LMC announces 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Award winners
Published 5:58 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016
BENTON TOWNSHIP —Lake Michigan College hosted its 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast celebration and awards ceremony yesterday at the Mendel Center.
For the past 15 years, LMC has chosen an organization or a member of the community to honor at the event with a Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Award. This year the college recognized Whirlpool leader, Michael Todman and the Benton Harbor Tiger football team family under coach, Elliott Uzelac.
Michael Todman retired last month from Whirlpool Corporation after a 22-year career with the company. He held several high level positions during his tenure including president, board of directors’ vice chairman, and global strategist. He is nationally known as one of Black Enterprise magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Executives.”
LMC’s Board of Trustees chose Todman for the award because of his support for a more holistic approach to global business, and his emphasis on the importance of learning, listening to, and appreciating different perspectives. He is also recognized for his local leadership on the board of Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor.
“I have a lot of people to thank for the opportunities that I’ve had,” Todman said as he accepted his award. “I truly believe every individual has something to contribute. All it takes is a little bit of will and desire to go out and make it happen. I’m inspired by all the things I heard today and I want to contribute even more.”
Former NFL coach, Elliott Uzelac had an extensive career with some of the country’s best football teams. Last year he came out of retirement to lead Benton Harbor High School out of a 25-season losing streak and helped the Tigers make the playoffs for the first time in school history.
He was recognized at the MLK event for his leadership, passion and commitment to the student athletes and for helping to organize the community to come together in support of the team.
Uzelac gave credit to the players, their family of “Tiger Moms” and all the coaches. “I was just one person who tried to unite their beliefs in themselves and to go in the right direction,” he said.
“I always felt that to be successful, you have to have proper leadership and you have to have equal opportunity. I truly believe there are people here at this high school that can be highly successful at life, and winning on the football team is just one small thing. We did improve on the field, but they’ve also improved in the classroom and I know in my heart as time goes on we’ll get better.
“We’re just starting in Benton Harbor, and I’m very excited about the future with these young men. They’ve given me far more than I’ve given them.”
The theme of this year’s event was “What are you doing for others?” New LMC President, Jennifer Spielvogel presented the awards along with Board Chair, Mary Jo Tomasini.
“These men have generously devoted their time and talents in the service of others,” Spielvogel said. “We’re proud to highlight the remarkable impact they’ve made on our communities, and hope they serve as an inspiration to us all to carry forth Dr. King’s legacy of equity, unity, and respect.”