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Interfaith Works to Hold 2016 Racial Justice Awards

By Staff


RugiraInterFaith Works of CNY will honor Bill Byrne, Timothy Bond, and Bonke Rugira with its 2016 Racial Justice Awards, Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Byrne will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award; Bond will receive the Catalyst Award; and Rugira will receive the Youth Award.

The ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Syracuse Stage’s Sutton Pavilion, 820 E. Genesee St.

Attendees have also been invited to attend Syracuse Stage’s presentation of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” following the event, at 7:30 p.m.

InterFaith Works has presented the awards, as part its of Center for Dialogue’s Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism, since 2006.

According to officials, the organization has given the awards to Central New York residents whose passion and skills have produced change, or have contributed toward change in ending racial injustice, and promoting social equity in some way.

Byrne, a resident of Jamesville, N.Y., is currently chairman of the board at Byrne Dairy, and, prior to retiring from a 42-year career with the company, he served as president for 10 years, committed to keeping the company locally-owned and operated.

Byrne has also served as chair of the Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative for three years, and as an 18-year member, and two-term chairman, of the Salvation Army Advisory Board.

He has also been associated with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, Northeast Dairy Foods Association, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In addition, Bond, a Syracuse resident, has been the producing artistic director of Syracuse Stage for eight years.

Each season, he has included at least one play addressing race or ethnicity, as a way to educate the community about stereotypes, and assumptions.

According to officials, Bond has made a significant contribution to the Central New York community by informing thousands of people about social inequity and racial justice, and, as a result, inspired further dialogue, and action.

Last but not least, Rugira, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syracuse resident, has been named valedictorian of his senior class at Fowler High School, and is captain of the school’s soccer team.

Committed to promoting social justice through peaceful actions, Interfaith members said he has also served as a facilitator for the El-Hindi Center for Dialogue’s “Dialogue to End Racism,” between Fowler and Skaneateles High School students.

Individuals interested in attending the event should contact Kathy Ferro at (315) 449-3552, ext. 119, or email her at, for tickets.

The suggested ticket donation ranges from $30 to $150. Any amount donated over $30 is tax-deductible.

Founded in 1976, InterFaith Works  has strived to address deeply-embedded social divisions leading to community action and policy change. The organization’s service, and educational programs, include the Center for New AmericansAhmad & Elizabeth El-Hindi Center for Dialogue, as well as Senior Services and Spiritual Care Programs.