Elm-Ivy Awards Will Honor Outstanding Contributors to New Haven-Yale Relations

The 21st annual Elm-Ivy Awards luncheon slated for May 1 at noon will honor 12 people and a special team in recognition of their efforts to strengthen ties between Yale University and the city of New Haven.

Yale President Richard C. Levin and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. will present the awards.

The Elm-Ivy Awards were established at Yale in 1979 by Fenmore Seton, Yale Class of 1938, and his wife, Phyllis. The awards evolved from the Elm and Ivy Fund, also created by the Setons, at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. The fund identifies and honors individuals from New Haven and Yale whose work enhances understanding and cooperation between the two. Over 219 people have received Elm-Ivy Awards since the program’s inception.

This year’s Elm awards will go to Grace A. Feldman, Daniel D. Newell, R. Evelyn Schatz, and Richard J. Grossi. Ivy awards will go to Timothy J. Ford, E. Jonathan Soderstrom, Kemel W. Dawkins, Susan L. Voight, and Leslie S. Robinson. Ivy undergraduate awards will go to Anika Singh and Christopher S. Edwards. Ivy graduate awards will go to Dacia M. S. Toll and a special team award to the Urban Resources Initiative.

A brief description of the recipients’ contributions follows:

Elm Awards

Grace A. Feldman: She is an extraordinary music teacher at the Neighborhood Music School who has taught scores of children of Yale staff members over the past decades. She created the outstanding Ensemble Program at NMS, where she is considered a teacher of rare excellence - patient and kind, yet powerfully demanding.

Daniel D. Newell: He has provided volunteer service to improve the quality of life in the Hill neighborhood, home of Yale’s Medical Center, and to help build and fortify a strong foundation for partnership between Yale and the six Empowerment Zone neighborhoods. He served as volunteer co-chair of the city’s nationally-recognized Enterprise Community Council that resulted in a new understanding among our neighborhood residents of the potential for partnerships with Yale, the city and other EC/EZ partners.

R. Evelyn Schatz: She has been the unstoppable driving force behind the Chapel West Special Services District and has helped to make a key area, where town and gown meet, safe and vibrant. She has reached out to the Yale community and administration to solicit advice and support on behalf of the neighborhood. The fruits of her labors and her partnership with Yale are evident in improved lighting in the district, colorful banners decorating the streets and especially in the renovation of the former Jewish Community Center into the new Yale Art School.

Richard J. Grossi: In New Haven, his name is synonymous with inspired and committed corporate citizenship. Since his retirement as United Illuminating Company’s chairman two years ago, he has headed up the Science Park Development Corp. on a volunteer basis. SPDC has been and remains an important community asset, turning the abandoned parts of the old Winchester plant into productive, tax-paying real estate. The park also provides space for creating much-needed jobs for New Haven, as well as a necessary incubator environment for further development of bioscience companies spun off from research at Yale laboratories.

Ivy Awards

Timothy J. Ford: As Yale’s assistant director for community outreach at Yale Athletics’ alumni affairs office, he was nominated for his work as outreach coordinator for athletics. He coordinated the very successful NCAA sponsored National Youth Sports Program. This summer program brings inner city youth to Yale for a 5-week curriculum of sports and education.

E. Jonathan Soderstrom: As Yale’s director of cooperative research, he was nominated for his work in creating the right climate for economic growth in the community. He has been the lead volunteer with city and state commissions and working groups such as the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce and other civic groups.

Kemel W. Dawkins: As Yale’s associate vice president of facilities, he was nominated for his working relationship with the New Haven Preservation Trust. No issue has been too big or too small for his involvement, with consistent openness and forthrightness.

Susan L. Voigt: As the business manager of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, she was nominated for her work in helping to build audiences and relations with the community. She has been a prime supporter of Yale’s Peabody Museum expanded events and programs and an active member of her own community.

Leslie S. Robinson: As a professor at the Yale School of Nursing, she was nominated for her work with the New Haven Board of Education’s District Community Committee. She is a mentor for parents of children who are newly identified as needing evaluation and entry into the Special Education process.

Ivy Undergraduate Awards

Anika Singh: She was nominated for her work through Dwight Hall and for her volunteer service to the community. She is an active officer of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project and she has worked in housing agencies in poor neighborhoods in New Haven. She had also served as a Dwight Hall Urban Fellow and a President’s Public Service Summer Fellow.

Christopher S. Edwards: He was nominated for his work on the Habitat for Humanity Yale-New Haven Bike and Walk Challenge. He is an active member of the Habitat Collegiate Build and started the Habitat Midnight Mile Run with other Yale students, which is a fundraiser for the organization.

Ivy Graduate/Professional

Urban Resources Initiative (special team award): Team members of the URI were nominated for outstanding community work. URI is a Yale/New Haven partnership that draws on the resources of the city, the University and New Haven residents to address urban blight. The organization has grown to include both research and applied projects in restoration. URI has created a spirit of volunteerism in the neighborhoods of New Haven.

Dacia M. S. Toll: She was nominated for her work with the Amistad Academy charter school project. She is a teacher, a Rhodes Scholar and the former executive director of New Haven Cares. Together with Stefan Pryor (1999 Elm recipient), she has helped to establish the academy and continues to be a major part of its progress.

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