Tracy Souza: Columbus had much to celebrate the last week of June

The last week of June was a great time to be in Columbus. Three events were not only important and fun but reflected what it means to be part of the Columbus community.

Landmark Columbus Foundation kicked off its fifth cycle of Exhibit Columbus, a program that celebrates and lifts the unique architectural heritage that is so entwined with the character of Columbus. Exhibit Columbus, entering its 10th year, is a testament to the power of design and architecture in making Columbus a special place not just for our residents but for people all over the world.

This cycle of Exhibit Columbus is extra special because the curatorial committee chair, Mila Lipinski, grew up in Columbus and participated as a high school student in the very first Exhibit Columbus. She’s also a former Heritage Fund scholarship recipient.

The Republic hosted its annual recognition of Woman of the Year. This year, Paulette Roberts received the honor for her long contributions to teaching. Paulette, who was the second Black teacher in the BCSC system, was hired in 1970. In her personal time, she continues to teach with the after-school enrichment program she founded in 2004 at Second Baptist Church. Paulette teaches adults as well through her portrayals of historical Black women like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, her Black History Tours of downtown Columbus and her engagement with Juneteenth and Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebrations. She is a powerhouse example of how one person can make the community a better place for everyone.

The city’s Human Rights Commission held its annual dinner for the first time since 2019 and the COVID pandemic. The annual opportunity to revisit and reunite with others who value social justice led to a sold-out event at The Commons.

That evening two special people, both with strong ties to Heritage Fund, were presented with the William R. Laws Award, arguably the community’s most coveted honor named after former minister of First Presbyterian Church, Dr. William R. Laws. The Rev. Felipe Martinez, current minister of that congregation and a Heritage Fund board member, received this year’s award. The other recipient was Bud Herron, former publisher of The Republic and champion of the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment at Heritage Fund, which has grown to more than $1 million dollars available to address the needs of people living in and around Hope.

In just one week the community celebrated a ton of history, tradition and the demonstration of the community values that help explain why Columbus is so unique: Welcoming community and diversity, high aspirations, innovation, service to others, collaboration, public-private partnerships, and good design.

It was a very good week!


Tracy Souza is president and CEO of Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. Contact the fund at 812-376-7772 to learn more about how they can help you do “Your Philanthropy. Your Way.” Send comments to [email protected].