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 Erin Mysogland 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.

2019-2020 Pace Bronze Medal Award winners include:

Lauren Beth Birney, EdD is an Associate Professor of STEM education in the School of Education on the New York City Campus. Establishing opportunities in STEM education for underrepresented students is an integral component of all her work, and to this end, Lauren has secured $10.4 million from the National Science Foundation for a research consortium that articulates “Curriculum and Community Enterprise for Restoration Science,” an educational model based on the principle that schools and communities can and should play direct, active, and authentic roles in the ecological restoration and stewardship of the planet, especially in places where local habitats and species have been severely degraded by human development. Implemented through a broad partnership that includes Pace University, the Billion Oyster Project, the New York City Department of Education, the Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the New York Academy of Sciences, the University of Maryland Environmental Center for Environmental Sciences, the New York Aquarium, CUNY, and Baruch, the project involves 97 New York City schools, more than 300 teachers, and approximately 15,000 K-12 students over a period of four years.

Karen Buckwald is the Director of Human Resources Initiatives and Organizational Effectiveness in Pace’s Human Resources department.  For Karen, Pace University is both her place of employment and her community. She has been actively involved in the Pace community by volunteering regularly for commencement; leading the Relay for Life HR teams, which have raised more than $3,000 for cancer research; and participating in University-sponsored fundraisers, including the P4K dance marathon, “Santa Cause,” the Susan J. Komen Foundation Walk for the Cure, and others.  Karen has also served as treasurer of the Westchester Administrative Staff Council (WASC) and given her time to support Pace Makes a Difference Day, annual toy and food drives, Daffodil Days and the annual WASC staff picnics. She also serves as the co-chair of the Health and Wellness Committee, where she regularly engages faculty and staff to improve their overall well-being. Driven by causes that have affected her family and friends, she supports related organizations such as the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, on behalf of which she raised more than $4,600 running a half marathon; CaringKind, which supports individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias; Family of Woodstock, a social service organization; and Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization. Karen has twice donated her hair to Locks of Love to make hairpieces for children, inspiring her school-age niece to do the same. Karen believes strongly that there is a social responsibility to help those in need, and she takes particular pride in motivating others to join her in this commitment.

Jacqueline Cassagnol is a third year PhD in Nursing student in the College of Health Professions who has received numerous distinguished awards for her community service work. At Pace, she is a part of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, through which she has served in volunteer positions locally, regionally, and globally. Additionally, Jacqueline is the founder and president of Worldwide Community First Responder, Inc., which she established as a result of her experience assisting with victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, providing health education, first aid, and disaster-preparedness training. To date, her organization has educated and trained more than 350,000 community members in critical life-saving skills. In recognition of her work, Jacqueline was named “Nurse of the Year” by the March of Dimes, at its Fifth Annual gala in New York, and designated a “Rising Star” by the Rockland Economic Development Corporation, at its 13th Annual Forty Under 40 Reception. She was also honored with the Safe Community Award by Volunteer New York! at its 35th Annual Volunteer Spirit Awards Breakfast Benefit and inducted into the New York Academy of Medicine in November 2018. In 2019, the New York Yankees named Jacqueline a “Nurse Hero,” and she won the Haitian American Young Citizen of the Year Award from the US Haitian Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

Laurianne Gutierrez ‘20, is a third year Political Science student in New York City who believes that it is her civic duty to help create a more fair and just society. She has been actively engaged in various communities since high school, when she first delivered meals to individuals unable to cook for themselves with the nonprofit God’s Love We Deliver. At Pace, Laurianne has served as a mentor to elementary school children through the Read Ahead program, organized a volunteer trip to God’s Love We Deliver, and founded Pace Students Against Gun Violence. The group has collected more than 1,000 petition signatures and lobbied local elected officials, urging them to support funding gun violence research. Laurianne currently works with the Center for Community Action and Research on the New York City Campus on the planning and implementation of civic engagement programming.

Natalie Hernandez ‘20, Digital Journalism major and Political Science minor, wants to make a difference in the world, especially in terms of ending sexual violence. In her senior year of high school, she wrote a play about sexual assault that was featured on Broadway for one night. At Pace University, Natalie was a part of a group of students that petitioned the Student Government Association to provide funding for POWER (the Partnership of Women Empowerment and Respect). She has held several leadership positions with the organization and currently serves as president. During her sophomore year, she became a Pace Fighting Ignorance and Rape through Education (FIRE) peer educator, serving as a con¬fidential resource for students affected by sexual violence. Through FIRE, Natalie has made numerous presentations on consent, and helped to develop "A Survivor’s Journey," an interactive event showcasing the impacts of sexual violence on survivors’ everyday lives. Hernandez has also been an active volunteer with the Center for Community Action and Research on the Pace Pleasantville Campus, and was elected to be the ambassador for Unity and Social Justice in student government for the 2019-20 academic year through the Social Justice Council at Pace.

Kaitlyn Houlihan ‘19, is a Political Science major on the Pleasantville Campus who became committed to community action in high school through volunteering at a domestic violence agency in Dutchess County, NY. She helped to sort holiday donations and supervise an ongoing children’s support group, experience which led her to a job working in a survivors of domestic violence shelter run by Safe Homes of Orange County. “I met [Kaitlyn] in an AOK1 class I teach where we work with disabled adult students. Kaitlyn's ability to connect with those students and to make them feel deeply seen and respected was incredible,” wrote Pace University Professor Jane Collins in nominating Houlihan for the Jefferson Award. “She gives people the gift of her kindness and her attention.”

Laurie Brown Kindred is a Production Manager at the Pace School of Performing Arts and has managed and created live entertainment and special events for more than twenty years for theme parks, corporations, and nonprofits from Broadway to China. Since 2009, she has also managed Japan Day @ Central Park, a cultural event attended by more than 50,000 people annually. Currently, Laurie is lead volunteer for Jenny’s Garden, which serves West Harlem and supplies several harvests to a local soup kitchen annually. In this role, she leads dozens of volunteers and members in managing all of the gardens in Riverside Park from 135th to 145th streets, harvesting community vegetable plots, and delivering hundreds of pounds of produce to be shared with the local community’s most vulnerable citizens. She has also shared her gardening knowledge with the New York City Department of Education in creating the Grow to Learn garden at her daughters’ elementary school. In 2018, Laurie received a Certificate of Recognition from Mayor DeBlasio for her outstanding volunteering efforts. “We applaud your efforts to improve the quality of life for fellow New Yorkers and ensure that all of our residents can share in the prosperity for which our city is known,” it states.

Jessica Magaldi, JD is an Associate Professor in the Legal Studies and Taxation Department in the Lubin School of Business on the New York City Campus. As a Pace faculty member, former lawyer, and native New Yorker, a spirit of public service imbues everything she does. Jessicai has volunteered monthly at the New York City Small Claims Court, helping people in an overburdened legal system, and chaired a New York City Bar Association initiative working to bring mediation to low-income clients. She has also volunteered for her community board, at her children’s school, and for a support group for parents of multiple-birth children. In 2016, she co-founded Grow Amsterdam NY, a nonprofit that works to conserve, create, and empower community-managed greenspaces. At Pace, Jessica has advised three student organizations, including the Beta Gamma Sigma (Business) Honor Society, the national office of which recognized her as an “Outstanding Chapter Advisor” in 2016, and the Office of Student Development and Campus Activities, which awarded her  “Advisor of the Year” in 2017. She has also created a Civic Engagement and Public Values section of Business Law, bringing together the many aspects of her dedication to service.

Vanessa Merton, JD, served as Pace Law School’s Associate Dean for Clinical Education for 15 years, while creating the Access to Health Care and Prosecution of Domestic Violence Clinics.  Vanessa currently directs the Immigration Justice Clinic (IJC), staffed by Student Attorneys authorized to practice under supervision, which provides free legal services to indigent noncitizens seeking to regularize their status, reunite with their children, and fight deportation. In 2017 the IJC assisted travelers detained at airports under the Trump Executive Orders and has spent recent spring breaks volunteering at immigrant detention centers on the southern border.  Vanessa has received a multitude of awards, including the Pace Law Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, the Graduating Class Award for Outstanding Law Professor, the Servant of Justice Award for advocacy for Haitian refugees, the Pace LALSA Alianza Award, the Pace Immigration Law Society Persistence Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (the highest honor for an immigration law professor), and was named a “Lawyer Who Leads by Example” by the NY Law Journal. She is a founding member of the New York Immigrant Representation Group convened and led by U.S. Second Circuit Chief Judge Robert Katzmann.  For her work setting up a 200-student emergency operation to assist people affected by the 9/11 tragedy, in 2002 Vanessa received six national and local awards.  She began her legal education career at NYU Law School, was a founding faculty member of CUNY Law School, and a Mellon and NEH Fellow.

Denise Santiago, PhD, is the Director of Pace’s Office of Multicultural Affairs on the New York City Campus and an adjunct faculty member in the Sociology and Anthropology Department, part of the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences. Driven by her commitment to social justice, she was a leading force behind the creation of the Provisions food pantry and vegetable garden, serving faculty, staff, and students on the New York City Campus. Since inception, the garden has supplied the University and surrounding community with more than 200 pounds of produce. Denise currently manages both projects, and she is also the founder and coordinator of Pace’s now 5-year partnership with the New Roots Community Farm, serving a South Bronx community marked by poverty and a high incidence of preventable diseases. She also oversees the Pace Knitting Circle—a group of students, staff, faculty, and community members who knit hats, sweaters, blankets, and scarves for children under pediatric care and their families—and collaborated to create Beyond the Skyline: Domestic Travel Study for Diversity, Social Justice, and Leadership. Students in this program examine social justice movements in New York City and compare them to underserved communities across the US. In the past three years, students have worked on food justice initiatives in South Carolina, New Orleans, and Puerto Rico.

Joanne Singleton, PhD, is a Professor in the College of Health Professions on the New York City Campus. An accomplished clinician, educator, researcher, and coach, she is a fellow in the New York Academy of Medicine and National Academies of Practice, for which she was appointed vice-chair for organizational membership in 2019. Joanne is deeply engaged in studying the human-animal connection, and she created Canines Assisting in Health, a curriculum to educate future and current interprofessional healthcare providers on assistance animals and how they support individuals with visible and invisible disabilities. Since 2016, she has educated more than 3,000 individuals. In spring 2019, Joanne launched a civic engagement AOK1 elective course in which students worked with Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities to assist the Village of Pleasantville in becoming a model community for individuals with disabilities teamed with a service dog. Joanne has a special partner in Professor Spirit, a service dog for whom she is the primary caregiver. Singleton and Professor Spirit have helped more than 300 students, faculty, and staff reduce their stress through their evidence-based stress reduction practice, Paws & Breathe, a service they also offer in the community.

Anne Toomey, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Science on Pace’s New York City Campus. Her dedication to promoting environmental sustainability and social responsibility is reflected in her work. At Pace, she has designed and taught four Civic Engagement and Public Values courses, partnering with more than 12 environmental nonprofit organizations. Students in these courses are required to carry out campus-based sustainability projects and volunteer with organizations such as GrowNYC and  Earth Matter, through which they have had opportunities to work on issues including urban composting, and present at the 2018 State of New York Sustainability Conference. Anne is also the creator of Science for Environmental Professionals, a series of development workshops for environmental professionals in Westchester and New York City, as well as the Pace Sustainability Initiative (PSI) faculty mentors. PSI has more than 300 members, and under Anne’s stewardship, this student group has coordinated events on climate policy, provided information on how to meet with elected officials, and more. Most recently, in collaboration with indigenous activists in Bolivia, she launched a website to raise awareness about the impact of hydroelectric dams on national parks and indigenous communities.

Past Jefferson Awards Winners include:

Year 2018-2019

Bronze Medals: Nicolette Carbonetto ’20 (Elementary Education), Marie Lourdes Charles, EdD, RN (Assistant Professor in the College of Health Professions), Cariel Clarke ‘20 (Childhood Education), Jane Collins, PhD (Associate Professor of English in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences), Vanessa Herman (Assistant Vice President in the office of Government and Community Relations), Caitlin Grand ’12 (Assistant Director of the Pace Path, Office of the Provost), Grant Kretchik ’02, MFA (Associate Director of the Pace School of Performing Arts, Director of BFA Acting program), Isabella Lupo ’19 (Peace and Justice Studies), Fatimah Majors ‘19 (Applied Psychology and Human Relations), Jessika Pietryka ‘20 (Information Systems), Matt Renna (Vice President of Human Resources at Pace University), Connor Wills ‘20 (Applied Psychology and Human Relations)

Year 2017-2018

Bronze Medals: Cesar Ballesteros ’18 (Biology), Neil Braun (Dean of the Lubin School of Business), National Winner Kimberly Collica-Cox, PhD (Associate Professor Criminal Justice and Security in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences), Reginald Flowers (Adjunct professor in the School of Performing Arts), Victoria Gonzalez ’18 (Political Science & MPA), (Duke) Tsun-Chueh Huang ’20 (Peace and Justice Studies and Art), Eric Kessler, PhD, (Henry George Professor of Management at the Lubin School of Business), Kelly Lang ’18 (Applied Psychology and Human Relations), Amanda Marshall ‘18 (Biology), Pauline Mosley (Professor of Information Technology at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems), Rachel Simon (Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs), Rohana Karina Sosa ’19 (Computer Science)

Year 2016-2017

Bronze Medals: Tiffany Bermudez (Residence Director, Pleasantville), Matthew Bolton (Professor of Political Science, New York), Shari Crandall (Associate Director of Residential Training and Development, Pleasantville), Angelica Fabian (Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications and Arts & Entertainment Management, New York), Kenesha Henry (Applied Psychology & Human Relations, New York), Mr. Dylan Jusino (Finance, New York), Emerald Rodriguez (Nursing, Pleasantville), Marijo Russell O’Grady (Dean of Students, New York),  Natalie Sobchak (Director of Pro Bono Programs at Pace Women’s Justice Center, Law), Tracy Van Ness (Assistant Clinical Professor in the College of Health Professions, New York),  Emily Welty (Professor of Peace and Justice Studies, New York).

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).