The University of Olivet’s 21st annual Leadership for Individual and Social Responsibility Awards Dinner will be held Wednesday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Country Club of Lansing. The 2017 honorees are leaders in their chosen professions and reflect the college’s vision of Education for Individual and Social Responsibility. Jim Blocker, Battle Creek police chief, Rina Risper, owner and publisher of The New Citizens Press, and Ric Walton, president of Walton Insurance Agency, are celebrated for bettering the communities they live in and encouraging others to do the same.
Rina Risper’s life has revolved around individual and social responsibility. Presently, she is the publisher and owner of the biweekly, multicultural Michigan-based newspaper, The New Citizens Press. Founded in 2002, the paper has a readership of over 30,000. She is also the executive director of The New Citizens Press Community Action Network (TNCP CAN). Its mission is to raise awareness of stopping violence, including domestic violence; to promote literacy programs; and to promote all forms of the arts. From 2011 to 2016, Rina also hosted “The New Perspective” on Michigan Business Network.
“I love people,” Rina said. “That’s a very big detail about myself. I enjoy seeing growth in others, learning about other cultures, and finding the similarities between groups or individuals who may seem different at first; then, especially, sharing those stories.”
Rina’s commitment to individual and social responsibility comes from her personal struggle with homelessness, assault and domestic violence. She said that fear gripped her until it was no longer an option. God and His angels became the source of her strength and faith during her darkest times.
Rina volunteers her time and talent to a number of Lansing organizations, including those that serve the homeless or offer supportive services for victims of domestic violence or violent crimes. In 2007, she started State of Our Health: Through the Voices of Our People, which has served over 1,000 people. She also created the Poetry in the City, a program that gives people an opportunity to perform on the Capitol steps. As part of her initiative Read to Succeed, Write to Ignite, Rina collected over 300 dictionaries and thesauruses for area schools. She has also found time to teach poetry at Shabazz Academy and mentor the journalism class at Pleasant View Middle School. Additionally, Rina is a past president of the Walnut Neighborhood Association.
“What’s truly important,” said Rina, “is listening to others. Supporting a person in need can be as simple as just listening and relating to them. Giving back doesn’t have to be done on a large scale; in fact, the small things that all add up might actually make a deeper impact overall.”
She is the recipient of the A. Phillip Randolph “Unsung Hero Award,” the Kappa Alpha Psi Community Service Award, and the Lansing Black Chamber of Commerce Community Pillar Award. In addition, The New Citizens Press received the Business Excellence Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs.
Risper is a native of New York, New York and earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the City University of New York. Her mantra is “Live Simply. Take Chances. Love People!”
Tickets to the Leadership for Individual and Social Responsibility Awards Dinner are $75, which includes a $40 tax deductible donation to The University of Olivet. For more information, contact Carol Flanigan, senior director of annual giving and donor services, at 269.749.7625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.