Jack Wood Award Recipients for 2020
Katie Russell, nominated by City of Fairfax Councilwoman Jennifer Passey, is a senior at Mason. In October 2017, Katie met Councilwoman Passey at Mason’s annual Witch Watch, sponsored by Student Government, on Halloween. Councilwoman Passey had just been elected and had high hopes of getting more environmental practices started in the City of Fairfax. Katie is a passionate environmentalist majoring in environmental and sustainability studies. It was a perfect combination. Katie worked with Councilwoman Passey to enourage City Council to adopt a new composting program. In October 2019, the City celebrated the one-year anniversary of the new program. It is a great success story and Katie played a big role in its success. The City’s composting program continues to grow and is now run by the City’s Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, however, Katie is attributed with the steam behind its start.
Nominated by Jennifer Disano, Executive Director for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), the faculty recipient, Dr. Cynthia Lum, is being recognized for the outstanding contributions she has made to programming at OLLI, enhancing and augmenting important synergies between OLLI and George Mason University. Not only does she tirelessly volunteer her time to teach in OLLI classrooms, offering first-rate classes on criminology, evidenced based policing, crime theory, and public safety, but she also helps OLLI programmers identify and reach out to other criminology experts, both internal and external to Mason, to fill OLLI’s curriculum needs.
OLLI Mason’s 1200 members, retirees 50+ in the northern Virginia community, are deeply grateful to Dr. Lum for these insightful and engaging offerings, knowing the significant time it takes to prepare for and teach classes. Dr. Lum’s efforts are made solely with an eye toward building community, not only with OLLI Mason but also with people in the neighborhoods that are home to George Mason University. It is done on the basis of goodwill without the promise of remuneration or recognition.
Government Category (Office/Agency, Elected Official/Staff):
Nominated by City of Fairfax Councilman Michael DeMarco, the Government Category recipient is Danette Nguyen from the City of Fairfax Economic Development Office. Danette has made a concerted effort to increase the positive relations between the University and the City of Fairfax through her role in economic development, beginning with a significant campaign for Homecoming in 2019. In partnership with Mason’s Homecoming Committee, the EDO/EDA collaborated with Mason to identify a number of marketing opportunities for city businesses to engage and connect with the university community that was unprecedented.
The Homecoming events included the Homecoming Tip-Off Party, a kickoff to Homecoming Week that brought city businesses directly on campus to connect with the Mason community; Paint the City Green, where city businesses were partnered with Mason student organizations to paint their storefront windows; and Patriots in the City, which helped welcome Mason Nation to city businesses through specials and discounts available to students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Also launched in 2019, Danette was instrumental in developing a partnership between the Economic Development Office, the City’s Communications and Marketing Department, and Mason to begin The Patriots in the City video series. The series showcases Mason students as they experience activities and attractions off campus in Fairfax City, offering an opportunity for students to explore the city and hear from their peers on where to shop, eat, and play when they’re not on campus.
And last but not least, Danette worked with Mason’s Welcome Week initiatives to help welcome students back to school and the surrounding community by ensuring all 6,400 students that lived on campus received information and discounts to Old Town Fairfax businesses that are located less than a mile from campus.
Partnership Category (an initiative created between a Mason entity and an external organization(s) to benefit both entities):
This year the recipient is the Athletics Adopt-A-School Program, a collaborative mentor/volunteer community service program between Mason’s athletics team and Fairfax County, City of Fairfax, and Alexandria City Public Schools.
To date, five teams and over 100 student-athletes are participating in the program: Women’s Basketball adopted Matthew Maury ES in Alexandria, Women’s Soccer adopted Braddock ES in Fairfax County, Baseball adopted Providence ES in the City of Fairfax, Wrestling adopted Lanier MS in the City of Fairfax, and Track and Field adopted Daniels Run ES in the City of Fairfax, which was the first STUDENT-LED, adoption.
Once a team was paired with a school for adoption, an adoption kick-off was held with officials from the city/county, School Board members, the school principal, other school leadership, Mason leadership, Mason Athletics, and local media.
Once adopted, student-athletes — and occasionally coaches — volunteer at the school by mentoring the students, volunteering in their classrooms, engaging them during lunch and recess, and/or participating in special events at the school, primarily during the team’s off-season. In addition, the school supports the Mason athletics team by attending a home game/match during their competitive season which brings students and families from the adopted school to a college campus–many for the first time–and increases fan attendance which encourages and inspires the team.
Congratulations to all our award recipients. We greatly appreciate your leadership in strengthening the relationships between the university and the communities we serve.