Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.'s annual Women of Excellence Awards honor women who have made an outstanding contribution to their community.
This year's outstanding women will be honored at a luncheon from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 20, in the Lloyd Center DoubleTree Hotel, 1000 N.E. Multnomah St. For Ticket information, call 503-760-1427.
Pamela Ross, M.D.,
The event's keynote speaker will be Pamela Ross, M.D., assistant professor of clinic and emergency medicine and pediatrics at the University of Virginia. Recipients of the sorority's annual college scholarships also will be announced.
This year's Women of Excellence honorees are:
• Community Service — Carrie Holliday
Carrie Holliday works in several areas to affect the lives of those around her. She is an example of an African Amer-ican woman who, after retiring from Mt. St. Joseph Nursing & Care Facility, continues to use her charitable talents to assist others.
She is committed to the community, serving in senior officer positions in the Oregon Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Les Femmes Club, Louisiana Social Club and the National Council of Negro Women. She also belongs to the Grand Chapter Order of Eastern Star, Heroines of Jericho, Elks, Portland Federation of Club Women and the Delta Mothers & Patroness Club.
• Community Service — Denise Roberts
Denise Roberts is a graduate of Notre Dame University and the National Technolog-ical University. After college, she worked for ITT in North Carolina and for GTE in Pennsylvania. In 1988, she joined Hewlett-Packard Corp. in Boise, Idaho.
In Boise, Roberts became a charter member of the Hewlett-Packard People of Color Network and the Boise Women's Network. She participated in Hewlett-Packard's K-12 program, where she visited a variety of middle schools and high schools speaking with young girls about careers in science and engineering. She also belonged to the Boise State University Diversity Task Force.
Roberts volunteered with the Women's and Children's Alliance and served on the board of directors from 1997 to 2000. At her church in Boise, she served in several positions, including lay leader, Worship Committee chair, trustee and Staff Parish Committee member.
In 2000, Hewlett-Packard moved Roberts to Vancouver, Wash. In Vancouver, she continued to be involved with the People of All Cultures and Ethnicities Network and the Women's Alliance of Vancouver Employees Network. She also volunteers with the Safe Choice Shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Roberts remains active in her church. She attends the Northwest House of Theological Studies, working towards a master's degree in divinity. Her goal is to pastor a church and teach religious studies. She left Hewlett-Packard in March to attend school full time. She plans to finish her master's at Garrett Theological Seminary in Chicago.
• Health Services — Rosa Colquitt, Ph.D.
The Oregon Health & Science University Center for Women's Health recently honored Rosa Colquitt at its community outreach ambassador, calling her "compassionate, caring and committed."
Colquitt serves as a special academic assistant to the provost in the Office of Academic Affairs at OHSU. A native North Carolinian, she obtained her doctorate from North Carolina State University in 1986 and stayed on for an additional year to serve as an assistant professor in the School of Education.
Colquitt's appointment in the OHSU Office of Academic Affairs is multifaceted — a mix of academic research, teaching, grants project coordination and community outreach. Her research efforts have produced a 10-module curriculum on "Providing Culturally Competent Health Care Services." She also studied "client-provider cross cultural communication," and teaches elective classes in these areas at the OHSU School of Medicine.
Colquitt speaks to church groups throughout the Portland-metro area, community outreach programs, family, friends and anyone else willing to listen on issues of health and wellness. She facilitates the distribution of more than 300 annual scholarships to African American and other minority women to attend the annual OHSU Women's Health Conference.
• Religion — Mary H. Overstreet-Smith, Ph.D.
Known to millions as "Pastor Mary," the Rev. Mary Overstreet-Smith was nicknamed "Hurricane Mary" for the humanitarian efforts she displayed following Hurricane Katrina.
Overstreet-Smith sold her home to raise funds to provide homes for Hurricane Katrina victims who lost everything due to the natural disaster. She provided furnished apartments for the Katrina victims and paid their transportation costs to Portland. She helped displaced survivors get a fresh start in Oregon by contacting services that could assist them.
A pioneer and trailblazer, Overstreet-Smith is uninhibited in the midst of challenges. She fulfilled her call to the ministry 34 years ago by founding and serving as pastor of Powerhouse Church of God in Christ. For 23 years, Overstreet-Smith has been the founder and director of Harvest Time Ministry TV Cable services, which extends its ministry into radio and television broadcasting, influencing more than 12 million homes.
In an effort to remedy social and economic problems in urban areas, she started a twice-yearly drive to give blankets, socks and coats to the homeless. She also founded and operated, since 1977, the only food bank that distributes food in the evenings.
In 1980, Overstreet-Smith founded a homeless and emergency shelter that has provided housing for hundreds of people over the past 22 years.
• Social Justice — State Sen. Avel Louise Gordly
Oregonians in Northeast and Southeast Portland elected Avel Gordly to the Oregon State Senate in 1996, after she had served three terms in the House of Representatives. She was re-elected to a second Senate term in 2000, and to a third term in 2004.
A native of Portland, daughter of a Union Pacific Pullman porter and a working mother active in women's organizations, Gordly is the first African American woman elected to the Oregon Senate.
She holds a bachelor's of science degree in the administration of justice from Portland State University and completed the Program for Senior Executives at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Gordly's professional career includes service as an adult parole and probation officer for the Oregon Corrections Division; director of youth services for the Urban League of Portland; and community liaison for the Multnomah County Health Department, where she works on the county's emergency preparedness and health disparity issues.
Throughout her career, Gordly has worked for environmental, economic and social justice; for family-wage jobs in environmentally sound workplaces; and for communities free of hate and full of diversity.
• Youth — Suzan Dennisa
Suzan Dennisa is a graduating senior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Portland. As a student in Jefferson's prestigious Biotechnology Magnet Program, she has excelled in her science and math courses.
She is also a member of the National Honor Society, Youth for Health, captain of the tennis team and the math, engineering, science and achievement organization for youth. Dennisa was a SEARCH Scholar, where she took college courses in the summer.
An active community member, Dennisa has volunteered with the African American Health Coalition, Legacy Emanuel Hospital, the Oregon Food Bank and the Red Cross.
Dennisa plans to attend the University of Oregon and pursue a nursing career.