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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 recognition 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

Outstanding Special Achievement in Community Engagement Award

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Dr. Peter S. Hlebowitsh

For his outstanding campus, community, state, and national leadership and support of community-engaged scholarship as Dean of the College of Education and Chair of the Executive Committee of the Council on Community-Based Partnerships, and for his tireless passion for improving the quality of life in communities while supporting valuable research and learning opportunities for faculty, students, staff, and community partners.


zachary david dodson memorial endowed scholarship


Chris Brewster

Chris Brewster is the 2021 recipient of the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship. A Pinson, Alabama native, Chris is a sophomore majoring in accounting. He began working in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships as a freshman, where he has worked at the front desk greeting and assisting visitors, and with the Center’s Global Café initiative as a language tutor for international scholars, helping them learn conversational English and understand American language and culture. Additionally, Chris has volunteered his time with the Center’s Vision Days program, a campus-wide effort focusing on early recruitment of high school students from selected schools. For Vision Days, Chris takes responsibility for groups of students as he leads them on curated campus tours, and participates in student-led panels that are an essential part of the program. While not assigned to work every session of Vision Days, he has chosen to work every shift for which he is available in order to help ensure the program’s success.

Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar



Martha Crowther

Dr. Martha R. Crowther, who holds the PhD from Duke University, the MPH from Yale, and
a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, is the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar/Faculty. Currently the associate dean for research and health policy in the College of Community Health Sciences, Crowther was trained as a clinical psychologist and also has an MPH with a focus on chronic disease epidemiology. Additionally, she is a professor of community medicine and population health, and family, internal, and rural medicine and an investigator with the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research. Crowther’s extensive research portfolio is on aging and racial diversity in urban and rural populations with a focus on the elimination of mental and physical health disparities in older adults and assessing caregiving-related stressors and outcomes. She has received funding for her research at the federal, state, and university levels and from foundations and industry. Her journal articles and book chapters are on topics ranging from mental health, aging and psychology to sexuality. She is a member, among other professional associations, of the Gerontological Society of America and the American Psychological Association. Crowther has been a faculty scholar in the UA Center for Mental Health and Aging, an investigator in the Institute for Rural Health Research, a scientist in the UAB Center for Aging, and an associate research scientist in the UAB Center for Health Resource Development Promotion. Her experience includes mental health and aging, health disparities in older adults and African Americans, and the relationship between religion, spirituality and health in older adults. Her project collaborations include the Deep South Resource Center for Minority aging Research and a project examining mobility among African American and White community-dwelling older adults, as well as
two funded by NIH/NCI and CDC examining religion and cancer-related behaviors in African Americans. Crowther also has received funding from the West Alabama Mental Health Center to coordinate and provide interdisciplinary healthcare to rural Alabama residents. She was awarded a grant from the Brookdale Foundation with an emphasis on improving the mental health of custodial grandparents and the grandchildren in their care. The Jefferson County Office of Senior Citizens Services funded her project to develop a resource booklet for custodial grandparents. She has published numerous articles in mental health journals and books and has served the Council on Community-Based Partnerships in several roles, including chair of the Proposal and Seed Funding Committee.

Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar



Pamela Young

Dr. Pamela Young is Director of Community Engagement and Economic Development in the College of Arts and Sciences. On her Facebook page, she describes her work as: “Educator, learner and global citizen working with students, faculty, administrators and community members to implement community partnerships and programs.” In her A&S role she also supports student retention and success by facilitating community engagement and economic development initiatives for faculty, staff and students. She also serves as advisor to the A&S Student Ambassadors program, a registered student service organization. Young is an education specialist and crisis manager who has worked as a leader for international nonprofit organizations that have taken her to 60 countries around the globe to work with people of all ages, government leaders, universities, schools and community-based organizations to design and implement socioeconomic development programs. Young, who received her PhD and MA in education at the University of Michigan and BA in political science at Colby College, has managed projects and conducted research about the United States and dozens of foreign countries. Currently, she serves as the communications coordinator for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Orientation, Transition and Retention Knowledge Community, and received a government grant to develop a learning community for UA academic advisors to increase their knowledge of education abroad. She has held roles of increasing responsibility in academia and large nonprofit organizations, overseeing administrative, operational and organizational personnel management. Young is the author of several research articles, book chapters and papers and has managed numerous research projects, including many in foreign countries and involving large amounts of funds [e.g., “Nilinde: Support for Vulnerable Girls and Boys in Nairobi and the Coast Counties of Kenya” Kenya – OVC proposal Plan International USA prime recipient (United States Agency for International Development, $41,000,000), awarded 2015]. She is the author of “Protestant Colleges in the Middle East: Hegemony and Resistance in the Ottoman Empire,” in T. Clayton (Ed.), Rethinking Hegemony, as well as several other book chapters.

Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar



Jake Peterson

Jake Peterson is a first-year doctoral student in the College of Education’s Kinesiology department. Before beginning his PhD, he was a master’s student in the same field at The University of Alabama. During his master’s study, Jake, a native of Newnan, Georgia, supported the Swim to the Top program as a graduate research assistant. Swim to the Top is a survival swimming program that focuses on swimming skills and water confidence, and incudes educational enrichment and physical education elements. Upon starting his PhD, Jake continued his graduate research assistant work with Swim to the Top. In addition to supporting research within the program, Jake also began his own work in community-engaged scholarship. As a doctoral student, Jake has presented at the annual conference of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, has led collaborations with other graduate students to present on the impact of community engagement on undergraduate and graduate students, and has published manuscripts and a book chapter on the topic.

Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar

Community Partner


LaKeda Smith

LaKeda Smith is the executive director of the Benjamin Barnes YMCA in Tuscaloosa. She earned her bachelor of science degree from The University of Alabama and has spent her career in service to the public through the YMCA, having previously served as the outreach director for the YMCA of Tuscaloosa. In her current role, she has supported the Center for Community-Based Partnerships’ Swim to the Top program for the last seven years and has also formed partnerships with departments across the University of Alabama campus in support of the children and youth served by the Barnes YMCA. Great community partnerships are built on relationships, trust and collaboration. These components do not simply emerge overnight, but rather take time to develop.
As the Barnes YMCA continues to grow, it continues to strive to serve the West End area
of Tuscaloosa. This growth, expansion and success are intrinsically linked to LaKeda’s hard work and the foundation that has been laid as a result of it.

Outstanding Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort

League of Women Voters of Greater Tuscaloosa

Ms. Carol Pricket

When it comes to excellence in community engagement in service to a thriving democracy, the League of Women Voters has long been a household name. This past year, the Greater Tuscaloosa chapter maintained its reputation in the local community by continuing its monthly educational meetings via Zoom and hosting numerous community forums and debates in advance of both the national November 2020 election and the more recent municipal mayoral and city council elections. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when access to absentee ballot information was critical, the League was at the forefront in getting announcements about ballot deadlines out via email and social media. The group’s presence was equally supportive of the UA campus community when this year’s president, Carol Pricket, joined the UA SGA Voting Matters Week panel, Civic Engagement — Before and After Elections. A community institution such as the League is often taken for granted, but as our society becomes more and more politically polarized, one has only to imagine civic life without them to know their non-partisan work has been, and continues to be, crucial to restoring belief in the political process. This year in particular, even in a time of social distancing, they have consistently provided opportunities to be more active citizens, as well as the timely information needed to do so. 

STEM Showcase

Dr. Yuping Bao, Karrie Curry, Andrea Ziegler

The UA STEM Showcase was conceptualized during spring 2020 as an opportunity for Tuscaloosa middle school students to explore STEM. Through individual and team projects, middle school students designed STEM projects from one of the nine Central Alabama Regional Science & Engineering Fair categories. The STEM Showcase was implemented virtually in spring 2021 through UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships. This program was an across-campus collaboration including Tuscaloosa City Schools, the Tuscaloosa County School District, Tuscaloosa Academy and The Capitol School. Campus partners, Dr. Jeff Gray, Dr. Quiaoli Liang and Dr. Yuping Bao, were instrumental in the planning process. Additionally, Anna Daily, of The Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative, served on the planning committee, as did school superintendents, federal program directors and curriculum and reading coaches from the participating schools. This program was made possible through the financial support of Bernhard, a local community partner. University of Alabama graduate students and faculty members served as middle school student mentors, supporting students in the design and implementation of their STEM Showcase projects.

Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort

High School STEM Innovation Course

Gabi Dwyer, Jessi Gentrup, Phillip Myers, Payti Harrison, Drew Cheek, Josh Lambert, and Elizabeth Jernigan

What began as a standard class project has been transformed into an innovative community engagement effort. Through their STEM/MBA Innovate course, students Gabi Dwyer, Jessi Gentrup, Phillip Myers, Payti Harrison, Drew Cheek, Josh Lambert and Instructor of Marketing Elizabeth Jernigan, have worked since August 2020 to enhance and refine a project that initially sought to connect undergraduate STEM/MBA students with students across the Black Belt region. The initial project involved building relationships between UA students and high school students in Greensboro, where the UA students sought to teach entrepreneurial concepts through STEM while providing more STEM opportunities for students considered at risk. Through the refined version of the current GBA 471 course, students will spend the first 3–5 weeks of the semester learning the background of the project and about the communities they will visit, and will prepare to become STEM Innovation mentors. The remainder of the semester will have the class traveling to various high schools in Alabama, where UA students will work with the high school students to identify a relevant issue in the high school or community, to develop a solution for that issue, and to prepare and deliver a pitch on the idea to a panel of judges. Several paths following the final pitch are currently under consideration.

Vote Everywhere UA

Samuel Reece

Vote Everywhere UA (VEUA) is the UA student organization arm of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, a nonprofit advocate for voting rights and education on campuses across the nation. VEUA began the 2020–2021 academic year having already been named “Chapter of the Year” among peer institutions. In September 2020, the organization added to its impressive record of student community engagement at the Alabama Voting Summit, a state-wide conference co-hosted with the Goodman Foundation to create voting plans for students at colleges and universities throughout the state. Later that month, VEUA joined forces with UA’s Crossroads Civic Engagement Center to establish the Get Out the Vote Collaborative. On National Voter Registration Day, they gathered more than 30 campus partners to leverage resources for increasing voter registration and, most importantly, actual student voting in the November 3 election. Because of VEUA and the outstanding work of the student officers, voter registration information and absentee ballots were made readily available in the residence halls and other key points on campus. The group gave voter education presentations in September and October to multiple student audiences, and on Election Day hosted a Get Out the Vote Celebration Station with the SGA and Crossroads in front of the Ferguson Student Center. Students, faculty and staff who had already voted were offered the opportunity to take a picture with their “I Voted” sticker at a photo booth and post it to their social media accounts to encourage others to go vote. Now the VEUA students are working with
Dr. Richard C. Fording, UA political science professor, to research student voting behavior in 2020 so that they can increase the effectiveness of their community engagement efforts among student voters moving forward.

Leave It To Us

Michael Arundel, Lauren Shilling, Abbie Ray, and Ibukun Afon

When UA student Michael Arundel went home to Chicago for the 2020 spring break, COVID-19 was gaining ground as a global pandemic. A family member who was at increased risk reached out to him — fearful — and he went grocery shopping for her. That single act of kindness turned into
a service movement, as Arundel abandoned his plans of studying over the extended break and created the nonprofit, Leave it to Us. Utilizing volunteers from the area, as well as start-up funds from the money Arundel had saved from two summers of emergency medical technician work, the organization offered fee-free grocery shopping and contact-free delivery of groceries and medication to senior citizens, allowing them to remain in the safety of their homes. Customers reimbursed the nonprofit for the cost of their orders, keeping a sustainable pool of funds to be utilized by the volunteer shoppers. The news spread nationally, and others from across the country reached out about starting Leave it to Us in their cities. In Alabama, UA students Lauren Shilling and Abbie Ray brought Leave it to Us to Tuscaloosa, while UA graduate and UAB Medicine employee Ibukun Afon brought it to Birmingham.

Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort

Two Miles on Twelve

Dr. Michael Callihan

Assistant Professor, Capstone College of Nursing

For the past two years, Dr. Michael Callihan has led a variety of collaborative efforts with the Capstone College of Nursing (CCN) to assist CHOICE, Inc. in its mission to bring charitable and educational health and wellness resources to the Uniontown community. These efforts have also provided opportunities for University of Alabama students to engage with the community, allowing them to gain first-hand knowledge of the need for more healthcare partners in the Black Belt region of Alabama and specifically in Perry County. During fall 2020, Callihan assisted in drafting the plans for CHOICE’s Two Miles on Twelve project. The ongoing project focuses on community clean-up along a two-mile stretch of HWY 12 and allows community volunteers to have a health assessment done to learn how exercise contributes to good health. Through this project and many others, Callihan has shared both his knowledge and sweat equity. He serves in a mentorship role to the students who are a part of the Health Occupation Student Association at Robert C. Hatch High School. In February 2021, Callihan’s CCN students led a health and wellness workshop with CHOICE. The workshop focus was on heart health and the students engaged with 21 senior citizens — all over the age of 60 — to provide practical knowledge and activities. Collaborative efforts continue, with CCN students assisting Callihan and CHOICE with data collection efforts that will inform future project planning and aid in obtaining funding, all in an effort to lead the way toward a healthier Uniontown.

COM 595-003 Political Primaries & Caucuses course

Dr. Cynthia Peacock

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies

In advance of the 2020 national election, Dr. Cynthia Peacock designed and implemented an innovative approach to bridging the research interests of the academy with an on-the-ground experience of civic engagement. In spring 2020, just before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was able to extend learning beyond the classroom by combining a standard quantitative research course with a profound experience in community engagement. The students enrolled in her COM 595-003 Political Primaries & Caucuses course traveled to the 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucuses, where they attended the candidate rallies and observed and surveyed caucus and rally goers. As a result of this excellent community engagement experience in civic life, the students learned to identify and investigate the communicative practices that govern caucuses. The course not only introduced the students to the details for Institutional Review Board protocols required for community-based research, but also taught them the importance of engaging directly
with the citizens affected. From their face-to-face interviews, their research concluded, among other significant factors, that despite the media focus on electability, respondents did not indicate that as a primary reason for supporting a candidate. Upon their return, they co-authored, with Dr. Peacock, an article on their findings. Their article, “Choosing a Candidate: Traits, Issues, and Electability,” was accepted for publication in the 2020 American Behavioral Scientist Election Series.

SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt (and Beyond)

Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo

Foster-EBSCO Endowed Professor, School of Library & Information Sciences

In 2009 Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, the Foster-EBSCO Endowed Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies, launched SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt (and Beyond). The program donates brand new children’s and young adult books to school libraries in the Black Belt region of Alabama. To date the program has awarded books to more 70 schools, supporting the individual needs of Alabama K–12 institutions and their students. Naidoo has acquired an international reputation for his research addressing the representation of culturally diverse populations in print and digital media for children and youth. This work has significant implications for information professionals seeking to develop and maintain inclusive community library spaces capable of engaging multiple constituencies. These research concerns translate into Naidoo’s teaching activity. In educating emerging information professionals concerned with serving youth populations, Naidoo mentors students dedicated to working in environments that, at their best, will serve as engines for community gathering, discussion, outreach and personal enrichment. Through courses such as Outreach to Diverse Populations and Cultural Diversity Programming for Children, Teens, and Families, Naidoo creates intellectual spaces where his students can begin to interrogate their own responsibilities and roles in fostering culturally inclusive information spaces. These values also inform his commitment to external constituencies, as evidenced by the creation of the SLIS Book Bonanza program, an initiative that seeks to address the economic barriers that can hinder access
to school library collections.

Seed Fund Awards

Increasing Teacher Self-Efficacy for Writing Instruction Through a Professional Development Focused on Anti-Racist Writing Instructional Practices

Increasing Teacher Self-Efficiacy for Writing Instruction Through a Professional Development Focused on Anti-Racist Writing Instructional Practices

Dr. Tracey Hodges
Assistant Professor, Elementary Education Program

Dr. Carol Donovan and Dr. Julianne Coleman, College of Education

Amount Funded

Words hold the power to incite violence, or foster unity. Writing is taught inconsistently in schools and teachers often report feeling unprepared to teach writing effectively. In an effort to increase teacher efficacy and knowledge of anti-racist practices, this project aims to provide educators with training and professional development specific to writing instruction. Participants in this study have the option to be enrolled in either a six-week master’s-level course or a voluntary professional
development on writing pedagogy. The two programs will run simultaneously, and recruitment will target teachers who instruct in schools with high percentages of students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Teachers will learn about integrating anti-racist language into learning objectives and apply linguistic justice to their assessment practices. Content
will be delivered through research articles and books, online modules, interactive discussion boards and live Zoom chats to provide meaningful discussion and exploration of the content. The content will then become a permanent part of the course and summer professional development offerings. The goal is to increase anti-racist writing practices and impact student writing outcomes in the state of Alabama.

Empowering Young Women in Rural Alabama through Menstrual Hygiene Outreach

Graduate Student Fellowship

Supporting Brain Injury Survivors and their Caregivers: A Community Engagement Project

Supporting Brain Injury Survivors and their Caregivers: A Community Engagement Project

Phatt Thaitrong
Doctoral Student, Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management

Project Supporting Brain Injury Survivors and their Caregivers: A Community Engagement Project

Principal Investigator
Dr. Joy Douglas
Assistant Professor, Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management

Community Partner
Scott Powell
Executive Director, Alabama Head Injury Foundation

The graduate student working on this project worked as a research assistant in a Bangkok, Thailand hospital and later worked on community-based research projects while pursuing his master’s at Minnesota State. At UA he is a research assistant in brain injury research to the PI. This project is a collaboration with the Alabama Head Injury Foundation and includes a research team composed of faculty from the Capstone College of Nursing, the Speech and Hearing Center, the Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management, the School of Social Work, the College of Education, and the School of Music. The project aims are to provide interdisciplinary health and support services to brain injury survivors and their caregivers in Alabama, to provide experiential service-learning opportunities for students, and to add to the existing research on the needs of brain injury survivors and their caregivers. The research team will collect pilot data from a three-day camp attended by brain injury survivors and their caregivers. The graduate fellow is needed to analyze the data collected from camp, assist with developing and coordinating a community advisory board (consisting of brain injury survivors, their caregivers, and UA students and faculty members), conduct an interdisciplinary needs assessment to determine how UA can continue to support brain injury survivors and their caregivers in the future, and conduct focus-group interviews. These findings will also be used to secure additional research support for future interventions.

Sleep of Mothers in Pickens County/Psychosocial and Sleep Health Needs of Mothers of Infants and Young Children of Pickens County
UA-SMART Student Health Partnership to Promote Student Health and Wellbeing through Community-Engaged Intervention and Evaluation
Community-Based Programming for Transition-Aged Youth with Autism