2016 Award Recipients

This page contains biographies for the recipients of the Onyx & Ruby awards.

Georgia E. Beasley Legacy Award
Dwight Tillery, A&S ’70

Emerging Leader Award
Christina Brown, A&S ’10

Pillar of the Community Award
Jason Dunn, Sr., A&S ’03

Tower of Strength Award
Dr. Terri Hurdle, CECH ’12

Student Trailblazer Award
Brittany Bibb, Bus ’15
Ashley Nkadi, A&S ’16

Special Recognition – Honorary 4A Humanitarian Award
Dr. Terry Kershaw, Professor
UC College of Arts & Sciences, Africana Studies

Linda Bates Parker Legend Award
Brenda I. Woods, A&S ’80


Georgia E. Beasley Legacy Award

In honor of the late Georgia E. Beasley, this award recognizes the contributions of our alumni pre-1975 who have made sacrifices and shared their vision to enhance the quality of life at UC and in the community. Their legacy is timeless and one that set a standard of excellence that inspires us to keep our eyes on the prize, while pressing toward the mark.

Dwight Tillery headshot

Dwight Tillery
A&S ’70

Dwight Tillery grew up in Cincinnati where he was educated in its public schools and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He received his Juris Doctor of Laws from the University of Michigan Law School. Dwight is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio.

In the fall of 1968 while serving as the newly elected and co-founder of the United Black Association, Tillery led a group of students to the President’s office at the University of Cincinnati presenting over thirty demands. Those demands ranged from greater black student enrollment to African American Studies Department, African American Resource Center to increase in black faculty and administrators. The President, the late Walter Langsam, agreed to every demand which laid the ground work for the most radical changes for African Americans at the University to this date.

Tillery joined the University of Cincinnati in 1974 as Assistant Executive Vice President and Associate University Counsel. He held adjunct professorships in the law school and African American Studies department where he developed a course entitled “The Law and Black People” (1973) which is still being taught to this day.

Tillery served in several other professional roles including Assistant City Solicitor, Assistant Attorney General and Assistant Professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In 1991, Tillery became the first African American popularly elected Mayor of Cincinnati. As a member of city council, he sponsored many pieces of legislation that benefited the poor and minorities.

Currently, Tillery is Founder and President and C.E.O. of The Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati whose mission is “to lead the efforts in eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities in Greater Cincinnati through Advocacy, Education, and Community Outreach. The Center has gained much national recognition for its work and unique organization.

Tillery is a recipient of many local and national awards and honors and has served on many boards and commissions. He has dedicated his life to community service.


Emerging Leader Award

This award highlights our most recent alumni within the last 10 years, who are blazing the trails toward becoming our future leaders. The Emerging Leader Award recognizes the significant contributions of young alumni whose impeccable skills and talents have created opportunities toward building a better tomorrow for themselves and their community, and honors them for remembering to reach as they climb.

Christina Brown headshot

Christina Brown
A&S ’10

Christina D. Brown is a self-described freedom fighter in training and young leader in action who hails from Columbus, Ohio. Following the 2004 presidential election, Christina became interested in politics which led her to pursue undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Africana Studies at the University of Cincinnati.

During her collegiate career, she served in various leadership positions, most notably as two-time president of the United Black Student Association. Her tenure at UC had as many challenges as it did highlights. One of the greatest privileges was being named the student keynote speaker of the 19th annual Afrocentric graduation ceremony, Tyehimba, in 2010.

Following graduation, she joined AmeriCorps, serving as first year apprentice, and as a second year Fellow with Public Allies Cincinnati. After graduating from the program in 2012, she accepted a position with the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission.

Despite transitioning from college into career, Brown’s commitment to strengthening her community never waned. She serves on multiple boards, including the Martin Luther King Coalition, Cincinnati Young Black Professionals, Affordable Housing Advocates and the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, where she was elected President of the Board of Trustees at age 27. Brown primarily uses her voice to promote racial equity through activism, and community education.

In 2014 she co-founded Black Lives Matter Cincinnati to address state violence and racial inequality. Persistently rallying for racial equity garnered her the opportunity to testify to President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force, and she was selected as one of fifty activists nationwide to attend Union Theological Seminary’s Millennial Leader Project.

Brown remains grounded and intends to dedicate her passion to creating a world where social justice is not just a product of our collective imagination, but a reality of each individual’s lived experience.


Pillar of the Community Award

This award recognizes alumni who are avid supporters of their communities by sharing their time, talents, and treasure with individuals and organizations where they live, work, and play.

Jason Dunn, Sr. headshot

Jason Dunn, Sr.
A&S ’03

Jason Dunn, Sr. is a native of Columbus, Ohio. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Dunn started his career at the Cincinnati USA CVB in September 2004. In his current role of Vice President, Multicultural & Government Affairs, he develops and manages the Bureau’s comprehensive multicultural strategy, working to more deeply engage the local community, region-wide partners, and the CVB sales team to provide support in analyzing and pursuing new business opportunities.

Over the past several years, Cincinnati USA has established itself as one of the country’s premier destinations for winning and hosting some of the most sought-after multicultural conventions in the industry. Dunn has been at the forefront of that revival and continues to be the region’s strongest voice for Multicultural Conventions.

A well-known and respected leader locally and nationally, Dunn has brought in significant new convention business and forged inroads with the national multicultural meetings market. During his tenure at the CVB, the number of multicultural meetings in Cincinnati has increased by 1800%, bringing $33 million in economic impact between 2006 and 2011. Dunn has helped attract numerous high-profile events including the National NAACP Convention, National Urban League, and the Prince Hall Shriners convention.

Dunn’s passion also extends into the community. Dunn was appointed to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority as a trustee of the $92.9 million Transit System, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board. Since 2012, he has helped the organization meet the community’s need for greater access to jobs, education, and healthcare. He helped spearhead the community conversation required about the future of the area’s public transportation system to ensure SORTA successfully contributes to the economic development of the region.

Dunn holds leadership positions on several boards and committees and has received numerous awards and accolades for his service.


Tower of Strength Award

As special recognition for faculty and staff, this award honors those individuals who play a valuable role in shaping the personal and professional development of alumni during their college years. Alumni credit these individuals for enhancing their educational experience and for being instrumental in helping them chart their path in life.

Dr. Terri Hurdle headshot

Dr. Terri Hurdle
CECH ’12

Terri M. Hurdle currently serves as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion for Mount St. Joseph University. She also serves as an instructor within the Center for Ethical Leadership’s Leadership Pathways program and is a member of Cincinnati’s Chief Diversity Officer Roundtable.

A Cincinnati native, Terri began her academic pursuits at Tuskegee University located in Alabama then transferred to Xavier University (Ohio) where she received her B.A. in Political Science and M.S in Criminal Justice. In 2012, she earned her final degree from the University of Cincinnati, which was an Ed.D in Urban Educational Leadership. Terri’s dissertation focused on one of her many passions, the leadership development of African American women.

In October of 2000, Terri began her career at the University of Cincinnati. She served as the Program Coordinator for BASE (Brothers and Sisters Excelling) for the African American Cultural and Resource Center, Graduate Assistant within the Center for Access and Transitions and Center for Community Engagement. Her last appointment at the university resided in the Office of Student Activities & Leadership Development as a Coordinator for Student organizations and Emerging Ethnic Leadership Institute, a program she helped to establish at UC.

Terri is also a published author. In 2004, she was a featured writer in the book “Our Stories: The Experiences of Black Professionals on Predominately White Campuses”. In 2014, Dr. Hurdle formally established the Hurdle Lecture agency. To date, she has lectured at Franklin College (Indiana), Morehead State University, and as a featured presenter at the ACE Women’s Conference.

Terri’s first love is mentoring young people; therefore, this year she plans to establish a foundation to assist first generation students with their transition into college.

In 2015, she served as the national co-chair for the Undergraduate Leadership Summit for Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. where she assisted in developing the mission, learning outcomes, and curriculum for institute.


Student Trailblazer Award

This award acknowledges individuals who created university firsts or were at the forefront of movements and activities. They embody all the qualities of a leader-motivational, charismatic, critical thinker, risk-taker, visionary, creative, change agent, and a community activist. These individuals are extremely involved on campus, are an inspiration to other students, and continue blazing the trail for change.

Brittany Bibb headshot

Brittany Bibb
Bus ’15

Brittany Bibb is a native of Louisville, Kentucky and a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where she majored in Marketing. She was involved with The United Black Student Association, The Lambda Society, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Omicron Chapter, and many more organizations.

Most recently, Brittany was heavily involved with a student-led movement called The Irate 8 that was formed after the shooting of Samuel Dubose. The movement educates others about the experiences of black students on UC's campus and has moved to reform some policies and procedures at the University of Cincinnati to create a more inclusive campus for black students.

Brittany’s motto in life is "365 black, that's me" which has inspired her to keep fighting for equity daily and to use her voice for those who may not have the chance.


Ashley Nkadi headshot

Ashley Nkadi
A&S ’16

Ashley Nkadi, a Jackson, Tennessee native, is a third year neuroscience major at the University of Cincinnati with a double minor in Medical Sciences and Fashion Design Studies.

On campus, Ashley balances a multitude of roles. She is currently the Co-President of the United Black Student Association and the President of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honorary. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Noir Magazine, UC's premier ethnics magazine designed to highlight people of color. She serves as the PR Director for both the Asian American Association and Midwest Dhamaka executive board. Ashley is also a Lambda Woman and a woman of CWEST (Cincinnati Women in Excellence & Spirit Together).

Ashley believes her most significant contribution in her time on campus was helping to spearhead the Irate 8 movement to push for diversity, inclusion, and equity in all facets of campus life.

After graduation Ashley plans to build upon her undergraduate education by seeking a Master’s in Business Administration (with a concentration in Healthcare Administration) and a Medical Degree.


Special Recognition – Honorary 4A Humanitarian Award

Dr. Terry Kershaw headshot

Dr. Terry Kershaw
Professor; UC College of Arts & Sciences, Africana Studies

Dr. Terry Kershaw was a native of New York, New York whose career as a prolific professor in Africana Studies impacted thousands of colleagues, friends and students before his passing in October 2015.

Dr. Kershaw received his B.A. in Sociology and Black World Studies in 1976 from the State University of New York College at Cortland. Kershaw went on to receive an M.A. in Black Studies from The Ohio State University in 1978, and Doctorate of Sociology from Washington State University in 1985.

Kershaw taught at Antioch College, Temple University, the College of Wooster (Chair of Sociology and Anthropology and Director of Black Studies), and Whitworth College. He also held the Mini Lilly Chair at Marquette University. Beginning in 1999, Kershaw led the Africana studies program and was the director of the Center for Race and Social Policy at Virginia Tech. Because of his role and influence, Virginia Tech began hiring junior and senior faculty in order to become the first program in the South to offer a PhD in Africana Studies.

In 2009, Kershaw was recruited by the University of Cincinnati to build its Africana Studies program and develop a Ph.D. program with an applied focus. During his time at UC, he grew the department from five faculty members to 14 and persuaded university officials to headquarter the National Council of Black Studies (NCBS) within the Africana Studies department.

Recognized as a leading academic in the field of Africana studies, Kershaw was a longtime board member of the NCBS and received numerous awards for his scholarship, teaching, advising and service to the field of Black Studies. Dr. Kershaw’s commitment to Africana Studies was consistent and long-standing.


Linda Bates Parker Legend Award

Brenda I. Woods headshot

Brenda I. Woods
A&S ’80

Brenda I. Woods, an Alumna of the University of Cincinnati, is a staunch supporter of higher educational opportunities. Brenda partnered with the University of Cincinnati’s Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program to create the Brenda I. Woods Scholarship, an annual scholarship for a Turner Scholar who graduated from her alma mater, Walnut Hills High School. Brenda is also the co-founder of the “I Want You Back” Committee, an independent Alumni group serving as a fundraising vehicle for established African-American initiatives at UC.

Brenda has served on a UC Diversity Focus Group, to review and provide input about the university’s Five-Year Diversity Plan. Brenda has served as a Salute to Excellence participant, encouraging underrepresented students who have been offered admission to the University of Cincinnati to officially join the Bearcat family. Brenda received the significant honor of being permanently featured on the Wall of History, which celebrates the black trailblazers who changed the history and the future of the university and beyond, at UC’s African American Cultural and Resource Center.

Brenda is a Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is a Charter Member of the sorority’s Phi Psi Omega Chapter, in Forest Park, Ohio, and serves as the AKA Connection Committee Chairman. Brenda is a Regional Board Member of the Bootsy Collins Foundation, currently serving as Foundation Secretary. She also has oversight of the Grooveminte Girl Program, designed to lift the self-esteem of little girls and women around the world, through music.

Brenda is a Retired Purchasing Specialist for the United States Postal Service where she was responsible for soliciting, negotiating and administering contracts for significant purchasing programs. Brenda also began a professional singing career as a tenor with the James McCray Choral Ensemble (JMCE), later joining the BJ Mass Choir. The resulting recording, “Been there…Done That”, was nominated for the prestigious Grammy Award. As a choir member, Brenda has appeared on music shows, live recording sessions and regional events. Brenda also performed in the volunteer chorus of the Cincinnati Opera’s “Aida”.

Brenda balances her professional and personal goals by leading and managing people to work cooperatively, to make a better society by doing something for others.



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