Roberta Naranjo lauded with Alli Award

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roberta Naranjo of Boykins, front and center, was a recent recipient of the 2014 Hampton Roads Cultural Alliances Alli Awards. -- Submitted

Roberta Naranjo of Boykins, front and center, was a recent recipient of the 2014 Hampton Roads Cultural Alliances Alli Awards. — Submitted

By Leigh Anne Chambers
Special to The Tidewater News

On Nov. 9, a group of friends and board members of Rawls Museum Arts escorted long-time supporter and arts education advocate Roberta Naranjo to the 2014 Hampton Roads Cultural Alliances’ Alli Awards.

Alli Awards are given to businesses, individuals, and arts and cultural organizations that support the arts. The gala program and reception took place in the Robin Hixon Theater, Norfolk. The theme for this year was “Celebrating Our Champions.” Bert Schmidt, CEO of WHRO served as the emcee for the awards.

Naranjo had been a board member and member of the Rawls Museum Arts for four decades. RMA services the counties of Southampton, Surry, Isle of Wight, Sussex and the city of Franklin. She has been active in the Southampton County educational system, especially in her support of the arts in the public schools. She has worked tirelessly to offer arts opportunities to her students, her teachers and to area residents.

In addition, Naranjo also remained a fiscal contributor. She continues to attend openings and even arrange flowers for each art opening. She is a vital part of the Rawls family, offering guidance and historical information regularly.

Under her leadership in the late 1980s, RMA adopted a logo, printed a descriptive brochure, acquired a concert piano and increased participation in its art education programs by 200 percent. Growing the education component of RMA was a huge undertaking and a goal that RMA is truly proud of.

Naranjo was awarded the Distinguished Service Award to recognize her service at RMA from 1977 to 1997. And each year at the student exhibition an award of excellence is given in her name.

In 2000, she was awarded an Alli Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cultural Life. She received a certificate of Appreciation for serving on the Southampton County School Board for 40 years.

In 1979, Naranjo received the Outstanding Community Involvement Award from the Meherrin Valley Jayceettes. In 2008, she was awarded the Virginia School Board Association Distinction Award and welcomed to the Quarter Century Club. In 2009, Naranjo was recognized for her service on the Riverdale Elementary School Building Committee.

And most recently in 2014, she was awarded a commendation from the Commonwealth of Virginia General Assembly. This was agreed to by both the House and Senate on June 12, and recognizing her dedication to arts and education.

Naranjo has provided cultural opportunities for her students and the community. She has volunteered with the Virginia Symphony Opera and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Her leadership in the community includes being elected as the Boykins District representative as one of only two women initially on the school board; now many have followed in her footsteps.

She remains a wonderful role model for young people who want to make a difference in the community. By being outspoken, dedicated and relentless when it comes for standing up for what she believes in, Naranjo shows the impact that one person can make in a community. Many people are humbled by the amount of support that she has shown them regarding the arts and education and personally.

The categories for nominees this year were: three business categories (small, medium and large businesses; three individual categories (volunteer, emerging volunteer, and arts professional); and four special categories (Arts Partner, Creative Leadership, Bettie Minette Cooper Arts Educator, and the Vianne Webb Lifetime Achievement).

Business nominees for 2014 include: The Artists Gallery, The Hurrah Players, The Peninsula Community Foundation, Work Program Architects, The Norfolk Botanical Garden, Gold Key/PHR Hotels and Resorts, Wells Fargo Private Bank, Old Dominion University’s Department of Economics

Individual and special award nominees for 2014 include: Faye Bailey, Henry Garrity, Connie Miller, Valerie Neff, Jesse Scaccia, Patricia “Trish” Wilbourne, Russell Allen, Shelley Brooks, Hugh Copeland, Lisa A. Doud, Carol Thomas Downing, Elizabeth Eccles, Ricardo Melendez, Richard Stravitz, John Rudel, Dr. Lee Teply, Kathi-Lee Wilson, Rocco Wilson, Alan Fischer, Susan Heely, Roberta Naranjo, Monty Ross.