WASHINGTON - The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has named Ms. Ogechi Akalegbere of the Archdiocese of Washington as the recipient of the 2021 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award. Each year, this prestigious award from the CCHD recognizes a young adult between the ages of 18 and 40 who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions. Ogechi will be honored at a reception on November 16 during the U.S. bishops’ annual General Assembly in Baltimore.
Ogechi Akalegbere is a Nigerian-American, Catholic young adult leader who is passionate about the faith call to do justice. With Action in Montgomery (AIM), a CCHD-funded organization in the Archdiocese of Washington, Ogechi trained low-income and immigrant parents to advocate for equitable access to resources in schools so their children could thrive. Now an AIM board member, she continues to help local communities give witness to the needs of their members. Ogechi also leads trainings on equity for parishes with Catholics United for Black Lives. After several incidents of national unrest, Ogechi took inspiration from Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, and founded a small group for young adult women of color to discern their response as people of faith. Ogechi works as the Christian Service Coordinator at Connelly School of the Holy Child, and serves as a catechist, lector, and pastoral council co-chair at St. Rose of Lima parish.
Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development said, “Ogechi embodies CCHD’s mission to empower individuals to become active participants in their lives who transform the systems and structures that perpetuate poverty. We are honored to award Ogechi with the 2021 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award and we hope that her dedication to putting her faith into action proves an inspiration and example for us all.”
The award, bestowed annually, is named for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who was archbishop of Chicago from 1982 till his death in 1996. Cardinal Bernardin served as the first general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference from 1968-1972, and as the conference’s third president from 1974-1977. More information about the award is available at: www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/cardinal-bernardin-new-leadership-award.cfm.
Ogechi’s remarks will be available at www.togoforth.org on November 16, following the award reception.
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