Local nonprofit A Step Ahead Chattanooga will be recognized on Sept. 25 as the annual winner of the Clarence B. Jones Impact Award. Named after Civil Rights hero Dr. Clarence B. Jones, this award recognizes “communications for good.” A close friend and former personal counsel of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Jones is known for his powerful work in communications, including his contributions as a draft writer on Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Previous winners of the Clarence B. Jones Impact award include the Truth Initiative (The Truth Campaign) and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC).
“A Step Ahead Chattanooga has helped to fill a gap in their community and region. Their work is an example of how a smaller-scale communications campaign without sizable financial backing can be transformational,” says Tristan Mohabir, director of Programs and Operations at the Communications Network, the organization that presents the award each year.
Sponsored by The Heinz Endowments, the award will be presented at ComNetworkV, The Communications Network’s annual conference. To be held remotely this year, the conference will showcase presentations from Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-Winning investigative journalist for The New York Times, Dr. Richard Besser, CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former head of the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, to name a few.
More than 1,200 attendees from all over the world will attend ComNetworkV virtually. Attendees will include communications leaders from such organizations as the Ford Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, Atlantic57, WK Kellogg Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and many more.
The 2020 Clarence B. Jones Award judging panel calls A Step Ahead Chattanooga’s winning communications strategy “an energetic, culturally-targeted, evidence-based campaign that empowers women with the resources needed to make informed decisions about their reproductive health.’ Representatives from The McKnight Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Democracy Fund, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Foundation for Health, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art judged this year’s award.
“A Step Ahead Chattanooga knows firsthand how communications can change the conversation surrounding sensitive topics,” says Executive Director Susan Vandergriff. “We are so honored that the Communications Network made the bold decision to select us for the 2020 Clarence B. Jones Impact Award. Ms. Vandergriff will present the keynote speech at this year’s ComNetworkV conference.