2019 Community Arts Awards

Congratulations to our 2019 Community Arts Award recipients!

For a list of previous CAA winners, please click here


Community Medal of Arts 

Gloria Badiner

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Gloria Badiner is a former scientist and studio artist living and working in rural Southwest Michigan. Her studio, Arts & Artifacts, makes commissioned and custom kiln formed glass for architects, designers and furniture makers. Commissioned work includes cast panels, high relief tiles and sculptures as site-specific installations in businesses and residences.

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Her sculptures include fused, kiln cast, sand cast and dalle de verre works, mostly on an intimate scale and are often mixed with copper, silver, stone, bone and found elements. The themes of night and day, nature and human ritual are strong elements woven into her work. The most recent three-dimensional exhibitions display a commonality of “The Offering:” a series of kiln cast bowls filled with cast, fused and found objects honoring the needs of humans, i.e. food, medicine, fire, family, art and creativity. Recent two-dimensional works include a series of cast glass panels for a wall waterfall installation and a commission for an Embassy in Washington DC.

Gloria has helped our community through her art by dedicating herself to teaching others. While a lot of her reach is global, she dedicates herself to instructing in very small classes at her home studio. She limits her class sizes to about 10 people. She adores teaching children and works in schools as much as possible. Her own art explores hunger in our community. It causes us to think about sustenance and that connection to human need. Gloria shows leadership through her studies in glass in two ways. The first is by teaching others her craft and the other is through the meaning behind her own work. Her personal art speaks loudly, though Gloria is soft-spoken. Her heart is big and her devotion to connecting people with the arts is her story.

“When thinking about how to describe the depth and breadth of Gloria’s commitment to the arts, it is difficult to find a starting point other than to say I believe it started with her curiosity about the science behind art and grew into a deeply aware knowledge that she is driven to share with others. To know Gloria is the start of understanding there is a great connection between humanity, the Earth, and how we portray both of those things in artistic imagery,” says Kelly Vander Kley, mentee of Gloria Badiner.

The Community Medal of Arts award recognizes an individual for their significant creative contributions and leadership in the arts. This lifetime achievement award also highlights an artist who has received acclaim on a local or national level and who has made a tremendous impact on our community through art. This award encompasses all art forms, including but not limited to visual, musical, theatrical, literary, performing, multi-media, architecture or design.


Theodore C. Cooper Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service

James C. Palmore

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James C. Palmore has been volunteering in the Kalamazoo arts community for more than 30 years. A founding member of the Black Arts & Cultural Center, he has taught visual arts — from painting to photography — to a diverse array of people– from youth to seniors. 

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Most recently, he worked with a group of Seniors at the Ecumenical Senior Center, inspiring them to paint alongside him. He also worked with a group of youth at the Northside Association for Community Development (NACD) to create a display for their exhibition. Last summer, he worked with youth to create several larger than life exhibits depicting inventions by African Americans. Jeri Love, who nominated Mr. Palmore, commented, “Mr. Palmore’s volunteer efforts inspired other artists to become engaged.”

The Theodore C. Cooper Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service is awarded to those whose lives exemplify a broad range of service to the arts community. The recipient is an individual, individuals, or a group whose service to the arts is unrelated to his/her/their professional occupation.


Adam F. Carter Young Artist Award

Trinity Posey

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Trinity Posey has been active in the arts for many years and her commitment to quality work and perseverance is unmatched.  She has been a member of Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus, Kalamazoo Main Stage and Youth Theater, Face Off Theatre, and her High School Productions at Portage Northern.  

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She has taken the EFA Advanced Musical Theatre class for the last two years where she has honed her acting, dancing and singing skills immensely. She was accepted into the coveted Musical Theatre program at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts’ Atlantic Studio where she will be studying acting.

Trinity is an inspiration to many.  She speaks at Black History month assemblies, moving people to tears with her heart-felt words and persuasive narrative. Her drama instructor at Portage Northern High School, Denene Mulay-Koch said “I believe Trinity’s ability to get up in front of people, knowing that she has something powerful to offer, is a result of all the arts experience she has had.  She gets up in front of her class, her audience, etc., and immediately puts everyone at ease with her poise and grace.  She is kind, she is compassionate and she is smart.I attribute all of this to her study of the human psyche that she has learned while working in the arts!”

The Adam F. Carter Young Artist Award recognizes and encourages the next generation of artists in our community. It is named after a young artist whose life was cut short but whose impact on the arts community in Kalamazoo transcended age. This recipient should be a rising high school junior or senior, or a college freshman, who has made an impact on their artistic field of study as well as in our community. The recipient of this award will receive a monetary scholarship to be used to further their artistic study. The scholarship is generously underwritten by the Mary and Brooks Godfrey Family.


Epic Award

Speak It Forward, Inc.

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Speak It Forward, Inc. has a mission to transform the lives of youth and adults by using spoken-word poetry and performance as a vehicle to raise awareness, challenge stereotypes, break down barriers and instill a sense of empowerment and community.

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Founders Gabriel Giron and Kirk Latimer, of Kinetic Effect, are a nationally renowned, award winning duo. These highly dynamic keynote speakers and spoken word artists have made a career out of inspiring youth and adults to follow their passions and live life for today. Gabriel Giron, a survivor of cancer and former soldier in the US Army, and Kirk Latimer, a survivor of his own destructive past and former high school English teacher, combine their voices to give audiences a truly one-of-a-kind motivational experience that they will never forget.

“Before I became a professional educator, I spent nine years in the armed forces. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working in over a dozen schools. Some of the issues the children Speak It Forward work with would make many veterans cringe. And yet, Speak It Forward has already changed the lives of so many young people it has worked with which in turn has probably already saved taxpayers and the state a very large amount of money. Supporting Speak It Forward is economically and ethically the right choice and will only help to strengthen the community bonds that tie us each together,” said Nathaniel Eastlick, Sequel Youth and Family Services.

The Epic Award recognizes a non-profit organization or program that is of high artistic quality and serves to enhance the life in our community through the arts.

The award pays special attention to both long-standing programs and organizations that have played a consistent role in the community and new organizations and programs that meet a previously unmet community need or focus area.


Gayle Hoogstraten Arts Leadership Award

Educator – Susan Eckhardt

Susan Eckhardt has worked her entire career in arts education: as an art teacher in the Gull Lake Public Schools, Education Director at the Art Center of Battle Creek, Curator of Education at the Muskegon Museum of Art and finally as Curator and Director of Museum Education at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts from 2001 until her retirement in 2018.

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Susan’s dedication to creating accessible, engaging, and meaningful arts programs in Southwest Michigan, specifically through the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, has enriched thousands of adults, families and schoolchildren who have come into the museum’s spaces. Susan is a dominant force in the art of collaboration; forging strong partnerships between the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and other community organizations like the Boys and Girls Club. Susan also led the Museum Education department in an expansion to diversify the museum’s program offerings with a focus on families and teens, audiences with special needs and concerted effort to celebrate and explore work by artists of color and women.

“Under Susan’s strong leadership, the KIA Museum Education department developed a robust lineup of programs that served,  supported, and engaged the diverse Kalamazoo community; expanded services of the KIA Meader Art Library, and added a Youth and Family focused position to the department. Because of Susan Eckhardt’s leadership, the KIA’s educational mission is more inclusive and community facing,” says nominator, Michelle Stempien.


Administrator – Yolonda Lavender

Yolonda Lavender is the Executive Director of The Black Arts & Cultural Center, which has been in existence since 1989. It has flourished with art, art exhibits, cultural events, classes, theatrical plays, movies, dance, poetry, resource materials and meeting space. 

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Five years ago, Yolonda took over in that role to continue the tradition of empowering the community through diverse programming.

During her tenure as Executive Director, Yolonda has strongly advocated to strengthen the board of directors and the governance of the organization.  It has been her goal to place priority on the “next generation” of leaders in the Kalamazoo community to bring fresh ideas and a new perspective.  She has put a high priority on the balance of strong programming and financial soundness.  Yolonda has ensured that the board of directors and staff develop and implement innovative strategic plans.

Marissa Harrington, a member of Face Off, commented, “Her driving motivation is to think outside of the box and challenge the Black Arts & Cultural Center to be at the forefront of organizations with similar missions.  This has been accomplished through inter-generational programming, using technology and social media for marketing/advertising, and listening to the community to develop programming that is relevant and needed.”

The Gayle Hoogstraten Arts Leadership Award recognizes leaders in our community in two categories: Arts Education and Arts Administration. This award is named after the first full-time Executive Director of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. The recipients will have a proven track record of their strong impact on the community and in their participation in the arts — far beyond his/her job description. The recipients will also have established positive and productive relationships in the community outside of his/her institution.

The Community Box Office Hours:

Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 am - 6 pm, with closing for lunch from 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm. You may contact the box office at 269.250.6984.

ACGK Office Hours:

ACGK offices are open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. 

You may also contact us at: 269.342.5059 or email us at: info@kalamazooarts.org.

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