2020 Engage for Change Awards

Our third annual Engage for Change Awards on Thursday, October 15 featured a keynote address by Richmond Public School Superintendent Jason Kamras and panel discussion with Laura Browder, Tyler and Alice Haynes Professor of American Studies, Cassie Gilboy, '19, Richmond Public Schools First Grade Teacher, and Omar Ibrahim, '21, Bonner Scholar and Leadership Studies Major. View the recording here

Each honoree received the 2020 Engage for Change print, designed by Yuwei Lin, '20.

2020 Engage for Change Award

Community-Engaged Teaching Award

This award recognizes a faculty member who has consistently demonstrated excellence in community-engaged teaching at the University of Richmond. Community-engaged teaching is undertaken in collaboration with community partners in order to further the learning of all involved and build the capacity of students and community members in order to effect positive change. Excellent community-engaged teaching may connect our students to the greater Richmond community through a variety of modes, including but not limited to service-learning; collaborative projects with community partners; clinical education, student teaching, and internships; and study tripas and immersive engagement with community experts.

George Hiller, Lecturer of International Business

Professor Hiller's commitment to community engagement has been evident in his 26 years of teaching for the School of Law, the School of Professional & Continuing Studies, and the Robins School of Business. He currently teaches the community-based learning course Doing Business in Latin America. Dr. Hiller has also mentored five Civic Fellows since 2015, connecting students to Health Wagon, a nonprofit organization providing health care to the medically underserved in Wise, Virginia.

Community-Engaged Scholarship Award

This award recognizes University faculty member(s) whose scholarly and/or other creative activity emerges from a mutually beneficial partnership with a community and creates new knowledge that contributes to positive social change. Community-engaged scholarship is characterized by its relevance to a faculty member’s expertise, its benefit to the external community, its visibility among community stakeholders, and its contribution to the University's mission.

Alicia Díaz, Associate Professor of Dance

Professor Díaz has used dance to explore the interrelated processes of race, capitalism, and colonialism. She has done so in partnership with many community organizers, artists, faculty, and students to create "Brother General Gabriel" which was performed at the African Burial Ground in Shockoe Bottom in the fall of 2019, the video project "'Knowledge of This Cannot be Hidden' Westham Burying Ground Commemorative Act" on the history of the unmarked burial ground for enslaved people at UR, and the recent film "Entre Puerto Rico y Richmond: Women in Resistance Shall Not Be Moved" for the Institute of Contemporary Art's Commonwealth exhibition.

Service for Change Award

This award recognizes an individual or group who has committed to service and relationship building in the Richmond community as a significant part of his/her/their college experience and whose work has contributed to a community's goals. We honor awardees for their ongoing commitment to community engagement and for the spirit in which they have engaged. Awardees have exhibited a dedication to understanding social issues in context, a commitment to valuing the dignity and worth of every individual, a persistent self-awareness and willingness to reflect critically, and a sustained and ethical approach to engagement.

Maria Navarro-Castillo, '20

Mathematical economics and business administration major and Bonner Scholar Maria Navarro-Castillo served for three and a half years at Sacred Heart Center where she took on multiple roles. Even in the midst of the pandemic and when she no longer needed hours for her Bonner scholarship, Maria continued her engagement with the organization and applied for student engagement funding to purchase art kits for the students enrolled in Casa Lapiz, an art program that strives to create a safe space where middle school students can express themselves through drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture.

Brianna Silva, '22

Journalism and political science major and Bonner Scholar Brianna Silva has dedicated her service to supporting the Latinx and Black communities in Richmond and throughout the country. During the pandemic, she launched a business, Masks4Richmond, where customers can purchase a mask for themselves and donate a mask to someone else. During the summer, she also served with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Kindness Project to support those in her community who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Activism for Change Award

This award recognizes an individual or group who has consistently advocated for meaningful action towards social justice in the Richmond region. Awardees have worked persistently to understand the larger context of a social problem and are strategic and intentional in their actions to promote change. 


Lauren Stenson and Emma Johnson

During the spring of 2019, Lauren Stenson and Emma Johnson advocated for a monthly, student-led, cross-cultural dialogue focused on issues of race, equity, and inclusion. In January 2020, overtly racist graffiti and xenophobic events took place just days before their very first dialogue. The discussion was tremendously well received, creating a strong platform for future culture change efforts across campus. Today, they continue to lead a team of over a dozen facilitators from a variety of backgrounds who bring students together to unpack difficult issues. They presented at the Bonner Foundation Summer Leadership Institute in June 2020, and other schools in Virginia and beyond are seeking their advice for starting new chapters on their own campuses.

Africana Studies Student Committee

Kayla Corbin, Akeya Fortson-Brown, Shira Greer, TJ Tann, and Miquell Shaw

The Africana Studies Student Committee has worked tirelessly to create a proposal demanding the creation of an Africana Studies department. Their proposal and accompanying petition, which has now been signed by, as of October 2020, 1,444 community members, including 859 undergraduate students, led to the creation this year of the Africana Studies Faculty Learning Community (FLC), which is now working on a formal proposal for an Africana Studies Program. The Africana Studies Student Committee has continued to advocate for Africana Studies at UR, recently presenting at the Equity Summit, continuing to be actively involved with the FLC, and starting an Africana Studies reading group for interested students.

Collaboration for Change Award

This award honors a collaborative community-based partnership between campus and community stakeholders. This award is given to an individual or group who recognizes the importance of authentic relationships and genuine collaboration to affect change. Criteria include: a sustained commitment to an evolving and iterative relationship over time; partnerships that exemplify collaboration as a process of co-creation; a respect for the knowledge and expertise of all stakeholders; and a demonstrated outcome that reflects mutually shared goals emerging from the partnership.

The East End Cemetery Collaboratory

Elizabeth Baughan, Kristine Grayson, Friends of East End (Brian Palmer, Erin Hollaway Palmer, John Shuck), Ryan Smith, and Jeannine Keefer

In 2016, Elizabeth Baughan, Associate Professor of Classics and Archaeology, and Kristine Grayson, Associate Professor of Biology, launched the East End Cemetery Collaboratory in partnership with the Friends of East End. Five faculty members from UR and VCU, supported by the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement and VCU Office of Community Engagement, joined in their first year, and the Collaboratory has evolved and grown by engaging new community partners and students and faculty across disciplines and institutions. Ryan Smith, Professor of History at VCU, and Jeannine Keefer, Visual Resources Librarian, have also taken on leadership roles. The Collaboratory’s online map of East End Cemetery, supported by the Digital Scholarship Lab, pinpoints the locations of grave markers using GIS technology and drone imagery.