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June 19, 2024

SVSU staff honored with Heart of the City awards

portraits of two people

In an event celebrating community and collaboration, two Saginaw Valley State University staff members were honored with 2024 Heart of the City awards for their contributions and service to the Great Lakes Bay Region. David Lewis and Carmen Stricker received their awards during the Heart of the City Awards Celebration on June 8.

David Lewis, director of SVSU’s School/University Partnership Office, received the Outstanding Leadership Award, which recognizes those who demonstrate a commitment to bettering the Great Lakes Bay Region through leadership and community service. 

In his role, Lewis oversees the daily operations of the School University Partnership Office, which supports 18 authorized public charter academies in Michigan, serving more than 11,500 students. He also manages the university’s Public School Academy Scholarship Program, which provides four-year, renewable scholarships to 115 public school academy graduates attending SVSU.

Lewis’s commitment to education is reflected in his involvement with professional and community organizations. He serves as treasurer for the Michigan Council for Charter School Authorizers, is foundation chair for the Saginaw Valley Rotary, a member of the NAACP and serves on the planning committee for the Heart of the City banquet. In addition, Lewis acts as an advisor for SVSU’s chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and he is an advisory committee member for the Charles L. McNair Freedom School of Saginaw.

“I’m honored to accept this award and am humbled to be acknowledged alongside other community members who are doing incredible things for the Saginaw community,” Lewis said.

Carmen Stricker was honored with the Heart of the City Motivation Award, a testament to her role as a motivational leader who fosters a culture of excellence by inspiring others to achieve their full potential.

Stricker serves as the director of the King-Chavez-Parks (KCP) 4S program at SVSU. The 4S — Select Student Support Services — program is a component of the KCP Initiative and aims to increase graduation rates through retention programs that target academically or economically disadvantaged students. Named for Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and Rosa Parks, the KCP Initiative weas established by the Michigan Legislature in 1986 to provide the state’s academically or economically disadvantaged citizens with greater opportunity to complete college degrees.

Stricker has been an active community volunteer for more than 20 years, serving on a variety of boards and committees. Presently she serves LLEAD (Latino Leaders for the Enhancement of Advocacy and Development) Saginaw Branch as a member of the education committee; sits on the board of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for a grant associated with the Mexican American Council in Saginaw; and serves as editor and writer for “Nosotros Los Latinos Magazine.” Stricker is a graduate of the Great Lakes Bay Hispanic Leadership Institute.

“I am deeply humbled to receive this motivational award,” Stricker said. “This recognition serves as a powerful validation of my commitment to fostering a culture of empowerment and inspiration and as a tremendous motivator for me to continue on this path, helping others discover the strength within themselves to achieve their full potential.”

Since 2017, the Heart of the City awards banquet has been held annually to recognize efforts of community service and volunteerism throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region. The banquet is organized by the Michigan Banner, an independent news organization that reports on multicultural affairs within the Great Lakes Bay Region and surrounding areas. This year’s banquet was held on Thursday, June 6 at Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw.