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2018 Spirit of Columbus Award Winners Announced

Columbus, OH (April 18, 2018)—The Columbus Foundation named 10 leaders of the central Ohio arts community as the 2018 recipients of The Spirit of Columbus Award. The announcement was made at a civic celebration held yesterday at the Foundation.

The Spirit of Columbus Award, affectionately known as the “Jerries” in honor of aviatrix Jerrie Mock, recognizes individuals who have exhibited exemplary community spirit through their accomplishments.

“Tonight we celebrate the trailblazers whose extraordinary work and courageous contributions to the arts move central Ohio forward,” said Douglas F. Kridler, President and CEO of The Columbus Foundation. “As leaders in the black arts community, these individuals have demonstrated a tremendous ability to bring people together on a local, national, and international level. We honor them as they enrich Columbus through their respective art forms while creating opportunities for others to grow and collaborate in their own artistic endeavors.”

Each award recipient’s organization will receive a $5,000 grant to support their work.

Past and present Spirit of Columbus honorees gathered at The Columbus Foundation: First row (l-r): Barbara Fant (staff), Tanny Crane (2016), Michelle Alexander (2017), Suzan Bradford Kounta, Scott Woods, Sheri Neale, Cristyn Steward, and Duarte Brown.  Second row (l-r): Michael B. Coleman (2015), Mark Lomax (staff), Carnell Willoughby, William Evans, Jane Grote Abell (2016), Corey Favor, Jeni Britton Bauer (2013), Marshall Shorts, and David Brown (2013).

The recipients of the 2018 Spirit of Columbus Award are:

  • Suzan Bradford Kounta, choreographer and dancer, founder of the Thiossane West African Dance Institute
  • Queen Brooks, painter, co-founder of Creative Women of Color
  • Duarte Brown, mixed media painter, master artist with Transit Arts
  • William Evans, writer, founder and editor-in-chief of Black Nerd Problems
  • Corey Favor, designer, co-founder of Creative Control Fest
  • Sheri Neale, founder of Maroon Arts Group
  • Marshall Shorts, designer, co-founder of Creative Control Fest
  • Cristyn Steward, director of the Columbus Black International Film Festival
  • Carnell Willoughby, artist and founder of Willowbeez Soulveg
  • Scott Woods, writer and poet, founder of Streetlight Guild and Writer’s Block Poetry

“Art is a necessary aspect of culture that all productive societies need to exist. Without art you do not have a productive society, no equitable way to freely trade ideas, no creative outlet to allow for self-preserving expression. Art is the most common language used between people in varying classes and communities. It is the open door policy of truth.”

—Scott Woods

On behalf of all honorees, Scott Woods accepted a “Jerrie,” a bronze miniature of the Jerrie Mock sculpture at Port Columbus International Airport, created by local artist Renate Fackler. Mock, a Bexley mother of three, took off from Port Columbus on March 19, 1964. She landed safely back in Columbus on April 17 after 29 days, 21 stops, and more than 23,000 miles.

Mock was named the first recipient of The Spirit of Columbus Award in 2013, along with Jeni Britton Bauer and David Brown. Recent award recipients include Denny Griffith, former Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Tanny Crane, Jane Grote Abell, and Michelle Alexander.

“By empowering artists, and challenging and inspiring central Ohio audiences through their own work, these individuals embody the Spirit of Columbus,” said Kridler. 

About The Columbus Foundation
The Columbus Foundation serves more than 2,500 individuals, families, and businesses that have created unique funds and planned gifts to make a difference in the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. Nearly 75 years strong, The Columbus Foundation is Your Trusted Philanthropic Advisor® and the eighth largest community foundation in the United States. The Foundation’s Giving Store is a one-stop shop for easy and effective philanthropy. Learn more at

April 18, 2018