WILMINGTON, DE—The ACLU of Delaware (ACLU-DE) celebrated its 37th Annual Kandler Awards Celebration on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, returning to a large in-person gathering for the first time since 2019, and offering additional gathering options in Sussex County and virtually.
During the event, the organization honored two Delawareans who are fierce advocates for social justice: Corie Priest, a New Castle County resident, and Rebecca Lowe, a Sussex County resident.
Priest is the Community Engagement Program Administrator for the Delaware Department of Justice (DOJ). A pioneer in this position, Priest started in April 2019, marking the first time in history the DOJ had hired a person it prosecuted years before. Priest is a leading figure in reentry and criminal justice reform in the state of Delaware, with extensive professional practice in reentry, starting at the Wilmington HOPE Commission Achievement Center in 2014 as the Peer Support Specialist, and eventually moving on to Connections as their New Castle County Supervisor of Reentry. Outside of his DOJ employment, Corie leads his own firm focusing on mass incarceration, inner-city poverty and crime, reentry, workforce development, child support, and community engagement, while also serving on several local and state committees.
“I am the community engagement administrator for the [Delaware] Attorney General’s office, Department of Justice. And really, I pinch myself every day,” said Priest in his acceptance speech. “Because this kid from Southbridge projects, 23rd and Jessup, is not supposed to be here — in the belly of the beast. And now I get to spread my wings, and bring people with me. So we can meet in the margins, so we can be proximate to the struggle, to the cause. That’s what this is for. It’s not for me, really, it’s for the people that I’ve impacted and continue to impact.”
Lowe, the Adult Program Coordinator and Development Director at the Lewes Public Library (LPL) in Lewes, DE, works to ensure the library is a vibrant hub for free thought and discussion. Through partnerships with other organizations and community leaders, the library hosts presentations and conversations on key civil liberties and rights issues. Lowe is also one of the co-founders of Women’s March Sussex – DE (WMS-DE), one of the longest continually operating Women’s March groups in the nation. WMS-DE is dedicated to harnessing the power and raising the voices of everyday women in Delaware, and Sussex County in particular.
“Social activism by its very nature is a group effort. Very few activists work in a vacuum or alone,” said Lowe in her acceptance speech. “My work at the library and with Women’s March Sussex is no exception — I have been privileged and honored to join forces with passionate and committed people. It was our work together that led to this nomination, and I am so excited and honored to accept this award on their behalf.”
Both honorees were recognized by Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long with proclamations of their contributions to Delaware.
Guests of the event were treated to live music by John Flynn, an American singer-songwriter and activist known for his powerful music. Over the years, Flynn’s work for social justice and ardent opponent of the death penalty has seen him perform in a series of MERCy Concerts (Musicians Encouraging the Repeal of Capital punishment). Flynn also currently serves on the Advisory Board for Camp Dreamcatcher, a therapeutic summer camp for children whose lives have been impacted by AIDS/HIV, where his annual concerts for the kids and holiday fundraisers have become a tradition.
The event was co-hosted by Mike Brickner, ACLU-DE executive director, and Nyemade Boiwu, an award-winning writer, speaker, and digital content strategist. Boiwu uses her influence on digital platforms to raise awareness about important issues, and she is immersed in the local community in Delaware. Organizations she’s affiliated with include NAMI Delaware, Academy for Peace, I am My Sister’s Keeper, ACLU-DE, and Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League Young Professionals.
ACLU-DE would like to extend a special thank-you to the event’s sponsors, donors, guests, and contributors.
Sponsors included Matthew and Hilary Ziffer; Ross, Aronstam, & Mortiz LLP; Social Contract; Corie Priest; Group Violence Intervention; Highmark Delaware; Incyte; Morris, Nichols, Arsht, & Tunnell LLP; Network Connect; Rebecca Lowe; Betsy McGeever; Amy Simmerman; Browseabout Books; David and Sally McBride; Joan Kandler; Joanne Cabry; Judy Mellen; Lawrence and Marion Hamermesh; Mallard Financial; Nan Hunter; Planned Parenthood of Delaware; Tom and Jennifer O'Brien; WSFS; Ariel and Ben Gruswitz; Bethany Hall-Long; Claire and Mikki Snyder-Hall; Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.; David and Gwen Brown; Don Peterson and Jeffrey Richman; Grace and Blair Messner; Jeff Raffel; Jeffrey and Linnea Goddess; Kate Cowperthwait; Attorney General Kathy Jennings; Kevin O'Connell; Laina and Michael Herbert; League of Women Voters of Delaware; Leland and Melva Ware; Mark Purpura and Matthew Adams; Mike and Katie Brickner; Norman Monhait and Marcia Halperin; Patty Downing; Sucharita Iyengar; Susan Cohen and Ron Collins; Tom and Judy Pappenhagen; Troutman Pepper; and William and Mary Johnston.
More information about Corie Priest is available online here: https://www.aclu-de.org/en/biographies/corie-priest
More information about Rebecca Lowe is available online here: https://www.aclu-de.org/en/biographies/rebecca-lowe
More information about Nyemade Boiwu is available online here: https://www.aclu-de.org/en/biographies/nyemade-boiwu