COTC and Ohio State Newark Community Intercultural Relations Committee Acknowledge Diversity and Inclusion Champions


Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) and The Ohio State University at Newark’s Community Intercultural Relations Committee (CIRC) was proud to honor one individual and two local organizations as the 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award recipients during the 12th Annual Community Intercultural Relations Conference, Racial Justice Requires Equity and Me, on Friday, April 9.

Carmen Lewandowski, a 17-year-old junior at Newark High School and vice president of the newly-reactivated Licking County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was chosen as the individual recipient of the CIRC Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award. Lewandowski organized community leaders for the first-ever Juneteenth Vigil in Newark, Ohio.

“It’s all just been amazing. My whole team at the NAACP, if it wasn’t for them, I could not be doing all this. We all just kind of have each other’s back,” she said.

Lewandowski serves as the president of the freshman and sophomore student council at Newark High School, and volunteers for the United Way of Licking County. She also works as a hostess at Red Oak Pub.

The first organization recognized, the Community Alliance for Racial Justice (CARJ), shares Lewandowski’s goal of sparking conversations in and educating the community on race, diversity and inclusion. The organization was founded upon the principles of unity and anti-racism as the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement began. CARJ received a 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award for community efforts such as presenting at local schools, hosting a community book club and aiding in local voter registration for the 2020 election.

“It’s very humbling to hear that community members are feeling connected to our work and that there is an impact and a reach with what we’re doing with CARJ,” said Executive Director Jamie Holderman.

The second organization recognized as a 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award recipient is Licking Memorial Health Systems for their Project SEARCH, a high school transition program that is designed to give young people with disabilities the training and soft skills they need to transition from school to adult life. Each student receives a combination of classroom instruction, career exploration and on-the-job training. The program is in its fifth year, and over 75 percent of Project SEARCH participants have been hired within Licking County upon graduation.

“We are grateful for the acknowledgment in this award, but I can tell you we have been the beneficiary and are just so pleased to be able to participate and continue to be a significant part of this Project SEARCH program throughout Licking County,” said Robert Montagnese, Licking Memorial Health Systems (LMHS) president and CEO.

View this year’s CIRC conference on COTC or Ohio State Newark’s YouTube channels.

COTC CIRC 2021 YouTube Playlist:

Ohio State Newark CIRC 2021 YouTube Playlist:


Top: L to R: Carmen’s father Laurand Lewandowski, Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award recipient Carmen Lewandowski, Carmen’s mother Sandy Quackenbush, Anna Jefferies, public information officer at the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and Brandi Body, provider support coordinator/DSP eligibility specialist at the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Middle: CARJ Executive Director Jamie Holderman poses with the 2020 CIRC Diversity and Inclusion Champion award honoring the organization.

Bottom: L to R: Anna Jefferies, Brandi Body, COTC/Ohio State Newark Multicultural Affairs Program Manager Vorley Taylor, LMHS Vice President Safety & Security and Human Resources Holly Slaughter, LMHS Director of Recruitment & Retention Drew Link , LMHS President/CEO Robert Montagnese.

Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field, or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor’s degree program. The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors.

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC has four campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.