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The Selfless Eleven

News Story

The results are in: 11 members of the Pace Community have been selected to receive Jefferson Awards Bronze Medals for their commitment to service.

Each year, the Jefferson Awards for Public Service looks for the “unsung heroes,” the selfless people who make the world a better place through volunteering and community service efforts. The Center for Community Action and Research is pleased to announce that 11 Pace University individuals have been selected to receive Jefferson Awards Bronze Medals for 2013-2014. 

Known as the “Nobel Prize for public service,” the Jefferson Awards were established to recognize and honor individuals whose community service efforts best exemplify dedication to enhancing the quality of life in their community. Pace University became a Champion of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service in 2008. Nominations were solicited from the University community and finalists were selected based on their personal, sustained commitment to service, and for the model of spirit and service they provide the university community.

This year’s Bronze Medal Award winners include:

Hasin I. Ahmed
International Marketing, Lubin
NYC Campus
Hasin I. Ahmed is an International Marketing major and a Peace and Justice Studies minor on Pace’s NYC Campus. He is originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh and calls New York City his second home. He has been volunteering and interning in the non-profit sector since his senior year of high school. As an undergraduate student, he has served as the Student Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Community Action and Research at Pace University since his freshman year. His work at the Center allowed him to plan and coordinate various volunteer service events with several NYC-based non-profit organizations and disseminate his passion for volunteer service work with Pace students, staff, and faculty. He has worked/volunteered with organizations such as Common cents, Generation Citizen, Computers For Youth, Brooklyn For Peace, etc.

Furthermore, Ahmed has served as FACES assistant for Professor Emily Welty’s Intro to Peace and Justice Studies class, where he was in charge of managing the civic engagement component of five courses over a span of two years. He will be graduating with five years of work experience in the non-profit sector and he hopes to establish himself as a seasoned professional in the international non-profit/NGO sector.

Lisa Bardill Moscoritolo, PhD
Dean for Students
Westchester Campus
As a student affairs professional and educator for more than 20 years, Dean Lisa has recognized the impact that service and community engagement has on student learning and the community, and has worked to make it an integral part of the Pace experience. She was the driving force behind the creation of Pace Makes a Difference Day, a program where students, faculty, and staff spend a day volunteering in the community. This program, that now has grown to involve more than 350 students annually, has been part of the campus culture for the past five years. 

Dean Lisa was also the founder of the Setters Leadership and Service House (SLH). SLH students are required to volunteer one to two hours a week, participate in workshops, and take a one-credit class based on the Social Change Model of Leadership and Servant Leadership practices. There are currently 20 SLH students, with plans to expand to 40 in the fall of 2014. She also co-taught a course on Leadership and Sustainability Practices where students were required to create sustainability projects for incorporation into the University’s master plan. 

Before moving to Westchester to work for Pace, Dean Lisa worked, lived, and went to college in Florida, where she helped to organize her church to provide food and supplies to those with HIV and AIDS, and served as a Red Cross volunteer for four years. She also organized students to volunteer in soup kitchens, and received a grant as a result of her work with students and the migrant farmworker population from Florida Campus Compact. 

Daniel Borakove
Psychology, Dyson College
Westchester Campus
Daniel Borakove has a long and varied history of commitment to his community. Before entering Pace, he already had extensive experience working with the disabled, from his time at the Birchwood school to his volunteer work with the Special Olympics. He carried this interest into his work at Pace with his work with Successful Learning Center, a program that provides a college-like experience to developmentally disabled young adults and Camp Venture. 

Borakove raised school supplies for children in South Africa, and funds for the Pace Academy’s Water Walk. He has also been a teaching assistant for Professor Christopher Walther’s Psychology of Civic Engagement course.

David Cassuto
Pace Law School
David Cassuto is a Professor of Law at Pace University’s Law School in White Plains and the founder and director of the Brazil-American Institute for Law and Environment (BAILE). BAILE’s mission is to work for the improvement of environmental protection and sustainable social and economic development. 

A former professor of English specializing in literature and the environment, Professor Cassuto has published and lectured widely on legal, literary, and environmental issues. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and is the founder and editorial director of the Animal Blawg, a blog devoted to animal law and policy. Currently, the Animal Blawg is reaching one million page views.

Professor Cassuto volunteers to teach environmental law and water law at the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil each summer. From bicycling across the Amazon to raise money for rainforest causes while he was a graduate student at Indiana University, to working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through his work on the Board of Directors of Instituto Abolicionista Animal (IAA), a Brazilian NGO, he believes you do what you can for your community, a community that extends across borders and species boundaries and include entire ecosystems. In 2012, the IAA awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award. 

George L. De Feis, DPS
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Management, Lubin
NYC Campus
In his prior life, as a civil engineer, George L. De Feis has been engaged in the call for "sustainable development" for more than 25 years in the not-for-profit, academic, and professional (corporate) sectors. Two years ago, Professor De Feis was awarded a "Project Pericles Fellowship" at Pace University for developing a new course—Global Sustainable Development—where students integrate the “civic service” they have performed with “management learning,” towards a full, comprehensive learning experience, which will be written about in an article as a base. He has taught this course in spring 2013 and currently in spring 2014. Professor De Feis serves on the board of a new environmental not-for-profit, AirSoilWater.

He completed his DPS in management/marketing at Pace University in 2013. He also holds an MBA in finance/investments (1987) from Bernard M. Baruch College (CUNY) and a BE in civil engineering (1982) from The Cooper Union.

Sara Digiovanna
Marketing, Lubin
Westchester Campus
Sara Digiovanna has been involved in service projects since the age of 12 when she first organized a fundraiser for the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. At St. Thomas parish, she volunteered as an Altar Server and worked at church picnics. In high school she was an avid community supporter and member of the National Honor Society and various leadership programs. 

As a member and later a mentor of the Youth Leadership Sandoval County in New Mexico, Digiovanna learned to develop and inspire leadership, civic responsibility, and community involvement in Sandoval County youth by providing opportunities for education, exposure, and interaction. She was a member of the Carrie Tingley Youth Advisory Board, a non-profit organization that helps New Mexico families and children reach their full potential. The organization supports the University of New Mexico Carrie Tingley Hospital, but also funds several services and programs that assist individual families and children. 

She also mentored developmentally challenged students ages 18-24 and taught them every day activities of responsibility such as going to work, cooking, and cleaning, so that they would be self-reliant upon graduation from high school. Since arriving at Pace, Digiovanna has continued to work with developmentally challenged children. Her first year at Pace she was a part of the Setters Leadership House and was a volunteer at Atria senior living home and Bedford Road Elementary School with students who had disabilities. In her sophomore year at Pace, she was chosen as captain of the cross-country team and is currently organizing the 1st 5k “Color Run” to raise community awareness and support for athletics at pace. She was also a University 101 Peer Leader.

Harriet R. Feldman, PhD, FAAN, RN
Dean, College of Health Professions and Lienhard School of Nursing
Dean of the College of Health Professions and Lienhard School of Nursing at Pace University Harriet R. Feldman’s interest in service started with watching her parents give community service. Their role modeling greatly influenced her decision to enter a service profession, nursing. While at Pace, Dean Feldman was instrumental in re-starting Pace’s Institutional Review Board for protection of human subjects in research, acting as its first chair. As Interim Provost, she supported the creation of Pace’s LGBTQ center and has served on the University’s Diversity Task Force. 

Outside of Pace, Dean Feldman has been a member of the New York State Board for Nursing and the “grassroots liaison” of the Government Affairs Committee of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), where she leads NYS Deans in political action initiatives. She is a former member of the Board of Nyack Hospital and of the Task Force on the Future of Westchester Medical Center. She is an emerita member of the Board of Nurses Educational Fund, an organization that offers nursing scholarships for graduate nursing education. She was recently elected to the AACN Board and is past chair of the national nursing accrediting board, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Dean Feldman is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and New York Academy of Medicine. She is a noted author, contributing countless publications on the topics of leadership and evidence-based practice, and has edited two nursing journals.

Jered Harvey
Business Economics, Dyson College
NYC Campus
Once in a great while an individual does something extraordinarily selfless that qualifies them for a Jefferson Award. Last fall, Jered Harvey non-violently intervened in a domestic dispute between a couple that turned violent. His service resulted in him being struck and thrown off the subway platform onto the tracks, which you may have read about in newspapers or seen in local news.

He cites his mother as his inspiration. "The only consistent thing in my life is my mother. Since I was born my sister, mother, and I have been on the move. Constantly changing towns, schools, states. But no matter where we went our mother made sure to remind us to show love for others. She led by example, having people in crisis stay with us in our home, volunteering in our community, and raising money for various causes. Personally I always preferred one on one help than abstract helping a cause. Offering conversation to crying strangers, giving directions to someone who is lost, making sure someone gets home safely when they've had one too many. Both in and out of Pace I'm involved with a few groups and clubs that try to help, raise awareness, or bring a little joy,” he says.

Ann Marie Pavia
Economics, Dyson College
NYC Campus
Ann Marie Pavia believes in the power of education and in our democracy to alleviate poverty, social injustice, and inequality. She is a student leader at Pace and is graduating next year with a degree in Economics. She is the current treasurer for Pace University’s OXFAM chapter, and was a key founder and Executive Director of Pace University’s chapter of Generation Citizen, a program that works in area high schools to empower youth to solve problems in their community through a rigorous action-civics course. She then worked to successfully create the Generation Citizen at Pace student club, where she served as President. 

In addition to her work with Generation Citizen and OXFAM, Pavia worked with high school students on the issues of teen depression and bullying—leading them to organize a coalition to plan events tackling these problems. She helped lead a youth retreat in her church for young adults with the goal of educating them about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, and on how to cope with the pressure of being in middle school and high school. She has also volunteered weekly in her town’s local church’s food pantry and thrift shop. She strongly believes that her faith and the message of the Gospel have been a strong foundation in helping her grow in her desire to serve others. 

Pavia is currently working with Professor Morreale on a research paper on the effectiveness of No Child Left Behind Act on education inequality among low-income Hispanic students. She believes, as Nelson Mandela once said, that "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Christina Rufo
Accounting, Lubin
Westchester Campus
“Knowing that I have made a difference in someone else’s life is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. The thought of being a part of something bigger than myself keeps me committed to helping others in any way I can,” says Christina Rufa. Her fundraising beneficiaries include the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the MS Society. 

She has participated in numerous service events at the Pleasantville Cottage School and spent a semester working with at risk youth at Children’s village, both residential treatment facilities for children. In addition, she worked with JP Morgan’s Good Works project, and on a KMPG’s community clean-up day.

Dorothee Von Huene-Greenberg, PhD
Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Dyson
Westchester Campus
Professor Dorothee Von Huene-Greenberg’s community commitment spans over four decades. As a Pace professor, she has been an active member of the Pace Pleasantville community, designing one of the first service learning courses on the Westchester Campus “Women’s Studies–Civic Engagement Edition," engaging hundreds of students in service around women’s issues, in addition to incorporating service into non-civic engagement courses, like Gender, Race and Class. She has organized campus conferences on The Ethnic Mosaic: Issues for Educators and Islam and Globalization: Muslim Women’s Perspectives to raise dialogue and discussion on the campus. Her community-based research led to the confirmation that the Underground Railroad ran through Westchester County before and after the Civil War. In her personal life, Von Huene-Greenberg has volunteered at My Sister’s Place, St. Bartholomew’s Soup Kitchen in White Plains, and assisted in the recording memoirs of Ms. Esther Weiz Grun, survivor of Auschwitz and Ravensbruek, which now resides in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.