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ESTHER Leadership Award Winners 2021-22

Each year at its banquet, ESTHER traditionally announces recipients of two leadership awards, one to an individual and the other to an organization in the community. In both cases, the awards recognize significant positive impact on the greater Fox Valley in building community, sharing hope and standing for justice. Even though ESTHER did not hold a banquet in 2021, and our planned February 2022 gathering had to be cancelled, we are pleased to recognize our award recipients:

Individual Leadership Award:

Sara Companik

Community Leadership Award:

People of Progression


Sara Companik

By Joan Jensen

Sara CompanikESTHER members are proud to announce Sara Companik as our Individual Leadership Award winner for 2021-22. We have been so fortunate to have her involvement since the organization’s inception 18 years ago.

Sara has guided ESTHER’s breadth of influence in all areas of social justice and taken a supportive role in all the issues it represents.

Sara is a person who has a tireless passion for justice. Wherever she experiences injustice, she believes in action. She is literally unable to accept injustice without speaking or acting out with some means of power.

Our whole Fox Valley community has benefitted from her service and study, but ESTHER has always been especially important to her. The core values ESTHER represents seem to match her faith and tenacity to act. These are linked with a compassionate heart for anyone in need.

Sara is reluctant to accept acclaim, so we are honored to express our thanks with this award. She represents our best efforts.

People of Progression

By Jill Smith

Pictured from left to right: Mandy Davenport, Dartania Winters, Cainan Davenport, William Green, Kristen Gondek, Meakil Bell Sr., Rick Kitchen, Kempton Freeman, Eldridge Alexander, Chaddrian West Sr.

ESTHER has chosen People of Progression to receive its Community Leadership Award for 2021-22. After the death of George Floyd, this budding organization was formed out of a need to offer people of color a place to be heard and to talk about difficult issues. What started as a Sunday afternoon talking circle at a local barbershop developed into an organization. 

Currently, the group is a board that meets monthly. Cainan Davenport, President of P.O.P., states, “Our mission is to build equitable inclusion for BIPOC by empowering our children, supporting our businesses and protecting our community.” Look for information about the group on their Facebook page.

When asked about how the group feels about receiving this award, Cainan responded, “We feel honored. We are just doing what we are trying to do. The recognition is huge. We are in the beginning stages of this organization, and it is encouraging to know that our work is being noticed.“

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