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Four to be honored at Olivet College Leadership Dinner
Jun 07, 2004

OLIVET, Mich. Olivet College is hosting its eighth annual Leadership in Individual and Social Responsibility Awards Dinner Thursday, June 17 in the colleges Kirk Center. During the event, President Donald L. Tuski will recognize four of Michigans finest leaders for their accomplishments reflecting the colleges vision of Education for the Individual and Social Responsibility.

The 2004 honorees include Velma Laws Clay, Ph.D., retired Director of Diversity Programs at Defense Logistics Information Service at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek; retired Senator Harry Gast, who served the Michigan legislature for 32 years; Lynn Jondahl, executive director, Michigan Prospect for Renewed Citizenship and member of the Olivet College Leadership Advisory Council; and G. Asenath Andrews, who serves as principal of the Catherine Ferguson Academy, Detroit Public Schools and is a member of the Olivet College Board of Trustees.

In 2003, Clay was named SCENE Magazines Woman of the Year for her leadership and dedication to the Battle Creek community. She also completed her tenure as the first African-American to serve as chair of the Battle Creek Community Foundation Board of Directors. In 2001, she was recognized by Western Michigan University with the Alumni Achievement Award for the School of Public Affairs and Administration.

Clay and her twin sister, Vivian Laws Ritter, are the art collectors behind the Journey to Freedom art exhibit that was on display at Olivet College Jan. 30 through Feb. 25, 2003. As a volunteer, Clay chaired Battle Creeks yearlong Sojourner Truth 200th Anniversary Celebration in 1997 and the Sojourner Truth Monument Dedication in 1999.

Gast served 57 years in public service, including 25 in Berrien County, eight in the state House of Representatives and 24 in the state Senate. During his career in the Senate, Gast was chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee for 19 years. He co-founded the three-tiered funding mechanism for community colleges (state formula, local millage, tuition and fees). He was an advocate and protector of Michigans community colleges throughout his entire legislative career. Gast chaired the Appropriations Subcommittee on Community Colleges for 19 years. He was a strong supporter of the Tuition Grant Program for private, four-year colleges and universities.

Gast remains active in his familys fruit farming operation in Berrien County.

From 1973 to 1994, Jondahl represented East Lansing and Meridian Township in the Michigan House of Representatives. During his career in the House, Jondahl served on a number of committees including chair of the House Taxation Committee, Speakers Ad Hoc Committee to Study Michigans K-12 Education System, the Judiciary Subcommittee on Friend of the Court Reforms and the State Board of Education Commission on School Finance Reform.

After leaving the legislature, Jondahl was co-director of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University (MSU). In 1999, he was a member of a training team that conducted a Ukraine/Michigan Exchange Program on Integrating Ethics into Democratic Governance, administered by MSU and Project Harmony.

Andrews has served as principal of the Catherine Ferguson Academy since 1985. The academy is Michigans only North Central Association accredited public high school for pregnant or parenting young women. This year the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Association of Secondary School Principals recognized the academy as one of eight Breakthrough High Schools. Prior to her position as principal, Andrews served in various teaching and administrative roles in Detroit Public Schools. In 1993, she received the prestigious title of the Milken Family Foundations Educator of the Year.

Andrews, who graduated from Olivet in 1972, has been a member of the Olivet College Board of Trustees since 1994 and currently serves on the Student Life Committee. She also serves on the Michigan Board for Young Audiences, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Black Child Development Institute, Michigan Alternative Education Organization and Michigan Alliance for Arts in Education.

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