of Dane County.
“This year’s recipients honor the legacy of Dr. King through their service to our community,” County Executive Parisi said. “Connie Ferris Bailey has worked tirelessly for over 35 years to improve the future of at-risk individuals. Building jobs, building homes—and ultimately—building lives were the mainstays of her mission at Operation Fresh Start. Her peaceful persuasion has moved OFS from a small agency to one modeled throughout the state and nation. Our youth recipient, Ashleigh Hubert is already making our community a better place due to her leadership, and drive toward excellence. Both honorees demonstrate a commitment to community, volunteerism, and the future of Dane County.”
“Connie Ferris Bailey is a perfect selection for the Humanitarian Award,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “Her leadership at Operation Fresh Start for over three decades has been an inspiration and a gift to Dane County and beyond. Her compassion and guidance have influenced lives of hundreds of young men and women, and the results of her work will be evident for decades to come. Ashleigh Hubert has overcome much in her young life and is a strong, bright, caring young woman. Her work in the community with other young people at the Boys and Girls Club makes her a wonderful role model for her peers and I look forward to hearing great things about her in the future.”
Connie Ferris Bailey
In the category of “Humanitarian”, this year’s recipient is Connie Ferris Baily. Ms. Ferris Bailey was the Executive Director of Operation Fresh Start from 1979-2011. During her tenure, the agency has grown to become a nationally recognized program which effectively assists juvenile and adult offenders, high school drop-outs, and public assistance recipients to become self-sufficient, contributing members of our community. An untiring advocate for often unheard voices, Ms. Ferris Bailey has served on: City of Madison Public Safety Review Board, the Dane County Delinquency Supervision Task Force, Regional Focus Group for Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance, President’s Summit on America’s Future. Dane County Human Services Purchase of Service Coalition, the Dane County Commission on Sensitive Crimes, Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, Rape Crisis Center and the Mayoral Task Force on Race Relations. A Pennsylvania native, Ms. Ferris Bailey attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. Her degree formed the foundation of the career—and her work—in turn has been the foundation for many youth achieving their goals.
She took a 360 degree approach to her direction of Operation Fresh Start working in literally every position within the organization. Crew site supervisor, teacher, counselor, accountant, cook, receptionist, placement specialist, and janitor are skill sets learned on the job. The clients, staff and Board of Directors noted Ferris Bailey’s determination and growth; as such the entire organization grew. OFS is now an agency which is nationally recognized for its effectiveness in helping at-risk youth become self-sufficient members of the community.
Dr. King stated, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” Connie Ferris Bailey epitomizes this quote through her work with at risk individuals, OFS staff and Board of Directors, community partners, and our community as a whole. Connie Ferris Bailey has set the bar; it is our challenge as a community to meet it.
In the category of “Youth Leader”, this year’s recipient is 16-year-old Ashleigh Hubert. As a young girl, Ashleigh’s family moved from the violence of a Chicago neighborhood to make Madison their home. Witnessing so much violence at a young age, Ashleigh’s mother gave her the moral compass to make it through tough times.
Soon after they relocated, Ashleigh was enrolled in the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. At the club, Ashleigh found many programs that helped her learn and grow into the incredible young woman she is today. These include programs on leadership and community, as well as programs specifically designed to encourage girls to reach their full potential through healthy attitudes and lifestyle choices.
Ashleigh has continued to be involved in the Boys and Girls Club as Junior Staff, and volunteering in our community as a whole. As she walks through the neighborhood volunteering to lift others up, a smile is always found on her face. It is the smile of a great future which she shares—and Dane County is grateful.
The City-County Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award accepts nominations year round for individuals whose volunteerism and efforts follow Dr. King’s non-violent philosophy. Please consider nominating a “hero of peace”. www.countyofdane.com/oeo