March 10, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Carleen Maly, OP, Director of Adrian Rea Literacy Center for 11 years, received the Amelia Earhart Award March 5, 2020, for her pioneering work in empowering both women and men through her literacy work.
The award was bestowed by the Zonta Club of Lenawee County, one of more than 1,200 Zonta clubs in 60 countries. Founded in 1919, Zonta International works to “advance the status of women through advocacy and service,” according to Liliane Haddad, a member of Zonta of Lenawee County.
The Amelia Earhart Award is presented each year to a woman with the same pioneering spirit as the aviator, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart (1897-1937) was also a member of the Zonta Club of Boston.
“I share this honor tonight with the generous women and men who give their time each week to go home and prepare lessons for their learners, to meet their individual needs,” Sister Carleen said. “I share this also with the courageous learners” in their efforts to meet their personal goals, she added. These might include reading to their children and helping them with homework, understanding what doctors tell them in a medical appointment, earning a GED, or becoming a U.S. citizen.
Sister Carleen also paid tribute to the Adrian Dominican Congregation and to the “pioneering spirit of our Sisters in Detroit,” who in 1989 established the Dominican Literacy Center, the first of seven literacy centers founded and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
“Amelia Earhart was an amazing woman,” said Janis Montalvo, Vice President of the Zonta Club of Lenawee County, in presenting the award. “Not only did she not accept the norm [for women]; she challenged it through her aviation and as an author.”
Addressing Sister Carleen directly, Janis said, “You exemplify the pioneering spirit and excellence [of Amelia Earhart]. You empower and increase the status of women (and men) as they achieve and seek independence that is often not available with language barriers.”
Mary Poore, President of the Board of Adrian Rea Literacy Center, said Adrian Rea has served 1,394 adult learners with the assistance of 1,117 trained tutors. Adrian Rea works with both native English speakers and people for whom English is not their first language to help them improve their reading; writing; and skills in math, conversation, and everyday life activities.
Mary attributed much of Adrian Rea’s success to the leadership of Sister Carleen and to her creation of an “environment of fun, safe learning where everyone feels welcome. She has enriched hundreds of lives and made it possible for each of these people to improve their lot in family life, employment, and personal self-esteem.”
During the evening, Sister Carleen also received a proclamation from State Rep. Bronna Kahle, also signed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist.
Sister Carleen exhibited a pioneering spirit long before serving as Director of Adrian Rea Literacy Center. After teaching at the junior high school level at two schools in Michigan, she was among a number of Adrian Dominican Sisters who established a school in the Dominican Republic, in a remote area north of the capital, Santo Domingo, to teach the children of employees of a manufacturing plant brought into that country.
“We established an incredible bi-lingual, bi-cultural program with an English track and a Spanish track,” the innovation of her long-time mentor, the late Sister Marie Damian Schoenlein, Sister Carleen said in an interview with Adrian Dominican Sister Joanne “Jodie” Screes, OP.
Sister Carleen also helped to coordinate the pastoral ministry programs of two parishes in the Diocese of Orlando; was elected Chapter Prioress (Superior) of the Congregation’s Florida Mission Chapter; and served as Vocations Director for the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Read further coverage of Sister Carleen’s acceptance of the Amelia Earhart Award in the Daily Telegram.
Feature photo at top: Sister Carleen Maly, OP, holds a bouquet of flowers and the Amelia Earhart Award she received from Zonta of Lenawee.