Imani Awards

Celebrating the 2018 Imani Award Recipients 

Environmental Ownership Award, Mrs. Shari Wilson


IPCDF would like to present our 2018 Imani Award to Mrs. Shari Wilson, President of Balton Corporation for her contributions to environmental awareness. As President of Balton Corporation, Shari Wilson has become the community’s “Unsung Hero.”  Mrs. Wilson has had the pleasure to service Chicago Public Schools (CPS) or over 25 years through contracts with Sodexo, Aramark, Compass Group and Marriott supplying milk, food, and disposable needs.  Mrs. Wilson has led Balton Corporation to be the first African American woman owned company to be awarded the Chicago Public Schools milk contract servicing all of Chicagoland. During her time at Balton Corporation, Mrs. Wilson has serviced the City Colleges of Chicago, Cook County Jail, Cook County Hospitals, O’Hare Airport, Canteen Corporation, and more allowing her to touch families across the Chicagoland area through dedicated service and delivery of food and disposable products. Mrs. Wilson has made it a personal mission to help give our communities a second chance. With nearly 25% of her employees being formerly incarcerated or convicted, Mrs. Wilson provides a company that helps builds up the employment and emotional stability of our black and brown men and women. 


Honorable Distinction Award, Chief Apostle Dr. Clifford E. Turner

 For nearly 30 years, Chief Apostle Dr. Clifford E. Turner was a progressive and trend-setting leader whose bold and convicting messages of salvation, healing, deliverance, and restoration tore down the barriers of religion while building up the lives of the people in this nation and nations across the world.  

Apostle Turner founded Liberty Temple Full Gospel Church and World Outreach Ministries on March 14, 1982, in Chicago, Illinois; the church started with two members, with Dr. Turner as Pastor. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, Apostle Turner became the trailblazer of an apostolic movement in which the City of Chicago had not seen. By 1985, Liberty Temple had become one of the fastest growing ministries of its time, outgrowing three locations in three years.  Through his ministry, Dr. Turner established the Liberty Temple Network, a consortium of Apostolic/Prophetic churches with a mandate from God to equip and perfect the saints.  Apostle Turner pioneered over 40 churches in some of the world’s most needy countries: India, Pakistan, Jamaica, Liberia, China, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Additionally, Dr. Turner established the Deleia Turner orphanage in India, in honor of his late mother. Dr. Turner also organized an international consortium of pastors called OPERATION P.R.E.A.C.H., which mentors pastors and networks outreach ministries globally.

Global Impact Award, Mr. Bryan Echols

Mr. Echols is currently the Community Restorative Justice Hubs Director in the city of Chicago. He is charged with identifying, recruiting, on-boarding and training Community Restorative Justice Hubs that are strategically located in the most blighted and crime struck areas in Chicago known as the “Million Dollar Blocks.”  He is also the Principal and Founder of “BE. The Change Consulting.” BE. The Change Consulting works in the areas of youth leadership development, civic engagement, community organizing and intersectionality of race, class and cross cultural equity work.

Additionally, Mr. Echols served as the Executive Director of MAGIC (Metropolitan Area Group for Igniting Civilization) Incorporation for nine years. MAGIC is a not-for-profit organization on the south side of Chicago based in the Woodlawn neighborhood. MAGIC’s mission is to organize and mobilize community residents to create and stimulate social change to improve their quality of life. Mr. Echols is on the local and national steering committee for the Black Men and Boys 2025 Network and served as the Midwest chair for Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement, which focuses on the current state of unity and improvement of Black men and boys. He has chaired the Multicultural Leadership Council for the American Heart Association for the last 3 years. Other notable areas of leadership include serving as the past Chair from the American Heart Association’s Multicultural Committee. He currently serves as the Chair for Common Cause Illinois; a national democracy organization and is as a board member for the Worker’s Center for Racial Justice.   

Health Award, Mrs. Regina Townsend

Mrs. Townsend is a professional teen services Librarian and Infertility advocate. She was a past recipient of the Young Adult Librarian of the Year award for the Illinois Library Association. In her role, she diligently works to provide a voice for teens and educational platforms to motivate other library professionals to provide mentoring services to teenagers in the community.  

As a blogger and infertility advocate, Mrs. Townsend provides support and resources to those who have been affected by reproductive health difficulties. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors for “Fertility Within Reach” which is a patient advocacy group. Mrs. Townsend’s goal is to help provide families and individuals with the tools they need to become empowered in their journeys toward parenthood. Her outreach spans to over 4,000 people through social media outlets and support communities. Her most notable areas of professional membership and service include the American Library Association (ALA), Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), Task Force on Teens and Social Activism & Engagement and inaugural blog team member for Teen Services Underground.


Education Award, Mr. Kendall Straughter

Mr. Straughter never thought that he would enter the field of education as a teenager. However, as a product of Chicago Public Schools, he encountered dedicated educators that nurtured his social, emotional and personal development. In November 2006, he earned an internship with the Office of Early Childhood Education while enrolled as a student at the City Colleges of Chicago. In his twelve years of service with Chicago Public Schools, he has executed several roles. As a school-based employee, administrator, and network office administrator, he has supported social-emotional learning, community engagement, culture and climate, safety and security, discipline and student engagement. His greatest accomplishment as an educator is launching GT7 at his 30th birthday celebration in October 2015. GT7 serves as a nonprofit mentor organization for African American males in elementary school, high school, college and beyond. As a passionate educator and mentor, he is a social father to many of the participants in the organization. Many members refer to him as “Pops”, and he affectionately calls them “son”. GT7 is a more than an organization; it is a family of creation.

Family Strengthening  Award, Mr. Kurt Summers 

Kurt Summers is Chicago’s 70th Treasurer. A native son of Chicago, Treasurer Summers manages the city’s $8 billion investment portfolio and is responsible for maintaining records and accounts of the city’s finances. He sits on four local pension boards with nearly $25 billion under management.

Since taking office in December 2014, Treasurer Summers has utilized his private and public sector experience to ensure that the Office of the City Treasurer maximizes its value for Chicago’s residents. From generating $57 million in excess investment returns for the city’s portfolio to developing a fund that will drive economic growth in all 77 neighborhoods, Treasurer Summers is focused on leveraging the office’s resources to increase investments in Chicago’s residents, workers, businesses and neighborhoods. Treasurer Summers is also focused on empowering Chicagoans through small business support and financial education programs, giving them the tools and opportunities they need to fulfill their potential.

Prior to serving as Chicago’s Treasurer, Summers was a Senior Vice President at Grosvenor Capital Management and a member of the Office of the Chairman. In that role, Summers was a leader of the Emerging and Diverse Manager business, which invested over $2 billion in minority and women owned firms.