We celebrated the parents, alumni parents, alumni, and friends who contribute their time and talents to the Morgan Park Academy community, including the sixth annual Thomas Malcolm Volunteer Award winners, at our annual volunteer appreciation dinner on April 26, 2019.

“We could not do this without your help and support,” Head of School Mercedes Z. Sheppard told volunteers. “We as faculty and staff come to work every day with a common mission, which is to foster the best possible learning environment for these children. It makes all the difference when our volunteers are so enthusiastic and involved.

“Together, we have created a home away from home for our students. I believe that they are much more prepared for their lives after MPA as a result. Thank you for your time, leadership, and generosity and for making this year so special for our students.”


Launched in 2014, the Malcolm Award is named for retired Middle School teacher Thomas Malcolm, who modeled the ideals of community service and volunteerism for our school community for four decades.

This year’s award winners are Lisa Daniel-Olimene ’89, P’23, ’25, ’29, Neelu Kingra P’23, Carla Robinson P’23, ’25, and Debra Smith P’22, ’27.

Past winners of the Malcolm Award are Mr. Malcolm, Chaltrese Bazile P’24, Mike and Debbie Bertucci P’15, Sonja Brisard P’20, Sharon Bryant P’21, ’24, Dunni Cosey Gay P’26, Tom Dryjanski P’05, ’08, ’10, ’14, Sharon Eichinger P’12, ’15, Masheba Gailey-Harris P’20, ’23, David Honor ’67, Charles Lay P’17, Katie Nathwani P’24, Lisa Nichols P’08, ’11, Mark O’Neill, Scott Panozzo P’11, ’14, ’15, David Perry P’15, Marcia Thomas P’10, and Joe Ziemba.

Dr. Lisa Daniel-Olimene ’89, P’23, ’25, ’29
Lisa doesn’t do anything halfway. She goes all out. Energetic, smart, creative, the talented Lisa will let nothing get in the way of doing something truly amazing. And something amazing it will be. From the masquerade gala to this year’s Moulin Rouge theme, Lisa is unstoppable. Between birthing babies, she was texting the decorator and reserving the DJ. Lisa has at one time or another been a part of every single Parents Association event. We are lucky to have her on our Board of Trustees and can count on her to support the Academy in any and every way. Her energy is simply contagious.

Neelu Kingra P’23
Neelu has done it all: room mom, Middle School volunteer coordinator, game night, International Day, Pi Day, homecoming, passing out yummy samosas for Diwali, and of course, our Moonlight in Morocco gala with the belly dancers! She helped again this year, because of course, she is always ready to help. Kind, hardworking, thoughtful, generous, Neelu has given so much to MPA and all our community. She epitomizes the MPA Way: “Be kind and do your best!”

Carla Robinson P’23, ’25
Carla and her husband, Sam, have been a steady presence on campus, helping the Parents Association whenever they could. From the Academy’s Got Talent to the back-to-school picnic and homecoming, they have always been willing to lend a helping hand. Smart, quieter than some, always thoughtful and generous, she was the other creative master behind the wonderful Roaring Twenties gala. She is organized, detail-oriented, kind, and generous. These attributes along with her positive outgoing personality make her a joy and pleasure to work with.

Debra Smith P’22, ’27
Debra and her husband, Carlos, have been stalwart supporters of the Academy for nearly a decade. Kind, generous, and creative, Debra is an expert decorator and party planner. She was one of the creative geniuses behind the fabulous Roaring Twenties gala and she did it again with the super committee last year for Moulin Rouge. She can often be seen coming in and out of Hansen Hall carrying something, helping someone, or supporting a parent or teacher with a helping hand or a kind word.


We also celebrated outgoing Parents Association co-presidents Sonja Brisard and Masheba Gailey-Harris for their many years of dedicated service to the MPA community.

Incoming president Dunni Cosey Gay thanked dozens of MPA parents, alumni parents, and friends who have organized events, coordinated projects, and otherwise given so generously of their time.

They include: Adriana Crespo, Allie Bowles, Annie Melville, Aparna Palakodeti, April Harvey, Ari Cosey, Ashley Phillips, Camesha Jackson, Chaltrese Bazile, Cortney Harris, Crystal Turner, Cynthia Bailey, Dana Reed-Benford, Danielle Simmons, Dave Honor, Elizabeth Taggart, Em Joseph, Erika Whittier, Evin Johnson, Felicia Towns-Bell, Franklin Gay, Heather Aguirre, Inonge Mason, Jacinta Inniss, Jackie Andrew, Jackie Lomax, Jennifer Nash, Joe Ziemba, Joy Cabrera, Jude Abbasi, Kate Lusk, Kearia Alexander, Kelli Nickols, Kelly Evans, Kirstie Dates, Krystina Henley, Lana Hasan, LaTanyia Gordon, Levina Cherry, Linda Cuadros, Lisa Martirena, Lynn Hamilton, Malaika Tyson, Marcia Thomas, Markel Artwell, Maurice Robinson, Meosha Maxwell, Michael Ellis, Michelle Macey, Nakia Young, Natalie Heller, Nerissa Conley, Nicole Goss-Smith, Nicole Turner, Octavia Harris, Qiana Bradley, Raquel Ward, Robin Whatley-Beachum, Romina Brown, Sharon Bryant, Sharon Eichinger, Tashia Woods, Tiffany Merrills, Tina Isom, Toya Sledd, Ursula Phoenix, Val Warner, Yahesa Worsham, and Zandra Chisolm-El

Thank you to all of our volunteers for being a part of the MPA family and for having such a positive impact on our students!

Want to get involved? Contact the Parents Association at parentsassociation@morganparkacademy.org.