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At the annual Public Service Awards event held on April 15, Ryan Lavalley, post-doctoral research associate in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, was among 11 individuals and one organization honored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for outstanding contributions to the campus and broader communities. This year’s event was held virtually; a video recording of the event is available online.

Ryan Lavalley
Ryan Lavalley

Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS) Director Lynn Blanchard noted that UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz often says, “While we are formally known as the University of North Carolina … We might better be known as the University for North Carolina.”

“That is apparent in considering the many individuals and communities across North Carolina who have benefitted from the teaching, research and service of this year’s award winners,” Blanchard said. “They, in turn, represent the many other students, faculty and staff who engage in some way with the state every day to make a difference.”

At the ceremony, CCPS presented the following awards: Ned Brooks Award for Public Service, Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards and Robert E. Bryan Public Service Awards. Lavalley received an Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award in the category of partnership, which honors individuals and campus units for public service through engaged teaching, research and partnership.

Lavalley, and Master of Public Health (MPH) student, Morgan Cooper, RD, were selected for their innovative work in partnership with the Orange County Partnerships for Home Preservation, the Orange County Department on Aging and the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, in support of home preservation and repair and aging-in-community.

Lavalley coordinates community initiatives with UNC’s Partnerships in Aging Program (PiAP). As such, he is the project manager of the Department on Aging’s Handy Helper Program and the coordinator for the Orange County Home Preservation Coalition, both of which aim to improve housing quality in the community. Since August 2019, Lavalley has served as the “community mentor,” or supervisor, for Cooper’s UNC PiAP internship with the Department on Aging. He also served a preceptor for Cooper’s Gillings Public Health Practicum, in the form of a program evaluation for the Home Preservation Coalition. Cooper then became a steward for university-community partnership, leveraging her position as a UNC Gillings student to complete work in service of improved housing in Orange County.

Through his position at UNC PiAP, Lavalley also supports robust community-university partnerships with the Marian Cheek Jackson Center. He provides leadership to signature programs including the Northside Living Learning Household, LINK: Linking Generations in Northside and the Elder Power Team, which create opportunities for students and neighbors to explore issues related to aging, housing and racial equity. Together, Lavalley and Cooper support community networks and cultivate age-friendly communities.

Other winners of CCPS public service awards include:

Ned Books Award – Anita Brown-Graham

Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award

  • Teaching – Anna Krome-Lukens
  • Partnership – Karla Slocum and Mark Little

Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award

  • Undergraduate – Ricardo Crespo-Regalado
  • Graduate – Barbara Sostaita
  • Staff – Dawna Jones
  • Faculty – Shannon Tufts
  • Organization – Carolina COVID-19 Student Services Corps

The Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is housed in the Department Allied Health Sciences.

CCPS is a pan-University unit that engages and supports the faculty, students and staff of UNC-Chapel Hill in meeting the needs of North Carolina and beyond. For the past 21 years, the Center has strengthened the University’s public service commitment by promoting scholarship and service that are responsive to the concerns of the state and contribute to the common good. Public Service Awards Press Release