Since its inaugural year, the MLK Jr. Visionary Award has amplified the stories and efforts of AU alumni dedicated to generating change in the DC community. The origin of this award dates back to 2020, a year of great social turmoil that simultaneously proved to be a time of innovation for a group of AU students. Young changemakers collaborated with Professor Gemma Puglisi in AU’s School of Communication to bring this idea into existence, and today, this award continues to advance the institution’s commitment to equity, education, and daily service in our communities.
Each fall, the Center for Community Engagement and Service invites staff, alumni, students, and friends to nominate AU alumni who, after grad school or undergraduate commencement, went on to work within the DC metro area with a school or nonprofit agency and are making important contributions via housing, health, education, seniors, immigration, etc. One alum is then selected to receive formal recognition in addition to a monetary award of $750 to go towards the recipient’s organization.
• Nakeesha “Keesha” Jeanne Ceran, SPA/BA ’10, SPA/MA ’12, Associate Director, Teaching for Change
• Madison Shea Lamanna, SPA/MA ’20, Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Manager, Tahirih Justice Center
• Carine Meyer-Rodrigues, SIS/MA ’19, Field Project Director, Rural Coalition
• Nisaa Chaudhry, CAS/BS ’22, Nutrition Counselor, Children’s National Hospital
This year, we are honored to present the 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Visionary Award to Nakeesha “Keesha” Jeanne Ceran. Keesha serves as associate director of Teaching for Change. Teaching for Change provides teachers and parents with tools to create schools where students learn to read, write, and change the world. Keesha holds three degrees in political science as a proud community college graduate and a double alumna of American University’s School of Public Affairs. Keesha also serves as a dedicated alumni volunteer and AUx2 Instructor, and we are deeply grateful for her outstanding leadership to the AU community and the greater DMV area.
On Wednesday, February 1, from 12 to 1 p.m., in partnership with the Center for Community Engagement and Service, American University’s Kay Spiritual Life Center will hold a ceremony that honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrates Nakeesha “Keesha” Jeanne Ceran, this year’s recipient of the MLK Jr. Visionary Award.