The JoAnn Martin Civic Leadership Award was presented to Dr. Mae Colleen Jones on May 2, 2023. The award was established to recognize an individual who has demonstrated a strong commitment to civic leadership – an individual that possesses servant leadership qualities and expresses their servant leadership through volunteer service to our community, to include leadership service with nonprofit and civic organizations in varying capacities. The award first presented to JoAnn Martin shortly before her passing in the fall of 2021 by a group of community leaders including leaders from Ameritas and NRC, who also established an endowment at the Foundation to sustain JoAnn’s leadership legacy.
Now retired, Dr. Mae Colleen Jones has spent her career in academia, the majority of which was with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The reason for her recognition was not just because of her leadership throughout her professional career, but also because of her extensive history of community service. The award’s nominating committee identified nearly 20 unique instances of Dr. Jones’ formal community leadership service, including volunteer leadership roles with the United Way, Leadership Lincoln, Friendship Home, the Sheldon, the Lied Center, and the Lincoln Community Foundation.
As Dr. Jones became the second recipient of the JoAnn Martin Civic Leadership Award, she reflected on the journey that brought her and Melvin to Lincoln. They had both decided early on to support each other’s professional path and “bloom where they were planted.”
“When Melvin died, I was reminded of a Maya Angelou quote, ‘You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them’,” she said. “It was not difficult for me to step up and become more visibly active in Lincoln – because the perspectives of Black people, women and ‘transplanted’ new Nebraskans are essential to the health, growth, and future of this community.”