The Princeton YWCA’s signature event is going virtual. The annual Tribute to Women Awards, established in 1984, honor area women who have demonstrated leadership, talent, and commitment to the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. A ceremony to honor this year’s recipients takes place virtually on Thursday, May 28, at 7 p.m. Cost: $175, fully tax-deductible. Register at

Eight women will be honored with Tribute to Women awards, and three additional women will be honored with awards for young leaders and community leadership.

The Tribute to Women honorees are:

Adriana Abizadeh

Adriana Abizadeh is the president of Catalyst Consulting Group, which offers support to nonprofits. From 2017 to 2020 she was executive director of the Trenton-based Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund. During her time there she helped lobby for the passage of a new state law that allows undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in security intelligence and counter-terrorism from Rutgers and a master’s in public policy from Drexel.

Kemi Alli

Kemi Alli, a pediatrician, has been the CEO of the Henry J. Austin Health Center in Trenton since 2015. She was previously its chief operating officer. She is also a founder of the Trenton Health Team and has served on the boards of the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, the New Jersey Primary Care Association, the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, and Thomas Edison State University. She earned her medical degree at Rutgers.

Kimme Carlos

Kimme Carlos has founded multiple organizations focused on mental health, wellness, self-care, and addiction and recovery. She heads the Urban Mental Health Alliance: Advocating for Healthy Minds in Urban Communities; Kimme Carlos Motivational Consulting; and Sister Wellness Retreats: Healing Spaces for Black Women. She is also the author of a book, “The Window of Grace: Living in Recovery through Christian Faith.”

She has served on boards including Foundation Academies, Children’s Futures, The Center for Family, Community, and Social Justice; and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Mercer County. She graduated from Regent University with a bachelor’s in religious studies and a minor in psychology. (For more on Carlos, see the April, 2018, issue of U.S. 1’s sister paper, the Trenton Downtowner.)

Merodie A. Hancock is the president of Thomas Edison State University in Trenton. She is a leader in innovative education programs for non-traditional students. Hancock previously served as president of State University of New York, Empire State College and as vice president at Central Michigan University Global Campus.

She earned her bachelor’s in economics at Scripps College, an MBA from Claremont Graduate University, and a PhD in urban services and education administration from Old Dominion University. For more on Hancock, see U.S. 1, August 15, 2018.

Katherine Nunnally

Katherine N. Nunnally is a Trenton native who has worked for numerous community service and educational organizations. She worked as a teacher and in the nonprofit field in Newark and at Seton Hall University before returning to Trenton to serve as executive director and CEO of the Smith Family Foundation and #IAMTHECHANGE. Through the foundation, she provides funding and leadership development to organizations in Trenton.

A graduate of Trenton Central High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree in African American studies and elementary education and an MPA with a concentration in nonprofit management and governance, all from Seton Hall.

Joanne Parker

Joanne Parker has been a Princeton resident for more than 50 years. After graduating from Princeton High School she attended Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina before returning to Princeton for a career of service.

She was an aide to special education students at John Witherspoon Middle School for more than 34 years while also coaching soccer, basketball, and softball. In 1993 she was a founding member of Princeton Young Achievers and serves as youth director at the First Baptist Church. She is an employee of the Princeton Family YMCA.

Sarah Torian

Sarah Torian has been involved in issues of civil rights and economic justice for more than 20 years. Since 2002, she has worked as an independent consultant for nonprofits and foundations as the principal of Torian+Whitley Consulting. She has co-written two reports on structural and systemic barriers that sustain racial inequities in Atlanta, and she manages a webinar series designed to build the capacity of local funders and community collaborations in supporting children’s early language and literacy development from birth through third grade. She has served on the board of Housing Initiatives of Princeton since 2014.

Jerlene Worthy

Jerlene H. Worthy, a Ewing resident affectionately known as “Cookie,” was the first African-American woman in state and Mercer County history to serve as clerk to the Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1986. The following year she was elected president of the New Jersey Association of Freeholder Clerks.

In addition to working for the state Department of Transportation and Corrections and the Office of Ewing Township Mayor Alfred W. Bridges, Worthy has served with a wide range of civic, political, and professional associations. These include the National Congress of Black Women, Mercer County Democratic Black Caucus, Trenton Branch NAACP, Trenton YWCA, Ewing Township Welfare Board, and many others.

Worthy attended Mercer County Community College.

The Young Woman Award honorees:

Moriah Akrong

Moriah Akrong is a Princeton native and founder of the Golden Lotus Project, a socially responsible clothing brand. In addition to selling unique merchandise the brand also runs a yearly feminine hygiene product drive and back to school drives, participates in Princeton area community initiatives, and offers workshops on how to live a more positive life.

Akrong is also president of the steward board of Mt. Pisgah A.M.E. Church in Princeton. She received a bachelor’s in fashion industry management and an MBA from Philadelphia University.

Lauren Lalicon

Lauren Lalicon is the policy director to First Lady Tammy Murphy, a role in which she helps to craft the First Lady’s policy agenda regarding maternal and infant health, K-12 climate change education, and fostering women-owned businesses.

A first-generation Filipino American, Lalicon is involved with the Filipino American community and serves as the executive director of Professional Filipino American Youth (PFAY), a networking group for young professionals. She is also a co-founder of the Asian American Women’s Networking Group of Trenton.

The CommUNITY Award honoree:

Mary Anne Haas

Mary Anne Haas spent many years working abroad in international education before settling in Princeton for 23 years. She moved to California earlier this month, shortly after her 94th birthday.

In Princeton Haas worked at the International Schools Services (ISS) for 19 years, where she worked as the executive assistant to the president. During this time, she founded the ISS Women’s Symposium, established as an opportunity for growth and development for women in international education and leadership roles.


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