Disabilities advocate and Ohio University College of Communication Studies professor Dr. jw Smith has been named the 2019 recipient of the Athena Award from the city of Athens. Athens Mayor Steve Patterson and Athens City Commission on Disabilities Chairman David McNelly presented the fifth annual award to Smith on Nov. 6 during a recognition ceremony at ARTS/West.
A renown researcher on issues related to disability, Smith’s work impacts policy throughout the State of Ohio. He was presented by Dr. Jerry Miller, professor in the School of Communication Studies, who noted the words of one colleague, “Throughout our research and his intimate knowledge of language, personal narratives, and leadership, I began to appreciate his own leadership responsibilities for the differently abled communities in Athens, the State of Ohio, and across the country.”
Upon receiving the award, an emotional Dr. Smith expressed his appreciation, “It was an honor to be part of a wonderful celebration. I am humbled to receive this award and feel so undeserved but elated.” He encouraged everyone to start now looking at the possibilities of people with disabilities.
The Athena Award, the only award given by the city of Athens, was created by the Commission on Disabilities to recognize the person or organization providing exceptional service to people living with disabilities in the Athens community by positively impacting their lives in one or more of the following areas: advocating for change that improves the quality of life; advocating for issues; making a positive impact through volunteerism; developing new programs or services; offering exceptional customer service; or demonstrating innovation or entrepreneurship that has a positive impact.
Other 2019 Athena Award nominees introduced were Barbara Conover, executive director of the Athens Village, a community working together to help people remain in their own homes as they age; Stephanie Morris, employee of Central Ohio Music Therapy and director of the Athens County Community Singers where she helps adults with disabilities transition successfully through music; and Passion Works Studio, a collaborative community arts center where makers work and thrive.
The Commission on Disabilities meets on the third Wednesday of every month (except December) from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Athens Community Center, 744 E. State St. The public is encouraged to attend. For information about the Commission, contact David McNelly, firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Carolyn Bailey Lewis, email@example.com.