Five Receive 2015 Samuel Cook Society Honors for Service

Kari Barclay receives a Cook Society Award for his theater work at Duke and in the community. Photos by Grant Halverson
Kari Barclay receives a Cook Society Award for his theater work at Duke and in the community. Photos by Grant Halverson

Kari Barclay, a Duke senior whose theater work has focused on linking art to community activism, was one of five recipients of the 2016 Samuel Dubois Cook Society Awards Tuesday night at the Washington Duke Inn.

The society was founded in 1997 to honor the university's first African-American faculty member as well as community members who follow Cook's example of social activism and leadership.

The awards honor students, faculty, staff and community members for creative activism that brings about change.  In addition to Barclay, other recipients were Dr. Delbert Wigfall, Courtnea A. Rainey, Stephanie Helms Pickett and Paula Tanabe.

The late Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum, known for her community work on AIDS and addictions, received the society’s Distinguished Service award posthumously.

An Angier B Duke scholar, Barclay has directed more than a dozen theater productions at the amateur and professional level, including an original piece co-created with refugee youth, a play about town-gown relations in Duke and Durham, and a collection of true stories on the intersection of black and LGBTQ identities.

For his most recent work, The Bull City Dignity Project, he co-founded and directed a documentary theater production about Durham history, gentrification and activist movements. He, a fellow Duke student, and 10 area high school students interviewed community members and turned these interviews into a play performed at the Hayti Heritage Center and The Pinhook. His senior thesis this spring is an original play exploring the history of the U.S. prison system and its relation to racial and socioeconomic inequality.

Having served as the director for Assessment, Evaluation and Professional

Development in Student Affairs for five years, Pickett was selected to become the interim director of the Women’s Center in 2013, and was named the center’[s permanent director in 2014. Students have praised her for her leadership, fostered by a strong sense of humor.

Black students at Duke voted to award her the Julian Abele Mentor Award of the Year because of the enduring care and guidance she bestows as a mentor to black men and women at Duke. Pickett is also the adviser to WHO House, the women’s residence program, and the teacher for the Baldwin Scholars’ capstone class. One colleague wrote in nominating Pickett that she “is a woman of substance who walks her talk as she exemplifies Dr. Cook’s notion of a beloved community.”

A faculty member at the Durham Technical Community College, Rainey applies her background in cognitive neuroscience and instruction to design, implement and assess learning programming. She works to increase access to education, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. To this end, she has worked with science education programs at Duke, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the United Negro College Fund. 

“Courtnea’s work to advance the community stems from her personal experiences in schools with insufficient resources, which sparked a passion to improve the educational trajectory and outcomes for students through teaching and mentoring,” one colleague said.  She is “interested in manipulations that increase motivation for learning that do not require the continued use of extrinsic rewards such as money or praise.”

Tanabe is an associate professor in the Schools of Nursing and Medicine at Duke. Her research and education focus on improving the care of persons with sickle cell disease, particularly in the emergency department.

Her work is changing how sickle cell patients are treated in the front lines of hospitals and emergency rooms. She was a member of a panel at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute that developed evidence-based guidelines for primary care and emergency department providers in the care of patients with sickle cell disease.

Wigfall, a Duke professor of pediatrics, has championed the inclusion of cultural competency and communication in Duke medical practices since he joined the faculty in 1987. He proposed, created, developed and oversees the Multicultural Resource Center as its physician director. 

Throughout his time at Duke, Wigfall has been a mentor to medical students and residents who sought his advice. This worked helped to increase the enrollment of underrepresented minority medical students in Duke’s pediatric residency program. He has assisted in the development of diversity initiative presentations to the clinical and basic science chairs and center directors, and is a standing ex-officio member of the Duke Task Force on Diversity. As such, he plays a major role in reviewing diversity activities related to faculty hiring practices across the university.

Elliott-Bynum, who died on Jan. 3, was co-founder (along with her sister) of Case Management of AIDS and Addiction Through Resources and Education (CAARE). The two were dismayed by the inequity of health care experienced by so many at-risk people in Durham -- people who lacked resources and access to appropriate health care services.

Today the organization provides major health care services for five primary areas with the highest mortality rates, and the greatest health disparities: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and HIV/AIDS. Beyond just clinical care, CAARE also focuses on the socio-economic, emotional and financial needs of its clients, with a holistic approach.

A Durham native who graduated from Northern High School, Elliott-Bynum got her start in medical care at the Lincoln Community Health Center as a student in the Neighborhood Youth Corps. The variety of her activism led Durham City Council member Steve Schewel to call her “a force of nature.” 

Below: Cook Society Award winners Delbert Wigfall, Courtnea A. Rainey, Stephanie Helms Pickett, Paula Tanabe

Cook Award winners