Philip E. Sharpe, Jr. Community Engagement Award
The Western Washington University Philip E. Sharpe Community Engagement Award, named in honor of former WWU Board of Trustee member and active community volunteer Phil Sharpe, is given annually to a faculty or staff member (or group of Western employees) involved in outstanding community service, including outreach and engagement activities that benefit the well-being of the community at large or individual(s) in the community.
Examples of service:
- Participates in volunteer work, service organizations, or community advisory boards
- Organizes forums or community programs
- Volunteers for local non-profits or service organizations
- Current Western faculty, professional, or classified staff
- Minimum one year of WWU employment (this criteria is not applicable to a group nomination)
- The work they do is not a primary function of their position at Western
Community Consortium for Cultural Recognition - WWU and Off-campus Partners
The Community Consortium for Cultural Recognition, led by WWU staff and faculty, coordinate a diverse offering of cultural recognitions and events open to the entire community. These events have been created, funded, and executed in partnership with key community organizations including Whatcom Community College, Bellingham Technical College, Northwest Indian College, Bellingham Public Schools, Peace Health, the city of Bellingham, Swinomish Education Department, and Skagit Valley College.
The partnership started in 2020 in the wake of the national reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. The consortium’s first project in 2021 was a virtual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Commemoration event featuring Ijeoma Oluo, a WWU alumna and New York Times best-selling author of “So you Want to Talk About Race.” Nearly 1,000 students and community members attended the event.
Since then, the consortium has collaborated to celebrate two more MLK Day events, two Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month. In total, more than 5,000 guests have attended these events to date both virtually and in person. Every event includes a web page hosted by WWU that is shared throughout the community and beyond on our social media channels. These web pages promote the events and educate the community of their significance. They also include online resources to encourage deeper understanding and continued learning.
MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY CONSORTIUM:
Bellingham Technical College: Danielle Humphreys, Hannah Simonetti; Bellingham Public Schools: Janis Velasquez-Farmer; Children of the Setting Sun Productions: Free Borsey; City of Bellingham: Deborah Bineza, Janice Keller; Community: Cynthia Zaferatos; Northwest Indian College: Victoria Retasket; Peace Health: Naiyahnikai Gorman, Vincent Green; Swinomish Indian Tribal Community: Michael Vendiola; Western Washington University: Laural Ballew, Frederick Collins, Travis Eller, Nia Gipson, Jacqueline Hughes, Brandon Joseph, Jean Lee, Chris Roselli, Grey Webster, Amy Salinas Westmoreland; Whatcom Community College: Keenan Kaemingk, Tanya Zaragoza-Rosas
1 awardee(s) for this year
Wendy Johnson - Viking Union Event Services
Wendy Johnson has worked at Western since 2008 after a long career in the food service industry. Some may remember her from her time with Parking Services, and then she moved to the Viking Union as Event Services Manager in 2018. Wendy is enthusiastic and helpful in supporting staff and students alike in facilitating their set-up needs for events all around campus. She has a long history of volunteering, beginning with her kids’ preschool board, Girl Scouts, Parent Teacher Association, multiple high school sport booster clubs, leading a youth group sandwich brigade, and international youth work trips. Wendy started going to Nicaragua in 2003 with “El Porvenir,” an incredible non-profit in Nicaragua that is solely dedicated to rural water access, sanitation, health education, and reforestation projects. She’s passionate about this organization and has dedicated many family vacations to traveling to Nicaragua for service work trips. Wendy thoroughly enjoys working side-by-side with the various communities, sharing meals, connecting with the women and children, and getting to know people despite the language barrier. She has traveled with the same people many times because they are all deeply touched by the work and the opportunity to work with Nicaraguan communities.