Sophomore, public policy and sociology major;
DU Environmental Team and sustainability committee member
Leading the way: She created DU’s Earth Day Summit, a 40th anniversary celebration that helped hundreds of students learn about their impact on the environment. By seeking support from DU faculty and from government, business and nonprofit leaders, and by enlisting volunteer teams to tackle specific tasks, Marshall ensured a pleasing mix of entertaining and educational programming. The event also offered Earth-friendly eco kits and raffle prizes.
In her own words: “I am an environmentalist; I like to make a difference and change things. Students should be more knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world. After attending the Earth Day Summit, I know of students who are now avid recyclers. Before, they didn’t know what recycling did or why it helped. I feel the work I do empowers people to change things and help themselves.”
Senior, political science major with minors in leadership, communication and Chinese; Puksta Scholar; El Pomar Fellow
Leading the way: He devised and jump-started an ongoing, sustainable service model that pairs fraternities and sororities with community groups. After observing how Greek organizations haphazardly volunteer their time, Close saw a way to make their efforts more systematic and effective. One sorority now tutors at Asbury Elementary School twice weekly, while a fraternity mentors South High School seniors. Close also rewrote the University’s Greek curricula to require that volunteer efforts be channeled through a sustainable partnership.
In his own words: “This model is all about working together. DU students are going out in the community and building relationships, which is the most important thing. I hope that after I leave the University, the sustainable community partnerships are still moving forward. If they aren’t, I didn’t teach people the process; I didn’t empower them to continue to change.”
Rebecca Love Kourlis
Executive director, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System
Leading the way: A former Colorado Supreme Court justice, Kourlis launched the institute in 2006. Since then, it has emerged as a nationally recognized center of credible research, offering innovative solutions in the area of court reform. The institute’s O’Connor Judicial Selection Initiative, a partnership with retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, has led to increased interest at the state level in moving from contested judicial elections toward appointment and retention systems, coupled with judicial performance evaluation. The institute also has teamed with the National Center for State Courts to measure civil rules reform and case-management pilot programs to create a database that fosters information sharing.
In her own words: “I am passionate about improving the court system. I believe that the courts are fundamentally important to our way of life. Yet the system is struggling, perhaps in dire trouble. I’ve spent my life in the courts and am dedicated to putting that experience toward designing solutions so that the system will survive for many more hundreds of years and will continue to guarantee and provide equal justice under law. It is my life’s work.”
Frank R. Ascione
Executive director, Institute for Human-Animal Connection; American Humane Endowed Chair and Professor, Graduate School of Social Work
Leading the way: Ascione’s internationally acclaimed studies have revealed the links among intimate partner violence, child abuse and animal maltreatment. His research and testimony have contributed to passage of potent new animal- and human-protection laws in several states. In April 2010, for example, Colorado enacted legislation stipulating that pets can be included in domestic restraining orders. This law gives law enforcement agencies and the courts new tools to protect society’s most vulnerable: abused women, children and pets.
In his own words: “I’ve been very blessed as an academic to see basic research findings impact how we deal with some significant social problems in our communities. What keeps me going is seeing how casting a light on some of these issues really does result in significant change in how we address these problems. That’s usually just a dream for an academic like myself.”
Graduate student Kelly Fenson-Hood shares her experiences in Kenya’s Kibera slum.
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