Jewell Ryan-White Award for Cultural Diversity

The Jewell Ryan-White Award for Cultural Diversity is given annually to those persons who show an outstanding contribution to a process that encourages, facilitates, or creates culturally diverse and/or non-mainstream community involvement in the field of community media.


Ms. Zenaida Mendez is the Director of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center. Ms. Mendez has an intensive career in public service, community activism, television production, and filmmaking. As a social justice activist, she is an avid voice for tolerance and has many years of experience working as an advocate for people of color, women’s, & LGBTQI+ rights, and artists, as well as economic, racial and environmental justice organizations. Zenaida's focus at MNN El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center is on Community Engagement. As such, she engages the entire diverse community in Manhattan, particularly Northern Manhattan, West and Central Harlem, and East Harlem.

She first became involved in public access television as a member of the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) board of directors and as an independent television program producer. In 2006, she became MNN’s Director of External Affairs, and as such Ms. Mendez was responsible for leading a successful outcome of the cable television re-franchising process. In 2015, Ms. Mendez became Director of MNN’s newest television studio in East Harlem/El Barrio, in New York City. She also develops dynamic event-based programming initiatives, including developing partnerships with local nonprofits and community groups.

Prior to joining MNN Zenaida Mendez served for almost three years as director of Racial Diversity Programs at the National Organization for Women (NOW) where she successfully spearheaded a diversity and inclusion training program, a woman of color and allies summit, and the campaign to end femicide of the women of Juarez and Chihuahua, Mexico among other initiatives.
Zenaida is currently a Board Member of New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) and a former member of the West Harlem Environmental Action (WEACT) and the National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence (Alianza).

Ms. Mendez has received many local, national, and international recognitions and awards, recently among them The Merit Award, presented by the President of the Dominican Republic Luis Abinader in conjunction with the Ministry of Women, and an award for her public service at the SOMOS Conference celebration in Albany, NY.

Ms. Mendez earned a BA in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Public Administration from the City University of New York, Graduate School of Public Affairs.


List of Winners by Year

2022 - Zenaida Mendez 
2021 - Jean Lewis, Community Media Center of Carrol County
2020 - Kathryn "KatMeow" Garcia
2019 - Shannon Gee, Seattle Channel
2018 - Tia Price
2017 - T-Time in Olympia (Presented to producers Staci Layton, Amy Layton, Lucas Miller, and Melissa Miller)
2016 - Bepsie Perry, Hello! West Hartford
2015 – Jennifer Dynes, MetroEast Community Media
2014 - Chag Lowry, Native Cultures Fund, part of the Humboldt Area Foundation
2013 – Kim Lawson, CreaTV San Jose
2012 – Kwame McDonald, St. Paul Neighborhood Network
2010 – Richard Rosenthal
2009 – Cherie Tessier
2008 – Graciela Rivera Oven
2007 – Michael Zinzin
2006 – Edmund Broussard, Berkeley Community Media
2005 – Malkia Cyril
2004 – Thenmozhi Sondararajan
2003 – Tarek Bagdadi, Minneapolis Telecommunications Network
2002 – Onida Coward-Mayers
2001 – Azaka Ajanaku
2000 – Ben and Sue Charles – Native Media (Tacoma, Washington)
1999 – Richard Turner
1998 – CeCe Pinheiro
1997 – Fernando Moreno
1996 – Rick Maultra
1995 – Maggie Johnson-Reese
1994 – Curtis Henderson
1993 – Jewell Ryan-White