Jefferson Awards

2021 Winner: Kimber Nicoletti-Martinez

Multicultural Efforts to End Sexual Assault (MESA) The MESA program results from Kimber’s passion to base her work on reciprocal, collaborative and culturally-appropriate working relationships with many community stakeholders. MESA is a founding member organization of the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (National Farm Worker Women Alliance). MESA also partnered with Hanna Community Center to teach fitness classes that focused on healing and empowerment for the price of a donated canned food item to the Food Pantry. Kimber was a role model of giving back to the community while creating access to a class that promoted health and self-esteem. Kimber continued to partner to conduct Spanish language classes for healthcare professionals, violence prevention events and mental health support groups.

2021 Winner: Levon Esters

Mentoring @ Purdue (M@P) Program; M@P is a program designed to improve the recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minority students within agricultural fields. M@P aims to strengthen these areas by providing professional development for students seeking to enter graduate school, fostering peer mentoring relationships between current graduate students, and providing quality programming to improve faculty and staff’s mentoring capabilities. M@P has six central components: a Summer Scholars Program (SSP), a Peer Mentoring Program (PMP), a monthly mentorship workshop, an annual Invited Lecture Series (ILS), the M@P Resource Guide, and the quarterly Road M@P to Success Newsletter.

2021 Winner: Nadine Dolby

Animal Advocates of Greater Lafayette; Animal Advocates of Greater Lafayette, Inc. was founded  in July 2019 by Nadine Dolby, who is currently the President of AAGL.  The mission and the vision are below. When the pandemic started in the spring of 2019, Animal Advocates mobilized within a few weeks to keep pets with their families and out of animal shelters through seven pet food pantries between April-October. We distributed over 40,000 lbs of food to the community, and received extensive media coverage for our work in April and May. We are continuing to serve community needs through additional emergency distribution over the winter, collaboration with the ACE food pantry at Purdue, community outreach programming through Food Finders, and a new initiative called, “Presents for Pets” in December, among other programs and services. AAGL is now a non-profit, and will continue to expand and support the community. 

Jefferson Awards

Purdue has joined Multiplying Good to promote the value of engagement and recognize volunteer leaders within its workforce. As part of the partnership, nominations are being accepted for the group’s Jefferson Awards to recognize and celebrate individual Purdue employees for meaningful public service to their communities.

For almost 50 years, the Jefferson Awards have served to change communities and the world by inspiring action through celebration. The Office of Engagement is seeking nominations for individuals young and old, regardless of classification or rank, who reflect the spirit of Purdue as a land-grant university through giving back to their communities in meaningful way.  All active employees are eligible to be nominated, and self-nominations are welcome.

Purdue will recognize up to six award winners each year, and the top Jefferson Award winner will be selected from these awardees to represent Purdue at the annual national awards ceremony.

The nomination form can be found here.  

Examples of submissions from previous winners can be found here

More information on evaluation metrics can be found here

All active employees are eligible to be nominated.  Self-nominations are welcome.

Past Recipients

2019-20 Award Recipients

Jennifer (Jenny) BayFood Finders Food Bank; Aligning her work with the land-grant mission, Jenny Bay’s partnership with Food Finders has directly impacted well over 12,000 Hoosiers. For 10 years Jenny and her students have contributed to the region’s fight against food insecurity, touching the lives of over 12,000 food pantry clients, 1300 volunteers, and 175 member agencies at Food Finders Food Bank. In 2010 she established a reciprocal community partnership with Food Finders, in which they perform research with clients and agencies, write reports, publish media, and produce training materials that helps Food Finders complete their work. Jenny and her students have created many documents for Food Finders: a needs assessment report and a newsletter for the organization; 5,000 brochures distributed through Food Finders’ backpack program and mobile pantry; a printed food-sorting guide for volunteers; three instructional videos on food sorting; a poster on food safety; and a research study on the senior grocery program.

R. Thomas Godwin – IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program; Thomas Godwin, PhD, CPA, CGMA, is Purdue University’s site coordinator for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program administered through the IRS in partnership with the United Way of Greater Lafayette. He is passionate about helping the Lafayette community through both free tax preparation and tax education. Dr. Godwin works closely with both Purdue students and United Way site coordinators to ensure the VITA program runs smoothly and grows in size each year. Under his leadership, Purdue’s participation has assisted the growth of the program such that is is among the largest programs in the state. Dr. Godwin regularly works with other site coordinators at the United Way to redevelop processes, review complex returns, create best practices, and ensure that the program can serve as many community members as possible. He educates students about the tax law through a service-learning course he teaches in conjunction with the program to emphasize the importance of community service.

Donna Zoss – Grace Recovery; Donna’s volunteer public service focuses on substance abuse. As a founder of Grace Recovery, Donna leads the support group for individuals with substance use disorder and has obtained funding from Bauer Family Resources, Indiana Division of Mental Health and Drug Free Coalition of Tippecanoe County. During 2019, Donna planned multiple sober social events and workshops with Home with Hope, Willowstone Family Services, and others. In 2015, in collaboration with the Drug Free Coalition of Tippecanoe County, Donna planned the first International Overdose Awareness Day in Lafayette. Naloxone training and distribution was added to this annual event in 2016. To address the need for the naloxone, Donna coordinated a training with Overdose Lifeline, Inc. so that she could begin distributing naloxone in 2017. Since then, Donna has held multiple training and distribution sessions for the general public, and professionals resulting in over 190 doses of naloxone being handed out.  

Kely Paez Urbano* – Spanish Service-Learning at Purdue; Since 2014, Paez has led Purdue’s Ayuda y Aprende service-learning program, in which students of Spanish work with four local schools, the Lafayette Urban Ministry Immigration Clinic, and the Undergraduate Research Experience Purdue–Colombia. Within these partnerships, students support Hispanic students with limited English with their school work and assist teachers, facilitate Spanish conversation tables to support Spanish language and intercultural learning in the community, and do language exchanges and tutoring with Colombian students who are research interns at Purdue. While doing service deemed necessary by the local organizations, students also practice Spanish skills, gain intercultural knowledge, and learn about local diversity and the experience of being a new community member. Paez maintains community relations, advertises programs, solicits applications, prepares students, and visits partner sites — engagement activities that result in many community benefits. Paez’s work has impacted the community. She provides educational support for underserved populations, serves local youth, and builds positive global and local community relationships through language and cultural exchanges. Ayuda y Aprende has been well received by community stakeholders and participants, evidenced by their continued participation. The program not only has immediate effects on the community, but it instills in Purdue students the practice of community engagement as an opportunity for involvement, service, and learning. From 2018-2020, 93 volunteers have provided over 1,860 hours of service, impacting at least 430 lives. Paez’s impact since 2014 has been even greater. The results of Ayuda y Aprende have been reported to Purdue’s School of Languages and Culture, and students have reflected on their service and learning opportunities within course assessments. Given the community-wide impact of this work, Paez’s work deserves to be recognized more broadly.

*Selected by the Jefferson Award committee to represent Purdue at the national ceremony

2018-19 Award Recipients

Michelle Ashcraft, Purdue Promise; Purdue Promise is a program that serves Indiana 21st Century Scholars who have a total family income threshold of $50,000 or less, with the goal of graduating students on time and debt free.  Michelle helped launch the program in 2009 to address the fact that Purdue’s 21st Century Scholars were graduating at significantly lower rates than their peers at Purdue.  In 2013, Michelle and her team redesigned the program’s model in favor of high-touch, proactive success coaching.  Coaches monitor students’ progress, help them find resources, and help them address complex issues that may affect their academic success and financial aid eligibility. The change to coaching has helped boost Purdue Promise students’ four-year graduation rate by more than 25 percentage points. Purdue Promise students span vast intersecting identities, diversifying the student body as first-generation and underrepresented minority populations gain access to higher education. Though traditionally labeled “at risk” nationally, Purdue Promise students are graduating at higher rates than their peers.  Michelle’s passion for equity and student support is visible in all of her actions.

Bill Harper, Purdue Athletes Life Success (PALS) Summer Camp; PALS Camp is a free 4 week summer day camp offered in partnership with Purdue University and many other community businesses, which brings to campus 400 low income and underserved children (ages 8-14) from the Lafayette-West Lafayette community.  This also includes bus transportation, as well as free breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack.  Bill Harper has played a leadership role in the PALS program since it was established in 2002.  It is because of Bill’s passion for the program that it has not only continued, but has grown to become one of Purdue’s greatest outreach to the local community.  Campers participate in a variety of actives including STEM education, environmental sciences, financial literacy as well as physical activities – swimming, soccer, yoga/meditation and Jiu Jitsu, to name a few. Ten years of research during PALS not only demonstrated the transformative impact the camp has on the lives of these youth, but also that the friendships and relationships developed during camp have a significant and measurable impact on self-esteem, motivation for physical activity, and most importantly on their hopes for the future.  Dr. Harper summarizes the program by saying, “PALS is a positive youth development program. By way of it we try to stimulate and inspire our children to improve their opportunities for life success.” 

Gloria Sachdev, Indiana Pharmacists Alliance; Dr. Gloria Sachdev is currently on faculty at Purdue College of Pharmacy. She has volunteered hundreds of hours to advance healthcare in our communities. Her interest began in 2009 when it became clear to improve the care of Hoosiers and to advance the profession of pharmacy, a law needed to be expanded to permit pharmacists to partner with physicians.  Gloria successfully brought together a collaborative team of 6 pharmacist colleagues, 2 state legislators, and 2 representatives from the state pharmacist association. While she had no experience in public health policy, she led drafting and strategy of getting a collaborative practice agreement bill become state law in 2011. Under her leadership, an astounding 20 pieces of legislation have become law. As a result of Gloria’s volunteer service efforts, Indiana now has over 70 pharmacists who practice using in partnership with physicians using collaborative practice agreements. This translates to Hoosiers having access to a pharmacist to help them optimize their medication use, preventing adverse reactions. Gloria aims to broaden the scope of what is often considered public service. While there are numerous roles to play, public service through health policy is a wonderful opportunity to create impactful change and she finds public service the most rewarding aspect of her career.

Sandy San Miguel*, This is How We “Role”; An example of Dr. San Miguel’s excellence in engagement is the This is How We “Role” program she created above and beyond her normal job responsibilities. This initiative was in cooperation with Purdue’s Evaluation Learning Research Center and College of Education. She established This is How We “Role” to inspire children to pursue scientific education and careers that will impact animal and human health and to address the needs of students who are disadvantaged due to socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity. Sandy’s efforts impact our community by making science approachable and meaningful to students who might otherwise not consider pursuing secondary education or careers in science and health. This is How We “Role” is an illustration of her passionate work to creatively spark in children a flame of interest and enthusiasm for the field of veterinary medicine. She knows many of these youth might not encounter and learn about veterinary medicine, and yet have great potential to find rewarding careers in the field and to significantly impact animal and human health.

Gary Steinhardt, Tippecanoe County Veterans Council; Dr. Gary Steinhardt has been with Tippecanoe County Veterans Council since 1998.  The Council coordinates joint activities of 19 veteran’s service organizations in Tippecanoe County. Gary’s most successful effort has been to start meetings with elected officials and veterans to express issues and concerns. The renovation of the memorials on Memorial Island in Columbian Park is a beautiful and lasting tribute to the sacrifice of Tippecanoe County citizens in the defense of the nation. It was set up in such a fashion to provide a place of meditation for families and a place for schoolchildren to visit. This involved hundreds of thousands of dollars in city, county and private donations. As a Vietnam veteran, he is keenly aware that there are those from his Advisory Team who did not return from Vietnam and there are those forever changed by their service. Since retiring from the Army Reserve, he has been very active and effective in veteran’s affairs. He has been helpful in many projects to better the lives of veterans and to insure remembrance of the sacrifices they made!

Marcy Towns, Veggie Drop-Food Finders; In the summer of 2014 Dr. March Towns became a passionate volunteer with the West Lafayette Veggie Drop where she collects fresh fruits and vegetables from the Wednesday West Lafayette Farmer’s market. She weighs the food and records the donations, then with the help of other volunteers separates the fruits and vegetables for delivery and distribution that same evening at two section 8 housing complexes, Country Villa and Richfield. Since 2014, Marcy’s efforts have resulted in over 17,000 pounds of donated food being distributed. She’s incredibly dedicated to her community, the people with whom she has built relationships, and the Veggie Drop; without her continued dedication it would have been very difficult to sustain the project.

*Selected by the Jefferson Award committee to represent Purdue at the national ceremony