Ballet West's Adam Sklute and the B.W. Bastian Foundation to Receive MLK Unsung Hero Awards

Adam Sklute, Ballet West artistic director

January 22, 2020

Westminster College is pleased to announce the community recipients of Westminster’s 2020 MLK Unsung Hero Awards are Ballet West’s Adam Sklute and the B.W. Bastian Foundation. The MLK Unity Luncheon and Unsung Hero Awards on January 24, 2020 are part of Westminster’s week-long celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy. The Unsung Hero Awards are given to individuals, groups and organizations who are committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive campus and community. “Our Unsung Hero Awards, now in its fourth year, seek to recognize those on our campus and in the community who are sharing their gifts, skills and talents in service to create and increase inclusivity and celebrate the diversity among us,” said Tamara Stevenson, chief diversity officer at Westminster. “Honoring our Unsung Heroes during the Unity Luncheon, the capstone event to our annual MLK Commemorative Series, is an ideal opportunity for us to reflect on Dr. King’s life, work and legacy as a scholar, activist and advocate for civil rights and social justice.” 

2020 MLK Unsung Heroes

Adam Sklute, Ballet West Artistic Director 

 Adam Sklute, Ballet West artistic director

Westminster recognizes Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute for his efforts toward a more inclusive ballet environment. When Sklute started at Ballet West in 2007, he said, “I want my dancers to be as diverse as the world around us.” He has since expanded Ballet West’s company to include dancers of color and of varied nationalities. Ballet West is now one of the most diverse ballet companies in the country. Sklute oversaw Ballet West’s new set and costumes, and he modified choreography for “The Nutcracker” – transforming cultural stereotypes into cultural celebrations.

B.W. Bastian Foundation

B.W. Bastian Foundation

Westminster recognizes the B.W. Bastian Foundation for its commitment to supporting programs and initiatives that cultivate community and understanding within and across differences. The Foundation has financially supported Westminster College’s B.W. Bastian Foundation Diversity Lecture Series for 15 years. The series has illuminated topics such as how stereotypes and bias affect decision-making, the increasing need to consider how mental and emotional health challenges impact learning and the psychosocial complexities of structural inequalities at the intersections of race, gender and sexuality.

Alvaro Cortez, Westminster Theatre Major

Alvaro Cortez, Westminster theatre major

Westminster recognizes Westminster theatre major Alvaro Cortez for helping to establish his high school's first (and likely the first of its kind in the state of Utah) Spanish-speaking Shakespeare team. Alvaro says that a Spanish-speaking Shakespeare team in Utah is important to show that there is diversity in Utah. He believes the arts are important in education because the arts can better anyone.

Shari Duckworth, Westminster Student Account Services Director

Shari Duckworth, Westminster student account services director

Westminster recognizes student account services director Shari Duckworth for her demonstrated commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for staff and the office's clientele: students and families. She has more than 30 years of accounting experience, which has guided her to integrate and implement several process efficiencies in student accounting to support the college's student-related financial procedures.

Marilee Coles-Ritchie, Westminster Education Professor

Marilee Coles-Ritchie, Westminster education professor

Westminster recognizes education professor Marilee Coles-Ritchie for her academic and activist engagement in the field of language acquisition and equity education for more than 30 years. She has taught multilingual learners in many diverse settings, including a public high school in Douglas, Arizona, a bilingual secondary school in Quito, Ecuador, and an elementary school in the Navajo Nation. In higher education positions, she was instrumental in developing the Teaching English as a Second Language program at Utah State University. In addition, she participated in a federal grant at the University of Alaska Fairbanks that supported Yupik teachers in obtaining graduate degrees focusing on indigenous language acquisition. She aligns closely with bell hooks’s philosophy that “As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence.”