Dominion recognizes African-American leaders, students

Free Press staff report | 3/7/2024, 6 p.m.
Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation and the Library of Virginia recently recognized four Strong Men & Women in Virginia History honorees …

Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation and the Library of Virginia recently recognized four Strong Men & Women in Virginia History honorees and Student Creative Expressions Contest finalists during its annual program that recognizes notable African-American business and community leaders.

“We are proud to honor changemakers whose efforts have strengthened their communities for generations to come,” said Bill Murray, senior vice president for corporate affairs and communications at Dominion Energy. “The Strong Men & Women in Virginia History honorees serve as role models for helping every community to thrive.”

Members of the armed forces, engineers, medical professionals, community leaders, educators, writers, judges and elected officials have been celebrated throughout the program’s history.

“The Library of Virginia is proud to recognize African-Americans who have made significant contributions in their respective fields and in the lives of citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Librarian of Virginia Dennis T. Clark. “This year’s honorees offer powerful success stories that reflect rich legacies of excellence.”

The 2024 honorees:

• Capt. Janet H. Days, Navy commanding officer, Norfolk

• Sheriff R. Tyrone Foster, Bristol

• Dr. Erma L. Freeman, dentist, Mecklenburg

• Gregory L. Robinson, NASA project director, Manassas

The leaders were celebrated at a reception and private dinner Thursday, Feb. 22, in Richmond. Each honoree was provided the opportunity to choose a nonprofit to receive a $5,000 grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.

Along with the event, the Library of Virginia will host a traveling exhibition featuring each of the honorees and their biographical information. The exhibition will be on display at various community, business and educational institutions throughout the year so that Virginians can learn about these leaders and their contributions to the Commonwealth.

Also as part of the initiative, Virginia high school students participate in a creative contest to honor outstanding African-Americans and share stories they feel may be missing from the mainstream narrative.

The winner of the student creative contest was Katelyn Luu from Cosby High School in Chesterfield County. Katelyn wrote about Undine Smith Moore, known as the “Dean of Black Women Composers.” In honor of her essay, Katelyn’s school received $2,000.

The 2024 Student Creative Expressions Contest finalists include:

• Bezawit Abate, Potomac Senior High School, Prince William County

• Justin Kidd Jones, Richmond Community High School, Richmond

• Angelina Nair, Grafton High School, York County

Each student received an Apple MacBook Air laptop and funds for their respective schools.