CCBP Homepage

A message from

Dean Hlebowitsh

The Council on Community-Based Partnerships is a helping group. It is moved by a social consciousness borne not of political commitments but of a simple and powerful sense of trying to be helpful. Drawing from elements across the University and the wider community, the Council represents a promise to bring resources and insights to a variety of challenges facing the public. It is hard work and the individuals at the center of it often go unrecognized. 


The annual awards luncheon aims to bring deserved attention to the remarkable individual efforts that embody the endeavors of the Council on Community-Based Partnerships. It is simultaneously a celebration and a serious acknowledgment of the innovative and life-reaching work being conducted by and through this body. It is also an opportunity to fête our wonderful partners. And with each successive year, even as we acknowledge our successes, we hope and understand that the best work is yet to come.

Peter S. Hlebowitsh, PhD

Executive Committee Chair,

Council on Community-Based Partnerships

Dean, College of Education

The University of Alabama

Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Alexa Ellis

Image of Zach Dodson holding award plaque

Alexa Ellis

Alexa Ellis is the 2023 recipient of the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Ellis is a junior majoring in public health and psychology. Ellis began working in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) as a freshman language tutor in the Center’s Language Partners Program. Ellis has since volunteered with Vision Days, HomeFirst and the STEM Showcase. Outside of CCBP, she is involved in many efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on campus with the Student Government Association (SGA). She co-organized a transgender week of awareness display and collaborated with the Women and Gender Resource Center for an SGA domestic violence college awareness display. Among her many leadership positions, she is a Lucy’s Legacy Mentor with UA’s Living Learning Community, where she establishes and cultivates long-term relationships with young women of color, mentoring them on their path toward academic success. She also supports students as a residential manager, a role in which she assists in enforcing college and campus living policies, helps promote academic excellence, addresses student needs and encourages involvement in residential communities.

At the time of his death in 2012, Zachary Dodson was scheduled to graduate in economics. The scholarship named in his honor is intended for a person with the qualities of excellence and faithfulness he exhibited as a work-study student in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships. Zach was known as someone you could always count on to get his work done and then offer to help others with theirs. In 2012, he was named the campus-wide Student Employee of the Year.



Dr. Marcus Ashford

An Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Marcus Ashford is being recognized posthumously for his dedication to his students and his passion for STEM education. Ashford developed his interest in STEM disciplines at a young age, graduating from Louisiana State University in 1994 with his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He worked at Exxon Chemical and Ford Motor Company before earning his master’s and PhD in mechanical engineering (2002, 2004) from the University of Texas at Austin. 

In 2004, he joined the faculty at The University of Alabama. During his time at UA, he founded and directed the Rockets & Racecars STEM Enrichment Institute, a summer program that engages high school students in various activities promoting STEM disciplines. Ashford also regularly supported the Division of Community Affairs’ STEM programs, especially the STEM Entrepreneurship Academy, a one-week residential camp held annually in July that introduces high school students to STEM career paths and innovation. In 2011, the University of Texas Academy of Distinguished Alumni recognized him as an Outstanding Young Mechanical Engineer. He was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He passed away in October 2022.



Dr. Blake Berryhill

Dr. Blake Berryhill is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Program in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. He received his PhD in marriage and family therapy from Kansas State University and his master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Abilene Christian University. His research interests include the implementation and dissemination of mobile health technologies for the assessment and treatment of mental health symptomology in underserved contexts. He also examines the influence of family functioning on adolescent and emerging adult mental and behavioral health, self-compassion, systemic factors associated with parental school involvement. 

Berryhill has been involved with the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) since 2015 in the role of research advisor. Related to PTLA, he has co-authored seven publications and co-presented on four presentations at national research conferences. Berryhill is passionate about implementing school-based mental health programs for rural schools in Alabama and collaborated with colleagues to provide school-based behavioral health services to students in rural Alabama. In 2019, he received a Council on Community-Based Partnerships Graduate Fellowship to evaluate the implementation of telehealth services in rural Alabama schools. Berryhill has published numerous book chapters and journal articles. He has a wealth of clinical expertise as a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state and is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the National Council on Family Relations.


Community Partner

Walker Area Community Foundation

Founded 27 years ago, the Walker Area Community Foundation is a nonprofit, grantmaking organization. Its mission is to build a permanent endowment that will forever help support the charitable needs of the community and improve the quality of life for the people of Walker County and the surrounding area. Since its inception, the Foundation has grown from $6 million to more than $112 million, while giving away $29 million to more than 490 nonprofit organizations across the state. 

When the devastating tornadoes swept across West and Central Alabama in 2011, the Foundation transitioned to the role of a true community partner by partnering with Walker County nonprofits to provide disaster relief, strengthening the relationships between local donors as well as regional and national funders. The Foundation continues to support quality of life through funding initiatives involving the arts and humanities, education, recreation, elder care, health and social welfare. As this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar Community Partner Award, the Foundation is being recognized for its dedication to creating reciprocal partnerships throughout Walker County and central Alabama, and for developing collaborative relationships that encourage engaged learning opportunities for UA students.



W. Ross Bryan

Dr. W. Ross Bryan is the associate dean and an associate professor at the Honors College. He received his PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill, his MS from Florida State University and his BA from UNC-Asheville. His research interests include construction of social identities, experiential education, outdoor leadership and sociology of education. Bryan began teaching at The University of Alabama as an adjunct professor from 2006–2011, before joining the Honors College faculty in 2015. In 2022, he was appointed associate dean for the Honors College. His administrative role has since been broad and diverse and included leading the collaborative effort to reconstruct the Honors College student academic matriculation and develop Student Learning Outcomes. 

As associate dean, Bryan works with student development and student engagement. In his role as a faculty member, he teaches classes ranging from power, societies and dissent, to rocketry, and has developed and taught several upper-class courses in the College, with an emphasis on engaged learning. He has been instrumental in forming campus-wide partnerships that include recruiting colleagues in the field of engaged scholarship to teach in the Honors College. He is active with numerous University committees. In 2019, he was appointed to serve on the Core Curriculum Oversight Committee and the Academic Space and Schedule Oversight Committee, and was named the Honors College liaison for the Black Faculty Staff Association and Community-Based Partnerships.



Katie Johnson

Kaitlyn “Katie” Johnson is a graduate student in the Department of Religious Studies and will graduate with her MA in Religion and Culture in spring 2023. As a student assistant and researcher, she collaborated on the project, A Global Critical Philosophy of Religion, in which she communicated with scholars of religion and philosophy to coordinate educational video materials examining cross-cultural conceptions of the self. She has been a member of the Office of Global and Community Engagement (GCE) in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) since 2018. 

Over the years, her duties have included coordinating conversational language and cultural learning opportunities for American students and international visitors, tutoring international visitors in conversational English, organizing events and seminars, presenting at conferences and council meetings, recruiting students to the GCE, and maintaining program data for Global Café and the Language Partners program. Throughout the spring 2023 semester, she helped coordinate meeting activities for the International Spouse Group. Katie represents CCBP at many of its events and programs, including Vision Days, BLAST Academy, STEM Showcase, the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy, the Winning Grants and Sustaining Communities program and the New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, as well as the Realizing the Dream concert and legacy banquet. She earned her BA with honors in anthropology from UA in May 2021 and is a past recipient of the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship.


Civic Engagement

John Dodd

Voter Engagement
Student | Student Government Association

John Dodd served as an SGA senator where he passed multiple pieces of legislation including a resolution recommending that UA declare federal elections as a holiday, which would allow faculty and students the opportunity to cast their votes without having to worry about missing work. He also collaborated with the local Democratic Party in Tuscaloosa to work with candidates that were running on both the state and federal levels. Through this collaboration, he was able to connect multiple candidates with certain partisan student organizations throughout the UA campus. Additionally, he served on Stacey Abrams’ campaign for governor as a regional field director for Southwest Georgia, lending him practical experience as a field strategist for large-scale elections. In part due to Dodd’s efforts, the area of Columbus, Georgia, had the highest increase in youth engagement with voting in the United States this past election cycle.

Dr. Jessy Ohl

Faculty | Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies

Dr. Jessy Ohl is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies whose research interests include war rhetoric, visual rhetoric, public memory and political communication. His research explores the consequences of public messages, images and arguments for democracy, social change, and war. He is especially concerned with the weaponization of communication to incite violence and with developing strategies for instilling more charitable and collaborative forms of identification. To provide students with experiential learning in civic engagement, Ohl incorporated learning opportunities centered around the 2022 midterm election in his COM 341: American Political Rhetoric course, in which students examined the role of election officials during elections. In particular, students learned about the increased hostility and threats directed at election officials. They also had opportunities to serve as poll workers and canvassers throughout Tuscaloosa during the 2022 midterms.  


Engaged Scholarship

Dr. Kristine Jolivette

Improving Juvenile Justice Facilities
Faculty | Paul and Mary Harmon Bryant Endowed Professor, College of Education

Dr. Kristine Jolivette has dedicated her life to making a positive impact on young adults in juvenile justice facilities through her research and service. She has a record of grant-funded research, publications and participation in workshops that have built reciprocal community partnerships that resonate in powerful and important ways across the University. Most recently, Jolivette secured a multi-million-dollar grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to help juvenile justice residential treatment facilities improve their climate, including supporting community stakeholders, their relationships with facilities and facilitation of partnerships for children and youth when they leave the facilities. Also, she created a Think Tank of juvenile justice and residential treatment facilities encompassing four states with monthly, virtual convenings. Jolivette exemplifies that her research is more than just data. She forms relationships with the youth and staff she worked with. Few researchers are as dedicated to building strong community partnerships with restrictive education settings in Alabama as Jolivette.

Dr. Haley Townsend

Project Wellness in Motion
Faculty |Assistant Professor, Capstone College of Nursing

Dr. Haley Townsend is an assistant professor at the Capstone College of Nursing (CCN). She currently teaches in Evidence-Based Practice and serves as the co-course leader and teaches in Community Health Nursing. Townsend, in collaboration with other CCN faculty members, launched Project Wellness in Motion in the summer of 2021, which serves to promote mobile clinic health and wellness in rural Alabama. Project Wellness in Motion began as a holistic health-screening fair in July 2021 for community members in Uniontown, Alabama. Volunteer nursing students measured cholesterol, glucose values and vital signs. In addition, health screenings for stigmatized conditions, such as HIV, sexually transmitted infections, depression and anxiety were available. Community agencies were present for on-site health referrals for any abnormalities, and nursing students provided health coaching and education. In 2022, Project Wellness in Motion continued as a health and wellness resource fair during the second annual Uniontown Color Run. Faculty and nursing students provided a 5K, 10K, and 5K-walking training program for race participants to assist in fitness coaching before the race. During the race, CCN hosted a health fair to conduct health screenings and offer counseling about the COVID-19 vaccine.


Justin McCleskey

Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

As an intern with the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Justin McCleskey created and published a 15-page report titled Unsustainable: Alabama’s Increasing Trend of Keeping the Elderly Behind Bars, which detailed Alabama’s reliance on life sentences for a wide range of offenses in an already strained state prison system. The report was covered by The Tuscaloosa News, Alabama Political Reporter and the Montgomery Advertiser. Additionally, these findings will serve as a resource during the 2023 Alabama legislative session for the policy team at Appleseed to demonstrate the urgent need for criminal justice reform. McCleskey also helped collect and analyze survey data from 401 respondents on experiences with violence and crime in the state for an upcoming report examining Alabama’s existing responses to violence. McCleskey is also passionate about community-engaged research on campus. He was one of 12 students selected for UA’s Advisory Council on Wellness, where he served as a student liaison for effective campus resources with Dr. Ruperto Perez, vice president of Student Health and Wellness.

Jillian Maxcy-Brown

Addressing Infrastructure Challenges in the Black Belt Region of Alabama through Evaluating Wastewater and Water Access Affordability

A 2020 Council Awards Graduate Student Fellowship recipient, Jillian Maxcy-Brown is a doctoral student in Civil Engineering. Her research focuses on water and sanitation solutions for low-resource communities. Wastewater and water affordability have become a pressing concern in the U.S. as the cost of collection, distribution and treatment continues to rise rapidly and reports have revealed that millions of residents are currently experiencing a lack of access to proper wastewater management. While previous affordability studies have excluded small community systems and households not connected to networked systems, Maxcy-Brown’s research, Addressing Infrastructure Challenges in the Black Belt Region of Alabama through Evaluating Wastewater and Water Access Affordability, will be the first to develop state-level affordability maps that account for all types of systems. This project builds upon other efforts to address wastewater infrastructure challenges in the Black Belt region of Alabama to ensure that solutions are financially sustainable for the local communities and proposes an alternative metric that accounts for income inequality.

Dr. Cheryl Fondren & Dr. Allison Hooper

Improving Kindergarten Readiness through the JumpStart Summer Program 

Dr. Alison Hooper | Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education
Dr. Cheryl Fondren | Director of United Way of West Alabama’s Success by 6 program

Dr. Alison Hooper and Dr. Cheryl Fondren collaborated to address kindergarten readiness through their research, “Improving Kindergarten Readiness through the JumpStart Summer Program: A Pilot Study.” They received a 2020 Council Travel Fund to present this study at the National Research Conference for Early Childhood. The JumpStart kindergarten program is a summer program to address the learning gap between children who have attended pre-k and those who did not. The program is taught by local early childhood teachers within the school and is offered four days a week for five weeks, totaling 20 days. Hooper and Fondren were looking at a pilot preliminary descriptive data of whether children who attended showed gains in their literacy skills, their conceptual knowledge, and their self-regulation or social-emotional learning from the start to the end of JumpStart. They assessed 137 children in 11 JumpStart classrooms during the study. UA partners assisted with data assessment. These were primarily undergraduate and graduate students within the College of Education. Based on the data, children showed statistically significant gains in each area. Hooper and Fondren hope to continue to expand the program across West Alabama.

Sally Smith, J.D.

Alabama Association of School Boards
Sally Smith, J.D. | Executive Director, Alabama Association of School Boards

As executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB), Sally Smith manages the association’s affairs, directs legislative efforts, advises the AASB membership and oversees efforts to build public support for schools. She enrolled in the Winning Grants and Sustaining Communities Program in 2018­–2019 with her colleague, Susan Salter. Since then, they have been active in assisting the Center for Community-Based Partnerships recruit school systems for the grant program. Recently, Smith and Salter were awarded $75,000 from the Daniels Foundation to bring a similar program to school systems in Alabama’s Black Belt region. They also received a matching grant from the State Department of Education for another $75,000. AASB and the Winning Grants Institute will pilot a program to train individuals and teams from school systems and charter schools in the Black Belt to write successful grant applications. The goal is to create grant coaches who can assist in grant training efforts that address the lack of funding in school systems across the Black Belt. The program will provide training and direct access to subject experts, as well as ongoing coaching to ensure grant efforts succeed and practices become permanent.


Engaged Teaching & Learning

Dr. Chapman Greer

MGT 456/556 Visualization
Associate Provost for General Education

Dr. Chapman Greer has served as a clinical instructor of management at The University of Alabama for the last 14 years. During this time, she has made it her mission to include community engagement in all facets of her career, most notably through MGT 456/556. Taken by students all over the University, even those outside of the Culverhouse College of Business, MGT 456/556 is an experiential learning course. Incorporating community partners from West Alabama and around the world, Greer teaches her class how to listen to the needs of community clients and meet their needs in a collaborative nature. In addition to being an exceptional educator, Greer has served as the Faculty Senate president and as a co-chair of the General Education Taskforce. In all of these efforts, she connects her passion for community engagement, acting as a trailblazer for this field on UA’s campus while involving students, faculty and staff.

Dr. Yinghui Liu

STEM Education
Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dr. Yinghui Liu is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. An excellent teacher who is always willing to help students both inside and outside the classroom, Liu has taught general chemistry courses and organic chemistry labs since 2018. Liu was one of four recipients of a College of Arts and Sciences Community Engagement Academy Faculty Fellowship for 2021–2022. She uses community-engaged teaching activities to enhance elementary and middle school science learning by collaborating with local schools. Her many partnerships include working with Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle School, Northridge Middle School and the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Alabama. These activities helped the learning and teaching outcomes of more than 200 students and have provided UA undergraduate students with volunteering opportunities in K­–12. Along with two other UA faculty members, Liu is also part of a $1 million grant through the EPSCoR Bridging EPSCoR Communities (RII-BEC) program of the National Science Foundation to enhance students’ success in graduate programs and STEM careers. Participating institutions include Stillman College, Fort Valley State University and Jackson State University — all historically Black colleges and universities.

Dr. Chandra Clark

World Games
Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media

Dr. Chandra Clark has worked with more than 60 community, educational, corporate and nonprofit partners to engage students in collaborative 360-degree interactive multimedia projects, videos, websites, interactive maps and photo galleries. One of her most extensive partnerships in experiential learning was with the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, where she expanded community partnerships from West and Central Alabama to an international level. She taught a special topics class where students created 360-degree multimedia virtual tours — 30 in all — of 16 different venues culminating in more than 80 edited 30-second videos shot, more than 100 edited 30-second 360 videos with graphic locators, 580 written informational tags for each photo, video, and 360 video, three drone videos, and scooter 360 tours through park venues. Students also developed 44 Google maps of the surrounding communities for the venues, featuring restaurants, parks, entertainment and points of interest. All content was published on The World Games 2022 website. Clark secured grant funding to pay for students’ travel expenses to Birmingham and the 360-degree camera equipment for the multimedia endeavor. She also served as a liaison to connect students to summer job opportunities for The World Games through International Sports Broadcasting and Birmingham TWG Production.

Seed Fund Recipients

Graduate Fellowship Recipients

Poster Presentations