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Swati Adarkar, President and CEO of Children's Institute, and award-winning musician Common will be presented with awards at the Concordia University's annual gala to be held Feb 4, 2020. Common is pictured here performing at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles
By The Skanner News
Published: 03 February 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. – A star of Oregon education and a Hollywood star with a passion for education will both be part of an awards night Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the new Hyatt Regency Hotel, 375 NE Holladay St., in Portland. 

Concordia University will present its Governor Victor Atiyeh Leadership in Education Award to Swati Adarkar at its gala. Adarkar is co-founder, president and CEO of Children’s Institute. The statewide, early childhood advocacy organization works to ensure children have the programs and services they need to nurture their love of learning and prepare them for success in school and beyond. 

The event’s keynote speaker will be Common, a musician, actor, author, philanthropist and activist who has won a Grammy, an Emmy and an Academy Award. The son of a Chicago School Board member, he also helped create an arts-focused charter school in his hometown of Chicago. 

The gala will feature musical performances by LaRhonda Steele, otherwise known as “Portland’s First Lady of the Blues.” The Cascade Blues Association named Steele the “Best Female Vocalist” in 2017 and 2016. 

There will also be a pre-gala private reception with Common and Adarkar. For tickets and information, contact Concordia University at (503) 493-6579 or [email protected], or visit ConcordiaLeaders.com.   

Up to 600 people are expected to attend the ninth annual event, set for 6:30-9 p.m. Funds raised will support student scholarships and Concordia 3toPhD® model for education. Motivational speaker Kimberely Dixon, 3toPhD co-chair, will serve as emcee. 

“This is sure to be an entertaining, educational, memorable, thought provoking and definitely an uncommon evening,” said the Rev. Dr. Tom Ries, who started as the university’s interim president Jan. 2.  

Concordia created the event to recognize those who make significant contributions to regional education.  

“Swati is a unique individual who has made an incredible impact on early childhood development and education in Oregon,” said Ries. “Her outstanding achievements on behalf of children and families in our state have been recognized locally, regionally and nationally.” 

Common will take a break from his busy performance and acting schedule to speak about his dedication to advocating for the underserved and the work he’s done to improve the lives of students and inspire them to dream beyond their circumstances. 

“In supporting students, advancing civics education and collaborating in partnerships such as 3toPhD, we all have something in common. We strive to make the world a better place,” said Ries.

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