Honoring Central Florida’s African American Community: Meet two of HCC’s 2022 Community Awards Recipients

As we celebrate Black History Month, we must recognize and honor the Central Florida African American community for their contributions and achievements. Hope CommUnity Center dedicates itself to fostering diverse and empowered learning communities engaged in personal and societal transformation. Through service and advocacy, we stand together with the African American community, immigrants, and others who are tenacious and courageous in facing all systems of oppression.

In line with this mission, we are proud to highlight the recipients of our 2022 Community Awards for Excellence in Education and Advocacy. Dr. Ruth Edwards, Director of Education at the Winter Park Library, has been awarded the Community Award for Excellence in Education. Dr. Edwards is an educator, agent of change, and social justice advocate dedicated to ensuring that the Library’s curriculum connects people to knowledge and resources that amplify learning and build a stronger community. She earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Master of Science in Organizational Systems at Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, CA.

Dr. Edwards has been a valuable asset to the Winter Park Library since she launched the Lifelong Learning Institute, which focused on establishing its adult curriculum. Her role has since expanded to guiding curriculum design/implementation for all ages. Dr. Edwards’s previous work includes being a Program Director for the National Conference for Community and Justice, where she initiated and managed social justice and community change initiatives.

We also would like to honor Dr. Marie Francois, President & CEO of the Center for Multicultural Wellness and Prevention, Inc., recipient of the Community award for Excellence in Advocacy. Dr. Francois’s M.D. career has focused on the fight against HIV/AIDS. She received her medical degree in 1981 from the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of the State University of Haiti.

Dr. Francois has a master’s degree in public health, specializing in Health Promotion and Education, from Loma Linda, California. In addition, she is a certified health education specialist. Dr. Francois began advocating in the early 1980s as a Health Educator at the Apopka Community Health Center, one of nine clinics serving the Orange County Government’s Primary Care Access Network (PCAN). She proposed developing a risk reduction project and worked as the AIDS Project Director at the Farmworker Association of Florida from 1989 until October 2003.

Dr’s. Edwards and Francois have made significant contributions to their respective fields, and we are honored to recognize them for their outstanding work in our community. Hope CommUnity Center is proud to stand alongside these women and the entire African American community in our shared mission of promoting diversity, empowerment, and personal and societal transformation.

Congratulations to both of these remarkable women!