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Cox Communications and Las Vegas Black Image Honor Southern Nevada Leaders for Juneteenth 2022

July 12, 2022 by  
Filed under Feature

Southern Nevada celebrated Juneteenth 2022 with gatherings throughout the city, with people from every community celebrating freedom for Black Americans. 

Cox Communications partnered with Las Vegas Black Image to honor some distinguished community leaders — women and men who represent advancements in Southern Nevada that are improving quality of life. 

Inclusion, diversity and equity are the guiding principles at Cox Communications. Recently, the company was ranked in DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity. In its 16th year of participating in the survey, Cox Communications is now 34. In addition to being ranked on DiversityInc’s Top 50 most distinguished list, Cox is also recognized as No. 3 among Companies for Black Executives. 

The Cox Communications and Las Vegas Black Image Juneteenth honorees are:

Keith E. Whitfield, PH.D. 

Whitfield is a seasoned university administrator and prolific scholar in the fields of psychology, health, and aging. He became UNLV’s 11th president on August 24, 2020. 

Previously serving as provost, senior vice president of academic affairs, and professor of psychology at Wayne State University, Whitfield has authored or co-authored over 200 publications and has earned $20 million in funding from agencies including the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging and National Science Foundation. Whitfield’s current research focuses on the relationship between stress and longevity in African-American families. 

He is a game-changer with the integration between UNLV’s economic development advancements and the needs of Southern Nevada. 

“One of our principles at UNLV is to be a part of the community. We have received Urban Research One recognition in terms of research and community engagement. We live this. We walk the walk — and so on a number of fronts we are doing things that make my job easy,” he said. “I’m building on a foundation that a lot of people have already built. We want to accomplish even more and work in the K-12 space, and the economic development space. Our Black Fire Research and Technology Center for Economic Development, headed by Bo Bernhard, Vice President Economic Development, is bursting with new innovations and developments. And really showing that a university can be and should be a critical piece of how to diversify and build an economy in Southern Nevada. Recently, two UNLV alumni who work at the center created an avatar of myself — so that students, faculty and residents of Clark County can interact with me virtually to answer questions and to provide resources. I want to thank Cox Communications and Las Vegas Black Image Magazine for the honor. I know many at Cox Communications, like Derrick Hill and others, and I’ve seen their impact on the community. We share similar visions. I am completely humbled and honored to be acknowledged.”

Kelvin Watson 

As executive director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Kelvin Watson oversees 25 branches run by 600+ employees, spanning 8,000 square miles, with a budget of $77 million and a collection of 3.2 million items. Watson has brought innovative, award-winning leadership to Nevada’s largest library system — and his deep experience in fundraising, technology, program development, and demonstrated success in addressing the digital divide has brought a new era to this library system. 

“I think what I wanted to accomplish is what I accomplished at other library districts — and that’s to truly impact communities,” Watson said. “An objective is to change the mindset that the library district is just a place for books. We are actually a place for so many other resources. We connect people within the community with resources as well. For example: we recently launched a cell phone loan program whereby we lend cell phones out to homeless individuals in Southern Nevada. This program is proving to be a wonderful resource for the disadvantaged and helping them with needed resources to improve their quality of life. Merging with humanity is a focus so residents will understand that the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District is a hub, a connector, and the center of the wheel providing social services to those in need. It is your trusted place.” 

Watson has also advanced accessibility for literary works with a book vending machine for residents to get their favorite books with a click of a button. He expressed deep appreciation for Cox Communications and Las Vegas Black Image. “I want to thank Cox Communications and Las Vegas Black Image Magazine for the special honor as we celebrate Juneteenth. It is wonderful to be honored along with the great work of our Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. We really appreciate the acknowledgement.” 

“When I arrived as executive director of the Library District last year, the district was in a strategic planning process. I was a participant in the process and we decided to call our strategic plan a ‘playbook’ because it is actionable,” said Watson. “It’s about actions, deliverables, achievements and execution. It’s based on four pillars: powerful people, places, partnerships and platforms. And when you think about all the things we have done here in the last year-and-a-half — it all ties back to our strategic plan.”

Dr. Anthony Pollard and Diane Pollard 

Known as the “Power Couple of Southern Nevada,” Dr. Anthony Pollard and Diane Pollard have never shied away from the community and its needs. Diane, a onetime Clark County school teacher, always dreamed of one day having a school within the Historic Westside where children could receive a competitive, first-class education. That’s why the Pollards established Rainbow Dreams Early Learning Academy charter school services — many within communities of color. 

Rainbow Dreams Early Learning Academy is committed to providing young students with a strong educational foundation. The academy officially opened its doors on August 27, 2007 with a state-of-the-art, 16,887 square foot facility. The primary focus of the Rainbow Dreams Early Learning Academy is to work with the at-risk and underserved population of Las Vegas as defined by state law. The academy states that it “provides a firm educational foundation while encouraging diversity and cultural appreciation.” 

“We really appreciate the great recognition from Cox Communications and Las Vegas Black Image Magazine,” says Diane. 

Diane Pollard serves as the academy’s executive director — and for the last 21 years has produced the annual Juneteenth Celebration that gives a portion of its proceeds back to the academy as an annual fundraising event. “We just had our 21st Annual Juneteenth Festival at the amazing Expo at the World Market Center,” she said. “It was really wonderful and many attended. Our elected officials attended and we were so happy to have Councilman Cedric Crear serve as our co-host. Families attended, we had vendors, and the live entertainment was amazing.”

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