TONKAWA — Northern Oklahoma College Art Instructor Jena Kodesh has been nominated for the 2018 Woman of the Year Award “50 Making a Difference.”
The nomination was quite a surprise to Kodesh, who has taught 16 years as an adjunct and full time instructor at NOC.
“I was in total shock,” she said when she found out the nomination in late July. “It really is a great honor to be considered for such a prestigious award. I was quite overwhelmed.”
Curious about the nominator, Kodesh asked on social media who had made the nomination. She even offered a free dinner to the nominator.
“A lot of people said they nominated me after that,” Kodesh joked. “But I finally found out.”
“I’ve done some volunteer work over the years for the Enid, Tonkawa and Stillwater communities,” she said. “It makes me feel appreciated but when you volunteer, it’s never for an award, it’s to try and make the community a better place to live.”
After being nominated, Kodesh was required to send an application with letters of recommendation; one came from NOC Vice-President of Academic Affairs Dr. Pam Stinson.
“What stands out to me more, though, than Jena’s work within the classroom is that she recognizes her role as an educator extends across the entire institution and within the community,” Stinson wrote in her letter recommending Kodesh.
In November of 2011, Kodesh received a Governor’s Arts Award for her contributions in the Enid community, working alongside the Arts Council and other non-profit organizations to insure art education was alive and well not only in public schools but in the community. By volunteering her time as a grants writer and her expertise in arts both as an instructor and a certified behavioral therapist in arts, she was able to offer area youth opportunities to learn about the arts.”
“Since becoming a full-time instructor for Northern, Kodesh has primarily taught in Tonkawa but has continued to serve the Enid arts community through volunteering and offering weekend arts classes, and she was recently asked to become a board member for Arts Advocates Friends of the Museum in Stillwater,” Stinson added.
“In the Tonkawa community, Jena was a part of the city’s 2011 Leadership class and she served as a board member for Tonkawa’s Chamber of Commerce from 2012-2014. In that role, she volunteered her first year on the board to take a lead in the Chamber’s most important fund raiser and continued to offer creative additions to the Chamber’s activities throughout her term. Jena has also made an important connection to build support for the humanities by co-founding the Tonkawa Area Arts and Humanities Council (TAAHC), an organization she currently serves as president. TAAHC has built an incredible presence in the community by hosting annual youth art contests, working with other nonprofits in the Earth Day celebration, a New Year’s celebration to bring in grant money for the arts, and a “Chair-ity Event” through which for several years now local artists have painted and auctioned chairs to raise money for art supplies for high school teachers whose budgets have been cut and the sponsorship of scholarships for art students.
“I have always tried to make a difference in all three cities where NOC has campuses,” Kodesh said.
The Journal Record newspaper launched the annual salute; Woman of the Year Awards – 50 Making a Difference over 38 years ago in 1981 to recognize and honor Oklahoma’s most influential women.
Fifty women were chosen statewide as honorees and one woman will be selected from the applicants as the 2018 Woman of the Year on Thursday, October 11 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
The finalists will be honored onstage and profiled in a special Woman of the Year magazine handed out as the program for the event, and inserted into The Journal Record the day after the event.