Bruce and Christine Alexander given United Way’s highest honor

The United Way of Greater New Havens’s Leadership Circle has recognized Bruce Alexander, vice president for New Haven and State Affairs and Campus Development at Yale, and his wife, Christine Alexander, the founder and executive director of New Haven Reads, by bestowing on them its highest honor — the Alexis de Tocqueville Award.

The award is presented to individuals who embody the American spirit of giving and volunteerism as witnessed by Alexis de Tocqueville as he traveled to the United States in the 1800s.

The Alexanders were presented the award on Nov. 6 at a ceremony at the Yale Center for British Art, hosted by its director, Amy Meyers, and her staff. Among those in attendance were New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Yale President Richard C. Levin.

The Alexanders are an example of the credo that says ‘when you reach out a hand to one, you influence the condition of all,’” commented Jack Healey, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater New Haven, at the ceremony. “Their wish to inspire others to do the same is one of their most important gifts. … They help each of us see what it looks like to care about others.”

The Alexanders have made New Haven their home for the past 10 years. Bruce Alexander, a Yale College graduate, is largely responsible for the partnership between Yale and New Haven through his work to foster economic development, revitalize neighborhoods, support public school and youth programs, and revitalize the downtown area of the city.

In her role at New Haven Reads, Christine Alexander oversees an organization that provides adults and children access to free books and tutoring opportunities in order to improve their literacy skills. Last year, New Haven Reads distributed over 120,000 books. It provides tutoring to approximately 287 children each week.

Scott Flora, global president of Covidien’s Surgical Devices division of North Haven and the 2008 United Way Campaign chair, also spoke at the award ceremony about his admiration for the Alexanders. “We at United Way are grateful for the contributions Chris and Bruce have made to this community and for the examples they have given us as philanthropists, community leaders and advocates,” he commented.

Yale is one of the biggest supporters of the yearly United Way Campaign. The University’s partnership with United Way to address the region’s most urgent issues continues to grow through activities like Days of Caring. During this year’s Days of Caring — a program in partnership with the United Way of Greater New Haven — associate University librarian for human resources Diane Turner led a region-wide campus book drive including all six colleges in New Haven. More than 4,000 children's books were collected for New Haven Reads and Read To Grow.

This year, students at Yale are taking on more responsibility to raise awareness around the issue of homelessness. In early November, many of Yale’s a cappella groups donated their time and talent by participating in a charity concert to help fund an overflow shelter in New Haven. Their efforts raised over $3,000.

The Yale-United Way Campaign is currently underway. To donate to the yearly drive or for more information, visit Yale’s United Way website.

Helping our community, service to society, is one of Yale’s most important values,” Bruce Alexander noted at the awards ceremony in his honor.

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