Leilani Russell is the recipient of the 2005 Val Joshua Racial Justice Award from the YWCA of Clark County.
Russell, the multicultural coordinator at Evergreen High School, has dedicated years to educating youth and school staff on issues such as racism, harassment, discrimination and bullying. Shealsoservesas Evergreen School District's trainer of diversity trainers, and she is the co-facilitator of Diversity Youth in Leadership, a program of both the Evergreen and Vancouver School Districts.
Russell is actively involved in the Washington State Board of Education Equity Committee and participates in the multi-ethnic think tank and the Bias and Fairness Review Committee organized by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
She is on the board of the WashingtonState Association of Multicultural Education and was on the Peace Jam Northwest Planning Committee for nine years.
"I am very passionate about topics of social justice, nonviolence, human rights and the power of youth. I have a love for working with young people," Russell said. "My grandmother taught me to stand up forinjustice;she taught me to have a voice andthe powerof youth.
"She used to say, 'You cannot complain if you stand by and do nothing.' She taught me that young people have the power to move mountains and make adults listen. That is why I work with young people today. I want to give them a voice and teach them the power they have within so they too will go out and make a difference in small and big ways."
Russell received the award at the YWCA's Annual Celebration on Wednesday.
Val Joshua, namesake of the award, was first honored with the "Val Joshua Racial Justice Award" in 1989 in recognition of her lifelong commitment to and work for the elimination of racism.
Since then, honorees who receive the award are selected based on demonstrated leadership in working to eliminate racism, commitment to self-determined social change for all people and significant involvement in the struggle for peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people. Since that time, 26 individuals, businesses and community organizations have been honored with the award.