Community Hero Award 2017 (renamed Community Champion Award)

Melissa Garcia, Ed ‘13

Melissa Garcia graduated from the School of Education with Master of Science degree in Educational Studies in 2013. As a part of the Teach for America program, Melissa began teaching fourth grade at the Barclay Elementary-Middle School.  Barclay is one of Hopkins Homewood Community Partnership Schools, a STEAM school with a specific focus on engineering. Within a few short years, she became a core part and leader of the implementation of STEM achievement in the Baltimore Elementary Schools Initiative, a joint project with the Hopkins School of Education, Whiting School of Engineering, and Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.  In November of 2015, Hopkins opened a new multi-million dollar engineering lab at Barclay, the first pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school to offer engineering and computer sciences. Melissa now teaches STEM exclusively in this lab and has her students participate in the science fair that occurs every year. Their enthusiastic work has included projects addressing wind energy, water pollution, and recycling.  She has been able to introduce engineering and other science subjects that her students would most likely never have experienced otherwise.  Her passion, dedication and commitment to her students does not stop at the end of the school day.  Melissa recently launched the first Baltimore city chapter of “Girls on the Run” at Barclay, and works with students afterschool and even keeps in touch with those that move to another school. She is also actively involved in the Maryland Zoo’s Education Advisory Board, and was honored by the Daily Record as one of the 2015 “20 in Their Twenties” winners.


Sarah Hemminger, Engr ’02, Med ‘10

Sarah Hemminger is the founder of Thread (formerly the Incentive Mentoring Program), a Baltimore based organization whose mission is to support underperforming high school students confronted with significant barriers outside of the classroom by providing them with a family of committed volunteers and community resources. Thread empowers struggling teenagers to break the cycle of poverty, drugs, and lack of education by surrounding them with “Families” of 6-10 mentors who fill critical gaps in academic and social support. To date, 97% of Thread students have graduated from high school and matriculated to college and over 600 graduate and medical students have served as mentors.  Sarah now serves as Thread’s CEO and actively participates as a volunteer leader within the organization. She is viewed as a leader in the field of social entrepreneurship. Sarah was awarded fellowships from Ashoka, Echoing Green Foundation, Open Society Institute, and the Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program, which support social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.


Jane Oski, Med ’91, BSPH ‘09

Dr. Oski has been practicing general pediatrics and public health on the Navajo Nation since 1994. She has been involved in “traditionalist” care providing inpatient and outpatient care as well as school-based care for teens in Tuba City, AZ. Under her leadership, the school- based clinics began providing tele-behavioral health to address a significant unmet need.  Jane and her many dedicated colleagues have worked to address the food environment on the Navajo Nation, access to community exercise programs, focused obesity treatment and prevention services, injury prevention, immunization delivery, and expanded access to both autism screening and behavioral health care to improve the health and lives of children and teens from the Native American tribes of the American Southwest. She has worked as an advocate for indigenous children at the local, tribal, state, and national level through her membership on the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Native American Child Health. Her greatest pride comes from the work she has been engaged in with the communities of the Navajo and Hopi tribes and partnering with her long-term colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health.


James Peters, Ed ’06

James is a 2006 Masters of Science in Educational Studies graduate of the School of Education. He currently teaches English and also leads the food pantry at the Vivien Thomas Medical Arts Academy. James collects and distributes food items for needy families within the community. The School Food Pantry Program is an innovative partnership between the Maryland Food Bank and Baltimore City Public Schools. Its goal is to minimize hunger and malnutrition among low-income and food-insecure households, while increasing school community involvement among parents who might not otherwise take an active role in their children’s education. James can often be found on school campuses where he is an educator, community liaison, mentor, and facilitator. He has led successful programs in career and academic mentoring by hosting speakers, workshops, community days, and activities.  In January of 2017 he helped organize the annual health fair and in fall 2016, the school community festival. He setup the Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy Family and Community Engagement webpage and continues to promote the school on social media.  He serves as a role model for us and for others in our community.


William Tiefenwerth, Former Homewood Administration

Bill Tiefenwerth was the creator and steward of community engagement for students at Homewood from the time he arrived on campus in 1979 until his retirement in 2013. He established the Center for Social Concern as the community engagement center for the JHU campus.  During his tenure, through the Hopkins Tutorial Project and over 60 other student-driven initiatives, nearly 30,000 Johns Hopkins undergrads gained real-world experience and delivered valuable services, working directly with children and adults from city neighborhoods. Bill encouraged students to develop proposals for community service. He helped them refine their ideas, locate community partners, and win grants to support their efforts. It was critical to Bill that the Center for Social Concern emphasized the value of service with others, rather than the commonly accepted concept of service to others. In his vision the volunteer and client enter into an educational process where both benefit from the interaction and reciprocal learning is common ground for all initiatives. Bill is an inspiration to all at Johns Hopkins and his dedication to the community has helped build a successful relationship.