At the 25th annual Colorado Association of Black Journalists (CABJ) Media and Scholarship Banquet held in Denver, August 24.
U.S. Forest Service supervisor, Jerri Mar was honored for her work resulting from the Waldo Canyon fire which burned in Colorado during the months of June and July.
Marr was given the Kelvin McNeal Grace Under Fire Award for her “level-headedness, calm and display of professionalism,” attributes which contributed to the successful media updates that she provided as the struggle to combat the wild and ravaging fires went on.
The award is in honor of the legacy of Kelvin McNeal, a spokesperson for the City of Boulder, Colorado who displayed exemplary professionalism, calm, and level-headedness during the JonBenet Ramsey saga in the 1990s.
McNeal was later killed in a car accident while vacationing in Europe.
“Kevin was a model for professionalism, and tonight we have a woman who is also the voice and face of calm in the midst of chaos,” said Amani Ali, a parliamentarian with the CABJ.
The Waldo Canyon fire destroyed an estimated 346 homes within the vicinities of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and Woodland Park in Colorado, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. The fire is considered the most expensive in Colorado history and insurance claims from the devastation have reached an estimated $352.6 million.
As U.S. Forest Service supervisor located in Pueblo, Colorado, Marr is responsible for “nearly three million acres of national forests and grasslands in central and southeast Colorado and southwest Kansas.”
“During the Waldo Canyon fire, it was Jerri who made timely and accurate reports throughout the ordeal, and her calmness and leadership abilities not only provided much-needed information to fire victims but to the media as well,” Ali stated.