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Carey Award for Human Rights Goes To Those Fighting for LGBTQ+ Rights and Against Systematic Racism

(PHOTO: Dr. Genevieve Weber accepted the 2021 John Carey Award for Human Rights, individual category. She was accompanied by her three daughters.)
(PHOTO: Dr. Genevieve Weber accepted the 2021 John Carey Award for Human Rights, individual category. She was accompanied by her three daughters.)

The John Carey Award for Human Rights has been bestowed to those fighting on behalf of LGBTQ+ rights and against systematic racism. The Rye Human Rights Commission presented the award at the Rye Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Rye Presbyterian Church on November 21st.

In the individual category, the 2021 John Carey Award for Human Rights was awarded to Dr. Genevieve Weber for her advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. In 2020, when anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments were expressed within the Rye community after the Rye Free Reading Room scheduled a Drag Queen Story Hour program – Weber and four other Rye women founded The pRYEde Community Group, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to advocate for equality and inclusion. pRYEde held a first LGBTQ+ event on the village green in 2020, and after a year of advocacy, convinced Rye City Council to raise a Pride flag at City Hall and other city flag poles each June during Pride month.

(PHOTO: Amanda Yannett accepted the 2021 John Carey Award for Human Rights, youth category, on behalf of her and Cristiana Villani.)
(PHOTO: Amanda Yannett accepted the 2021 John Carey Award for Human Rights, youth category, on behalf of her and Cristiana Villani.)

The youth award went to Amanda Yannett and Cristiana Villani, both Rye High School graduates, who organized the local Black Lives Matter march in 2020 that attracted more than 1,000 people and then, one month later, founded the Rye Coalition for Change.

The award is named after former Rye Mayor John Carey, who as a scholar of international human rights law, founded the United Nations Law Reports and served as editor for half a century.

You can watch the presentation made by Natalie Auerbach on behalf of the Rye Human Rights Commission, and read her full remarks below.

Transcript of The John Carey Award for Human Rights comments by Natalie Auerbach for the Rye Human Rights Commission:

Hi, my name is Natalie Auerbach and I’m here to present the John Carey Award for Human Rights on behalf of the Rye Human Rights Commission. The goal of the Human Rights Award is to recognize individuals, who have worked to create an inclusive community spirit through actions, activities or programs that reflect the principles of human rights and the value of diversity in our community . The Human Rights Award was renamed to honor John Carey in 2019. John Carey joined the Rye City Council in 1964, becoming mayor in 1974-1982. Carey was a widely respected scholar of international human rights law, authoring dozens of academic articles and two books on the subject. He founded the United Nations Law Reports and served as editor for half a century. He also served on the United Nations
sub-committee on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities from 1964 – 1988. In the spirit of John Carey, This year we have two categories for the award.

THE INDIVIDUAL CATEGORY honors a person who has directly benefited the community and residents of the city of Rye.

THE YOUTH CATEGORY honors the new generation of leaders who have shown exemplary work in school, volunteer, community service and/or faith community activities that reflect the principles of human rights and the value of diversity in our community.

I am proud to announce that the 2021 John Carey Award for Human Rights is awarded to Dr. Genevieve Weber. Dr. Weber was nominated by Alison Fadden, and I would like to give you all a summary of Dr. Weber’s amazing career and community impact as shared by Alison.

Dr. Weber has been a Rye resident for 13 years, and resides here with her husband Kenneth Gilmore and their three daughters, Penelope, Georgina, and Evangeline. Dr. Weber, Ph.D, LMHC is a Program Director and Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling and Mental Health Professions, School of Health and Human Services at Hofstra University. She is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of New York, with a specialization in Substance Use Disorder Counseling. Dr. Weber is the 2021 Teacher of the Year by Hofstra University.

Dr. Weber has been a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ+ community for 20 years, focusing on reducing the impact of homophobia and heterosexism on their lives. Working hands-on with LGBTQ+ clients with substance use and mental health concerns, she learned a lack of support by family, institutions and society was a main contributing factor to distress while self-acceptance, encouragement, and experiences with inclusion were factors that helped LGBTQ+ people become well. Dr. Weber continued her work with the LGBTQ+ community in substance use agencies, college campuses, the classroom and the community. She published a national report in 2010 titled “The State of Higher Education for LGBT People,” which earned national recognition and media attention.

After moving to Rye, Dr. Weber joined forces with Heard in Rye to create a panel on “Understanding Gender Diversity” in 2017. In 2019, Dr. Weber was named one of the three trailblazers for gender equality in Rye history by the Rye Historical Society. In 2020, when anti-LGBTQ sentiments were expressed within the Rye community after a cancelled library event, Dr. Weber and four other Rye women founded The pRYEde Community Group, a
not-for-profit organization that seeks to advocate for equality and inclusion, celebrate the diversity of Rye and the greater community, engage in opportunities for education; and challenge exclusion and discrimination.

Dr. Weber is also a member of Rye Act, a coalition of local organizations and individuals committed to promoting long term health and wellness by inspiring youth, parents, and community leaders to foster healthy behaviors and reduce youth substance abuse. As part of the RyeAct Health & Wellness Action Team, Dr. Weber has authored two newsletter “Returning to School and COVID-19” and “Conversations about Race.”

In addition, Dr. Weber is on the Rye Police Review. She was instrumental in designing a survey allowing for specific findings on differences in police interactions by racial identity, sexual identity, gender identity, and income status. Dr. Weber focuses on community engagement to learn how to best forge greater connections between the Rye PD and the Rye community.

Finally, Dr. Weber was just voted as next president of Rye Girls Softball League and has helped build the league to its highest numbers for the past five years.

To say that Dr. Weber is busy enhancing our community is an understatement. She is a force in Rye, and the effects of her work and expertise are felt throughout the community. On behalf of the Rye Human Rights Commission, I am honored to give the John Carey Award for Human Rights to Dr. Weber.

The second category is the Youth Category. The Rye Human Rights Commission chose the Youth Award Nominees. Today we would like to honor Amanda Yannett and Cristiana Villani, who founded the Rye Coalition for Change. Amanda and Cristiana were profiled by The Rye Historical Society in their article “What’s Old is New Again: In the Civil Rights Movement and Summer 2020, Rye Youth Lead the Way.”

These two Rye High School alumni, along with recent alumni and current students, recognized how the systemic racism and social unrest happening on a national level is reflected in the Rye community. They led the way, working with local leaders and activists to organize an energized, unifying and Covid-safe march, bringing a message of social justice and humanity to our community. The Black Lives Matter March they organized in March 2020 in Rye had over 1,000 attendees.

In their words, through the Rye Coalition for Change, Amanda and Cristiana aimed to change the education system and experience of the Rye City School District, the town’s and school’s relationship, representation, and support of LGBTQ+ community, the policies and practices of the Rye Police Department, and the lack of affordable housing in our community that continues to upload a lack of diversity. Amanda served on the Police Review Committee. Amanda and Cristiana also served on the Rye City School District’s Race, Inclusivity, & Community Task Force.

Their work to educate the community and lead Rye to become a more equitable, diverse and just community makes them role models in our Community, and demonstrates to our Rye Youth that they can make a tangible difference in our city. On behalf of the Human Rights Commission, I am proud to give the John Carey Youth Award for Human Rights to Amanda Yannett and Cristiana Villani.

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