The Urban League of Kansas held its 62nd Annual Equal Opportunity Dinner on May 26 at the Holiday Inn. This year’s theme was “Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow: Empowering Our Youth.”

The 2016 award recipients were selected based on their empowerment work with youth and included: 

     •Diversity Award, Dillions Food Stores

     •Whitney M. Young Award, Debbie Kennedy, President and CEO of the Wichita Children’s Home

     •Small Business Award, Willie Kendrick, Wil-Ken Enterprises (Popeyes Chicken Franchisee)

     •Community Advocate Award, Cynthia Martinez, Director of USD 259’s Homeless Education Program

     •Emerging Leader Award, Careem Gladney, Cargill and Real Men Real Heroes Volunteer

The keynote speaker was Riccardo Harris, a well-known motivational speaker and local pastor. He is also the director of Wichita State’s (TRIO) North GEAR Up program. Harris is a staunch advocate for urban youth, promoting education and character building as an alternative to the senseless violence that plagues many urban communities.