Jefferson Awards

The Jefferson Awards for Public Service recognize individuals for their public and volunteer service, and dedication to improving the quality of life in their communities. 

Faculty, staff, and students can nominate any individual from the Pace University community. Self-nominations are also welcome. Nominations are typically due in October each year.

It’s easy to nominate someone using the online nomination form

The most up-to-date information about the application and nomination process can be found at

For more information, contact Heather Novak, Associate Director on our Pleasantville campus at, or Daniel Botting, Associate Director on our New York City campus at

Pace University is a Jefferson Awards Foundation Champion. Champions are organizations that partner with the Jefferson Awards Foundation to engage in meaningful public service and celebrate their communities with Jefferson Awards.

2016-2017 Pace Bronze Medal Award winners include:

Tiffany Bermudez is a residence director at Pace University’s Pleasantville campus.  She earned her master’s degree in Counseling from Pace University and her bachelor’s degree in Social Science Psychology from Dominican College. Passionate about topics relating to social justice, civility and diversity, Tiffany’s commitment to service began in 2010 at Dominican College. As a Catholic-based institution with a pillar of service, many opportunities existed for Tiffany to give back to her community.  She participated in countless service projects with organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Midnight Run, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Since Tiffany began working at Pace, she has organized three Midnight Run trips, which involved leading clothing and food drives and taking students to New York City to deliver essentials for the homeless. Tiffany has also served as a committee member and site leader for Pace Makes a Difference Day.  Currently, she is the chair of the Civility and Advocacy committee and has assembled a group of students and staff to organize the Pleasantville campus’ first Civility and Advocacy Week.  Giving back to her community is a core passion for Tiffany and it is her mission to educate her students on the importance of doing the same.

Shari Crandall is the associate director of residential training and development on the Pleasantville campus.  Shari’s commitment to service emerged at 12 years old when she became a candy striper. Through this experience, she learned that community makes a difference in peoples’ lives and this motivated all of her future service endeavors. Seeing first-hand that loving parents alone could not meet the needs of their sick child, her mission in life, both professionally and personally, had begun. Shari continues her commitment to service by serving as a site leader for Pace Makes a Difference Day, by participating in local community cleanups, and by volunteering with the local children’s residential facility at JCCA. She also dedicates time to the organization, Moms of Multiples, coordinating monthly lectures to help mothers of twins and triplets adjust to their unique and challenging circumstances. She is also an advocate for a variety of social justice issues, such as nutrition, supporting individuals with learning disabilities, and challenging Common Core.

Angelica Fabian is a senior with a double major in Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications, and Arts and Entertainment Management at Pace University.  Since elementary school, she has volunteered in her community, primarily in the field of education. Among her greatest achievements during college is the completion of over 900 hours of service to the AmeriCorps Jumpstart program at Pace. During her first 600 hours of AmeriCorps service, she led a team of college peers who helped 3 year-olds prepare for kindergarten, emphasizing language and literacy skills. For the past year, she has served as Volunteer Coordinator, recruiting, managing, and training more than 30 volunteers to serve 100 students in underprivileged neighborhoods. This past summer she volunteered with New York Cares in partnership with the Governors Island Teaching Farm where she completed training in animal care. She is an active Pace University volunteer, contributing to various programs and departments.  Angelica is always willing to volunteer for a good cause and manages to do so while working multiple jobs and completing her studies.

Kenesha Henry is an Applied Psychology and Human Relations major on the New York City campus.  Kenesha is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the community of people with disabilities.  The history of people with disabilities is frequently one of exclusion, if not isolation, from the community life of society.   Kenesha is engaged in helping young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities with inclusion opportunities in the community.   She is a counseling mentor to young adults with autism disabilities at the mid-spectrum who do not have diplomas from high schools.  Using iPad and smart tablet technologies, her clients focus on life planning storytelling, mapping out who they were, who they are today, and who they would like to be in society.  Kenesha is helping young adults with disabilities to participate more fully in society by teaching practical productivity and presentation-specific skills for pursuing semi-professional positions.

Dylan Jusino is a Finance major on the New York City campus. Since high school, he has dedicated his time to volunteer work throughout New York City, and recently he completed 250 hours of volunteer service in the community. Dylan finds excitement in helping others, and this motivates him. He taught financial literacy to high school students in the Upward Bound program, preparing lessons and teaching on Saturdays.  At the same time, he was an SAT Tutor for New York Cares.  In the spring, he tutored high school students in math. Additionally, Dylan volunteered with New York Cares in their partnership with Governor’s Island Teaching Garden, where he cared for the farm animals. Currently, Dylan mentors a 10-year-old boy through Children of Promise, NYC, an organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration.

Emerald Rodriguez is a nursing student on the Pleasantville campus.  Since the age of eleven years old, Emerald has been committed to community service. Her first experience with service was working with Disney volunteers to distribute Thanksgiving holiday food to families in need. Her passion for service developed during college when she was given endless opportunities to help and to give back. For three years, she has participated in Paint-A-School, which has given her the opportunity to give back to schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn by making their classrooms a bit more colorful. During her time at Pace, she has participated in many service projects, such as volunteering for the SLC Winter formal, helping run the Cottage School Halloween Party, staining bird houses for owls at Teatown Lake Reserve, helping plan and lead an Alternative Spring Break, and the numerous other opportunities she could get her hands on.

Marijo Russell O’Grady, PhD, is the dean of students for the New York City campus.  She hails from Western New York, Chautauqua County. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from State University College at Buffalo in art education with a concentration in art therapy. She worked in residential life during her undergraduate and graduate tenure. Dean O'Grady then worked at North Adams State College as a residence director, and later moved to Rivier College in Nashua, NH, with a role as director of student activities/assistant director of residents. She moved to New York City in 1989 and began a PhD program in higher education administration at New York University, while working full-time in housing and residential life as the coordinator of residential student development. Her dissertation was centered around racial identity theory and first year African-American students at predominantly white institutions, and was completed in 1999. Dean O'Grady has served as the dean for students at Pace University since June 1998 and oversees the areas of Student Development and Campus Activities, Orientation, Housing and Residential Life, counseling services including disabilities and wellness, Multicultural Affairs, the student information desk, and judicial affairs. Currently, she serves as a member of the WTCHR Scientific Review Board and coordinator of the Challenger League.

Natalie Sobchak is the director of pro bono programs at Pace Women’s Justice Center.  She is responsible for recruiting, training, and supervising an array of volunteers, ranging from attorneys to high school students.  In college, Natalie received the M. Lee Chrisman Award for Outstanding Contributions to Boston University Bands and was selected as one of 76 trombonists for the All-American College Marching Band in the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration.   In law school, she received the American Jurisprudence Award in Criminal Justice, the Lung-chu Chen Award for Contribution to Human Rights, and was selected to be the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Human Rights.  Her first position after graduation was with the Office of the Appellate Defender, where she represented indigent convicted felons on appeal.  Thereafter, Natalie was employed by the federal court in Manhattan for 20 years, providing assistance to people who litigated their cases without the assistance of legal counsel.   She received the Southern District of New York Achievement Award in 2006 and the Second Judicial Circuit of the United States Merit Award in 1991.   She was hired as PWJC's first director of pro bono programs in 2011.  Under her leadership, the program has grown to include three new volunteer projects, the number of volunteers has grown to a compliment of 45 individuals, and the number of hours donated by volunteers has grown to more than 8,000 hours each year, or the equivalent of $1.5 million.  For the last 15 years, Natalie has fundraised for the Annual MS Walkathon and served at a local Bronx soup kitchen.

Tracy Van Ness is an assistant clinical professor in the College of Health Professions, department of Physician Assistant Education on the New York City campus.  In April 2014, shortly after becoming faculty at Pace, her son, at the tender age of seven, was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease called juvenile dermatomyositis.  His treatment is intensive and includes weekly chemotherapy injections as well as monthly hospitalizations for intravenous medications. Although there is treatment for this disease, there is no cure.  That is when Tracy realized that "I am determined to make a difference for my son and all those affected with this disease."  That same year, she joined the Cure JM Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on finding a cure for juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) and juvenile polymyositis (JPM), collectively known as juvenile myositis (JM).  She has participated in multiple fundraising events benefiting this cause and is currently the New York metro region chair to the inaugural “Walk Strong to Cure JM,” an annual fundraiser set to take place in May of 2017.  She has also spearheaded multiple projects for Cure JM.   Tracy has compiled and distributed information packets about the disease and on resources for those families newly diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis. She has witnessed firsthand the delay in diagnosis from the onset of symptoms to the time of diagnosis, which prompted her to compile and distribute information folders to pediatric providers in the New York Metro area to increase awareness of this disease.   Tracy has also generated a referral source of physicians with experience and expertise in this disease to local pediatric providers.  She has given a number of talks on juvenile dermatomyositis to her community, her children's local elementary school, as well as the district's 504 committee.  She continues to work clinically in the department of neurosurgery at Stony Brook Medicine. She is also a doctoral student at Nova Southeastern University.

Emily Welty, PhD, is an assistant professor of Peace and Justice Studies and Dr. Matthew Bolton, PhD, is an associate professor of Political Science on the New York City campus. When they got engaged, they agreed that their lives and marriage would be not only to each other but to working to make the world a more peaceful, just and sustainable place. As former aid workers – who worked for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and United Nations agencies responding to the impact of conflict and disasters in countries including Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa – they now serve the diverse student body of Pace University. Dr. Welty directs Pace’s Peace and Justice Studies program and Dr. Bolton advises the Model UN team. Both teach classes that prepare students for public service and careers in advocacy, peacebuilding and international development. In the classroom, they draw on their humanitarian experience and field research in conflict zones. Both Dr. Welty and Dr. Bolton have worked hard to place students in a variety of volunteer and intern positions in international NGOs in New York City. Dr. Welty leads the International Affairs Commission of the World Council of Churches, helping faith-based communities engage in peacebuilding and development work, and serves on the board of directors for the Peace and Justice Studies Association. Dr. Bolton has served as an advisor to NGO campaigns conducting disarmament advocacy. Together, they represent the International Peace Research Association at the United Nations, working on banning nuclear weapons and an array of other peace and human rights issues. They have been actively involved in nonviolent protest movements in New York City including Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.

Past Jefferson Awards Winners include:

Year 2015-2016

Bronze Medals:  “Nelli” Pamela Marianelli Villarta Agbulos (Political Science, and Women and Gender Studies double major, New York City campus),  Caitlin Boley (Political Science and Religious Studies double major, New York City campus), Dr. Melissa Cardon (Management and Management Science Professor, Pleasantville campus), Rosanna Corvino  (Web Services for Information Technology Staff, Briarcliff campus), Melanie Greene (Information Technology major, New York City campus),  Giovanni Lemus (Acting major, New York City campus), Debra Sassano (College of Health Professions, Dean’s staff, Pleasantville campus), Christelle Scharff (Computer Science professor, New York City campus),  Carolyn Phillips (Political Science major, New York City campus), Ashley Marinaccio, Pace School of Performing Arts professor and alumna, New York City campus), James “Jim” Stenerson (Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology; Women and Gender Studies professor, Pleasantville campus), Raevin Adria Walters (International Management major, Pleasantville campus)

Year 2014-2015

Bronze Medals: Brando Brandini (student, New York City campus), Kylah Bruno (student, Pleasantville campus), Diane Cypkin (faculty, Pleasantville campus), Dr. Brian Evans (faculty, New York City campus), Remy Gallo (student, New York City campus), Jason Gonzalez (student, New York City campus and national conference attendee), Michelle D. Land (faculty, Pleasantville campus), Diana Mendez (student, New York City campus), Kim Novak (student, New York City campus), Robert D. Rahni (staff), Alexander Saitta (student, Pleasantville campus)

Year 2013-2014

National Champion Winner: Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo (Staff, Pleasantville campus)

Bronze Medals: Hasin I. Ahmed (student, New York City campus), Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo (staff, Pleasantville campus), Daniel Borakove (student, Pleasantville campus), David Cassuto (faculty, Pleasantville campus), George L. De Feis (faculty, New York City campus), Sara Digiovanna (student, Pleasantville campus), Dr. Harriet R. Feldman (faculty), Jered Harvey (student, Pleasantville campus), Ann Marie Pavia (student, New York City campus), Christina Rufo (student, Pleasantville campus),  Dr. Dorothee Von Heune Greenberg (faculty, Pleasantville campus).

Year 2012-2013

Bronze Medals: Tracy Basile (faculty, PLV), Zach Dayton (staff, Pleasantville campus), Joan Katen (faculty, Pleasantville campus), Shyam Nooredeen (student, New York City campus), Mark Stephens (staff, Pleasantville campus), Alireza Vaziri (student, New York City campus), Dana Weingartner (student, Pleasantville campus)

Year 2011-2012

Bronze Medals: Alyssa Feldman (student, New York City campus), Alisha Hayes (student, Pleasantville campus), Richard Kline (faculty, New York City campus), Ellen Mandel (faculty, Pleasantville campus), Surendra Kaushik (faculty, New York City campus), Diana Martinez (staff, New York City campus)

Year 2010-2011

National Gold Medal: John Cronin (Staff)

Bronze Medals: Michael Boyle (student), Donald Doernberg (faculty), Naphtalie Librun (student), Yvonne Rafferty (faculty), and Hannah Tall (student).

Year 2009-2010

Bronze Medals: Vincent Birkenmeyer (student), Matt Ganis (faculty), James Lawler (faculty), Isabell McHugh (staff ), Tom Nardi (faculty), Breanna Romaine Guiliano (student), Mary Stambaugh (staff), Miki Tamura (student), Christopher Uhlick (student), and Christopher Walther (staff)

Year 2008-2009

Bronze Medals: Atalya Kozak (student), Sue Maxam (staff), Kaya Castronova (student), Karla Jay (faculty), Christian Cano (student), Jean Coppola (faculty), Anne DeFalco (staff), and Pace University's chapter of Beta Alpha Psi (students).