New Haven and Yale celebrate activists who strengthen town-gown ties

President Richard C. Levin and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano presented seven individuals and two groups with Yale University Seton Elm-Ivy Awards at a ceremony on campus on April 10.
Elm-Ivy winners

President Richard C. Levin and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano presented seven individuals and two groups with Yale University Seton Elm-Ivy Awards at a ceremony on campus on April 10.

The Elm-Ivy Awards honor people whose efforts support the collaboration of the university and its hometown. According to Levin, the awards are a special opportunity to recognize those whose work “may not always make the headlines” but “is the essential foundation on which our community’s progress rests.”

Elm Awards are given to members of the New Haven community beyond Yale, and Ivy Awards are given to Yale faculty, staff, and students. The awards were established at Yale in 1979 by Fenmore R. Seton ‘38 and his wife, Phyllis.

This year’s Elm Awards were given to Bruno Baggetta, marketing manager of Market New Haven; Nan Bartow, retired education and board member of the Urban Resources Initiative; and Robert Smuts ‘01, chief administrative officer of the City of New Haven.

Ivy Awards were given to James Boyle ’94 Ph.D., director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute; Sarah Demers, assistant professor of physics, and Bonnie Fleming, associate professor of physics, for their work together in Girls Science Investigations; Gordon Geballe ’81 Ph.D., associate dean of alumni and external affairs, and lecturer in the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies; Kurt Zilm, professor of chemistry and chemical engineering; the Neighborhood Health Project of the Yale Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health; and LaTisha Campbell ‘12, a student in Yale College.

The award citations for honorees follow.

Bruno Baggetta

In his seven years at Market New Haven, Bruno Baggetta has been instrumental in ensuring that “It All Does Happen Here in New Haven.” As marketing manager, Bruno has coordinated popular events such as New Haven Restaurant Week, Music on the Green, and the New Haven Open at Yale.

Funded in part by the city through its board of alderman, by Yale University, by Yale-New Haven Hospital, and by some other local businesses, Market New Haven itself is a true collaboration of Elm and Ivy efforts, and Bruno embodies this spirit of partnership and takes it to heart. Whether it’s urging Yale alumni to rediscover New Haven, encouraging and welcoming hundreds of visitors to New Haven, and most recently, asking people to “Make a Night of It in New Haven” by bundling theater offerings with restaurant promotions, Bruno is one of New Haven’s biggest fans and advocates.

Those of you who know Bruno recognize that his energy is abundant and his creative and critical eye oversees the production of brochures, campaigns, and extraordinary efforts in communicating that New Haven is a wonderful place to live, work, and play.

Nan Bartow

From the Sahel of Chad to the classrooms at High School in the Community, Nan Bartow has dedicated herself to a life of service.  A former Peace Corps volunteer in Africa and retired New Haven English teacher, Nan shares her love of teaching and land conservation with all in her path.  

Since 2004, through the Urban Resources Initiative’s Community Greenspace program, Nan has welcomed Yale student interns to partner with community volunteers every summer. Together they replace invasive plants with native species and clean up litter that enters the ponds through storm drains after major rain events. At the end of every summer, Nan invites community members to her home, hosting a thank you party for the Yale intern.

Nan has been instrumental in creating a permanent collaboration between Yale students and community members by initially encouraging all incoming Forestry & Environmental Studies students to spend a day at the Beaver Pond Park and lend a hand alongside the Friends of Beaver Pond Park group. Additionally, working with both Yale faculty and city administrators, Nan pushed to have a catch basin installed on the storm drains, thereby reducing pollution in the ponds.

For approximately a decade, every Wednesday evening during the summer Nan has led a group of volunteers to care for Beaver Ponds. Nan’s leadership is inspiring as she takes the time every week to document every volunteer’s contribution in a thoughtfully drafted message. It is only fitting that today Nan should finally be the one to receive recognition.

Robert Smuts

Robert Smuts’ interest in politics began while an undergraduate at Yale. An active member of the Yale College Democrats, Robert served as its president and coordinated numerous voter registration drives. As a student, he worked to establish relationships between other Yale students and local government officials. Now, as one of those local government officials, Robert continues to facilitate positive communications between the University and the City.

In his role as New Haven’s chief administrative officer, Robert is responsible for coordinating efforts amongst many different agencies and groups. His ability to work through challenging issues while strengthening and furthering relationships is a required skill set for his job and one in which he excels.

Additionally, Robert’s door always remains open for Yale students. He finds time to mentor Yale students and help raise their level of civic engagement. He is a frequent guest speaker at University sponsored events, offering his insights into city politics and encouraging civic responsibility.

James G. Boyle

As the co-founder and director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI), Jim Boyle is right at home. While earning his Ph.D. from Yale Jim started his own business. One could say that Jim was the embodiment of YEI before it even existed. Now with his same level of enthusiasm, drive, and passion, Jim guides Yale students to identify, develop and found similar innovative business ventures, while advocating for these businesses to find a permanent home in New Haven.

This summer marks YEI’s fifth class of students participating in its 10-week summer fellows program, in which about 25 student entrepreneurs who want to start businesses stay in New Haven, are paid a stipend on which to live, and are exposed to a wide variety of activities and perspectives, ranging from entrepreneurial education to high-profile speakers and networking opportunities. By the end of the program, students have a solid business plan and are able to seek seed-stage funding for their projects. This year there were a record number of applicants, which comes as no surprise to those who know Jim and what he has helped build at YEI.

Since 2007, YEI has helped foster and grow over 45 student-founded ventures which have raised a total of $37 million of investment capital and created more than 130 full-time jobs, approximately one-third of which remain in New Haven. In order to start a new business, one needs access to a broad network of investors and capital. Jim makes that connection happen in New Haven and provides the ability for student start-ups to stay in New Haven. New Haven has a long history of economic innovation, dating back to Yale graduate Eli Whitney’s perfection of the use of interchangeable parts in manufacturing. Jim helps Yale students continue that tradition today.

Girls’ Science Investigations (Bonnie Fleming and Sarah Demers)

At a time when our nation needs more qualified scientists and engineers and women are making great strides in nearly every sphere but are behind in many Science Technology Engineering and Math (“STEM”) fields, Girls’ Science Investigations addresses a critical need.

The mission of Girls’ Science Investigations (GSI) is to motivate, empower, and interest girls in developing the skills they need to pursue careers in science. Yale students and professors act as mentors and provide a context for exploring and understanding the various disciplines of science through hands-on activities in a laboratory environment. Through student scientific engagement and parental awareness, Girls’ Science Investigations strives to close the gap in science found between males and females today.

The GSI program, now in its fifth year has brought hundreds of 10- to 13-year-old girls to the Yale University physics department on Saturdays to conduct supervised experiments, see exciting demonstrations and begin to imagine their own future as a part of the world’s scientific community.

Gordon Geballe

Last year, Gordon Geballe taught a freshman seminar in which students conducted research not in a traditional lab but through interactions with New Haven business owners and city officials. The students partnered with the city to analyze components of the city’s new sustainability plan, such as greater waste recycling from small businesses. The seminar, titled “Urban Ecology with a Focus on New Haven,” could aptly describe Gordon’s own personal pursuits. However, Gordon’s focus on New Haven extends beyond conservation and includes civic engagement in education, civil rights, volunteerism and arts and ideas.

Gordon serves as chair of the board of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. The festival, which draws over 100,000 visitors to New Haven each June, showcases New Haven’s arts and educational traditions while bringing renowned international stars, newly discovered artists, and a number of U.S. and world premieres each season. Over 80% of these events are free and open to the public. Gordon dedicates significant effort and personal commitment to help ensure the success and continuation of this event every year. From the New Haven Green to the courtyards of Yale University, New Haven becomes a festival city with something for everyone.

Gordon is also a founding member of the Urban Resource Initiative and has continuously served on its board since its inception in 1991. He actively recruits and mentors new board members and then encourages them to get involved with other non-profit organizations around New Haven. He also served as chair of the board of Dwight Hall, a non-profit which engages thousands of Yale students each year in service and social justice activities.

Gordon’s commitment to New Haven and his community extend far beyond the non-profit boardroom.  When he and his wife, Shelley, became empty nesters, Gordon began mentoring and tutoring New Haven kids.

Kurt Zilm

Kurt Zilm is a world-recognized authority for his pioneering work in the world of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a research technique that exploits the magnetic properties of certain atomic nuclei to determine physical and chemical properties of atoms or the molecules in which they are contained.

Although this sounds complicated, one of Kurt’s innate skills is clearly communicating his passion for science with New Haven school children. A staunch advocate of strong science education in K-12 classrooms, Kurt serves on the advisory council of the Yale-New Haven Teachers’ Institute. Kurt also serves on the steering committee of the Yale Pathways to Science initiative. With an overarching goal to inspire students to pursue a science major at a four-year college, Pathways opens the door for New Haven students to explore science at Yale University. Year-round Yale scientists, students and staff lead classes, demonstrations, tours, and tutorials for hundreds of local students. The free, voluntary activities involve students directly in hands-on science and help them develop the skills, discipline and curiosity necessary for scientific inquiry.

Kurt has been a tireless supporter of and adviser to the many undergraduates interested in science outreach to the New Haven community. His intelligence and enthusiasm benefits all who come in contact with him, whether they are his colleagues at Yale University, New Haven Public school teachers, pupils and their parents, or college volunteers.

The Neighborhood Health Project

On a typical Saturday throughout the year, one will find nearly 20 volunteers from the four Yale health professional schools — the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, and the Physician Associate Program — and one faculty attending physician offering blood pressure, blood glucose, and BMI screenings as part of the Neighborhood Health Project (NHP).

NHP is a student-run free clinic that provides screening for hypertension and diabetes with the aim of providing education and improving access to health care for low-income patient populations in New Haven. Located in the basement of the Episcopal Church of St. Paul & St. James near Wooster Square, Neighborhood Health Project serves and interacts with a wide variety of patients, including young adults, veterans, newly arrived immigrants, and the homeless.

In 2011 alone, NHP saw 95 new patients. While the numeric results are important, the volunteers serve a vital role as medical brokers, explaining the context of a patient’s results and offering simple steps to improve a patient’s health status within his or her means. By ensuring access to community primary care centers in the New Haven area such as Hill Health Center, Fair Haven Community Health Center, and HAVEN Free Clinic, NHP plays a central part in providing continuity of care for those most at risk.

NHP was developed on the foundation of strong community partnerships. Over the past 10 years, NHP has become a critical part of the Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry community, has been recognized by the New Haven Health Department as a pertinent site for flu vaccination, and has participated in community outreach projects such as the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project and the “Big Food” exhibit at the Peabody Museum of Natural History. Patients look forward to seeing the volunteers as much as volunteers eagerly await their arrival.

LaTisha Campbell ’12

LaTisha Campbell is simply remarkable. She arrived in New Haven almost four years ago as a freshman from Ypsilanti, Michigan and has positively impacted hundreds of people in our community. As a scholar, an activist, a mentor, a community service advocate, and a public school intern, LaTisha is passionate, cheerful, and unfailingly positive.

Her significant interest in the connections between education and incarceration in the lives of urban youth has helped guide her involvement in New Haven. LaTisha is co-coordinator of Yale’s Prison Education Project and since her arrival in New Haven has tutored inmates working toward their GED. She has been co-coordinator and treasurer of Dwight Hall’s Social Justice Network for nearly two years, encouraging other Yale student participation.

On the educational side, LaTisha worked as a public school intern and coordinator in New Haven over the last 2 years, serving as a liaison between New Haven Academy and the Yale community. She is also a volunteer tutor at the Urban Improvement Corps, an organization established in 1968 by a group of African-American undergraduate students at Yale who aimed to help New Haven students with their studies and serve simultaneously as role models and mentors.

LaTisha is a strong example of someone committed to public service. She cares deeply about her community and worked hard campaigning during the recent aldermanic elections.

Share this with Facebook Share this with X Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this

Media Contact

Office of Public Affairs & Communications:, 203-432-1345