The 20th Annual National Service-Learning Conference Award Recipients

NYLC awards shine a spotlight on exemplary leaders from across the service-learning movement and nurture the leaders of the future. Most awards are presented annually at the National Service-Learning Conference.


Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award

The Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award honors exemplary leaders who have inspired the service-learning field, positively impacted the lives of young people, and motivated others to take up the banner of service.

Elisabeth Hoodless, DBE
United Kingdom

Dame Elisabeth Hoodless is the Executive Director of Community Service Volunteers, the United Kingdom’s leading volunteer and training agency. She is responsible for 227,000 volunteers of all ages working nationwide in a multitude of areas, including helping children to read and protecting trees and rivers. Elisabeth also contributed to the development of the United States’ Volunteers in Service to America program and helped design and implement the Jamaican National Youth Service Programme.

“I am honoured and delighted to receive the Alec Dickson Servant Leadership Award. In 1963, I was in Washington D.C. listening to Martin Luther King speak of his dream when Alec Dickson called to ask me to join him at CSV as his first staff member. His dynamic example inspired me, and the hundreds more who joined us, to work with volunteers as respected partners — a unique approach at that time.

In addition, I want to thank the many young people who have taught me so much — like the Minneapolis school students who monitor Mississippi pollution and warn farmers of danger. And the students who fixed the phones in New Orleans after the floods when the engineers had left. And the CSV volunteers — Agents for Change — who serve in B.B.C. local radio stations and inspire other young people to tackle community problems, from HIV to elder care.

I particularly want to thank my colleagues, especially William, Arnie, Colin and Lee who have served CSV for more than 30 years, and finally my husband Donald and our sons Christopher and Mark — all economists — for their practical wisdom and forbearance.” –Elisabeth Hoodless


G. Bernard Gill Urban Service-Learning Leadership Award

The inaugural award for service-learning leadership in urban areas, presented in memory of NYLC’s G. Bernard Gill, will be presented at the 20th Annual National Service-Learning Conference.

Rob Gordon
City Year, Massachusetts

Rob Gordon is the Senior Vice President for Civic Leadership at City Year, where he oversees the recruitment, selection, and training of City Year’s young leaders as well as their 10,000 alumni. As a 1992 – 1993 White House Fellow, he served as the Director of Special Operations for the Office of National Service, where he was a member of the President’s staff that founded the AmeriCorps program. Before serving in the White House, he was the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Having held a variety of military positions, he has also taught at both West Point and the National War College and has been active in the civilian service sector. As a social entrepreneur he co-founded and directed Service America, a program that brought West Point cadets and AmeriCorps members together in service opportunities. He has consulted internationally on national service programs, and is a well-traveled speaker on service and leadership. Gordon sits on several boards of several service and civic organizations. He holds an undergraduate degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, an M.P.A. in public policy from Princeton University, and is a graduate of the National War College and the Army Command and General Staff College.


State Farm Service-Learning Practitioner Leadership Award

The State Farm Service-Learning Practitioner Leadership Award recognizes those practitioners who have equipped young people to lead and serve, both through their direct work with youth and by nurturing other practitioners.

Beverly Hiott
Richland School District Two, South Carolina

Beverly Hiott has been a service-learning practitioner for more than 15 years. In her current role with Richland (S.C.) School District Two, she oversees the district’s service-learning program. Along with a cadre of seasoned practitioners, a vibrant Youth Action Council, and many organizational partners, she provides information, training, and technical assistance to more than 20 Richland schools as well others at state and national levels. Hiott has been part of the Southern Region Leadership Team of the National Service Learning Exchange and has served as a Teacher in Residence with the International Center for Service Learning and Teacher Education. She has also served as a Kellogg Service-Learning Peer Consultant, earned a service-learning fellowship with the National Society for Experiential Education, and was a founding member of the ASCD Service and Experiential Learning Network (SELNET).

"It is with pride and humility that I extend my deepest gratitude for being selected as the 2009 State Farm Service-Learning Practitioner Award recipient. With equal pride and humility, I also acknowledge hundreds of students, staff, parents, partners and other champions who have helped to build the legacy of service-learning and leadership which began in Richland School District Two over 15 years ago.

Together, these champions have wisely leveraged financial, technical, and human resources, both within and outside of our district, to strengthen and sustain service-learning opportunities for our students. Their shared endeavors have consistently lifted our program and practices to a higher level of quality over the years. In doing so, they have established important, long-standing relationships, joining forces with many others, including Learn and Serve America, the National Service Learning Partnership, NYLC, the Institute for Global Education and Service Learning and State Farm to grow the national service-learning field." – Beverly Hiott


State Farm Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award

The State Farm Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award recognizes K-12 service-learning programs and projects that demonstrate outstanding youth leadership.

Speak Out for Understanding
Harwood Union High School, Vermont

Through a dynamic service-learning project titled Speak Out for Understanding, a group of high school students with varying abilities from Harwood Union High School in Vermont is learning to speak out for themselves and others. After exploring some of the challenges facing students with disabilities, they discovered that a lack of understanding is key. So the students created a documentary film to raise awareness by telling their own stories. Their stories inform teachers, parents, and others about the challenges they face as students who have been identified with Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyslexia, Downs Syndrome, and other disabilities. Problems such as discrimination, stereotyping, learning difficulties, and social isolation are brought to light as students suggest actions to overcome these challenges. Through creating and presenting their film, students engage their communities in conversations about understanding and acceptance. In addition, the goals of the project parallel students’ curricular and individual education goals of communication, self-advocacy, and self-determination.

“We are thrilled to be receiving the State Farm Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award! On behalf of Speak Out for Understanding, we want to thank the State Farm Companies Foundation, NYLC, and the Awards Committee. To be recognized in this way is a humbling experience. It is certainly not the reason we started this work. When we began, as a small group of students concerned about the issues facing people with disabilities, we had no idea our project would go so far; yet our message resonated. Within this service-learning project, we learned many skills, but most importantly we gained knowledge of self and that empowered us to speak out for others and ourselves. Now, this award gives us an extraordinary opportunity for our work to be ongoing and replicated by others. With your support, we hope to continue raising awareness and changing the world — one story at a time.”

Tucker Sargent, Grade 10
Grace Kirplan, Grade 11
Tanner Skilton, Grade 11
Trevor Cook, Grade 12
Emma Wade, Grade 12
And all other Speak Out students
Maureen Charron-Shea, Project Advisor


Stellar Award

The Stellar Award, honors the late Stella Raudenbush’s work as a community activist, teacher, and spiritual seeker and passion for children, social justice, community, diversity, urban education, and elders.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez
Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, California

Julie Chavez Rodriguez has worked with the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation for the past eight years spearheading their educational and service programs: the Educating the Heart School Program and the Chavez After School Service Clubs. A Fellow in the National Service-Learning Emerging Leaders Initiative sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation, the National Service-Learning Partnership, and the National Youth Leadership Council, she has been instrumental in developing and implementing professional development sessions for educators, youth, AmeriCorps members, and program coordinators on Chavez values, service-learning, and youth leadership. Through a partnership with the California Department of Education, she served as lead consultant for the Chavez Foundation on the development of a standards-based K-12 model curriculum on the life, work, and values of Cesar E. Chavez. She also serves as a service-learning lead trainer in six school districts/county offices of education. Like her grandfather, Julie believes that “the end of all education should surely be service to others.”

"I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Emerging Leaders Initiative and the Farm Workers’ Movement. Both have inspired and supported me through the past two years of personal and professional growth. Through ELI, I have come to know on a deep and personal level some of the most amazing organizers in the field of service-learning. For many of us, the ELI is not just a program. It is a pathway for young leaders of color to bring the expertise and experience of our communities into service-learning. As young leaders of color, we have seen service-learning transform students’ personal perception of themselves and help them develop a sense of their individual and collective power. But we need to see more. We need to ensure our leadership reflects the communities we want to serve — not just in theory but in action. Together, Si Se Puede (Yes We Can)!" – Julie Chavez Rodriguez