President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership

Established in 2012 to honor past LCU Fund for Women’s Education Board President Carol Farris, the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership recognizes a supported scholar who demonstrates extraordinary leadership in her school and / or home community.

2019 Recipient: Dipika Shrestha

Dipika Shrestha (center) with Leslie Ehrlich, LCU Fund President and
Sara Espinosa, LCU Fund Executive Director

Dipika Shrestha is currently pursuing a Master of International Affairs at the Marxe School of International and Public Affairs at Baruch College where she represents all graduate students on the school’s Executive Committee. Through her prior work with the BBC, Dipika established herself as a global voice for immigrants, authoring (together with her husband, who is also an immigrant) a unique podcast addressing the simple challenges of daily life in the community of recent arrivals to the United States.

Dipika possesses a deep level of experience and understanding of media which she has chosen to blend with policy-making and administrative management. David Birdsall, Dean of the Marxe School, writes, “This combination is important to ensure that a full spectrum of voices can be heard, and that they can be heard on issues that matter particularly to them. Dipika offers an excellent example of the accelerated impact we hope to provide at Marxe, making access meaningful and achievements outstanding.”

2019 Honorees

Erin Black’s advocacy on behalf of others demonstrates her natural leadership ability. Prior to enrolling at the Phillips School of Nursing (PSON), she worked at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, a Manhattan health care center primarily serving the HIV+ and LGBTQ community. As the organization’s Integrated Health Coordinator, she ensured that the center’s services appropriately addressed the needs of its diverse, underserved population. In this role she also provided LGBTQ sensitivity training to community-based organizations, corporations, academic institutions, and other health facilities.

At PSON, this passion to help, empower, and advocate is on full display. Erin serves on the Dean’s Council and as a Senator in the Student Government Organization. In both roles, she regularly meets with administrators to bring forward students’ voices about what is working and what is not working, and to make recommendations for change. “Speaking up for others, something I had been uncomfortable doing for myself for a long time, has been empowering,” she says. Erin successfully advocated for Open Skills Lab Hours for students and is currently organizing an ACLS and PALS certification event for graduating students.

Genevieve Blau is in her final year of studies at Bank Street College of Education, where she is pursuing a Master of Education with a concentration on infant and family development and early prevention.

Genevieve is an exemplary scholar who demonstrates an acute understanding of the needs of students, especially how effective, knowledge-based leadership and well-trained teachers can improve academic and social emotional learning in young people. She has distinguished herself as an outstanding leader and advocate, both through her clinical practice and on behalf of her fellow students at Bank Street. She is actively involved in the Bank Street community and aspires to take what she has learned there to her own center for young children in the future.

Lisa Quach received her Master’s in Social Work from Columbia’s School of Social work in the spring. While enrolled, she served as a Peer, Advocate and Champion (P.A.C.) Leader, where she was responsible for planning social activities and check-ins for new students, providing guidance and support throughout their first year in the program. She also served as a Student Ambassador for the Office of Admissions. In that role, she fielded inquiries from prospective and newly admitted students, often allaying their anxieties and concerns while providing concrete information. Lisa was very involved in several student caucuses, particularly focusing on planning events that fostered dialogues for a more inclusive environment at the school. She became a contributing facilitator for the school’s Professional Development and Self-Awareness Program (PDSA), and co-facilitated several workshops and events throughout the year, carrying students through experiential exercises exploring the PROP lens – power, racism, oppression, and privilege.

For her final-year Advanced Clinical Practice internship, Lisa worked at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, where she assisted women of color who are survivors of intimate partner violence.

Anne-Sophie Plume is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts from the New York Studio School, where she is described as a terrific artist and natural leader with generosity of concern for all. She projects a unique combination of the humble and the strong. At an institution where all students consistently give of themselves, emotionally and physically, a community leader needs a fearlessness of spirit that will embolden the artistic mind – Anne-Sophie provides this. As a group leader she radiates responsibility and maturity.

Working with master craftspeople and as a trained engineer, Anne-Sophie crosses disciplines, and her ability to think laterally is impressive. Her actions and attitude continue to inspire her peers to stretch their ideas about what is possible and to strive for more. She has a presence of excellence and is determined to succeed honorably.

Mary Jo Torrecampo (MJ) is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts from the New York Academy of Art, where she is described as one of the most prolific student/artists. She is devoted to her studio practice and is most likely to be found there at all hours of the day. MJ comes from a long line of genre painters like Frans Hals and Gerhard ter Borsch, who capture life as we know it, warts and all. By updating this tradition, MJ breathes new life into it while maintaining its underlying political punch, leaving the viewer with a sense that not much has changed in our human interactions over the years. MJ is a dedicated scholar, thoughtful and driven community member, and exemplary second-year mentor for MFA first-year and certificate of fine arts students. Her passion for her craft, kind spirit, and proactive cultivation of community and student equality makes her an excellent candidate for this year’s President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership.

Maryann Younger is a seminarian at the General Theological Seminary, where she is described as truly embracing the formational and educational curricula of the seminary. She is dedicated to the rigorous demands of daily spiritual practice, which includes twice daily communal worship and prayer, and has served in an important role of leadership as a co-chief sacristan. Throughout her studies, she has admirably managed to prepare for her own future vocation while staying grounded in the community from which she was sent. She maintains a regular VLOG whereby she remains connected with her sending parish, informing them of what she’s learned and experienced at seminary in order that – despite the distance – her relationship to home is sustained. She also took on a significant position over the summer as a Seminarian in Residence at St. Alban’s Church in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. During the summer she spent 10 to 12 weeks of full-time parish work in a position that functioned as an intense mini-curacy, involving all features of parish life from the mundane to the transformative. The Rector of St Alban’s commented that, “Maryann proved to be one of the most delightful and successful seminarians of the decade, having offered energy and grace and creativity to St. Alban’s that will be appreciated for some time.”

Past Leadership Award Recipients

  • 2018: Ithamar Grace Turenne
    2018: Ithamar Grace Turenne
    Columbia School of Nursing
  • 2017:Anne Marie Witchger
    2017:Anne Marie Witchger
    General Theological Seminary
  • 2016: Breanna Joinier
    2016: Breanna Joinier
    Sophie Davis School of Biomedical
    Education, City College of New York
  • 2015: Ofia Begum
    2015: Ofia Begum
    John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • 2014: Angela Cipolla (Robidoux)
    2014: Angela Cipolla (Robidoux)
    General Theological Seminary
  • 2013: Sheina Theodore
    2013: Sheina Theodore
    Sophie Davis School of Biomedical
    Education, City College of New York