Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

May 6, 2003

Whitworth's Elsa Distelhorst Receives Mayor's Human Rights Award

Elsa Distelhorst, a director of development at Whitworth College and a longtime diversity advocate and community leader, has been presented a 2003 Mayor's Human Rights Award. She was one of five individuals and groups recognized last week at the Sixth Annual Community Congress on Race Relations.

"Elsa is a tremendous asset for Spokane," says Mayor John Powers. "She is tireless in her efforts to speak out for all people in our community. It was an honor to recognize Elsa with a Human Rights Award. This award allows us to recognize those who are working toward the goal of creating a community that embraces and celebrates diversity and advocates for civil and human rights. Our 2003 winners are champions of this important work."

Distelhorst was nominated by Rich Hadley, president of the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce, who cited her service and advocacy for human rights and diversity as a board member of the chamber, as past chair of Leadership Spokane, and as a participant in the Minority Business Partnership and the Workforce Diversity Committee of the chamber.

"At every turn, Elsa Distelhorst has raised her hand and her heart to speak, plan and fight for the rights of all people. She is a worthy candidate for the Mayor's Award for Human Rights," Hadley stated in his nomination.

In her current role at Whitworth, Distelhorst directs fundraising with corporate, foundation and community prospects. Previously, she served the college by directing non-credit programs for the community and marketing the Continuing Studies Program for working adults completing their undergraduate degrees. Before coming to Whitworth 16 years ago, she was an elementary school teacher and patient advocate for high-risk pediatric health services.

"Elsa's commitment to all people and her love for our community serve as a constant inspiration," says Kristi Burns, vice president for institutional advancement at Whitworth. "She is a leader and a teacher, and I feel fortunate to serve alongside her at Whitworth College."

Powers, who co-chairs the Task Force on Race Relations with Gonzaga University President Robert J. Spitzer, S.J, began the Mayor's Human Rights Award program in 2002 as a way to recognize organizations and individuals who promote diversity and whose efforts have had a positive impact or have raised public awareness in the advancement of civil and human rights.

The award is given out in five categories: non-profit organization, for-profit organization, youth group, individual youth, and individual adult.

In addition to Distelhorst, this year's winners include: Spokane School District 81 (non-profit) Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. (for-profit) RACE Lewis & Clark High School (youth group: ) Dylan Lodge & Ben Zack (youth individual).

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Greg Orwig, director of communications, (509) 777-4580 or gorwig@whitworth.edu.

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