Seven University of Georgia faculty and staff members are being honored for their commitment to public service and outreach.
Walter Barnard Hill Fellow
The Walter Barnard Hill Fellow Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach is named for Chancellor Walter B. Hill, who led the University of Georgia from 1899 to 1905. Hill was a pioneer who helped define the university’s modern public service and outreach mission. The Hill Fellow recognizes faculty for long-term achievements and special projects that have extraordinary impact, and collaborative efforts that improve quality of life in Georgia. Only past UGA Hill Award winners are eligible to become a Hill Fellow. Each Hill Fellow receives a medallion, a permanent salary increase and $2,000 in discretionary funds per fiscal year for three consecutive years to advance his or her public service work.
Maritza Soto Keen
J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development
Maritza Soto Keen is a senior public service associate and associate director at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. She has designed and led leadership programs throughout the state for Hispanics and women, including a women’s leadership academy in southeast Georgia that has resulted in greater female participation in civic activities and more women in elected positions.
Since 2015, Keen has served as lead faculty for five cohorts of the Women’s Leadership Academy launched by the Lynda B. Williamson Women’s Foundation in Statesboro. Graduates of the yearlong program have gone on to become city council members, a district attorney and a county solicitor general. Others have started programs to help other women in the community, including one who works with low-income women to improve their employability. The success of the program has led to its expansion into other regions of the state.
Keen led design and development for the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Cultivating Hispanic Leadership Institute. CHLI is a six-month leadership program designed to encourage the Hispanic community to engage in public and nonprofit leadership opportunities. Since its start in 2014, more than 125 people have graduated from the program and gone on to join major nonprofit boards, such as the United Way of Greater Atlanta.
Keen’s international work includes leading a strategic planning session for the Mandela Young African Leaders Institute, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State; developing an African Civic Engagement Academy; and co-authoring a course and leading virtual discussions on inclusion and diversity that drew more than 2,000 participants.
“The knowledge and experience that Dr. Keen presents each session of the LBW Leadership Academy is invaluable,” said Lisa Rowe Lee, past president of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation. “Her personal experiences of working in the nonprofit sector, championing diverse and minority populations and empowering women in the workforce have had a great impact to our program.”
The Engaged Scholar Award recognizes a tenured associate or full professor who has made significant career-spanning contributions to the University of Georgia’s public service mission through scholarship, service-learning opportunities for students and campus leadership. The awardee receives a $5,000 faculty development grant to sustain current engaged scholar endeavors or to develop new ones.
Jason A. Cade
School of Law
Jason A. Cade is the associate dean for clinical programs and experiential learning and the J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law. In his more than eight years at UGA, he has created experiential learning opportunities that have built community partnerships, positively affected the lives of immigrants and prepared his students for the legal profession while inspiring them to a life of service.
Since joining the law school in 2013,
Cade’s teaching and scholarship have focused on a critical issue—the treatment of noncitizens who live, work and raise families in Georgia and elsewhere. In 2014, he created and continues to direct the Community Health Law Partnership Clinic, an experiential learning course for law students that delivers legal advocacy and public education to immigrants in the Athens-Clarke County area. The clinic has served more than
200 individuals and families since it began.
In 2021, Cade was one of several law school clinic directors from across the country who received the Clinical Legal Education Association’s national award for excellence for their advocacy on behalf of immigrant women in a Georgia detention center who alleged medical malfeasance and retaliation for speaking out about the dangerous health conditions in the facility.
As associate dean, Cade has led efforts to expand the law school’s overall clinical reach into rural areas of the state, conducted educational events for other university departments on campus and given presentations on immigration to middle school students each year.
Staff Award for Excellence
The Public Service and Outreach Staff Award for Excellence acknowledges individuals for their exceptional job performance, workplace creativity and innovation and commitment to service. The honoree receives a certificate, a cash award and an engraved crystal memento.
Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel
Pam Bracken is a program coordinator for the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. During her 23 years with Public Service and Outreach, Bracken has worked on face-to-face and online courses requiring collaboration across the university and with outside associations, including the Marketing Research Insights Institute, through which she developed the center’s first online certificate program.
Bracken led the development of the Principles of Market Research course, with input from industry practitioners, 300 global researchers acting as pilot participants and the Georgia Center’s instructional design team. The program has seen more than 8,000 enrollments with students from
107 countries and all 50 states.
In 2020, when the pandemic affected in-person course instruction, Bracken designed alternative methods to deliver programs, including the Sherpa Executive Coaching Certification program. Since its establishment in 2008, the program had served more than 200 executive-level participants through more than 60 hours of in-person classes. Under Bracken’s guidance, the program successfully transitioned into remote instruction offerings.
Bracken stepped up in other ways during the height of the pandemic. She facilitated monthly webinars reaching a total of
6,000 participants from 88 countries to encourage adults to utilize the pandemic as a time to retool and build new skills through full program enrollment.
Bracken also has dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours with area organizations.
Walter Barnard Hill Award
The Walter Barnard Hill Award also is named for Chancellor Walter B. Hill. The Hill Awards recognize distinguished achievements by public service faculty who have contributed to a better quality of life for the people of Georgia. Each award recipient receives a medallion, a permanent salary increase and a framed certificate in honor of his or her achievement.
• Pam Knox is a senior public service associate with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, where she serves as the director of the University of Georgia Weather Network and as an agricultural climatologist. Through her ability to connect agriculture and climate science, Knox has proven to be a valuable resource to growers in Georgia, as well as regional and national climate work groups. Recently, Knox’s work has included raising awareness of frost climatology and how to respond.
• Joan Koonce is a professor and an extension specialist in the Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. In this role, she creates financial planning resources, conducts financial planning trainings and provides support for local county extension agents. Koonce created the Virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to help Georgia residents prepare their taxes.
• J. Scott Pippin is a public service associate at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. In this role, he has helped communities across Georgia with zoning and land use planning, improving infrastructure planning processes, and helping Georgians better prepare for natural hazards such as flooding and severe weather. Pippin has worked extensively with coastal communities to better prepare for severe storms and flooding, which has led to lower insurance premiums for many property owners.
• Lenny Wells is a professor and extension specialist with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences who developed and implemented a nationally recognized pecan program that greatly increased the average yield for Georgia pecan farmers as well as their gate value. With the development of Wells’ set of guidelines for specific agricultural practices and precautions, the potential for contamination of pecans with pathogenic bacteria at the farm level has been minimized.