Guest Commentary

Chinasamy: Sharon Cini receives Paradise Valley MLK 2021 Diversity Award

Posted 1/7/21

The Town of Paradise Valley will observe and celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 18, 2021. However, due to the current COVID-19 situation and the safe distancing guidelines, the observance and …

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Guest Commentary

Chinasamy: Sharon Cini receives Paradise Valley MLK 2021 Diversity Award

Sharon Cini, Native American veteran and diversity administrator has been awarded the Paradise Valley Martin Luther King Diversity Award.
Sharon Cini, Native American veteran and diversity administrator has been awarded the Paradise Valley Martin Luther King Diversity Award.
(Submitted photo)
Posted

The Town of Paradise Valley will observe and celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 18, 2021. However, due to the current COVID-19 situation and the safe distancing guidelines, the observance and celebration will be virtual and on-line.

The celebration will begin online at https://www.mlkparadisevalley.org/livestreaming/ and will begin promptly at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 18.

During the ceremony, Sharon Cini, Native American veteran and diversity administrator will be awarded the PV MLK Diversity Award for her dedication and service in strengthening diversity and building relationships to bring people and communities together.

Sharon Cini is Hopi and Dine’ (Navajo) and is a resident of Scottsdale. Since 2014, she has advanced the efforts of the City of Scottsdale Office of Diversity and Inclusion, after taking the wheel from past employees and innovative diversity champions such as Linda Walton, CEO of Achieving My Purpose and Don Logan, former Scottsdale Diversity Director.

A U.S. Navy veteran and an indigenous woman, she carries a certain respect for life and for humanity and is not afraid to stand up for what is right.

With this year’s theme “Belief into Action — Doing the right thing,” Sharon will provide a short virtual keynote speech and says, “I tell my story through firsthand experiences, observing and experiencing prejudice, stereotyping or racism at different times in my life. As a youth, I didn’t really know what to do at the time but watching and learning from strong women and a strong culture, helped me develop my sense of self and others in order to speak up when necessary or to advocate for those who need help.”

Sharon’s story also includes an experience of her own personal journey involving a self-identified prejudice and the root-cause of it.

Sharon says, “I experienced this discovery in a split second, one that changed my outlook and the actions I took for the rest of my life.”

Her story will provide the listeners with a bit of her mother’s influence and cultural beliefs that helped her take on a courageous “warrior” role in the community and become a trusted advocate, co-healer, and an assertive leader.

Some of Sharon’s past accolades include being an Urban Native American good will ambassador as Miss Indian Phoenix (1996), received the Arizona’s Children Association Program of the Year award with a team of home-based counselors working on the Gila River Indian Community, participated in the Morris K. Udall Congressional Native American internship in 2007, was identified as a “Woman of Distinction” by the Celebration of Women committee and in 2019, Sharon was honored as a diversity champion by the Scottsdale Community Celebrating Diversity Martin Luther King Jr. “Living the Dream” committee.

Her most recent accomplishments include receiving a certification as an ADA (Americans with Disabilities) coordinator in January 2021 and is in the start-up phase of her future consulting business, Bear Root Consulting, LLC.

Sharon’s background, principles, and actions bridge emotional and cognitive awareness to promote equity, honor our diversity and use inclusionary practices in our thinking and behaviors. She believes that Dr. King’s principles of social and interpersonal change includes understanding our truth, including developing ourselves to stand the ground of social justice, equity, fairness and respectful relations.

During the virtual on-line ceremony, the mayor of the Town of Paradise Valley, Mr. Jerry Bien-Willner will deliver the welcome and opening remarks followed by Ms. Shari Varah, the chairman of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Paradise Valley.

An address will also be delivered by Dr. Farshad Fani Marvasti, a representative from the Bahá’i community. The Bahá’i Faith, the world’s newest independent global belief system, teaches the oneness of God, the unity of humanity and the essential harmony of religion. Bahá’is believe in peace, justice, love, altruism and unity.

The Bahá’i teachings promote the agreement of science and religion, the equality of the sexes and the elimination of all prejudice.

The commitment of the mayor and the Town of Paradise Valley together with the Baha’is to promote the ideals of Dr. Martin King Jr goes beyond just the observation and celebration. For the past 23 years, many projects have been carried out to in the community to further Dr. King’s legacy, like the Annual Food Drive, Essay competition in schools on Dr. King’s Themes and Shoe drive for under-privileged children.

Please join us on Monday, Jan. 18 at 11 a.m. for the celebration. https://www.mlkparadisevalley.org/livestreaming/

Editor’s Note: Dr. Kana Chinasamy is member of the Bahá’i faith.

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