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Bryan award recipients stand with awards

The Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award honors the memory and accomplishments of alumnus Robert E. Bryan ’26 of Newton Grove, N.C., who worked his way through the University to become a successful businessman, entrepreneur and public servant.

Five Bryan Awards will be given for a specific effort (rather than an overall record) exemplifying outstanding engagement and service to the state of North Carolina that is characterized by:

  • working in partnership with community members,
  • inspiring and involving others, and/or helping others to serve,
  • responding to a practical problem, issue or concern of the state and
  • working to assure the impact in the community is lasting.

Bryan awards will be given to recognize an outstanding

  • undergraduate student,
  • graduate student,
  • faculty member,
  • staff member and
  • officially recognized student organization.

Recipients receive a $500 award and recognition at the annual Public Service Awards ceremony. Self-nominations and previous recipients of this award are not eligible. To view a list of past recipients, click the “Previous Award Recipients” button at the bottom of this page.

Nominations for the 2022 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award will open in December 2021 and close in February 2022. Apply online through the CCPS Application and Nomination Portal.

2021 Award Recipients


Ricardo Crespo-Regalado, for work and leadership as the Director of Interpreting at the Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC), a student-run free health clinic in Carrboro, NC. When COVID-19 halted SHAC’s operations and forced in-person clinic visits to cease, Crespo-Regalado helped to spearhead SHAC’s efforts to initiate a multilingual telehealth program. He worked to ensure that the hundreds of wellness check-in calls that SHAC made to its patients were able to reach all patients, regardless of native tongue. Without his leadership and herculean efforts to recruit, train and organize a large team of interpreters, SHAC’s sizable population of patients for whom English is not their first language would not have been able to receive care this year. In addition to serving as director of interpreting, Crespo-Regalado is also a de facto cultural liaison. Having navigated the process of receiving DACA protection at a young age and worked alongside family members in tobacco fields, Crespo-Regalado lends valuable insights on cultural barriers to which SHAC organizers may have previously been blind. Additionally, in his free time, Crespo-Regalado regularly helps to call many of SHAC’s Spanish-speaking patients to follow up about medication access, appointment reminders and vital social work needs.


Sostaita headshotBarbara Sostaita, for leadership of UndocuCarolina and work to generate a well-informed public dialogue on the topic of immigration and build a more inclusive and just community for all. In fall 2018, Sostaita and her collaborators received support from UNC’s Humanities for the Public Good Initiative to found UndocuCarolina, an initiative that works to increase visibility, support and resources for undocumented members of the Carolina Community. With renewed funding in 2019 and 2020, UndocuCarolina has conducted ally trainings, community roundtables and scholarly lectures. UndocuCarolina has educated thousands of students, administrators, staff, faculty and community members about the unique challenges of living while undocumented. Sostaita also led the creation of a new website,, which is now integrated into UNC’s Student Services platform. In sum, Sostaita has catalyzed the creation of a robust community of support for undocumented students, faculty and staff as well as for U.S. citizen students from mixed-status families. UndocuCarolina has been adopted by the Carolina Latinx Center and LatinxEd and will continue beyond Barbara’s spring 2021 graduation, thanks to her selfless commitment to the community.


Jones headshotDawna Jones, for leadership of the Carolina Black Caucus, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP and specifically the NAACP community transformation and civic engagement internship and work study program. In 2018, Jones was nominated by her peers to chair the Carolina Black Caucus, an affinity group created to engage, empower, celebrate and advocate for Black faculty, staff and students. Under her leadership, the CBC membership has grown by 87 percent. Furthermore, as chair of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, Jones worked to form partnerships with EmPOWERment Inc. and UNC-Chapel Hill to create a leadership experience for UNC-Chapel Hill students. The result of those partnerships is known as the NAACP community transformation and civic engagement internship and work study program. This program enables six Carolina students to work with local community leaders, social justice activists and elected officials to help create and implement the strategic plan of the local NAACP in response to social justice issues and disparities in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community. In its inaugural phase, student participants produced 20 policy briefings detailing current events, legislation and/or social justice advocacy issues, proposed actions for the NAACP and compiled research on what populations are most impacted. A sampling of projects tackled by students in the program: a social media campaign on the impacts of student loan debt on members of the Black community, an analysis of issues impacting mobile home park residents from an affordable housing and education standpoint, an analysis of the new presidential administration’s policy proposals and executive orders in relation to issues and concerns of people of color and a COVID-19 vaccination education panel. None of this would have been possible without Jones’ leadership.


Tufts headshotShannon Tufts, for direction of the Center for Public Technology (CPT) and specifically work on the Public Sector Cybersecurity Response Teams. Tufts has spent the last two decades addressing the needs of information technology professionals working in local and state government. The CPT was founded in 2000, and through that organization Tufts has worked closely with the North Carolina Local Government Information Systems Association to provide collaborative educational opportunities for government IT officials, with the goal of strengthening North Carolina communities through the appropriate use of information technology. Early on in her time at Carolina, Tufts also designed and implemented the first local government Certified Government Chief Information Officers (CGCIO™) program in the United States and continues to run CGCIO™ programs for local government, state agency, K-12 and community college IT professionals across the United States. The various CGCIO™ programs have graduated hundreds of IT professionals across the country. Tufts additionally teaches courses on public sector information systems, including IT investment strategies, embracing technology, project management and stakeholder engagement in technology-enabled government. She teaches as a core faculty member in the UNC Master of Public Administration program and serves on several federal, state and local government committees to promote the effective use of technology in the public sector.


Carolina COVID-19 Student Services Corps (CSSC), for serving as a centralized organizational structure at UNC-Chapel Hill that facilitates coordination across various academic and healthcare sectors to mitigate challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. This award was accepted by student leaders Katelyn Nicholson, Manas Tiwari and Emily Draper. CCSC was founded as an officially recognized student organization in the fall of 2020. With oversight from the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice, CSSC partnered with Carolina Center for Public Service (Buckley Public Service Scholars), Heel Life, UNC administration and the School of Medicine to identify volunteer and service-learning activities across the UNC-CH campus in order to provide support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through CCSC, more than 900 undergraduate and graduate student volunteers have led and served in roles at the asymptomatic testing centers, contact tracing, communication, data analysis, peer support and engagement. CSSC has ultimately built a network that increased the capability and capacity of UNC-Chapel Hill to connect students with volunteer opportunities that were especially challenging to find during the pandemic, and formed partnerships with existing networks to benefit the Carolina community. In the organization’s first month, students served more than 5,000 hours of their time. The student leaders of CSSC have built a sense of community during this unprecedented time.

2021-2022 Public Service Award Committee

Lynn Blanchard

Carolina Center for Public Service

Patricia Harris

School of Education

Meg Landfried

Department of Health Behavior

Ryan Lavalley

Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Josmell Perez

Carolina Latinx Center

Elena Vidrascu

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience; Graduate and Professional Student Government


For more information, contact Ryan Nilsen.