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Fitz Center for Leadership in Community

About the Mattie Davis and Joe Kanak Community Builders Award

Building community is easier said than done. Dayton has been very fortunate to have a wealth of neighborhood and community leaders who have spent their lives organizing and advocating for their respective communities. Mattie Davis and Joe Kanak were two such leaders who made Dayton a better place to work and raise children.


Nominations are accepted each year with a deadline in mid-February. Winners and nominators are notified in early March. 

Before her passing, Mattie Davis had a major role in the organization of the Edgemont Neighborhood Coalition. In 1978, she invited the University of Dayton to join in an effort that began the award-winning Edgemont Solar Garden. Her example of hard work and dedication continues to inspire volunteers throughout the community.
Joe Kanak was an inspiration to his community of Old North Dayton, where he was born and raised. For over twenty years, Joe was involved in virtually every initiative sponsored by the Northeast Priority Board and the Old North Dayton Development Corporation. He was the second recipient of the Mattie Davis Community Builders Award.

Community Builders Award, Past Recipients

Each year, the University of Dayton gives the Mattie Davis and Joe Kanak Community Builders Award. It honors a person in the Dayton Community who exemplifies vision and compassion toward neighborhood or community. The sixteenth annual award will be presented at the CITYLINKS conference on Friday, April 11, 2014. Past recipients of the award are:
  • 2016 David Bohardt
  • 2015 Leslie Sheward
  • 2014 Kevin Jones & Patricia Rickman
  • 2013 Dick Ferguson
  • 2012 Verletta Jackson
  • 2011 Mary Ellington
  • 2010 Jan Lepore Jentleson
  • 2009 Dean Lovelace
  • 2008 Honorable Bill C. Littlejohn, Judge
  • 2007 Sr. Rose Wildenhaus & Dick McBride
  • 2006 Juan Urbieta & Carmen Guerrero-Urbieta
  • 2005 Annie Bonaparte
  • 2004 Luong Vo
  • 2003 Joan Means
  • 2002 Diana Watkins
  • 2001 Hazetta Sargent
  • 2000 Joseph Kanak
  • 1999 Ann Cummings

Fitz Center for Leadership in Community

1401 S. Main Street
Dayton, Ohio 45409