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Deputy director receives race relations award


April 08, 2008

Doris Marshall, who has been proactive in addressing racial and ethnic tensions among the elderly for more than 25 years, is this year’s recipient of Arizona State University’s A. Wade Smith Community Award for Advancement of Race Relations.

The award, given to an Arizona resident whose efforts contribute to the improvement of race relations in the community, was presented April 7 at the annual A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations, held at ASU Gammage. One of the criteria for the award is demonstrated leadership and courage in the advancement of race relations.

In her role as deputy director for the Phoenix Human Services Department Senior Services Division, Marshall oversees the operation of 17 senior centers that provide support to more than 3,000 people from different racial and ethnic groups.

One of her initiatives was the establishment of a senior services diversity committee comprised of staff, senior center participates, and equal opportunity department staff. The team developed strategies, like performance skits, to combat the racial and ethnic tensions that often cause people to leave senior centers.

In addition to the committee, Marshall created a monthly calendar of ethnic events and themed meals that are inclusive and reflect the diverse makeup of the community centers.

She believes that diversity and equity programming must empower participants to become change agents in the community by increasing understanding between people, promoting tolerance and forging new relationships.

Marshall has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

She was nominated by Reginald Ragland, an equal opportunity specialist with the city of Phoenix, who praised her dynamic approach to confronting discrimination and the belief in the power of positive diversity.

The award presentation was part of the program at the A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations at ASU. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. gave the lecture titled “Race, Politics and the Drama of Obama.”

Previous award recipients include Elsie Moore, Betty Fairfax, Jean Fairfax and Raner C. Collins. More information about the community award, nominations for the 2009 award and the A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations at clas.asu.edu/smithlecture.