On Thursday, October 17, 2019, Wesleyan College honored Chiebonam (Chi) Ezenwugo Ezekwueche, Class of 1996, with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Ezekwueche is the second recipient of this prestigious award for character, leadership, service to the community, and commitment to spiritual values. The first award was presented in 2016 to Eleanor Lane, Wesleyan Class of 1958.
Ezekwueche is a member of Wesleyan’s board of trustees and serves on the College’s President’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion. She earned her second bachelor’s degree (studio art) in 1996. Ezekwueche and her husband, Christian, moved to the United States in 1973 from Igboland in Southeastern Nigeria and earned advanced medical degrees in New York before making their home in Macon in 1983 where Chi was a pharmacist and later administrator of her husband’s OB-GYN practice.
In Macon and Middle Georgia, Ezekwueche is best known for her numerous community contributions, especially to enhance the arts and multicultural exchange. Her accomplishments include being a founding board member of the Ronald McDonald House, co-founder of the Dr. Christian and Chi Ezekwueche Foundation to promote education in arts and medicine, serving as board chair for the Tubman African-American Museum where she initiated plans for Nigerian Christmas, the annual All That Jazz concert, and the Pan-African Festival of Georgia. In 2001 she received the Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ezekwueche is a tireless supporter of the arts through the Middle Georgia Art Association and Macon Museum of Arts & Sciences where she has exhibited her personal art. She was instrumental in the founding of MidSummer Macon, a fine arts program for children sponsored by Wesleyan. In 1999 she received the Macon Arts Alliance Cultural Award.
A passionate representative of Igbo culture, Ezekwueche founded in 1986 the Otu Umunne Cultural Organization for Igbo Nigerian women, was chair of the Women and Family Affairs Committee of the World Igbo Congress, and for her involvement in the Nigerian Women Leadership Council (state and international) was named Georgia’s Woman of Valor in 2003. Her community in Nigeria installed upon her the prestigious women’s title of Iyom, Odiukonamba of Abagana, which means “She is a rare gem from afar.”
Her numerous local, state, national and international service, leadership, and awards include WMAZ “From the Heart” Community Service Award, Girl Scouts Women of Distinction, YWCA Tribute to Women Award, and the Cherry Blossom International Artist Award. She served on the Senate Human Trafficking Study Committee and the panel for the 60th Anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott.
In 2012, Wesleyan College was added to the select list of prestigious southern colleges and universities authorized to present the Algernon Sydney and Mary Mildred Sullivan Award to college students, alumni[ae] and community members “of noble character, who place service to others before themselves” (Sullivan Foundation). The Mary Mildred Sullivan Award is given annually at graduation to a senior who best exemplifies excellence in character, leadership, service to the community, and commitment to spiritual values.