Local impact by alumna and students celebrated with fourth annual service awards

An alumna and two students are being honored for their service to the community with Yale-Jefferson Public Service Awards.
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Janna Wagner ’95

An alumna and two students are being honored for their work in the community with Yale-Jefferson Public Service Awards.

The Association of Yale Alumni, Students and Alumni of Yale (STAY) and the Jefferson Awards for Public Service launched the Yale-Jefferson Public Service Awards in 2012 and now three awards are are given each year — one to a Yale undergraduate, one to a graduate/professional student, and one to an alumnus. The awards recognize those who inspire the Yale community through innovative, impactful, and sustained service for the greater good.

The following individuals will be presented with these awards for the 2014–2015 school year at the alumni association’s upcoming annual assembly. All three of this year’s awardees have worked to strengthen Yale’s hometown, New Haven.

2014-2015 alumnus awardee: Janna Wagner ‘95

In the fall of 1999, Janna Wagner (along with fellow Yale alumna Jessica Sager) co-founded All Our Kin, an organization that trains, supports, and sustains community childcare providers to ensure that children and families have the foundation they need to succeed in school and in life. Previously, Wagner had taught in the South Bronx through Teach for America, and then joined the staff of the Boston Public Schools’ Center for Leadership.

Active in the Yale and New Haven community, she is an associate fellow of Jonathan Edwards College and a founding board member of the Whim ‘n Rhythm Alumnae Association. In addition, Wagner co-teaches a course on “Child Care, Society, and Public Policy” at Yale. She also serves as chair of the Ulysses S. Grant Foundation, a 62-year-old academic summer program, which brings together Yale and New Haven students on Yale’s campus. Wagner is an advisory board member for the Community Fund for Women and Girls, a component fund of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, and founder of The Group with No Name, a social and civic organization that turns New Haven’s residents into citizens.

2014-2015 undergraduate awardee: Danny Ullman ‘15

Danny Ullman has worked to promote sustainability through service from the moment he arrived at Yale. He began by volunteering with the food programs of Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project (YHHAP), delivering hundreds of meals weekly from Yale dining halls to the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK). Ullman then served as YHHAP’s head of food rescue, coordinating dozens of volunteers; managing YHHAP’s food rescue van; liaising with every Yale dining hall manager; and building a strong institutional relationship with DESK. Joining DESK’s Board, Ullman helped raise funds for the purchase of new kitchen appliances, while continuing to deliver food and serve meals weekly. Ullman spearheaded a new YHHAP project that collects clothing from Yale students, and then delivers it to those in need. Ullman’s vision enabled him to partner with key members of the Yale and New Haven communities, find space, organize on-campus collection, recruit volunteers, and launch the project. The result is the Clothing Closet at the Episcopal Church of St. Paul & St. James.

2014-2015 graduate or professional student awardee: Ian Tuski ’15 MM

Ian Tuski established a graduate teaching artists program in the Fair Haven public schools system. In doing so, he created a new cultural space for the community. He devoted much of his time at Yale to teaching guitar to middle- and high school students, especially immigrants and refugees. Tuski and his students participated in concerts, celebrations, and other artistic events in New Haven, including performances at City Hall, New Haven schools, and Hispanic cultural organizations. He began this program through his own initiative, and it is now supported by the Yale Class of ‘57 Music in Schools Initiative of the Yale School of Music. Tuski’s program connects students with their culture; and enriches the lives of their families, churches, schools, and community centers. Tuski was the liaison between the Fair Haven community and other guitar graduate students who are now expanding his program.

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