Mantella, Irwin honored at International Women's Day event
Grand Valley State University President Philomena V. Mantella and WGVU radio host Shelley Irwin were honored on March 8 at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids as part of an International Women’s Day event hosted by the nonprofit organization SowHope.
Based in Rockford, SowHope is dedicated to helping poor and oppressed women around the world by promoting wellness, education and economic opportunities, funding more than 300 projects in 23 nations since 2006.
International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1911 when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City demanding better pay, shorter hours and voting rights.
Mantella and Irwin were recognized by SowHope for their significant cultural and social contributions to the Grand Rapids area.
“I’m grateful, I’m humbled and I’m ignited by this recognition,” Mantella said. “I’m struck by the duality of International Women’s Day. It’s a celebration.
“It’s incredible progress that we’ve made as a community of women globally, and yet I want us to acknowledge and feel a sense of urgency about the work ahead.”
Mantella received the Cultural Achievement Award for her impact in higher education as Grand Valley’s fifth president, and the first woman as the university’s top administrator, said SowHope founder and CEO, Mary Dailey Brown.
“President Mantella is leading Grand Valley State University through the challenges of our time, most notably the global pandemic, with an eye toward the future, relevance and growth,” said Brown, a 2009-2010 fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy.
Irwin received SowHope’s Social Achievement Award for her 20 years of dedication to WGVU Public Media, drawing attention to social events and issues in the Grand Rapids community, said Brown.
“Anybody who has an event coming up can contact Shelley, and she will interview them about it so the public can know what is going on,” Brown said.
Irwin is the award-winning host of WGVU's "The Morning Show," and her honors include the Fred Meijer Service Above Self Award and five consecutive Gracie Allen Awards from American Women in TV and Radio for excellence as a program host.
“As a ‘woman of social achievement,’ I am empowered to continue serving as a messenger and community advocate to support women's advancement and equity,” Irwin said.
The event concluded with a march through downtown Grand Rapids, returning to Rosa Parks Circle.