Megan Vaz, Contributing Photographer

Several Yale and New Haven community members were honored at the Seton Elm-Ivy Awards for their work building bonds between the city and University.

Presented by Mayor Justin Elicker and University President Peter Salovey, the awards highlighted a diverse range of efforts to contribute to the Elm City. These initiatives included educational training programs for Yalies and New Haveners seeking to serve local public schools, job support systems for residents going into the bioscience and technology sectors, efforts to promote academic life throughout the city and a mutual aid program helping those experiencing economic hardship.

Elm Awards are traditionally given to New Haven groups or individuals, while Ivy Awards traditionally go to Yale affiliates. The awards, which have been presented annually for the past four decades, briefly took a hiatus before resuming on Tuesday for the first time since 2018.

“I think I’m particularly mindful of wanting to be a good citizen, because I have lived now for a little more than two years in the Dwight area, along with a lot of students,” undergraduate awardee Josie Steuer Ingall ’24 told the News. “I think the best thing that we can do is think about how we can consciously practice citizenship and being good neighbors in ways that are independent of Yale.”

Steuer Ingall oversees and publicly advocates for the Dwight Community Fridge, which directly provides people with fresh food, sanitary products and other necessities to fight food insecurity in the community. Under her supervision, the fridge has been able to secure donations from hundreds of New Haveners and Yale affiliates, benefiting those who may not have access to traditional food banks.

Sabrina Breland, principal of the East Rock Community & Cultural Studies Magnet School, received an award alongside Ron Coleman, a math coach and mentor at the school. Breland and Coleman’s “brainchild” — an after-school math intervention training program for students — has recruited and trained Yale students as assistants to New Haven teachers, giving them enrichment mentorship opportunities where they can work directly with public school students.

Breland emphasized the importance of supporting students as schools recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created gaps in learning. Currently, the program looks to continue its work in the coming years despite cuts to previously-secured funding.

“Right now, we’re working with the district and with our partnership with Yale to make sure we can continue to support our students, because they have huge gaps because of Covid,” Breland said. “I think we offer so much to our city, and so does Yale. And I think together, we’re working to make it a better place for all of our students.”

Another after-school program, run by Gladys Mwilelo of Integrated Refugees and Immigration Services, paired local refugee students with Yale mentors, students and organizations during the pandemic to promote enrichment and arts education. The Ulysses S. Grant Foundation, which is directed by Yale and New Haven community members, also received an award for its summer academic program for local students.

Other awardees included Josie Jayworth GRD ’24 and Lam Vo GRD ’26, who promote science learning for families and students across New Haven through the Open Labs program. Open Labs has hosted public events including science fairs, interactive demonstrations and conversations with experienced Yale scientists.

Craig Crews, the John C. Malone Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, received an award for his business contributions to New Haven’s emerging biosciences hub, especially with regards to connecting locals with job opportunities.

“It’s been a real pleasure to be able to translate some of that academic work into the private sector through starting some companies,” Crews said. “The last four companies that I started, I wanted to happen here locally. We’re trying to find out how to open doors for those parts of our community that are underserved and giving them opportunities.”

Heather Dawn Reynolds, lecturer at the Yale School of Nursing, was also given an Ivy Award. Reynolds, who has worked extensively with New Haven’s Board of Health, has taken steps to boost health equity in the city and provide families with health education. 

Yale affiliates Matt Jacobson, Sterling Professor of American Studies and History, and Karin Roffman, Senior Lecturer in Humanities, English and American Studies, were honored for their work with the Public Humanities at Yale program. Public Humanities at Yale has academically engaged New Haveners through events ranging from museum exhibitions to book club meetings, often working with public libraries. 

“I’m always looking for new ways that we can cooperate. We want Yale to be the most civically engaged university,” Salovey said at the event. “I am thrilled with all of the ways in which partnerships have developed and are developing.”

The first Elm-Ivy Awards were held in 1980.

Megan Vaz is the former city desk editor. She previously covered Yale-New Haven relations and Yale unions, additionally serving as an audience desk staffer.