(COLUMBIA, MO) - The 26th annual Columbia Values Diversity Awards were presented at the Columbia Values Diversity Celebration Thursday, Jan. 19. The awards are given to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions promoting appreciation for diversity and cultural understanding in Columbia.

Dr. Lester Woods Jr. was awarded the individual 2023 Diversity Award
Dr. Lester Woods Jr.'s work clearly exemplifies the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a variety of intentional initiatives he has led that have benefited the Columbia community. He is a senior pastor of Urban Empowerment Ministries, and his commitment to the Columbia community spans more than two decades. Through acts of public service, Dr. Woods has walked the streets of Columbia praying for peace and non-violence. He has used his influence to break down barriers and bring people from different walks of life together while teaching his faith. He has committed himself and his ministry to helping the disadvantaged find opportunities for better living and employment. His most recent initiative, the Source Summit Global, has proven to be a catalyst for addressing the social and economic disparities faced by our community's most vulnerable populations.

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Jabberwocky Studios was awarded the group 2023 Diversity Award
Opening its doors in January 2015, Jabberwocky Studios works to provide programming that gives equitable, inclusive access to life-enriching arts and educational experiences, which bridges the gaps that underrepresented students face in our community. Through hip-hop and breakdancing, mural painting and other art forms, students learn new skills, meet new friends and mentors and explore the arts in depth. Jabberwocky Studios seeks to find ways to help youth reach their full potential in school, work and life. Through collaborations with other local organizations, Jabberwocky Studios has reached more people in the community through its initiatives.

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