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Lorna Gonsalves gets Ohio Martin Luther King Award for Community Building

Jan. 22, 2014

Mangalore born Dr Lorna Gonsalves has been conferred the State of Ohio Martin Luther King Award for Community Building. The award was presented by the Ohio Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday Commission recently at the 29th annual Ohio Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Commemorative Celebration at the Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Columbus.

Dr Lorna Gonsalves is the daughter of Joe Gonsalves and Irene Gonsalves and the wife of Dr Peter Pinto. She was born in Mangalore but was raised in the four major cities of Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, and Mumbai.

Dr Gonsalves is the founder and executive director of Human Values for Transformative Action, an organization that prompts individuals - mostly youth - to bring values such as justice and equality to life. Her COMMUNITY HEART BEATS Program - now the Creative Peaceful Resistance Program has urban youth using creative expression as a tool for envisioning and achieving self and neighbourhood transformation.

Previously, she was the associate executive director and director of global outreach at the UNESCO Chair’s Institute of Comparative Human Rights. Working in a reciprocal learning relationship with educators and community leaders from South Africa, she launched the Student Ambassadors for Human Rights Program.

Prior to joining the Institute, she was the architect of the Campaign to Promote Racial Justice; a project of the Washington DC based National League of Cities. Under her yearlong Directorship, mayors and other elected officials from more than 200 cities from 48 states joined the campaign, plotting out their antiracist agendas in a workbook of Dr Gonsalves' devising. Undoing Racism, a documentary video which she co-produced, won the Aegis and Telly awards.

Before heading up the Campaign to Promote Racial Justice, Dr Gonsalves served as Associate Provost for Diversity at Bowling Green State University. Her tenure there saw her spearhead Breaking the Silence, a program that brought together members of the campus and city communities to address the largely unspoken realities of racism. She produced a documentary video outlining the yearlong initiative, and then-Ohio Governor George Voinovich publicly recognized the program for its outstanding contribution to enhancing race relations in the state.

Dr Gonsalves has taught courses in the fields of Sociology, Ethnic Studies, Women's Studies, Counselling, Education, and Critical Pedagogy at Bowling Green State University, winning several awards for her teaching and mentoring efforts. She continues to use her pioneering Free Expressions exercise with youth. This novel approach has high school and college students convey their gut-level feelings about injustice through visual depictions, which they then share with the general public. The prestigious Toledo Museum of Art displayed a set of these visual images in its community gallery.

A strong proponent of community policing, Dr Gonsalves has worked extensively with police chiefs and law enforcement officials in the State of Ohio.  Recognizing the futility of purely punitive and retributive approaches, she explores those that are restorative and transformative. For her activist efforts in the Northwest Ohio area, she has received such awards as the Martin Luther King, Jr Drum Major Award and the Servant Leadership Award.

Dr Lorna Gonsalves works to bring the values of justice and democracy to life through the development and implementation of innovative strategies for enhancing social awareness, promoting civic engagement, and prompting social action.  Her overarching goal: to use creative peaceful resistance as a tool for resuscitating justice.

In her signature Coming to Terms workshops, participants confront the gaps between their professed ideals and their actual sentiments.  She views these foundational forums as essential steps toward personal and professional growth.  Her approach is interdisciplinary and action-oriented, combining the methods and insights of several disciplines. 

Her academic background includes a diploma in Opera Performance, an undergraduate degree in Psychology, a master's degree in Counselling, and a PhD in Social Psychology.


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