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Annual Report 2014-2015


The Bennion Center moved forward this year with optimism and vigor guided by enlightened board members, invested university administrators, committed professional staff, and energetic students.  Here are the highlights for 2014-2015. 


Program Name



Alternative Breaks 209 10,279
Community Engaged Learning Courses 4,311 107,775
Community Engaged Scholars 107 4,280
Communications 7 342
Costa Rica Service Program 27 1,462
Cuba Service Program    27 1,587
Internships 10 716
Legacy of Lowell Day of Service 800 2,060
Office Support Volunteers 66 940
Service House 12 780
Community Outreach 1,675 4,899
Student Board 7 560
Student-Directed Programs 767 22,750
Utah Reads 87 17,648
Total 8,112  176,078 



State Funding • 381,040.00 
Gifts & Grants 292,918.00 
Student Payments 23,566.00 
Endowment Interest 246,168.00 



Academic - Community Engaged Learning  
Salary 318,642.50 
Office 11,941.51 
Marketing 8,785.03 
Co-Curricular- Student Directed Programming  
Salary 295,645.75 
Project Youth 11,191.00 
Legacy of Lowell 3,385.00 
Morgan Service Corps 4,273.00 
Marketing 9,883.00 
Office 11,941.51 
Utah Reads Tutor Program 43,370.00 
Office 3,980.00 
InternationalService Trip 16,532.00 
Office 1,990.00 
Marketing 3,294.00 
Scholarships 46,322.00 
Office Operations 9,951.00 
Total Expenses  915,995.98
Reserve 27,697.84 
Total 943,693.82 

• An additional $295,630 of state funds passed through the Bennion Center to enhance community engaged learning courses through 44 departments across the University.

More information on donating to the Bennion Center

Student Board

7 Leaders, 560 Hours

Student Board

The dynamic, capable, and hard-working Student Board effectively and efficiently steered the Bennion Center through another successful year of student programming and leadership development. In addition to each of their respective area responsibilities, Student Board members met bi- monthly to plan center-wide events, provide training opportunities, and discuss how to best perpetuate the spirit and heart of the Bennion Center through serving their fellow students and community. Accomplishments of the Student Board include executing the first Fall Retreat, holding a Winter Retreat training event, creating a process to reach out to academic advisors to promote the center, and guided incoming leaders through the leadership transition process. Student Board members rotated administrative responsibilities such as developing agendas, chairing meetings, and keeping minutes, This gave all members the opportunity to develop valuable leadership skills. The Student Board also hosted the first-ever transition retreat to prepare the incoming board for the 2015-2016 academic year.  

Alternative Breaks Representative • Nisha Kavalam
Communications Representative • Mary Carambelas
Community Engaged Scholars Representative • Erin Olschewski
Service House Representative • Oliver Anderson
Community Outreach Representative • Danielle Johnson
Student-Directed Programs Representatives • Brian Zenger
Utah Reads Representative • Alejandra Hernandez

Alternative Breaks

7 Fall Break Trips, 13 Spring Break Trips, 221 Participants, 20 Site Leaders, 20 Staff Partners, 10,115 Service HoursSanta Cruz

The Bennion Center Alternative Breaks (AB) program connected 261 students, site leaders, and staff partners to social and environmental issues through direct service, education and reflection during week-long school breaks.

The program thrived thanks to thousands of dollars in scholarship funding secured through the support of the campus and local community. The AB program sustained its commitment to innovative and exceptional practices through social justice and diversity, leadership, facilitation, and educational trainings for students and participants. This year was memorable in maintaining a strong commitment to healthy staff-to-student and peer-to-peer mentoring relationships, enriching the eight quality components of the Alternative Break program. Most notable, our AB program leadership was honored when Kris Fenn was named 2014-2015 Staff Person of the Year by Break Away, the nationwide professional organization which researches, trains and establishes best practics for break service.

Reflecting on 2014-2015, the Bennion Center is proud to report 93% of all Alternative Spring Break and 98% of all Alternative Fall Break participants reported they are more likely to volunteer/engage in community service in the future. Additionally, 97% of particpants stated their overall knowledge regarding the service emphasis of their trip increased as a result of their Alternative Break experience. 


Alternative Breaks Student Leadership

Student Chair • Nisha Kavalam
Re-orientation Chair • Oliver Anderson
Communications and Outreach Chair • Kathryn Ouke


Alternative Fall Break (AFB) Trip topics, locations and site leaders

Homelessness • Seattle, Washington • Jordan Briggs
Food Justice • Seattle, Washington • Parker Roberts
Marine Conservation • Santa Cruz, California • Ola Omotow
Urban Environmentalism • Portland, Oregan • Morgan Nielsen
Identity & Environmental Exploration • San Rafael Swell, Utah • Rob Davies and Kegan Walker
Youth Empowerment and Education • Albuquerque, New Mexico • Jesse Reifsnyder


Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip topics, locations and site leadersSeattle

Animal Advocacy & Rehabilitation • Kanab, Utah • Abi Ellis
Coastal Ecosystem Restoration • Arcata, California • Ida Nourbakhsh
Coastal Ecosystem Restoration • Point Reyes, California • Tatiana Podchinenova
HIV/AIDS • Hollywood, California • Emma Cosset
Homelessness • Seattle, Washington • Tin Xu
Food Justice • Seattle, Washington, • Mckenzie Momberger
Community Health • Vancouver, BC, Canada • Austen Knudson
Immigration, Poverty and Health • San Diego, California • Courtney Allen
LGBTQ/Human Rights • San Francisco, California • Barbara Ochoa
Marine Conservation • Sant Cruz, California • Sabrina Souza
Urban Environmentalism • Portland, Oregon • Oliver Anderson
Women & Poverty • Denver, Colorado • Ivy Smith
Youth Development & Addiction • Las Vegas, Nevada • Kathryn Ouke

More information on the Alternative Break Program

Communications Committee

7 Participants, 342 Hours

The Communications Committee adeptly promoted the Bennion Center through social media, photography, and videography coverage. More people than ever connected with the Bennion Center through Facebook and Twitter. The committee's progessional photos were shared by many media outlets, and the Bennion Center was featured in more than 50 news articles. Committee members recognized the efforts of fellow student volunteers through spotlights, awards, and the culminating Spring Celebration event. The committee also expanded the Bennion Center's outreach program through tabling, presentations, and connecting with faculty and staff. A new media request form was designed to help students and staff more efficiently solicit assistance in designing flyers, photographing events, and spreading the word about their programs. 

Multimedia Specialist • Cameron Hooyer
Outreach Coordinator • Shreyas Choudhary
Recognition Coordinator • Katie Black
Social Media Specialist • Mary Carambelas


Community Engagement

273 Sections • 220 Courses • 36 Departments • 17 Colleges • 90 Faculty • 4,808 Students • 115,816 Service Hours

Community Engaged Teaching, Research and Scholarship

The Bennion Center works to improve the institutional support for the community engaged scholarship of faculty and students at the University of Utah.

Since 1992 the University of Utah has offered designated Community Engaged Learning courses (formerly service-learning).  The Bennion Center supports Community Engaged Learning among faculty, students, and community partners through trainings, conferences, partnership development and recognitions. In addition the Community Engaged Learning Class Designation Committee reviews all classes applying/renewing the CEL designation for their course. This group supports CEL faculty and works to ensure both students and community are having positive quality CEL experiences.

In the 2014-15 academic year, the Bennion Center distributed $203,955 to the academic departments that offered CEL designated courses. These funds were generated based on the enrollment of 4,808 students in 273 sections of 220 different Community Engaged Learning designated courses. These classes were offered by 90 faculty members in 17 colleges through 36 departments.

This year the Bennion Center awarded 35 Community Engaged Learning Teaching Assistantships and distributed $32,000 in support funding.


More information on Community Engaged Learning Classes

Community Engaged Faculty Development

The Bennion Center hosted the eighth annual Engaged Faculty Institute in August 2014 at the Homestead Resort, partnering with University Neighborhood Partners and Utah Campus Compact to convene scholars from across the state to meet with national experts Judith Ramaley, Kevin Kecskes, and Michael Bernstein, for a one-and-a-half day conference on community engaged research and teaching.  The Bennion Center also conducted several customized training sessions and community-partner matching sessions to support faculty engagement at the University of Utah.

In March 2015, the Bennion Center awarded and recognized outstanding faculty in area of community engagement:

Juan Carlos Claudio, 2015 Public Service Professor

Carrie Byington, 2015 Faculty Service Award


Faculty Fellows

In 2014-15 we hosted our fourth group of Bennion Center Faculty Fellows who received a stipend for their leadership in engaged teaching and scholarship:

Yda Smith
Carol Sogard
Akiko Kamimura
Cathleen Power
Sarah Munro
Georgi Rausch
Kelby McIntyre
Sara Hart

More information for Community Engaged Faculty

Community Engaged Scholars 

107 Scholars, 4,280 Hours 

This spring semester the Bennion Center awarded 23 graduating students with the Community Engaged Scholar distinction. Over the course of several years, each Scholar served more than 400 hours with various community organizations, completed at least four Community Engaged Learning courses, attended eight workshops, and produced eight reflection pieces. The year before graduation, they worked on an Integrated Service Project, where they applied their specific academic disciplines to address a community identified need.

This past year we had a very diverse group of projects with more than 2,300 hours of service contributed. From working to develop STEM based curriculum into the Girl Scouts of Utah’s programming, to the creation of a play therapy room at the Intermountain Specialized Abuse Treatment Center, scholars partnered with over 26 different community organizations to foster positive grassroots change.

Each graduating scholar was honored at the Bennion Center’s Scholars Recognition Banquet. Along with a special designation on their academic record, scholars received a certificate award, as well as special cords to wear at commencement. Each scholar was recognized both at their individual convocation ceremonies and collectively at commencement by President Pershing. 

scholars leadership teamScholars Leadership Team

Erin Olschewski
Ola Omotowa
Felix Vivanco-Salazar

Scholars Advisory Committee


Full Community Engaged Scholar Designation Recipients

Colette Ankenman (Human Development, Family Studies and Consumer Studies)
Geena Arata (Health Promotion and Education)
Lauren Beckett (Speech and Hearing Sciences)
Marcus Chen (Exercise Sports Science)
Jeffrey Furlong (Sociology)
Carina Hahn (Material Science and Engineering)
Hoa Huynh (Pharmacy)
Alexis Jessop (Psychology)
Deanna Lines (Health Promotion and Education)
Whitney Louder (Occupational Therapy)
Sasha Nicho (Psychology)
Erin Olschewski (Environmental Communication)
Sara Palomino (Spanish Teaching, Anthropology)
Anthony Pham (Pharmacy)
Hannah Schryver (Psychology)
Jessica Twombly (Special Education)
Olaoluwa Omotowa (Health, Society, and Policy)
Melissa Alm (Nursing)
Chad Blackwell (Nursing)
Jennifer Johnson (Nursing)
Megan McDowell (Nursing)
Meghan Schmidt (Nursing)
Hillary Terrell (Nursing) 


Bennion Center Certificate Recipients

Max Wood
Jessie Du Pre
Sarah Waugaman
Julien Ta
Hannah Pratt
Megan Dolle

 More information on Community Engaged Scholars


Costa Rica International Service Program

1 Trip, 27 Participants, 1,462 Hours

For the sixth consecutive spring, the Bennion Center spear-headed the community engaged learning course, Community Development in the Global South. Fourteen undergraduate students, ten master’s level students, two teaching assistants and Gina Russo (Bennion Center staff partner and course instructor) joined local leaders, lecturers, farmers and volunteers in the Monteverde region of the Puntarenas Province over spring break.

The three-credit political science/public administration course focused on the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of community-based Costa Ricaefforts in international development, especially in rural areas in lesser-developed nations of the global South. It introduced students to a multitude of issues, including: international aid; community, cooperative and family-based social justice organizations; payment for environmental services; and agro-tourism.

In the words of Tammy Reque, “The Costa Rica Service Program is an incredible opportunity for students to learn, grow and make connections. It was inspiring to see how the students' views and perceptions matured and changed over the course of the week in Costa Rica and how involved they were in the work they were doing. Los Tornos and the people there are a big part of what makes this experience  one of a kind.”

We are excited to continue this hallmark international learning experience in 2016.

Costa Rica Service Program Directors/TAs • Tammy Reque and Mick'l Scadden

More information on the Costa Rica Program 


Cuba International Service Program

1 Trip, 27 Participants, 1,580 HoursCuba

The Bennion Center pioneered the first University of Utah sponsored travel to Cuba. The Fall semester course, a collaboration with the Political Science and Public Administration Departments and Learning Abroad, traveled to Havana, Cuba over October break. Fourteen undergraduate and eight graduate students attended six on-campus classes to learn, teach, discuss and question all things Cuba, preparing for an immersion of a lifetime. 

They were greeted by University of Havana professors, non-profit organizations, social entrepreneurs and artists who inspired them to critically think about the myths, complexity and community of a rapidly changing Cuba. They were exposed to a Cuba not readily available via US media or textbooks. They felt "Cubanismo," the breeze of the oft-photographed "Malecon," the warmth of the Cubans and life without the omnipresence of electronic devices.

The Bennion Center looks forward to offering this course again and taking our next adventure to Cuba in Fall 2015. In light of President Obama's recent efforts to re-establish diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba, it is sure to be an even more exciting time and learning environment. 


Service House

12 Residents, 780 Hours

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Service House and community residents continued the tradition of honoring the Bennion Center’s mission through action, change and learning.  Eight residents received Service House scholarships in total of $6,600 from our generous private donors. These scholarships allow diverse and deserving students to access the Service House opportunity and contribute to community engagement efforts on campus and in the greater Salt Lake area. The Service House became the first living-learning community to compost! This sustainable effort,  achieved in partnership with the Edible Campus Gardens,  was championed by a resident inspired by her Alternative Break experience.

House residents participated in eight Saturday Service Projects, focused on a variety of social issues, as well as serving as team leaders for the Bend in the River Earth Day site.

  • Children’s literacy
  • Homelessness
  • Environmental restoration
  • Hunger and poverty
  • Substance abuse and recovery
  • Refugee support services

Residents worked in teams of three to plan and facilitate four Service House Dialogues, highlighting these relevant topics and including some wonderful campus and community partners:


  • Sexual Assault and Prevention on College Campuses
  • Art and Action
  • Alternative Energy
  • Undocumented Students Navigating Higher Education


Resident Advisor • Oliver Anderson

Gina Allyn
Huy Doan
Gina Ha
Nisha Kavalam
Cindy Kuo
Ola Omotowa
John Peterson
Ali Sadler
Sabrina Souza
Taylor Stratford
Yvette Toribio

  Service House 2014-15



More information on the Service House 

Community Outreach

6 Programs, 1,675 Participants, 4,899 Hours

Community Outreach is a unique area of the Bennion Center that specializes in drop-in, one-time, and large scale projects to meet the need of a variety of campus and community needs. Community Outreach’ accomplishments include bringing over 900 sixth graders to campus for the 27th Annual Project Youth event- the university’s longest-running service event, sending thousands of thank you cards to our country’s service people, successfully Project Youthplanning and carrying our seven large-scale Saturday Service Projects, connecting service organizations across campus with the University Service Coalition,  and incorporating many more students in the work of the Bennion Center Service Corps and Freshmen Service Corps.

Bennion Center Service Corps • Esther Blanco, Yuji Chen, and Luis Vidal
Freshman Service Corps • Blake Beckett, Lauren Beckett, and Juan Salazar
Legacy of Lowell and Saturday Service Projects • Danielle Johnson and Max Wood
Project Youth • Emily Garfield and Kyleigh Kinzie
Service Corner • Kayleen Chen
University Service Coalition • Natalie Blanton and Jeremy Lofthouse


Student-Directed Programs

47 Programs, 767 Participants, 22,750 Hours

Student-Directed Programs (SDPs) are a major part of our student leadership at the Bennion Center. Student leaders in this area of the center do not receive any academic credit or remuneration: all of their service and leadership is completely voluntary.

In 2014-2015, four new programs were launched, bringing the total to 45. New programs include:

  • Education and Advocacy: Bud Bailey Youth Tutoring
  • Health and Ability: Friends for Sight and Sealants for SmilesPuppets for Safety

Music 4 the Masses, a partnership with Volunteers of America’s (VOA) Youth Resource Center, and The Utah Symphony-Utah Opera (US/UO) joined forces and shared resources to creatively increase our collective impact. Under the leadership of Jared Ripplinger and Eva Comollo, volunteers secured tickets and accompanied homeless youth to the Symphony (donned in theater attire!).  This experience was a catalyst for at least one young man who reportedly got his paperwork in order to secure a job to be able to go back for another performance at the Symphony!

On the technological side and under the leadership of Brian Zenger, we incorporated a script that automatically populates every volunteer interest form (VIF) into its respective program spreadsheet.  With this innovation, program directors no longer have to manually input the basic data of every VIF.  Program directors continue to track the more nuanced and important information while attempting to turn all perspective volunteers into active ones!

Issue Area Coordinators (IACs) championed a second student leader workshop series. A total of 6 workshops were held, attended or facilitated byTake Care Utah 48 student leaders. Topics were chosen based on student feedback and incorporated campus partners during the spring semester: volunteer recruitment, electronic volunteer management, facilitating effective meetings, telling your story, health & wellness tips for student leaders and professional skill building. Workshops not only boosted leadership skills for attendees, but helped IACs build their own leadership and facilitation capacities. The Bennion Center is thrilled to have been awarded a Parent Fund grant of $2,000 to continue this workshop series in 2015-2016.

Student Issue Area Coordinators and Program Directors

Education & Advocacy

Coordinator • Haoran Yu
Arts for Youth • Donna Lei, Tressa Franklin & Carley Hawkins
Bryant Middle School Tutoring • Scott Anjewierden                                                                                     
Bud Bailey Youth Tutoring • new program/no leader
Children's Mentoring Program • Hannah Hendrickson
ESL Guadalupe • Mimi Doan
Literacy Action Center • Elizabeth Cotter
Music 4 the Masses • Jared Ripplinger
PlayWorks SLC Schools • Jenna Lindsey
SOARE • Trevin Michael
Utah Opera/Utah Symphony • Eva Comollo

Environmental Stewardship

Edible Campus Gardens • Kris Hawkins & Sara Ma
Environmental Action Team • Kate Zhao
Green Urban Lunchbox • Courtney Dean                                                                                                     
Social Justice Gardens • Heather King & Christianna Johnson

Health & Ability

Coordinator • Shannon WeaverShannon and Ashley
Best Buddies • Caleb Ham
Camp Kostopulos • Bryce Christensen                                                                           
Friends for Sight • Alexis Sakellariou & Carol Foote
Hospice Care • Rudi Zurbuchen
Meals on Wheels • Derek Woodruff                                                                                              
Primary Children's Hospital • Chandra Christensen                                                                 Puppets for Safety • Ananya Roy
Running Forward • Nicole Leonard
Sealants for Smiles • Tyler Mikesell
Special Olympics Utah Games Organizing Committee • Beau Hickens & Madisyn Taylor                              
Special Olympics Utah Team • Michael Kutschke & Keegan Atack
Utah Development Academy • Austin Anderson & Cecily Bader
VA Nursing Home PD • Kayla Quinn

International Service

Coordinator • Dayna Ruiz
Asian Association Sunnyvale • Colette Ankenman
Catholic Community Services Refugee Assistance • Grace Auringer, Kelly Hoerger & Sara Ng
English Skills Learning Center • Yiliang Shi
Hser Ner Moo • Tyler Hogue & Nick Brown
International Rescue Committee • Hyrum Mitchell
Ronald McDonald House • Taryn Young

Social Justice

Coordinator • Brian Zenger
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBSU) • Brian Zenger & Hiroshi Aoki    SDP_Orientation
Girl Scouts Outreach • Jessica Ramirez
Health Access Project • John Peterson & Kathia Recinos
Lasting Link • Yennhi Nguyen
Palmer Court Kids Book Club • Taylor Stratford & Bhumi Patel
Road Home Kids' Book Club • Adam Whitney
Road Home Playroom • Margaret Carlson
Road Home Teens Night Out • Logan Prince                                
Salt Lake Peer Court • Atusa Ghadikolai & Andrea Gappmaier
Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center • Will Richards & Will Gochnour
Take Care Utah • Sasha Freed

More information on Student-Directed Programs


Utah Reads

6 Title I Schools, 1 Non-profit Center, 87 Tutors, 17,648 Hours

Utah ReadsUtah Reads is a federally-funded work-study program that provides college students an opportunity to earn federal work-study funding through tutoring elementary students in the community.

In the spring of 2015, the America Reads program at the Bennion Center welcomed a new title, along with a new coordinator. Cassi Simmons now heads the Utah Reads program. In partnership with the University of Utah's reading clinic, all tutors are professionally trained in the NextStepsTM program utilized by many teachers and reading intervention specialists in the Salt Lake area. 

During the 2014-2015 academic year, 87 tutors came from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds to connect with 292 elementary-aged students in the Salt Lake City School District. These tutors provided more than 8,500 tutoring sessions and more than 9,100 additional hours across the seven partner sites. 

As Utah Reads continues to provide support in literacy and mathematics for young learners, tutors also create positive learning environments and serve as mentors and role models, inspiring children to achieve their academic potential.  


Utah Reads Site Team Leaders

Bennion Elementary • Dakota Sanders
Lincoln Elementary • Alejandra Hernandez
Neighborhood House • Cadee Chatterton
Mountain View Elementary • Sheridan Dastrup
Park View Elementary • Dayana Arreola
Riley Elementary • Harlee Smith
Rose Park Elementary • Becca West

More information on Utah Reads


Awards & Recognition

The Bennion Center hosts an annual Spring Celebration recognition event. This year two events were combined to create an all-inclusive evening celebrating the accomplishments of students, faculty, staff, and community partners--everyone involved with the Bennion Center. 

Bennion Center Awards: 

Chelsea Hale Creative Community Leadership Award

hale awardThe Chelsea Hale Creative Community Leadership Award recognizes a current Bennion Center student with vision and understanding of the issues that affect our community. The recipient demonstrates value for service through action, accomplishment, respect, integrity and leadership with a focus on creative and innovative service. This year’s recipients were Nisha Kavalam and Brian Zenger.

During his three years of involvement, Brian’s commitment to community engagement and student leadership deepened and expanded. He began his Bennion Center experience as a Team Leader for Project Youth and as a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. Brian continued his direct service during the last two years, while embracing elevated leadership roles as Program Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Coordinator for the Social Justice issue area, and as a member of the Bennion Center Student Board. In all of these roles, Brian’s proactive, innovative and creative leadership style stimulated progress and fresh strategies in the Bennion Center. Brian has mentored dozens of students, facilitated trainings, programmed a media request form for Bennion Center outreach, and created a computer script to automatically update volunteer tracking data for 47 student-directed programs. This new and improved system has been invaluable for recording the impact of partnerships. Brian’s sharp mind, engineering talent, and innovative style has added quality to the Bennion Center, and his fresh ideas have been embraced and appreciated. Brian will begin medical school at the University of Utah next fall.

Nisha has led the Alternative Breaks program during its most innovative and expansive years. In her four years of involvement, she implemented visionary and innovative practices in her role as Site Leader, Co-Chair, and Chair of the program.  It is because of her intentional and innovative leadership that the Alternative Breaks program has developed and maintained a strong social justice framework.  Her accomplishments include creating, instituting, and facilitating new social justice trainings for all participants prior to departure day, facilitating peer mentoring activities for student leaders, and deepening program trainings which led to the program’s national affiliate, Break Away, giving  it the 2014 “Program of the Year” award.  Nisha maintains multiple leadership roles on campus and in the community. She actively works to advocate for those affected by sexual violence – work she hopes to develop into a career someday. Nisha has been recruited and selected by Break Away to be one of two interns from across the nation that will facilitate and train hundreds of student leaders on Alternative Breaks programming best practices this summer.  Nisha is a phenomenal community organizer. 

wendelboe award

Dan Wendelboe Continuous Community Service

The Dan Wendelboe Continuous Community Service Award honors a current student with at least two years active work through the Center. The recipient demonstrates value for service through commitment, accomplishment, integrity and respect for others with a focus on consistent involvement. This year’s recipient was Nicole Leonard.

Nikki became involved with the Bennion Center while looking for a running club. She came across a group called Running Forward, a group for elementary school children put together by volunteers from the U. Even though it wasn't exactly what she intended to find, she was also interested in volunteering, so it seemed like a great opportunity. She started volunteering once a week during Fall semester 2011 and continued in that role until Spring 2013 when she became a site leader at one of the schools. At the end of that season she applied for the program director position. Nikki was wildly successful at both of these positions, and she has served as the Running Forward Program Director since May 2013. In her tenure, she has trained over 10 site leaders and 75 volunteers.  She has worked with over 200 school-aged children and 80 Bennion Center volunteers, which adds up to an amazing 2000 volunteer hours to the program! Running Forward has taught her a lot about the community and has shown her how hard life can be for some kids in the area. Despite the crazy things they go though, they still show up to run and are happy, fun kids, which really inspires her.

Drew Peterson Alumni Service Award

peterson awardIn its third year, the Drew Peterson Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni for effectiveness in living the Center’s mission, which is to engage in lifelong civic participation while engaging with the greater community in action, change and learning. The award is named after Drew Peterson, who helped to create the mission statement as the Center’s first advisory board chair in 1987. This year’s Drew Petersen Alumni Service Award recipient was Rebecca Van Maren.

Rebecca works as the Volunteer Coordinator for Catholic Community Services in Northern Utah. She works in three programs—the food pantry, St. Martha’s Layette Program, and Bridging the Gap Childhood Hunger Mobile Pantry. She also coordinates local food drives. Before this, she researched, developed, implemented, and expanded the Seattle Kids Café Food Lifeline’s first childhood hunger program. She also increased access and awareness for two USDA Child Nutrition programs. She has also served as both an Emerson National Hunger Fellow and a Feeding America Child Hunger Corps member.  She loves that her job enables her to pursue her passion for working with youth and low-income populations while getting back to her roots of civic engagement.  She graduated in 2010 with two degrees and the Service Learning Scholar designation.

Students of the Year

Throughout the year, many students were nominated by their peers for Student of the Month awards. These nominations were made as students reported their community engagement hours in an internal Bennion Center database. The Bennion Center staff and student board selected each month’s honorees based on the nominations received. From the year’s Students of the Month, three students were selected to receive the Student of the Year Award. This year’s Students of the Year were Shannon Weaver, Jeffrey Furlong, and Oliver Anderson. Here is what their peers had to say about these three leaders:

Shannon cares about and puts a lot into her program. She is a helpful and kind coordinator; she checks in with me regularly and doesn't judge meStudents of the Year for my mistakes. She has truly been an inspiration as she has happily provided me with resources needed to start a new program. She has personally contacted me on a number of occasions ensuring that I knew exactly what to do in order to succeed. She is professional in her conduct and is the epitome of a good leader.

Jeffrey is the most dedicated volunteer I have met in a very long time! He takes on new challenges creatively and enthusiastically. He is super involved and genuinely cares about the groups and students he works with. He is a friend to everyone.

Oliver put a lot of effort into the Alternative Fall Break reorientation. He has gone above and beyond. He has improved and enhanced the experience and has been intentional in the ways Alternative Breaks works with community partners and reconnects participants to issues their trips focused on. Oliver is truly committed to this program, and it shows in everything he does.

Distinguished Faculty Service Award

Distinguished Faculty Service award

The Distinguished Faculty Service award honors a faculty member who has demonstrated a commitment to the campus-community connection through a life of active, unpaid community service and the integration of service with research and teaching. Faculty service must be based on a long-term commitment to making a positive difference on the campus and in the community, and to the educational value gained by students through community work, beyond the traditional roles of faculty. The recipient receives $1000 to be gifted to their charity of choice. This year’s Distinguished Faculty Service Award recipient was Dr. Carrie Byington. 

Carrie has devoted much of her career to mentoring and service.  She has supported the careers of more than 100 trainees and junior faculty, the majority being women and minorities. She was the recipient of the Gary C. Schoenwolf Mentoring Award in 2011 and the Linda K. Amos award for service to women in 2012. She has also worked for many years as a physician at the Salt Lake Valley Health Department’s South Main Clinic, which treats minority and underserved women and children.  She believes all physicians owe a debt of service to the communities for the training received. Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Vivian S. Lee said, “Dr. Byington has made a huge difference in the careers of the dozens of students and faculty she has mentored in her years as a practitioner, teacher, and researcher.”

Public Service Professorship

Public service Professorship

The Public Service Professorship award is designed to help a faculty member strengthen community engaged learning experiences and to foster stronger partnerships with the local community. The recipient receives $7,500 to be put toward that purpose.  This year's recipient was Juan Carlos Claudio. 

Juan Carlos serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Modern Dance.   He teaches all levels of contemporary dance technique, as well as Dance in Culture, Dance and Community, and Dance Composition courses. He also choreographs for the Performing Dance Company.  He was recognized last year as the Utah Campus Compact Community Engaged Scholar. He was also nominated for the Dee Winterton Award for mentoring in 2009, the University of Utah Student Teaching Choice Award for excellence in teaching in 2009, and the Chi Omega Favorite Professor of the Year in 2013.  He has also been nominated for Salt Lake City Weekly’s ARTYS Best Individual Dancer in 2000, 2013, and 2014.

Utah Campus Compact Awards:

Each year Utah Campus Compact recognizes the work of outstanding community engaged faculty, staff, students, and committed community partners across the state. Each member institution can nominate awardees in each category. 

Community Engaged Scholar

The Community Engaged Scholar Award recognizes faculty who use service-learning as a successful pedagogy and show innovation in employing strategies to connect students’ service with academics. These faculty members also demonstrate civic engagement through teaching, community-based research, or promotion of service-learning at their institutions. This year’s Community Engaged Scholar award was Melissa Hall.Community Engaged Scholar award

Melissa has been the instructor or teaching assistant for nine Community Engaged Learning courses at the U.  As an advisor, instructor and research paper reviewer, she has mentored almost 900 students.  Her dissertation, titled, “Exploring Community Partners’ Perceptions, Motivations and Shaping of Service-Learning,” is a qualitative study, illustrating how community partners characterize service-learning collaborations, and to what extent community partners wish to be involved in the development, maintenance, and evaluation of these collaborations.  Her research participants include staff from three higher education college service centers and their community partners.

Community Engaged Staff Member

The Community Engaged Staff Member award recognizes a staff member that shows leadership in advancing community engagement as a critical component within their higher education institution, forms innovative campus and community partnerships, and engages, models, or influences students to be involved in community service and service-learning. This year’s Community Engaged Staff Member award goes to Gina Russo.

Gina is one of the most community engaged staff members at the University of Utah.  For six years, Gina has worked as the Student Programs Community Engaged Staff Member awardManager and more recently as Assistant Director of the Bennion Center.  She leads by example with an assumption that we all must contribute to solving societal issues.  The partnerships she has forged with other university departments and with various community partners are innovative insofar as they intentionally embrace a spirit of reciprocity, seek collective impact, and are built on transparent trusting relationships.  While these appear to be critical components to any successful partnership; they don’t just show up by accident and Gina insists that each is part and parcel to the work of the Bennion Center.  

Community Engaged Student

The Community Engaged Student award recognizes a student or a student group that demonstrates commitment to building or enhancing campus-based efforts to address community needs, leads, inspires, and engages other students, members of the institution, or community, and demonstrates efforts to sustain their work through developing strategies for institutional and community commitment. This year’s Community Engaged Student award was the Feed U Pantry and its founding intern, Abby Reyes. Community Engaged Student

Feed U, the University of Utah’s Food Pantry, aims to increasingly understand food insecurity among college students to better address their nutritional needs as they strive to achieve academic, professional, and personal goals.  Feed U opened its doors at the Campus Bookstore in October 2014, and has served an estimated 65 student households and distributed nearly 1200 pounds of food. Feed U’s campus partners include:  The Bennion Center, Campus Store, Center for Student Wellness, ASUU, and Women’s Resource Center. Community partners include:  Utah Food Bank, Utahans Against Hunger, and a pending partnership with Whole Foods.

Community Engaged Alumnus

The Community Engaged Alumnus award recognizes an alum of the University of Utah that demonstrates on-going and deep commitment to community engagement, leads, inspires, and engages other members of their community toward positive social change, and furthers the community engagement efforts of the institution. This year’s Community Engaged Alum award goes to Jesse Sheets.Community Engaged Alum

Jesse served as a Bennion Center student leader over the International Rescue Committee volunteer program during his time as a student. He now works full time at the IRC, and his role gives him the opportunity to work with greater Salt Lake refugee communities.  He connects with community members who donate needed goods to recently-arrived refugee families and individuals, and distributes them to corresponding homes.  Jesse recently paired nearly 300 refugees with 90 community members, giving everyone involved the opportunity to connect directly with each other and gain a broader perspective of the overall refugee experience through the Light One Candle gift drive.

Committed Community Partner

The Committed Community Partner award recognizes an individual or organization that strengthens community involvement at their local institution, provides meaningful service and learning opportunities for students, and enhances their agency’s mission, programs, or goals by partnering with the institution. This year’s Committed Community Partner award was Mike Williams and the Salt Lake Education Foundation.Committed Community Partner

Mike is the CEO of the Salt Lake Education Foundation and serves as a model community partner for the Bennion Center.  His steadfast commitment to all students—pre-school through college—is present in his word, manner, and good deeds.  He has helped university students make an impact in the community through student-directed programs by brokering strong relationships with schools, teachers, and principals.  Mike has been instrumental as a liaison and advocate for the Bennion Center’s Utah Reads Program.   He has located funding for buses, food, and supplies for Legacy of Lowell, Saturday Service Projects, and Project Youth—all high impact, well-attended community events.  On top of all that, Mike has served as an active Bennion Center board member.

Bennion Center Staff

Mary Draper • Development Officer
Debbie Hair • Administrative Assistant
Chris Jensen • Community Engaged Learning CoordinatorStaff
Nancy Basinger and Kim Mangun • Associate Director, Community Engaged Learning Manager
Dean McGovern • Executive Director
Gina Russo • Assistant Director, Student Programs Manager
Kris Fenn and Laura Schwartz • Alternative Breaks Coordinator
Kristie Sleight and Cassi Simmons • Utah Reads Coordinator
Melea Smith • Student Programs Coordinator: Service House and Student-Directed Programs
Lacey Holmes and Gideon Tolman • Communications Specialist
Gideon Tolman and Bryce Williams • Student Programs Coordinator: Community Outreach and Student Board



Chris Jensen • Eagle Condor Humanitarian Advisory Board
Melea Smith • Living-Learning Community Parntership Committee



Chris Jensen • "Inside the Revolutiion, Everything!": Public Discourse, Civil Society and Change in Contemporary Cuba; Indiana University Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies



Gina Russo • Cuba: Complexity, Community and Change • Fall 
Dean McGovern • Community Engaged Scholars Seminar • Spring 
Gina Russo • Community Development in the Global South • Spring



Kris Fenn • Break Away National Staff Partner of the Year
Gina C. Russo • Utah Campus Compact Community Engaged Staff Memb


Bennion Center Advisory Board

Chair • John Bennion - Bennion Family Representative
Josh Bradley - Intermountain Healthcare
Steve Brown - Real Estate Consultant
David Buchman - Wells Fargo
David Chapman - University of Utah Emeritus Faculty
Patti Clements - Community Member
Elizabeth Craig - SelectHealth
Jorge Fierro - Rico Brands
Scott Hagen - Ray Quinney & Nebeker
Rick Henriksen - University of Utah Healthcare
Jani Iwamoto - Former Salt Lake County Council
John Kesler - Salt Lake Center for Engaging Community
David Litvack - Salt Lake County
Deena Lofgren - Community Member
Aimee McConkie - Utah Financial Services Foundation
Alan Monsen - Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Teresa Molina - University Neighborhood Partners
Lynn Pace - Salt Lake City Attorney
Mori Paulsen - Merrill Lynch
Sandra Pershing - University of Utah Assistant Vice President of Outreach
Jon Pinnock - Sterling Financial
LuAnne Schmidt - Community member
Kristi Swett - Salt Lake City School Board
Christy Thayne - Chase Bank
Heidi VanOtten - University Credit Union
Kirk Weiler - WEX Bank
Michael Williams - Salt Lake Education Foundation

Emeritus Members

Philip Clinger 
Zeke Dumke, III
Charlotte Jacobsen
Richard Jacobsen
Kathryn Lindquist
Lon Richardson, Jr. 

Thank You for Your Support

Much of the excellence you have read about emerging from the Bennion Center can be attributed to the extraordinary level of support from friends and alumni. The generosity of the following individuals, companies, and foundations has helped the Bennion Center develop the next generation of community leaders who will have a lifelong commitment to service.

Dominic and Virginia Albo
Bryan T. Allen
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Gary and Cynthia Sue Anderson
Shawna Andrus
Noel and Douglas Applebaum
Patrice Arent and David Mock
Pamela J. Atkinson
Sandra and Marc Babitz
Ruth Eleanor & John Ernest Bamberger Memorial Foundation
Bank of America Foundation
John W. Bennion
Lowell C. and Sherilyn Bennion
Steven D. and Marjorie H. Bennion
Paula and Glen F. Bowman
Mary L. Bradford
Joshua D. and Sarah L. Bradley
Michael and Sheila Brand
Randall J. and Suzan S. Buchmiller
Frances W. Burton Foundation
Harold Burton Foundation
Adam and Danielle W. Caldwell
William and Sheral Calvin
Ellen Cannon
The Castle Foundation
David S. and Inga M. Chapman
Brett Anthony Childress
Tyler Christenson
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation
CIT Bank
Patti and Scott Clements
Jennifer Creer Colosimo
Colton Charitable Lead Annuity Trust
Lawrence T. and Janet T. Dee Foundation
Tim and Candace Dee
Dorsey & Whitney Foundation
Mary and Del Draper
Ruth R. Draper
Angela and Zeke Dumke
Michael A. and Linda P. Dunn
The Marriner S. Eccles Foundation
Mary Ellen Edmunds
Patricia A. Eisenman
Wilma J. and Arthur G. Elizondo
Sue J. Ellis
Charlotte H. England
Henry W. and Leslie M. Eskuche Foundation
Leah B. and H. Whitney Felt Foundation
Irene S. Fisher and Craig Hansen
Jacqueline and Alan Fogel
Jacqueline C. and Reed M. Gardner
Robert H. and Katharine B. Garff
Laura Gee and Yoram Bauman
Marin C. Granholm
The Marion D. and Maxine C. Hanks Foundation
Royal I. and Laura C. Hansen
Suzanne K. and Timothy L. HawkerRobert O. and Carolyn S. Hoffmann
Robert P. and Dixie S. Huefner
IBM Corporation
Intermountain Healthcare
Jani Iwamoto and Steve Fukumitsu
Jacobsen Construction Company, Inc.
Craig M. and Susan E. Jacobsen
Richard M. and Susan P. Jacobsen
Theodore M. and Charlotte G. Jacobsen
Jeanne N. and James S. Jardine
Boyer and Patricia A. Jarvis
Gilbert W. and Myrna M. Jensen
Dorene  R. Jones
Eugene B. Jones
Alisa A. and Tyler B. Knowlton
F. Larsen Family Trust
Brandon Lee
Evelyn B. and James B. Lee
Kathryn Lindquist and James R. Moore
James B. Lohse and Carolyn Cox
Francis A. and Constance C. Madsen
Paul D. Majnik and Sara D. Feltz
Patrick R. McCabe
Jerilyn S. McIntyre and W. David Smith
Merrill Lynch National Financial
Herbert I. & Elsa B. Michael Foundation
Frederick A. and Lucy W. Moreton
Anthony W. and Mary Ann Morgan
Nancy Morgan
Peter J. and Michelle B. Morgan
Mildred K. Naylor
Richard J. Nelson
Jackson and Linda K. Newell
Susan G. Nielsen Trust
Justin H. Olsen
Trevor B. Parker
Kimberly C. and Jonathan W. Paulding
Mori and Lisa Paulsen
Francine Potter
Ronald Rencher
Lon  and Zoe Richardson
Robert Grow Consulting, Inc.
RuthAnn Beutler Robson
Gina C. Russo
Saxton Horne Communications
Mary B. and Scott M. Schelin
Alice Cannon Schmidt
Ann M. Schmitt and John Zurbuchen
Shannon Christiansen Seare
Claudia and Marlin N. Shields
Marolyn Siddoway
Ruth C. and Larry H. Siebers
Malcolm O. and Charlane J. Sillars
Daniel Simpson
Dorotha Sharp Smart
The Sorenson Legacy Foundation
State Farm Companies Foundation
Jill E. and Stephen S. Sundstrom
Harry Lewis Swain
Ann P. Tempest
Temple Square Hospitality
Susan F. and V. Randall Turpin
University Federal Credit Union
Utah Commission on Service & Volunteerism
William C. and Heidi E. Vriens
Sheila Walsh-McDonald and Gregory M. McDonald
Carl and Martha Wankier Trust
Janis J. and John H. Weis
WEX Bank
Mary A. White and Peter B. Armentrout
Ann Bardsley Whitney and Thomas W. Whitney
Becky Wilson
Grant L. and Sharon D. Wilson
Ethel Witon
Tova Wolking and Scott Williams
Terry and Dori Wright
Earl M. and Corinne N. Wunderli
Annette P. and Donald B. Zarkou
Deann C. and Daniel C. Zebelean 

Tribute Gifts

In Honor of

Linda P. Dunn
Andrea Hoffman

In Memory Of

Lowell Bennion
Kay Dumke
Barbara Townsend Merrill
C. DuWayne Schmidt
Emma Lou Thayne

In-Kind Donors

Einstein’s Bagels
Hurst Stores
Rico Brands
Rocky Mountain Water
Salt Lake County Bicycle Ambassadors Program
Salt Lake Education Foundation
Salt Lake School District
Sugar House Coffee
Tagge’s Famous Fruit
Trader Joe’s

We have made every effort to assure the accuracy of our donor list and apologize for any errors or omissions. Please contact Mary Draper, (801) 585-0093, if you have corrections. Thank you.

More information on donating to the Bennion Center

Last Updated: 6/10/21