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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Professor Honored for Diversity Efforts

By Sherry DiBari

Narketta Sparkman-Key, Old Dominion University's director of faculty diversity and retention and an associate professor of counseling and human services, received this year's Mary Helen Thomas Racial Justice Award from the YWCA of South Hampton Roads.

The award, named for Mary Helen Thomas, a civil rights era pioneer, honors individuals who have made significant contributions toward racial equality and inclusiveness in South Hampton Roads.

"It is an honor to receive recognition for fighting for something that you are so passionate about," Sparkman-Key said. "I know racial justice is right, and I fight for it because it is time for change. To have a community behind me, supporting me and motivating me is such a gift."

The nomination, submitted by ODU colleagues, praised Sparkman-Key's tireless efforts at creating a more inclusive culture and building of partnerships within both the University and Hampton Roads.

Sparkman-Key, co-founder of the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies Diversity Center, was recognized for the development of numerous inclusion programs and increased diverse faculty recruitment at the University.

She was also lauded for her outreach efforts, including the "Making It Plain" podcast, which addresses issues that impact Black communities, families and women.

"We were so inspired by the amazing things your colleagues wrote about the work that you do, and even more excited that this year's winner is also a former YWCA WOD (Women of Distinction) award winner as well!" wrote Jenay Garrett, the YWCA's clinical manager/racial justice outreach team coordinator.

Sparkman-Key accepted the award during the Stand Against Racism: Louder Together event at the YWCA of South Hampton Roads' offices on April 22.


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