2020 PACE Conference 049-barnhill award

Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award

Created in 2011 to honor John H. Barnhill, the founding executive director of NC Campus Compact (see History), the Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award is given to ONE  student from the statewide network. Nominees — one per campus — must be undergraduate students in their final year. The Civic Trailblazer should demonstrate innovation in civic engagement, work to integrate their service into campus structures, inspire others to serve, and make a meaningful impact on campus or community.

During an even-numbered year the winner is recognized in the fall at the CSNAP Conference. During an odd-numbered year the winner is recognized in the fall during the virtual Engagement Matters ceremony for student award winners. The winner is also recognized each spring during the PACE Conference.

Now Accepting Nominations for 2023!

We are currently accepting nominations for the 2023 Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award. Please review the Nomination Process (below) before submitting. This year, the award will be presented at the CSNAP Student Conference on November 4th, 2023. Please note that the Barnhill Award and the CISA now use different forms.

Nomination deadline: October 6, 2023.

2022 Civic Trailblazer - Kamren Lewis

Kamren Lewis, a senior at UNC Pembroke, majoring in Social Work, was honored during the virtual “Engagement Matters” Student Awards Ceremony on November 18. View the video to see Kamren’s thoughts on what he has learned from being civically engaged.

Nomination Process

  • Nominations open the second week in August. The deadline is the first week in October.
  • Faculty or Staff member completes an online nomination form.
  • Nominator submits letter(s) of support on office letterhead to ncce {at} ncengage(.)org as well as the nominees resume.
  • Nominator submits print-quality headshot image (300 dpi or larger) of student as .jpeg or .png file to ncce {at} ncengage(.)org

Please note that the Community Impact Student Award now uses a separate nomination form.

Note: Nominators may tell their nominee that they have been nominated for this award. NCCE will inform all nominators of the selected winner.

  • Nominee must be an undergraduate student in his/her final year at a member campus
  • Can be current nominees or former winners of the Community Impact Student Award
  • Each member campus may submit only one nominee
  • Both nominators and nominees must attend the CSNAP student conference  (even-numbered years) or the PACE conference (odd-numbered years)
  • Campuses are encouraged to have a special awards presentation on their campus


Past Trailblazers

2021 – Aigné Taylor, NC A & T State University

2020 – Brian Thompson, Warren Wilson College

2019 – Neariah Mandisa-Drummond, UNC Charlotte

2018 – Zaynah Afada, Guilford College

2017 –Brian Wuertz, Warren Wilson College

2016 – Jenny Fukunaga, Elon University

2015 – Kate Gatterdam, Queens University of Charlotte

2014 – Aaron Marshall, Western Carolina University

2013 – Amanda Moore, Appalachian State University

2012 – Rachel Stanley, Elon University

2011 – Morgan Abbott, UNC-Chapel Hill and Sam Williams, Appalachian State University

About John Barnhill

John H. Barnhill serves as the Associate Vice President of University Advancement at Elon University. He works with a dynamic team of professionals leading the Alumni Engagement, Annual Giving, Parent Engagement, Advancement Communications, Advancement Services and Donor Relations departments. Often acting as a liaison for Advancement; he serves on the Vice President’s leadership team to oversee divisional priorities and provides leadership to Academic Deans to increase strategic engagement of alumni and parents. In 2010, he led the effort to create a strategic plan for alumni, which laid the current foundation of Elon’s vibrant alumni network. Seeking to further engage Elon’s broadening alumni base, John conceived and piloted #ElonDay in 2014, an annual Day of Giving for the university. Since then, John has spearheaded nine successful ‘Elon Days’, the raising over $16.5M and creating a pattern of support from all constituents.

John also draws from his experience serving as Salem State University’s Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement. While there, he managed a team of 17 staff members, served on the President’s leadership team and co-chaired Salem State’s five-year strategic planning committee. Under his leadership, annual alumni events and activities doubled, the number of $1,000 donors grew 67% and the office of Institutional Advancement rebranded their marketing materials.

Graduating from Elon in 1992, John started his professional career at Elon and has led a number of programmatic efforts that remain critical to Elon’s success. In 2002, he served as the founding Executive Director of North Carolina Campus Compact (now named North Carolina Campus Engagement), a collaborative network of 37 colleges and universities committed to educating engaged citizens and strengthening communities. Earlier as the Assistant Dean of Students, he directed the Residence Life and Service Learning departments and co-created the Experiential Learning Requirement. As the Director of Service Learning and Leadership Development, he oversaw the endowment and creation of the nationally recognized Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement. In the same role, he created the student leadership model, which involves students in progressive responsibility for coordination of both leadership and service programs. As a student, with Chaplain Emeritus Richard McBride, he started Elon’s campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Elon Volunteers! (EV!).

John holds a Masters of Education from UNC Greensboro and lives with his wife and two daughters in Greensboro, NC.


John Barnhill