Leo Principal Shaka Rawls has been recognized as a “Man of Excellence” by the Chicago Defender, one of the nation’s oldest and most influential Black news organizations.

The Defender’s Men of Excellence awards celebrate African-American men who “inspire others through excellence, vision, leadership, exceptional achievement and a commitment to empowerment in multiple ways.”  

Other Men of Excellence honorees for 2021 include ABC-7 TV personality Hosea Sanders, 18th Ward Alderman Derrick Curtis, Metropolitan Peace Initiatives Executive Director Vaughn Bryant and State Representative Kam Buckner, a South Side Democrat from Illinois’ 26th District.

Leo’s enrollment has increased by more than 60 percent since Principal Rawls arrived in 2016. Additionally, his leadership has enabled Leo to become a truly positive force in the Auburn-Gresham community through various service projects, such as a free meals program that helped feed hundreds of families  when the COVID pandemic was at its worst in the spring and summer of 2020. 

“Everything we do at Leo is a team effort, so I accept this award on behalf of the Leo team,” Mr. Rawls said. “Coming from an organization with the history and prestige of the Chicago Defender, it is truly an honor.” 

 The Defender cites Principal Rawls and his fellow honorees as “champions of empowerment and diversity, the backbone of religious and educational organizations and driving forces in politics and community service.”

They will be honored at a dinner on Friday, Aug. 27 at Haven Entertainment Center, 930 E. 43rd Street, beginning at 6 p.m.