Scotty Colson has been named the 2018 recipient of the Samuel Ullman Award the Japan-America Society of Alabama announced Wednesday evening at its annual dinner held at the Regions Field Diamonds Direct Ballroom in Birmingham.
The organization established the award, named in honor of the 20th century Birmingham civic leader and poet, in 1992 to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions toward advancing the relationship between Japan and America.
Notable past winners include Sony founder Akio Morita and Alabama Power president Elmer Harris.
Colson, a former Mission board member, now serves as the Continuum of Care Coordinator at the Shepura Men’s Center. He will assist program graduates in re-acclimating to society by helping them secure jobs and housing among other needs.
For more than 30 years Colson helped facilitate business, educational, cultural, and person-to-person exchanges in both Hitachi and Maebashi, Japan, through the Birmingham Sister Cities Commission. He was also the sub-committee chairman for Birmingham when hosting the Japan-Southeast US Conference in 2015.
Colson has helped coordinate sponsorships for more than 500 Birmingham residents to visit these Japanese partner cities and also organized the visitation of as many Japanese guests to the United States. He assisted Tuscaloosa, Montevallo, and other Alabama cities in making lasting connections in Japan as well.
A few major highlights during this long-running relationship with Japan center around fundraising exchanges following major catastrophes in 2001 and 2011.
Businesses in Hitachi moved quickly to help organize aid after the September 11 attack in New York City. Colson, then chairman of U.S. Youth Games, helped facilitate a fundraising effort to support individuals who had lost loved ones in the destruction.
The Japanese raised more than $30,000 and Colson ensured the widows and children of fallen firefighters from the Staten Island station received the love gift. All rescue workers from the station lost their lives in the second building collapse.
“The firefighters there had worked with us in the Youth Games events,” Colson recalled. “Even though I wasn’t located in New York, my position with the events connected me with individuals from cities all over the country. I was able to take them the funds just three days after flights resumed in New York. I toured the station and the Trade Center site as well.”
Colson later helped raise more than $30,000 for Japan after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster caused by the Tohoku earthquake tsunami in March 2011.
That fundraising initiative was unfortunately cut short as a result of the local relief efforts organized following the tornado destruction in Tuscaloosa and Pratt City just one month later.
Colson is the second consecutive recipient of the award to be closely associated with the Mission. Mark Jackson, also a former board member, was last year’s honoree.