South Philadelphia woman wins Neumann Alumni Award

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South Philly resident Alana Ward-Lee received the annual Spirit of Francis and Clare of Assisi Award by Neumann University on March 12 during a ceremony on campus.

The award recognizes a graduate whose demonstrated commitment to the Catholic Franciscan tradition and values has led him/her to develop an initiative that makes a significant impact in one or more of the following areas: support of persons who are poor or “underserved,” advancement of understanding and support for the environment, promotion of peacemaking and development of intercultural understanding.

Ward-Lee, who serves as the co-principal at the Gesu Independent Catholic School in North Philadelphia, holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education degrees from Neumann.

At Gesu, she has led the school community in citywide and statewide service, recycling and bullying-prevention initiatives. She has also implemented a self-esteem and empowerment program for sixth-grade girls and assisted in overseeing afterschool programs, such as No Place for Hate (in collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League), “Y” Achievers, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Ward-Lee is one of the founding members of Archbishop Perez’s Commission on Racial Healing for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She is also the co-founder and president of the Live & Love Life Community Outreach group, a nonprofit cancer research group founded in 2005.

In 2020, she was the first African American woman to receive the Bakari Trailblazer Award, presented by Saint Joseph’s Preparatory High School. She is pursuing a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at Immaculata University.