The League of Women Voters recently nominated Rochelle Mason, CC Dean of Students, for a Making Democracy Work Award for her extensive and perpetual devotion to bettering the community.
The League of Women Voters was established in 1920 during the convention for women’s suffrage. Founded by Carrie Chapman Catt, the grassroots organization was formed just six months prior to the acceptance of the 19th Amendment, which allowed women the right to vote. The League of Women Voters began as a political experiment to support women’s new responsibility as voters and continues to maintain this attitude, encouraging citizens to take an active role in advocacy. The organization remains non-partisan and open to both males and females.
Although Mason was nominated by the Pikes Peak Region of the League of Women Voters, the association exists on a national level. There are branches of the organization in various cities, but all promote a common goal. “Basically, this is a group that strives to make Colorado Springs a better place to live,” said Mason.
The Making Democracy Work Award, for the seventh consecutive year, recognizes individuals that perpetuate principles of democracy through hands-on involvement in the community. This year, nine women were individually nominated for their promotion of access, advocacy, community engagement, civic engagement, and social justice.
Despite the fact that the award is presented by the League of Women Voters, it is not necessary to be a member of the organization in order to be nominated. Mason was nominated by a long-standing professional and Colorado College friend, Rosemary Harris Lytle. Lytle currently serves as the President of the Colorado and Wyoming Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and was a previous recipient of the award.
Given her continual devotion to bettering the community, the nomination does not come as a surprise. Specifically, Mason is being recognized for her persistent work related to opportunities and resources for youth. She previously assisted with planning the African-American Youth Leadership Conference, which has been held at CC for over 20 years, but now has a more influential role as a Board Member. Her active role in orchestrating this conference precipitated her selection as one of Colorado Springs’ Emerging Black Leaders in 1994. In addition, she is involved with the Annual MLK Community Celebration Committee, which CC has also hosted for several years, the City-Wide Juneteenth Committee, for which she received recognition by the local chapter of the NAACP, and the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission.
Regarding her nomination, Mason states, “I have been humbled and pleased to receive recognitions for my community service. After being nominated for this award, it definitely spurred my interest in the mission of the League of Women Voters – I am now a new member.”
As a graduate of CC and the previous Director of Minority Student Life, Mason understands and values the importance of both education and diversity. Fusing these two principles in her work, she said, “My goal is to benefit both Colorado College and the Colorado Springs community through these partnerships [committees]. Education is one of my passions, and I want to encourage and support young people as best I can.”
Other awards that Mason has received on behalf of CC include a Mentor Award, Service Award, and the Nelson-Cisneros Award. Outside of the CC bubble, Mason has earned an Urban League Service Award, the NAACP Community Award in Higher Education, and the Citizen of the Year Award from the Iota Omicron Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Mason also serves as Honorary Chairsperson of the Jolly Jills’ Gala Evening, a member of the American Counseling Association, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan YMCA for six years.
Last Wednesday, Feb. 13, the nine nominees for the award were acknowledged at an awards reception. “I could not believe the caliber of the nominees and it was wonderful to be in such good company,” Mason said. The final recipient of the award was Jane Ard-Smith, whom Mason describes as a “very deserving winner as the founder of the Green Cities Coalition.” The coalition is concerned with improving various environmental and sustainability issue within Colorado Springs.
Said Mason, “It was a real honor to be present at the ceremony, and I was honored as well that our President, Jill Tiefenthaler, was there to lend support and join the celebration.”