On Saturday, December 2nd, 2023 we hosted our 3rd Annual Janet "Ms. K" Kendrick Sisters of the Center Awards Brunch. This event is named in loving memory of the late Janet Kendrick (1941-2008), or "Ms. K" as she was affectionately known, CCC's former longtime Executive Director who suddenly passed away on July 14, 2008. The Ms. K Brunch celebrates women leaders who have positively impacted CCC and Cambridge, serving as the annual event to bestow the Janet "Ms. K" Kendrick Sister of the Center Award.
This year's recipients of the Janet "Ms. K" Kendrick Sisters of the Center Award were longtime CCC volunteers Angeliquć S. Smith and Claudia Battle, as well as Cambridge's first Black woman City Councilor and former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Saundra Graham (1941 - 2023).
We also recognized Paul Parravano with the highest honor bestowed by the Center, The Reverend E. K. Nichols Founder's Award.
2023 Sisters of the Center Award Recipients
Angeliquć Serelda Smith is a native Cantabrigian who received her education in the Cambridge Public Schools. She currently works as an independent gymnastics and dance instructor in the City of Cambridge and the Greater Boston areas. She is widely recognized within the city as 'Ms. Angeliquć' or 'Ms. Gymnastics'. Angeliquć earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Elementary Education at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. Her lifelong passion has been teaching and working with young children.
Angeliquć acquired her training as a gymnastics and dance instructor through JAM'NASTICS Inc., a community-based non-profit organization focused on utilizing gymnastics and dance to build community, celebrate diversity, and promote positive change. Throughout her tenure from 1994 to 2009, she held various roles within the organization, including Program Coordinator, Director of Programs, and Executive Director.
Driven by her love for teaching, Angeliquć joined the Charles River Creative Arts Program as the Gymnastics Department head, serving in diverse capacities for over 25 years. Her roles extended to being a Textile Instructor and the Camp Director during Summer 2023.
Community, gymnastics, and dance hold significant importance for Ms. Angeliquć. She extends her commitment by working alongside her twin sister, Antoinette Smith, as Co-Directors of the EPIC Children's Ministry, where they teach liturgical dance and drama at the Cambridge Community Outreach Tabernacle.
With almost three decades of dedication to the community, Angeliquć remains an integral part of the Cambridge Community Center’s after-school enrichment program. She intertwines her passion by creating themed dance performances for the Awards Night ceremony each year.
Claudia Battle relocated from Bridgeport, CT to Cambridge, MA in 1978. Claudia is married to Lawrence (LB) Battle and is the mother of 4 children, and the grandmother of 5. All of her children and 2 of her grandchildren are former Center Kids. Claudia is a full time employee in the Student Financial Services Office at MIT.
As a Center Mom, Claudia has volunteered whenever she could. When Ms. K passed, Claudia was one of the first to reach out to Ms G who was serving as Interim Executive Director. She helped reorganize files, drafted her husband to paint the office, helped organize a toy drive so that the Center kids got Christmas presents, and has been helping with our Annual Senior Thanksgiving Luncheon for over 10 years.
While Claudia no longer has children at the Center, she continues to be actively involved. You can find her every third Friday of the month helping to prepare dinner for Family Night for the families of the Center’s after school program.
In addition to her volunteering at the Center, she is also committed to the work that she does with the Children’s Church and the Hospitality Ministry at Western Avenue Baptist Church.
When Claudia was a working Mom, she appreciated and still understands the importance of all the Center does for the families and Cambridge community. She enjoys being able to volunteer her time as she continues to support the Center.
Saundra Graham (1941 - 2023) was born in Cambridge on Sept. 5, 1941, as one of 11 children. She received her education in Cambridge Public Schools, the University of Massachusetts at Boston and Harvard University’s extension school. She became a parent in the 1960s and raised her five children in Cambridge. She entered the City’s political sphere in 1968 as a member of the board of directors of the Cambridge Community Center, then served as president of the Riverside Planning Team in 1970 and as president of Riverside Cambridgeport Community Development Corp. in 1971.
In 1970, she led a march on Harvard University’s commencement in an attempt to get school officials to back down from a dorm expansion plan that would have displaced Riverside residents. Her actions, which halted the commencement for nearly half an hour, forced Harvard to acknowledge the issue publicly and take accountability for the removal of longtime residents, later installing housing complexes for families and seniors.
In 1971, Ms. Graham became the first Black woman elected to the City Council, where she served until 1989. Through her efforts, she saved an East Cambridge courthouse from demolition – it became the Multicultural Arts Center – and was able to rehabilitate and modernize several public housing complexes. She then represented the 4th Middlesex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1977 to 1988 and was the first Black woman elected to the state Legislature from Cambridge.
Beyond her political contributions, Ms. Graham founded the Massachusetts Childcare Coalition in 1979 on the belief that “day care is not a luxury, it’s an essential.” In 1981, the Graham & Parks School was formed from two conjoined Cambridge schools, renaming it for her and Rosa Parks.
Her public service has been recognized with numerous awards, the most notable including the 1976 National Sojourner Truth Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, the 1980 Recognition Award by the Central Square Cambridge Businessmen’s Association and the 1982 “Woman of the Year” in government award by the Boston Chapter of the National Organization of Women.
The Reverend E. K. Nichols Founder's Award Recipient
Paul Parravano has been part of the MIT community since 1991 and is currently Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Treasurer.
Prior to that appointment, and for 32 years, Paul helped lead the Office of Government and Community Relations by fostering communication and understanding between the Institute and all levels of government, major constituency groups, and MIT’s surrounding community. He served as a liaison and resource for people within MIT who work with external parties and those in the surrounding region who have a similar need to interact with the Institute. Paul also worked closely with the MIT Washington office, accompanying MIT’s President on regular visits to Washington, to meet with leadership from the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. He also served as host for campus visits by elected officials and other dignitaries.
Locally, Paul worked to strengthen MIT's involvement in science education with schools and nonprofits through a variety of partnerships, and led MIT’s efforts to annually host the Massachusetts Science and Engineering State Fair. Paul served on many boards, including the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, National Braille Press, Just A Start Corporation and represented MIT with the New England Council. Paul serves on the Arlington, MA Commission for Persons with Disabilities.
In all of his roles and work, Paul’s most critical task is always to represent the Institute in a personal way as a resource for knowledge, neighborly support, and the advancement of MIT’s mission of scientific education and research.
Prior to his employment at MIT, Paul worked as a legal adviser in a civil rights consulting firm in the Boston area, providing advice and consultation for corporations on the implementation of civil rights regulations. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. Paul likes to highlight his strong affinity for soccer, barbecue, and appreciation for the Great Lakes where he grew up. His greatest delight flows from his family, which includes two absolutely splendid daughters, Emily and Ellie, and his wife Martha.
About The Reverend E. K. Nichols Founder's Award
The Reverend E. K. Nichols Founder's Award is the highest honor that the Cambridge Community Center bestows. Reverend E. K. Nichols was one of the Reverends who founded the Cambridge Community Center in 1929. The award was first given out on October 19, 1988 to Everton C. Johnson "in appreciation for his pioneering work as 'Founding Secretary' of the Cambridge Community Center in 1929, and for 60 years of continuous dedication to the Center." Since then, the award has been bestowed upon a select few people who have gone above and beyond to support the ongoing work of the Center in our community.
MS. K SISTERS OF THE CENTER AWARD SPONSOR
"BUILDING COMMUNITY TOGETHER" SPONSOR
"CENTER KID" SPONSORS
SISTERS OF THE CENTER SUPPORTERS
See below for a recap of our 2022 Sisters of the Center Awards Brunch, honoring Erin Gullage and Gail Jones!
Video by Sando Films
Photos by Ryan Burt Photography
Janet "Ms. K" Kendrick Sisters of the Center Awards Committee
Yvonne L. Gittens (Chair)
Toni A. Phillips
Angeliquć S. Smith