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End-of-Year Awards 2021

Each year, we honor and recognize students, faculty, staff and community partners for their commitment to civic engagement and public service. See below for the 2021 Awards and nominees. Highlighted names denote winners of each award - everyone was honored at our end of year award ceremony and celebration on Thursday, May 20th. Thank you to everyone who nominated people this year and to everyone who advanced our work over the past terms - we are eternally grateful to all of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners and look forward to more connection in the upcoming year. 

Lindy Center End of Year Award Ceremony and Celebration graphic image featuring trophy and star designs and information about the event.

Student Awards

Distinguished Leadership in Civic Engagement for a Graduating Student This award is bestowed upon the Drexel senior that has shown the greatest level of leadership in programming of the Lindy Center and across the campus to promote the public mission of the university. These students serve as role models for undergraduates and are deeply committed to civic engagement.

2021 Nominees: 


* Cara DePiano - nominator Luciano Duffy says Cara is the "fearless leader" and President of the Sharing Excess Drexel chapter.

* Sarah Resanovich - Sarah says, "During the fall of my sophomore year, I started my first semester as a Campus Election Engagement Project fellow... I was grateful for the fellowship because I was able to motivate students to vote. The best part of the fellowship was talking to students who didn't think their vote matters and then eventually changed their minds. I love hearing about what issues matter to students and connecting them to organizations to make a difference..."

* Emily Greberman - Emily says, "I believe CBL [Community-Based Learning] revolutionizes teaching and the way students learn with their community and how that community learns with their ever-changing population of college students. I am very proud to be a member of the Lindy Center and believe my leadership both inside and outside the classroom has promoted and advocated for civic engagement."

Lara Bros - nominator Emily McKeon says, "Lara has done work with several non-profits and museums to develop programs for underserved communities, especially those facing extreme, and too often minimized, social justice issues. She currently works with formerly incarcerated populations, introducing a variety of art practices to encourage looking at issues from different perspectives, along with providing copious support and direction for social services so that they can succeed in all aspects of life. Everyday, her work is informed by perspectives of anti-racism, anti-colonialism, and anti-capitalism, supporting people with lived experience as the true experts. Lara truly believes that art's primary purpose is to be useful: for people, for change, for justice... All in all, Lara is devoted to making Philadelphia and the world a better place for everyone. I'm excited to see the future incredible work she will do."


Outstanding Undergraduate Civic Engagement Award This award is given yearly to a student that has shown deep commitment to civic engagement. This “rising star” is recognized as an emerging leader on campus and in the community. Often, they engage their peers in service and play integral roles in the programming of the Lindy Center.

2021 Nominees: 

* Abbey Haas - nominator Luciano Duffy says, "Abbey was able to start Drexel Dance Marathon during a pandemic year. Her team was able to raise over $11,000 that goes directly to CHOP."
* Priyanka Shah - nominator Afrah Howlader says, "Priyanka is the epitome of an impactful student leader which shines through her work at the Lindy Center... Not only has Priyanka taken up leadership in these TA roles, but she has gone above and beyond to create spaces for civically-engaged students to thrive and connect, especially in the pandemic where civic engagement activities can be difficult to complete. Serving as a TA in spring and summer of last year, she tweaked the class content to better fit remote learning. She was also involved in the creation of Coffee and Community Dialogues and the Lindy Intentional Group. Arguably, these spaces to connect are needed now more than ever and Priyanka swiftly responded to the call. She has played an integral role to in bolstering the programming of the Lindy Center in remote times, and I am certain these programs will remain intact and impactful long after the pandemic."
* Naomi Kaufman - nominator Rohit Mistry says, "Naomi Kaufman is a very intelligent, hard working ambitious young woman... As Hillel Treasurer she oversees all financial aspects of the organization. Additionally, she is in the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, in which she holds the position of morale chair. She helps sisters emotionally, which is a very important aspect of our health, especially during this time. In addition to the above mentioned leadership roles, she also enjoys volunteering. She dedicates some of her time at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I believe that Naomi is one of the most diligent, and persevering friends that I have, and is a really strong candidate for the above mentioned award."

Outstanding Graduate Civic Engagement Award This award is given yearly to a graduate student that has shown deep commitment to civic engagement. This student is recognized as a leader among the graduate community.

2021 Nominees: 

* Shayna Zanker - nominator Jeffrey Isaacson says, "Shayna immediately made a difference once coming to Bethesda Project, which serves individuals currently and formerly experiencing homelessness. She has touched the lives our Bethesda North Broad residents, and is looking forward to seeing them in person again. She has built overall capacity for our organization by recruiting volunteers, soliciting donations, and connecting with community partners that will remain for many years to come. We are so honored that Shayna is part of our Bethesda Project family!"
* Erin O'Brien
- nominator Julia Lueddeke says, "Ms. O'Brien is a law student committed to public interest. In addition to her various pro bono and public interest commitments, she has spend the past six months working for Ezperanza, a faith-based social benefit organization committed to strengthening our Hispanic community through education, housing & economic development, immigration legal services, job training, and advocacy. Ms. O'Brien is also the head of PIE at Drexel Law. Public Interest Experience (PIE) Prizes provide stipends to our students who are taking unpaid, summer public interest positions... Erin has lead all the programing to help fund these stipends to enable law students to take on public interest work. So not only has Erin given back substantially herself, she assists others in doing so."
* Justine Fuga
- nominator Sukhandeep Kaur says, "Justine is the best dean's scholar and support network who is committed to the success of each and every individual she meets. She is the most organized when it comes to supporting 1Ls and 2Ls inside and outside classroom. She deserves recognition for the consistent commitment that she demonstrates towards holistic growth of every soul that she touches."
* Will Justice
- nominator Andrew DiMatteo says, "Throughout 2018-2019 Will went out into the local community on his own to teach at local schools about the basics in health literacy to kids. On his own time and initiative, he decided that this more important than spending every moment studying as many of our colleagues do. This wasn’t something he did to check boxes. This was for the underserved kids that all too frequently experience adverse childhood events and fall into chronic disabling conditions do to lack of exercise and poor diet. I have never actually meet someone who cared as passionately as Will does. I couldn’t think of any student who deserves this award more."
* Elizabeth Brandt
- "Liz's personal and professional experience working with historically marginalized students and leading community engagement efforts on college campuses is fueled by her ultimate goal - to build just and equitable communities by transforming higher education institutions to be agents of collaborative social change and educating and preparing students for civically engaged lives."
* Sucharu Ghosh
- Sucharu's self nomination showed a breadth of civic engagement experiences: an internship at Public Citizens for Children & Youth contributing to their “Nurse’s Manual”, which has information on low-cost oral health care in Philadelphia and four surrounding counties, an internship at Project HOME looing into the relationship between oral health and employment among people with substance use disorder, volunteering at Philadelphia FIGHT family dentistry and Give Kids a Smile Week ’21, working as the COVID19 Contact Tracing Project Manager for Drexel University and volunteering as the Training and Onboarding Lead for American Red Cross.

Student Organization Awards for Promoting Public Service and Social Responsibility This award is presented each year to a student organization that exhibits leadership in promoting the ideals of public service and social responsibility. We award organizations that make distinct marks in engaging volunteers and meeting community needs.

2021 Nominees: 

* Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) - nominator Tim Hanlon says, "This past year, the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) advocated along side many university partners for Drexel to recognize Election Day as a University Holiday. Through this the USGA collaborated with members such as President John Fry, Provost Paul Jensen, Subir Sahu, Lucy Kerman, several trustees, Drexel Votes, and a number of external groups to recognize Election Day as a University Holiday. The intent of this program was to increase voter engagement for students, faculty, staff, and other Drexel community members. By having this day recognized as a University Holiday, community members had increased flexibility to vote and volunteer at polling stations. In the months and days leading up to Election Day, USGA also did an intense social media campaign to increase voter registration and voter awareness through nonpartisan messaging. These messages were further shared by other student organizations and Drexel departments. Our goal was to increase the number of Drexel community voters from all ends of the political spectrum... Our program is unique because it was not only designed to support students but also the entire Drexel community. We created a lasting opportunity for education and collaboration across a number of Drexel entities that further lead to collaboration with some of the countries top ranking universities and corporations. This program extended Drexel's position as the most civically engaged university in the world by highlighting the importance of fulfilling one of our greatest civic duties - voting - while also giving the entire Drexel community the opportunity to do so."
* Neuroscience Graduate Students for Diversity (NGSD)
- nominator Ramesh Raghupathi says, "The Neuroscience Graduate Students for Diversity (NGSD) group was founded by a group of students wishing to make a long-lasting change following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at DUCOM prides itself on its inclusive, welcoming, and collaborative environment. Building on this, the primary goal of NGSD is to ensure that this environment includes trainees and staff of diverse backgrounds. Moreover, NGSD seeks to provide a safe and inclusive environment for supporting diverse staff and trainees. The purpose of this group is to increase the sense of community, belonging, and support that encompasses the intersectional experiences of diverse staff, trainees, and their peers through open and honest conversation and to discuss and promote diversity in all aspects of their experience. When they say “diversity”, they mean people of all genders, race, ethnicities, sexual orientations, backgrounds, and neurodiversity; however, their immediate goal was to foster Black representation in Neuroscience. NGSD works closely with department faculty to ensure that concrete steps are taken to: 1) increase diversity within the department and the Neuroscience graduate program; and 2) foster a safe and welcoming environment for members of the department, as well as provide appropriate resources for education, research and outreach for diverse students and staff."
* Criminal Justice Society (CJS)
- nominator Jordan Hyatt says, "It is my distinct pleasure to nominate the Drexel University Criminal Justice Society for a Student Organization Award for Promoting Public Service and Social Responsibility. The Criminal Justice Society is a student organization open to students from all disciplines in the University that focuses on bringing awareness to issues to equity and fairness within the criminal justice system within the Drexel community and leveraging their activism to benefit the communities in which they leave and learn. The Society has held regular virtual meetings in an effort to bring together students who are passionate about - or interested in learning more about - social responsibility. To that end, the Society has hosted regular presentations from activists and community-engaged reformers... Although the pandemic challenged many efforts to bring together members from the Drexel and the broader community, the Society sought to create virtual spaces for these exchanges... Finally, volunteers from the Society have also tried to make a more direct and immediate impact on the community. During the pandemic, for example, they conducted a successful fundraiser for incarcerated people and prison staff many of whom did not have access to high-quality masks. Their efforts resulted in thirteen cases of N-95 masks being delivered directly to one of the most vulnerable populations in the pandemic. Overall, the activities of the Criminal Justice Society over the past year have sought to create a space for civic engagement with regard to issues of justice and inequality. I believe they have been successful in these efforts and are very deserving of the 2021 Student Organization Award for Promoting Public Service and Social Responsibility from the Lindy Center."

Faculty and Staff Awards

Dr. Mark L. Greenberg Distinguished Faculty Award for Community Based Learning This distinguished faculty award is named in honor of the founder of the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement and former Provost, Dr. Mark L. Greenberg. It is awarded to a faculty member who is deeply committed to improving the public good on the local, national or global level through community-based learning. The award recipient will receive $500.  

2021 Nominees: 

* Cassandra Hirsch, Department of English and Philosophy - nominator Paula Marantz Cohen says, "Casey has done a variety of work that involves community teaching and outreach. She has taught Side-by-Side courses with Drexel students and West Philly community members; she was an active part of Dragon Teach for several years, and she currently teaches a course, The Prison Reading Project, for the Pennoni Honors Program that involves correspondence with incarcerated men at SCU Fayette outside of Pittsburgh. She brings community members and former incarcerated people into her classroom to share their views and is always available to brainstorm about new ideas and initiatives that can involve the community outside of Drexel, both local and beyond. She is an enormously compassionate and engaged individual."
* Rami George, Westphal College of Media Arts and Design
- "I continually strive to include a diverse range of makers in my art and design courses, prioritizing BIPOC, queer, women, and other under-represented artists. I present artists engaging with difficult and necessary questions, such as legacies of slavery and colonialism. I encourage students to think about their engagement in society through projects such as responding to the word "protest", "community", "movement", etc. My student evaluations have continually praised my diverse course content."
* Elizabeth Kimball, Department of English and Philosophy
- nominator Robert Zawatski says, "Elizabeth is working with a group of staff members of UESF, a social service nonprofit working with low-income Philadelphians to achieve housing stability. They are partnering to learn together about the history of systemic racism and the structures that have led to the high rates of poverty in Philadelphia, disproportionately affecting Black people. The group then uses use their new knowledge to design equitable outcomes within the organization and the community. Elizabeth Kimball leads the group by providing academic examples from a course of study in the humanities. Together they use subjects like literature, history, and language to examine the issues affecting underserved and marginalized communities — and what happens when these lessons are applied to real-world situations." 
* Simi Hoque, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
- nominator Sharon Walker says, "Simi is a fierce advocate for underrepresented minorities in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields and has actively worked to level the playing field for women especially in STEM, providing access to opportunities for quality experiences and mentorship. Simi is also an accomplished systems engineering researcher, who teaches her students to apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems. Her partnership in particular with Girls Inc. to create the Eureka! program for middle school girls makes her eminently qualified for this award... Eureka is a long-term commitment to support middle school girls while also providing them with authentic STEM experiences on Drexel’s campus. The camp focuses on the science and engineering of sustainability and is intended to motivate and encourage young girls by promoting climate citizenship and environmental civic action... She is especially committed to opening doors to girls to consider STEM fields, in particular engineering, as a viable career path. For her work as a dedicated advocate for girls in STEM and to strengthen the STEM pipeline for young women, she has been honored by the Mayor of Philadelphia, the Society of Women Engineers, and Girls Inc. Simi’s active and ongoing commitment to diversifying and educating the next generation of engineers is why she is extremely deserving of the Dr. Mark L. Greenberg Distinguished Faculty Award for Community-Based Learning."
* Franco Montalto, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering 
- nominator Sharon Walker says, "Franco is deeply committed to improving the public good through a multifaceted awareness of climate change and the implementation of sustainable solutions through community involvement and engagement at all levels. He is a change agent that is extremely deserving of this honor. Franco has been a key instigator for Drexel’s Climate Year and related efforts to integrate climate and sustainability issues across the board into University teaching and research... Committed to problem-based learning, Franco has built sustainability and climate issues into a number of his recent classes. In Sustainable Water Resource Engineering (CIVE 564) this spring, while learning about water and sustainability, students developed a survey tool for the residents of Eastwick in Philadelphia as they petitioned the city government for action on reducing flood risks. As part of this project, students collaborated with local community-based organization Eastwick United. This past winter, his Urban Ecohydraulics (CIVE 565) class partnered with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and helped to develop green infrastructure scenarios for three neighborhoods in the Bronx, NY while learning about hydrologic and hydraulic modeling. Last summer, Franco’s Stormwater Planning in the Era of Climate Change (CIVE T580) class taught students how to forecast future precipitation conditions to prepare for climate change while conducting analyses of stormwater flooding in the future for seven municipalities... Franco is continually engaged in developing new research, teaching, and collaboration opportunities that advance sustainability and climate engagement, knowledge, and partnerships. His passion for applying his knowledge beyond the classroom and University makes him a strong candidate for this award. It is with the above in mind that I strongly recommend Dr. Franco Montalto for the Dr. Mark L. Greenberg Distinguished Faculty Award for Community-Based Learning."

Dr. Donna M. Murasko Distinguished Faculty Award for Innovation in Civic Engagement This award is presented annually to a faculty member who has incorporated the value of civic engagement into their teaching, research, clinical practice, or other academic pursuit or activity in new and innovative ways. The award recipient will receive $500. 

2021 Nominees: 

* Rami George, Westphal College of Media Arts and Design - "I continually strive to include a diverse range of makers in my art and design courses, prioritizing BIPOC, queer, women, and other under-represented artists. I present artists engaging with difficult and necessary questions, such as legacies of slavery and colonialism. I encourage students to think about their engagement in society through projects such as responding to the word "protest", "community", "movement", etc. My student evaluations have continually praised my diverse course content."
* Kristine S. Lewis Grant, School of Education
- nominator London Thompson says, "Dr. Grant taught EEDD 888 - 910: Educational Leadership for Equity and Social Justice. The controversial nature of this class required the hard hand of a coach and empathetic ear of a counselor. Dr. Grant facilitated an amazingly in-depth educational experience. I have to admit, I was emotionally spent at the end of our class qtr. I learned so much about myself, but I also learned so much about her and her leadership. Her service to our class was exemplary. Her comments and prodding really brought out our very best. I was encouraged to go beyond the surface and to dig deeper. She modeled how to be a mentor and educator by providing insightful analysis of our assignments creating an environment of challenge and support. This class is what makes the Drexel experience unique. Dr. Grant is more than worthy of this recognition."
* Dionne Gordon-Starks, Lindy Center for Civic Engagement
- nominator Desiree Easter says, "Dionne always incorporates current events that is relevant to the topics discussed in class. Students are reminded that the class is a safe space to explore feelings, and appropriately challenge concerns brought up in class. Through creative activities and dialogue students explore the idea of civic engagements on levels they never thought about before entering the course."
* Steve Dolph, Global Studies and Modern Languages -
nominator Rogelio Miñana says, "Dr. Dolph has offered advanced courses focused on diversity and community engagement that broke new ground in the college and the university. Despite his youth, he never designs his classes as one-offs, but addresses systemic issues by creating replicable procedures that benefit the larger community in the long run. For instance, he taught several CBL courses in Spanish in which he partnered with migrant advocacy organizations as well as urban sustainable farming project in Philadelphia. He then took students to Puerto Rico to work with a local partner, Plenitud, on rainwater college and potabilization in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria... Upon return from Puerto Rico, students in Dr. Dolph's class have engaged in fourteen unique projects spanning publicity, technical support, public health, and sustainability, to continue their collaborative efforts with Plenitud... These examples attest to the powerful, lasting impact that these students have made in Plenitud's surrounding communities, as well as the impact that Dr. Dolph's class has had on the students themselves." 
* Eugenia Victoria Ellis, Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering - nominator Sharon Walker says, "Gena has been incredibly innovative in her approach to incorporating civic engagement holistically into her work as an architect within an engineering college. Her collaborative spirit makes her an excellent candidate for this honor... Since 2017, Gena has been collaborating extensively with the Politecnico di Milano on a teaching and research initiative she and her collaborator Giuliana Iannaccone have named Responsive Urban Environments (RUE). Together, they teach two Global Classrooms and one Intensive Course Abroad each year. Their goal is to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges in a global environment that is becoming more and more urban and is faced with climate change and social injustice – problems that require international, multi-disciplinary teams of people to solve. Comprised of students from colleges across the university, their RUE Global Classroom pairs Drexel and Politecnico di Milano students to solve urban problems for the benefit of a city’s citizens. Just last fall, their students designed a Resilience Hub for either a site in Philadelphia or a site in Milan, with the Philadelphia site being Drexel’s Dornsife Center... From the beginning, Gena has been keen to incorporate civic engagement directly into her teaching and clinical practice, imbuing her students with the value and importance of including civic engagement in their engineering and design work. By expanding this to an international academic collaboration, Gena’s efforts have reverberated into new areas, making an impact with students and community members both here and abroad."
* Celeste Mann, Global Studies and Modern Languages - "Spanish 320, "The Language of Work I" is a Business Spanish course taught in Spanish, and I designed it to focus on the Philadelphia business community and several Spanish speaking countries. The CBL courses in Spanish so far have focused on community organizations and not-for-profits. I didn't originally envision the course as a CBL for that reason, but as it took shape over the past year and Dr. Steve Dolph and the Lindy Center staff have been involved, I've adapted many aspects of the pedagogy to the course... I am halfway through the course and although we won't know how it all turns out until the end and beyond, the interaction with the community has greatly enriched the experience. Without them, we would be reading a textbook and articles and doing searches on the internet, and students would talk to each other in Spanish. Many Business Spanish courses are taught that way. Instead, the community engagement has changed the way I'm teaching and how the students are learning. The course is much more student centered and students reflect on their interactions with the community partners. What they are experiencing drives the course. Rather than reading from books about business and cultural issues, the students are hearing about it from small business owners in the USA and abroad and choosing the articles that they will read and share. Cultural, marketing and linguistic issues from the perspective of a Galician speaker from Spain, added a completely new angle to the students' understanding of Spanish cultures and marketing, that would not have happened without that guest speaker. The guest speakers have had the opportunity to interact with our students and explain circumstances that they might not normally discuss outside their national borders or industries. This adds value on their end--they are exposing more people to their opinions, their businesses and experiences. Moreover, some appreciate the chance to give back to students and Spanish language learners."
* Amy Throckmorton, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Health Systems - nominator Paul Brandt-Rauf says, "Dr. Throckmorton rose to lead on of Drexel's most productive civic engagement and community-based contributions during the pandemic. The immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a startling global shortage of PPE for healthcare workers... In the face of these challenges, Dr. Throckmorton mobilized a team to address this shortfall of inventories for face shields. Drs. Throckmorton, Michelle Marcolongo, and Ellen Bass formed a team under a shared mission to build and donate face shields in rapid response to the pandemic. This team has donated 37,185 Drexel AJFlex face shields and they have built 39,010 shields. Her team has distributed to more than 100 hospitals, rehab/nursing facilities, EMS/police departments, educational institutions, clinical practices and nonprofit organizations, including to a school in Ethiopia and most recently to Gujarat, India... She has worked dozens of nights and weekends to build these shields for healthcare workers... In summary, anyone who spends time talking to Dr. Throckmorton has heard about her mission in like: To change the world one student, one lecture, one invention, one experiment, one simulation, and one interaction at a time - and now one face shield at a time." 

Staff Award for Campus and Community Engagement This honor is given to one staff member each year that exhibits the tenets of good campus or community partnership in their efforts regardless of their university role. We seek to increase staff involvement in the programming of the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement to ensure that the entire campus is civically engaged in the City of Philadelphia.

2021 Nominees: 

* Monet Harbison, Office of Research and Innovation - nominator Jaime Fountaine says, "Monet Harbison was one of the biggest architects of last summer's ORI diversity dialogues, which were smart, well organized, and an incredible gift to the Drexel community."
* Jennifer Lege Matsuura, Drexel Libraries
- nominator Sam Kirk says, "Jen exemplifies what it means to participate in local community service. After the 2020 presidential election, Jen volunteered to work the overnight shift in her county to process voter ballots. As a part of the Medical Reserve Corps, Jen volunteered at COVID vaccination clinics this spring in Montgomery County, PA. These volunteer shifts were at times longer than eight hours apiece. She also has been volunteering as part of the Librarian Reserve Corps, a global network of about 100 public health librarians giving responders in the World Health Organization and beyond essential literature searching assistance related to the pandemic. Finally, Jen has been a part of a partnership she forged between Drexel Libraries and the City of Philadelphia's Department of Public Health, assisting the city with reference inquiries related to the pandemic using publicly available resources. I can't think of a better recipient for this award than Jen." 
* Beth Ann Downey, University Communications
- nominator Sarah Resanovich says, "I had the pleasure of working with Beth Ann through the Drexel Votes coalition. As a staff writer for Drexel communications, Beth Ann's contributions to getting the word out about the 2020 election and civic engagement were essential to the overall strategy. Beth Ann lent her platform for the Campus Election Engagement fellow multiple times, twice publishing student penned pieces on civic engagement and once taking time to interview the fellows with commonly asked questions about voting. She spent time providing feedback on the pieces so that they were ready to be published. She also worked with the Undergraduate Student Government Association to spread awareness of important issues and that a half-day was provided to students. Outside of this specific work in voter engagement, Beth Ann continues to highlight important work that students, faculty, and staff do in civic engagement."
* Roger Lee, Close School of Entrepreneurship
- "One popular pre-college program that I run is our annual Rising Starters High School Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition. This is where approximately 50 high school students pitch their startup venture ideas to a panel of expert judges and community members in attendance (we had over 500 on-campus back in spring 2019) for the chance to win $2,500 (1st place), $1,500 (2nd place), and $1,000 (3rd place) cash prizes. I am very proud of the community partnerships that we were able to form in support of this important educational program for youth. As we all know, 2020 was the year of pandemics (COVID-19 and systemic racism). In addition to my regular pre-college engagement leadership, I got involved with a variety of diversity initiatives on campus. I am a black gay male that graduated from Drexel University and return to campus as a staff member. I am naturally passionate about creating a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist campus environment for all of our internal and external community partners. I focused heavily on this work since 2020. I started by joining our new Center for Black Culture (est. 2020) as an Advisory Board Member and an Academics Committee Member. I also led the Close School's diversity initiatives by creating and moderating a panel discussion series about black, LGBTQIA, and women entrepreneurship for over 200 attendees and designing and facilitating a workshop on finding entrepreneurial solutions to systemic racism for the school’s 18 faculty and staff members. I am proud of the results that these important diversity initiatives produced for the school, campus community, and external community."
* Julia Wisniewski, Pennoni Honors College
- nominator Jeffrey Isaacson says, "Bethesda Project addresses homelessness in Philadelphia through 16 locations including emergency shelter and permanent housing while providing supportive services. Julia first contacted us in the fall of 2020 trying to find safe opportunities for students during the pandemic. After discussing available options, we decided on students making cards and decorations for our sites. Fast forward a few months later, and we have received dozens of wellness materials from students! The highlight were nicely printed posters containing inspirational questions. Many of our guests and residents are feeling a lot of anxiety during these times, and the posters have served to improve their mental health. Julia additionally engaged her team to support our Annual Party and Auction. The largest fundraiser of the year, this event serves to ensure Bethesda Project has the resources to continue delivering its mission. Julia coordinated the making of a Summer-themed auction basket, which provided fun for students and was a great way to support our organization remotely. Julia has been amazing to work with and is always very responsive to communication. Her professionalism and positive attitude have made it a joy to work with her, and we look forward to partnering together for many years to come!"
* Zach Spiker, Department of Athletics
- nominator Sharde Johnson says, "I would like to nominate Drexel University Head Men’s Basketball coach Zach Spiker for the Lindy Staff Award for Campus and Community Engagement. Zach has shown a true commitment engagement over the last year and has been an active and engaged partner on our campus, in our region and even nationally. Zach has been a vocal supporter for the new Center for Black Culture. He raised and matched $10,000 for the creation of the Center and, equally important, has championed its mission on educating and fighting “racism in our country.” In his own words Zach pledged his passion to, “… be an action step that helps sustain a better future experience for our players, managers and all of members the current and future Black Community at Drexel.” As I am new in my role, and leading a new center, I am so appreciative to have the support of a new friend and ally in Zach. He has not only supported the Center financially but programmatically. We are fortunate for his continued support and partnership. I believe his commitment should be recognized and celebrated with this award."

Community Partner Awards

Outstanding Community Partner Award This award is given to an individual, community organization, or school that has been an outstanding co-educator of Drexel students, or worked collaboratively with faculty and staff.

2021 Nominees: 

* Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm - nominator Page Talbott says, "Wyck Historic House, Garden & Farm in Philadelphia (Germantown) is a strong candidate for Drexel’s Outstanding Community Partner Award, as an ongoing collaborator of Drexel’s Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships since 2018. Wyck has been our key partner in the Lenfest Center’s Drexel Areas of Research Excellence (DARE) project (2019-21), exploring The Future of Historic Sites: Increased Access, Engaged Communities, Sustainability and Archives Without Walls. Wyck—a National Historic Landmark known for its house/collections, historic roses, and home farm—was home to nine generations of one family for nearly 300 years. The interdisciplinary DARE project built on the foundation of the Lenfest Center’s inaugural Faculty Fellowship program (2018-19), where we began the collaboration with Wyck, along with faculty from Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Computing & Informatics, and School of Education. Throughout the DARE project, Wyck staff and board members have worked collaboratively with Drexel faculty and staff, and as outstanding co-educators of Drexel students."
* Bethesda Project
- nominator Shayna Zanker says, "Bethesda Project has been a valued partner of Drexel for many years, and the time that I have spent volunteering for them as a Drexel Community scholar has made an undeniably positive impact on my life... I owe a great deal of credit to Bethesda Project for providing me with the tools necessary to strengthen my moral compass in this way. I am unspeakably grateful for the incredible humans who work for Bethesda Project, especially Jeffrey Isaacson, because they enabled me to join the Bethesda family and volunteer in a way that has made me feel appreciated; furthermore, their professional and realistic candor enabled me to gain invaluable knowledge and experience which will surely guide my future patient interactions."
* West Philly Promise Neighborhood Advisory Council 
- nominator Aunnalea Grove says, "The WPPN Community Advisory Council is a group of community leaders who work in partnership with the West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood team to support, provide feedback on, and advise the WPPN project. The council members consist of community leaders like civic association leaders, members of K-12 school communities, and resident leaders at neighborhood nonprofit organizations. The CAC has worked with the WPPN team on a variety of projects ranging from WPPN research surveys to promoting and vetting applications for community funding opportunities and connecting their neighbors with WPPN resources. During the pandemic, the CAC has become an even more vital partner. CAC members have helped shape the WPPN response to the pandemic, providing feedback on community needs that informed how the WPPN directed funding and programming. CAC members have worked with Jeffrey's Porch to pick up and deliver resources to families in their neighborhood, including information about COVID 19, masks and cleaning supplies, educational materials, and outdoor play equipment. Without the CAC, the WPPN would have been unable to respond so quickly and directly to the needs of the the community during the pandemic."