Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Midway College presents its first Pinkerton Vision Award to the Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper; Mira Ball also honored

The Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, pastor of New Union Christian Church at the eastern tip of greater Midway and former executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, accepted the first L.L. Pinkerton Vision Award at the initial Spotlight Awards Dinner at Midway College Thursday, June 5.

Kemper spoke to the crowd after accepting the award.
The criteria for the award, named for the founder of the school that became Midway College, say it should go to an individual or group who has had a direct impact on improving the lives of women; a woman who has served as an outstanding role model for women and young ladies; or, a woman who has displayed great leadership, innovative thinking and influence in her chosen career.

"We received several wonderful nominations, but one stood out above all others: Reverend Nancy Jo Kemper," college President John Mardsen told the crowd of more than 200. He quoted from several of the nominations of Kemper:

Dan Rosenberg wrote, “For more than 20 years Rev. Kemper has been a positive role model for women by championing . . . a vast array of issues including: civic literacy, economic justice, living wages, universal health care, a more humane federal farm bill, environmental justice, child abuse prevention, low income housing, and racial profiling, just to name a few. . . . Her willingness to do so, often standing up to the rich and powerful on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged, has set an important example for all women, inspiring them to follow in her footsteps.”

Martha Billips, associate dean at Transylvania University, Kemper's alma mater, wrote, “Rev. Kemper has often put her own needs aside to comfort the elderly and dying, the grieving, the young and searching, and the simply confused and misguided. She extends this kind of care and compassion to all who need it, regardless of socioeconomic class, race, gender, or any other markers of status.”

Crit and Lynn Luallen wrote, “Hers was the voice of reason and principle on many critical policy issues facing Kentucky as she served as the liaison to the Kentucky General Assembly . . . She has affected many critical decisions with that thoughtful, but powerful voice. And as a minister, she brings a level of highly intellectual discourse to her congregation and other religious organizations and groups.”

Kemper has a master's degree in divinity from Yale University and ministerial standing in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. She was executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches from 1991 until her retirement in 2009.

The Spotlight Awards also included a keynote address from Olympic diving champion Micki King and presentation of the first Legacy Award to longtime college trustee Mira Ball, who headed the board of trustees for several years. "Whenever there has been a need of any size or scope, Mira has stepped up," board Chair Donna Moore told the crowd.

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