Project GRAD Akron's 9th Annual Achieving Dreams Celebration 

September 01, 2015

“Project GRAD Akron’s Ninth Annual Achieving Dreams Celebration”

 (Akron, Ohio).  Project GRAD Akron will celebrate its Ninth Annual Achieving Dreams Celebration on Thursday, October 1, 2015 at St. George’s Fellowship Hall, 3204 Ridgewood Road, Akron. The evening will include a reception for honorees and sponsors, dinner, fabulous auction, and an awards program.    The Honorary Chairperson is Dr. Beverly Warren, President of Kent State University.  The Chairpersons are Traci Buckner, Katerina Papas, Esq., and Mona Sarkar, Esq.  Jacqueline Silas-Butler, Esq., is the Executive Director of Project GRAD Akron.   

This year’s Community Service honorees are Elizabeth Bartz, Judi Hill, and State and Federal Communications, Inc.    Both individuals have been active participants with Project GRAD Akron and strong advocates for the organization, including the GRAD Mentors! Program.  Judi Hill, a retired educator and administrator from the Akron Public Schools, has been involved with Project GRAD Akron since its inception in 2002.  She served as one of the organizers of Project GRAD Akron and has assisted with many endeavors, including the Walk for Success, Achieving Dreams Committee, including two years as the event chairperson, and has raised funds for the organization.  Elizabeth Bartz serves as the President and CEO of State and Federal Communications, Inc.   She has served on the Achieving Dreams Committee, including two years as the chairperson of the Silent Auction Committee, and has hosted fundraising events for the organization.  Additionally, team members from State and Federal Communications, Inc. have provided administrative, technical, and communications support to Project GRAD Akron and also have been involved in raising program and scholarship funds for Project GRAD Akron.  

Since 2010, we have recognized Buchtel Alumni in various categories.  This year’s honorees are Attorney Crystal Jones (Distinguished Service to Humanity),Father Jonathan Morris (Distinguished Service to Humanity), and Woodrow Nash (Lifetime Achievement).  Attorney Jones has distinguished herself in the passionate work she has done for over twenty years to benefit the students and families in the Buchtel community, including her service for the Akron Public Schools, Crouse Caring Community, Project GRAD Akron, and Project UjimaFather Jonathan is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, where he serves as Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in the South Bronx.   He is a well-known television commentator on religious and ethical issues and a New York Times bestselling author of The Way of Serenity: Finding Peace and Happiness in The Serenity Prayer (2014).  Woodrow Nash'sconsuming passion to elevate the human spirit takes the form of sculptures. He builds a sense of mystery and charisma into each sculpture.  As a renowned sculptor and artist, his works are collected internationally.

A special thank you is extended to the event sponsors:  PRESENTING SPONSOR:  OMNOVA Solutions Foundation; Scholar Sponsor: Kent State University; Achiever Sponsors: Alpha Phi Alpha Foundation of Akron, Ohio and State & Federal Communications, Inc.;  Mentor Sponsors:  Akron General Health System,  The Gertrude F. Orr Donor Advised Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, FirstMerit Bank Trustee; G. Stephens, Inc., Summa Health, and Summit County Department of Job & Family Services - County Executive Russell M. Pry; Collaborator Sponsors:   Akron Children’s Hospital, Martin H. Belsky & Kathleen Waits, Buckeye Community Health Plan, FirstEnergy Foundation, Leon and Dawn Harris, Dr. Gregory and Mrs. Judi Hill, The Maynard Family Foundation, Attorneys Herbert and Dianne Newman, Roger and Judy Read, Rubber City Radio Group, Stark State College, and Stewart & Calhoun Funeral Home & Cremation Service; and Media Sponsor:  Akron Beacon Journal/

Additional persons serving on the dynamic committee include: Ansley Callanan, Esq., Theresa Carter, Robin Freedman,  Deborah Cunningham, Micah Mitchell Hines, Esq., Sue Hobson, Teresa Jackson, LaTonya Lewis, Theresa Manzell, Linda Thompson, Dreama Whitfield, and Brittany Grimes Zaehringer, Esq.

Serving as Table Captains are Traci and Tobin Buckner, Jacqueline and Lawrence Butler, Aria Campbell, Laurie and Scott Curfman. Anita L. Davis, Esq., David W. James, Dana and Frank LaGarde, Debra and Marco Sommerville, Pamela R. Valentine, and Judge Annalisa  and Councilman-at-Large Michael D. Williams.  Limited tickets for the event are available and may be purchased by contacting the Project GRAD Akron office, a Table Captain, or on   VIP tickets are$100.00 and General Admission tickets are $65.00. For additional information, please call 330-761-3113, email, visit our website at, or “Like” Project GRAD Akron on Facebook.

Project GRAD Akron provides a system of programs, supports, and scholarships for underrepresented students to achieve success from kindergarten through career. Graduating seniors from Buchtel High School have the additional opportunity to receive scholarships from Project GRAD Akron.  In addition to our various programs for students and their families, since 2006, we have awarded nearly $1.5 Million in scholarships to graduates of Buchtel High School and have assisted students in leveraging additional funds for their post-secondary education.  Achieving Dreams Celebration’s proceeds will support the programs, services, and scholarship fund of Project GRAD Akron.  


“It is a pleasure working with Project GRAD Akron and AT&T is committed to Project GRAD’s mission. Your mission coincides with the philanthropic goals of the AT&T Foundation. We, too, want to increase the graduation rates of *****

Margaret Williams
Director of External Affairs, AT&T

“All the kids that I’ve run into at Buchtel High School that are a part of Project GRAD Akron have been really sharp.”

Dr. Rich Londraville
Associate Professor of Biology, UA

“I think we should put Project GRAD in more schools.”


“I think the community views it as a good thing because my mom made me come to Buchtel basically because of Project GRAD.”


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