Congratulations to all the winners of the ninth annual African American TrailblazerService Awards. Watch the ceremony.
The awards honor residents of the Las Vegas valley who have made outstanding civic accomplishments and significant contributions to the Las Vegas community.
Business and Economic Advancement Award – Melvin Green is the winner in this category that recognizes local business professionals who have displayed entrepreneurial character, high standards, innovative professional practice and a committed support of their local community. Green has more than 40 years of experience in the architectural field, having received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Louisiana Tech University in 1980. Prior to co-founding KME Architects, where he is the director of design for all projects that KME is commissioned, Green had owned and operated as MGA, Melvin Green Architect, LLC since the early 1990’s. Green has designed and managed various small and large architectural projects, including high-rise hotels in Macau, high-rise residential, medical, hospitality, retail and office projects as well as educational facilities. Some of Green’s notable local project experience includes the Flamingo Convention Center, Eclipse Movie Theater, Rainbow Dreams Academy, the original Nevada Partners Center, and Kermit R. Booker and Wendell P. Williams Elementary Schools; Williams being the first prototype two-story elementary school to be built in Las Vegas.
Community Activism and Politics Award – Tameka Henry is the winner of this award that recognizes an individual who has demonstrated, through achievements, the ability to advocate, organize and engage citizens, and inform public policy on issues that improve the quality of life for the community. Henry is a native of Las Vegas and graduate of the College of Southern Nevada who is a champion for underserved communities, family well-being, and high-quality education for all children. She uses experiences from her own life, whether making the case for paid family leave for all, or fighting to get her children into Head Start, to bring the much-needed voices of parents to board meetings, state legislatures, and the U.S. Congress. Henry serves as executive director for the Obodo Collective, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Obodo's mission is to provide long-term solutions and support to eliminate multi-generational poverty in our communities. With a motto, “Get Help. Give Help,” Obodo connects underserved communities to resources to get them on a path to self-sufficiency.
Educator Award – Q’shaundra James is the winner of this award that honors those who, as a teacher, instructor or school administrator, have demonstrated excellence in mentoring, guiding and preparing students to achieve their full potential. James is a Las Vegas-born educator whose passion for the arts inspires and motivates her students. With Bachelor’s Degrees in both Fine Art and English from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), James is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Education. James is an award-winning portrait artist who rebels against the abjection, struggle and otherness commonly associated with Black portraiture. Instead of conforming to stereotypes and stigmas, the figures of her portraits find agency through defiant attitudes, and she often portrays models with an indifferent glare. Having worked with Desert Pines High School students and currently, middle school students at Somerset Academy, James brings the same intensity and passion into the classroom where she seeks to assist others in finding their artistic voice.
Tyrone Thompson Emerging Leader Award – Vogue M. Robinson is the winner of this award celebrating an up-and-coming individual who demonstrates a commitment to leadership and substantial potential for innovation, creativity, vision and positive influence. Robinson is a poet, author, mentor and teaching artist who has an appreciation for human beings who find ways to put truth and heart into words. As director of development at Left of Center Art Gallery (LOC), a 501(c)(3) organization, she is committed to serving as an advocate for the arts in public education. LOC offers a wide spectrum of art experiences and events that reflect the diversity of the local community while also providing opportunities for artists from all over the country to share their work. Their goal is to make art more accessible to the surrounding neighborhoods by taking art to sites where it can enhance, educate, and bring a sense of local pride. In 2016, Robinson co-founded Poetry Promise, Inc. as a non-profit organization to further advocate for the arts and provide a support system for poetry in the Las Vegas valley. With a mission to advance the knowledge and practice of poetry and the literary arts in Clark County, the state of Nevada and beyond. The San Diego State University graduate and Las Vegas resident of nearly 10 years served as the second poet laureate of Clark County (2017-2019) and is the first Black woman to receive the Silver Pen award from the Nevada Writers’ Hall of Fame (2021). Robinson has read her poetry at a diverse range of venues from 80th birthday parties to inside the Library of Congress. She has shared the stage with U.S. Poet Laureates Tracy K. Smith and Natasha Trethewey, as well as Tina Chang, Kealoha and Adrian Matejka.
Spiritual Community Award – Rev. Naida M. Parson is the winner of this award that is presented to a spiritual leader who has transcended organizational boundaries to promote spiritual and religious growth, partnership, and engagement through inspired action and visionary leadership. Parson is a servant leader, motivator, and mentor for many in the spiritual and business community. She has spent the majority of her life in ministry as a musician, choral director, youth minister, bible teacher and training institute instructor. In 2002, with five other female ministers, she founded New Antioch Christian Fellowship, where she is the senior pastor. She founded Church Girls Rule/Christian Gents Reign (CGR) Leadership Camp as well as Kingdom Leadership Training. Hundreds of youth and adults have completed her programs over the years. Her goal is to reproduce leaders for the Kingdom and the Community. She also mentors pastors in Las Vegas and beyond through the Fellowship of Independent Churches and Ministries.