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Press Release for Wednesday, December 2, 2015

OneJax Institute at UNF Announces 2016 Humanitarian Award Honorees

Media Contact: Andrea Mestdagh, Specialist

Department of Public Relations

(904) 620-2192

The OneJax Institute at the University of North Florida announces the recipients of its 2016 Humanitarian Awards, honoring individuals who have demonstrated the highest level of personal and professional integrity, given generously and extensively to the community and have been dedicated to the improvement of human relations among diverse groups in the community. The honorees will be publically recognized during a special ceremony 6 p.m. April 14, 2016, at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. 


“We are thrilled with the strong 2016 class of Humanitarian Awards Honorees,” said Nancy Broner, OneJax Institute at UNF executive director. “They truly represent a cross-section of people doing meaningful work in our community in a wide variety of ways. These are people who have made—and continue to make—an important difference in the lives of so many in Northeast Florida.”


Honorees represent a broad cross-section of community trustees and leaders:


Alton W. Yates, aerospace and civil rights pioneer, is the recipient of the Gold Medallion for Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing those who have had an extraordinary impact on and have given back generously to their communities through exceptional commitment to the OneJax mission of promoting the dignity and respect of all people. A native of Jacksonville’s LaVilla Park neighborhood, Yates served in the U.S. Air Force and upon discharge became a dedicated advocate for racial equality and led a series of sit-in demonstrations that ultimately resulted in “AXE HANDLE SATURDAY,” the beginning of the end of segregated facilities in Jacksonville. Yates went on to serve with several government branches and received appointments from two governors to the Florida Education Council. He currently serves on the boards of Gate Community Services Foundation, University of Florida Hospital Advisory Board and the Guardian Catholic School Board.  

Hope McMath, director of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, is the recipient of the President’s Citation Award, bestowed periodically to a leader whose efforts and vision have resulted in substantial, positive, local and national changes in one or more areas. McMath leads the museum through strategic planning, reaccreditation, capital expansion projects, and has designed and implemented programs that bring the arts to more than 160,000 individuals annually. She dedicates herself to connecting the arts to community needs, including education, the environment, diversity, inclusion and wellness. Under her leadership, the museum has received numerous awards, and she has personally received Museum Educator of the Year from the State of Florida and Art Educator of the Year from the Cultural Council of Jacksonville.  


Michael T. Boylan, president and CEO of WJCT Public Broadcasting; Harry Frisch, founder of Beaver Street Fisheries; Kevin T. Gay, founder and CEO of Operation New Hope and Ready4Work Jacksonville; and Susan Greene, community volunteer, are the recipients of the Silver Medallion Award, given to individuals in recognition of outstanding dedication and community service. 


Boylan joined WJCT as CEO in May 1999 and under his leadership, the company has forged numerous community partnerships and encouraged the development of local programs and outreach initiatives. Boylan’s leadership and participation in the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission’s Study Circles spans 14 years; he is a trustee member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce; an honorary member of the Jacksonville Rotary; and serves on the steering committees for Reclaiming Young Black Males for Jacksonville’s Future and Cultural Fusion. He recently joined the boards of Volunteers in Medicine Jacksonville and Yoga 4 Change.


Frisch was born in Vienna, Austria, and as a teenager in 1938, barely escaped the invading Nazis. Following World War II, he served in the Israeli army and in 1953, immigrated to Jacksonville, where he and his family eventually founded a fresh seafood store, Beaver Street Fisheries (BSF) and in 1986, the company purchased the Jacksonville Farmers Market. Over the years, the evidence of what the market means to the community has driven BSF to maintain and improve the market to support the farmers, community and economy of Jacksonville.


Combined with his strong faith and a special interest in helping the underserved in communities who seek a way out of the cycle of addiction, poverty and incarceration, Gay founded Operation New Hope (ONH) in 1999 to create a new model for community development. The White House selected ONH to develop the first national model for prisoner re-entry, Ready4Work, which is now being used in 16 other cities around the country. Gay has served on numerous community boards including, HabiJax, Gateway Community Services and on city and state boards and task forces addressing prisoner re-entry and community neighborhoods.


Greene is a former kindergarten and early childhood teacher who has advocated for 28 years for the arts and champions organizations that effectively address educational strategies and systemic social issues. She helped develop the Artists Series in the public schools and is an ardent supporter of quality arts education through her involvement and leadership on the Board of Trustees of the Cathedral Arts Project. Currently, she is as a member of the WJCT Board of Trustees, the Women’s Giving Alliance and recently joined the board of Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network. 


Further details about the honorees are available at . Photos are available for download at .


Information about sponsorships for the Humanitarian Awards Dinner and tickets for the event will be available at in January 2016.


Through education, community building and advocacy, OneJax Institute at UNF works to make Northeast Florida a better place for everyone by celebrating differences and identifying all we have in common. For more information go to or call (904) 620-1JAX.


UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.