Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

2013 City-County Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Awardees Announced

January 14, 2014
Isadore Knox, Jr., Dane County Office of Equal Opportunity, 608-266-4192 Lucia Nuñez, City of Madison, Department of Civil Rights, 608-266-5916
County Executive

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and City of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin today announced the recipients of the combined City-County Humanitarian Award honoring the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The award winners, selected by the City-County Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, are community members who reflect the values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The City and County will present the awards at the 29hAnnual City-County Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance on Monday, January 20th, at the Overture Center Capital Theater, 201 State Street, Madison.  The program begins at 6:00 p.m.


The 2013 City-County Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award recipients are: Dr. Hazel Symonette, and Ms. Jessie Brown, who is receiving the Youth Award.  Information regarding each of the worthy award winners can be found below.


Award recipients


The City-County annual award is given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions and exemplified Dr. King’s non-violent philosophy.  Each award winner, past and present, has enhanced the fabric of Dane County.


“Both of our award winners exemplify what it means to live the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.  “Dr. Symonette’s important work to create equity in teaching and learning has helped the county’s youth succeed in school and in life.  Ms. Brown’s advocacy for social justice on a local level is proof that an individual can make a positive impact in the lives of others regardless of their age.  Both are inspiring others to do what they can to put Dr. King’s philosophy into action in their own community.”


“Dr. Hazel Symonette is a truly deserving recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award,” said Mayor Paul Soglin.  “Her decades of work on the UW Campus and throughout the City has made an invaluable impact on the lives of students who without her assistance and guidance, would be at risk of dropping out.  Her work is nationally known and valued and Madison is very fortunate to have her as a professional and caring volunteer and mentor.”


“I am delighted to honor Jessie Brown as the Martin Luther King Jr. Young Leader award,” said Mayor Paul Soglin.  “Her passion for volunteering, mentoring and educating in her community is truly an inspiration. From her work on social justice issues, food policy and animal rights, she has been involved for many years of her young life.  I look forward to hearing more about her work and accomplishments in the years to come.”

Dr. Hazel Symonette—Humanitarian Award


Dr. Hazel Symonette has worked for 30 years to advance social justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in Dane County, and beyond.  During this time she has been instrumental in the development and facilitation of a number of initiatives aimed at promoting educational equity and diversity in teaching and learning.  Dr. Symonette’s work has been credited with helping build a sense of community for at-risk students that leads to success in their college careers.


Her efforts have had a tremendous impact outside of the UW-Madison campus as well.  Dr. Symonette is a founding member of the board of the Information Technology Academy, a group that works to provide pre-college education and technology access and training for students in Madison public schools.  She is also a volunteer faculty member and board member for the Grassroots Leadership College, a Madison nonprofit that provides leadership and community organizing training to more than 500 adults, supporting the development of more than 120 community projects.


Jessie Brown- Youth Leader


Ms. Jessie Brown is a recent high school graduate who puts the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into action in her community in many ways.  As a student at Malcom Shabazz City High School, Ms. Brown worked for social justice through her involvement in several organizations that strive to overcome financial, nutritional, and educational challenges that exist in communities.


Ms. Brown has also shown a deftness for community organizing, promoting and educating others on the issues of animal rights and community wellness and nutrition.  Through meetings with friends and neighbors, by attending local events, and by organizing projects, Ms. Brown’s work has brought people together in an open learning environment and helped start community conversations that benefit all.


The City-County Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award accepts nominations year round for individuals whose volunteerism and efforts follow Dr. King’s non-violent philosophy.  Please consider nominating a “hero of peace” at


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