Two receive top public service award

May 22, 2012 5:45 AM

Fran Simon

Two graduates — Lea Bogner and Laura White — who have distinguished themselves by embodying the best practices in civic engagement have received the top award for public service at Tulane University.

Commencement Bar

Runsdorf Award Winners

Laura White, left, and Lea Bogner received the Jim Runsdorf Excellence in Public Service Student Award at Tulane, recognized for being committed, compassionate leaders. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentanto)

The Jim Runsdorf Excellence in Public Service Student Award recognizes undergraduates who demonstrate social responsibility and awareness of community needs through significant service contributions. Lee and Lucette Runsdorf of New York established the award in memory of their son, a Tulane alumnus who loved his four years at Tulane and was interested in public service, his mother said.

The Tulane Center for Public Service is an example for programs elsewhere around the country, said Lucette Runsdorf, who is impressed that public service is required for all undergraduates.

“Young people need to have a social consciousness,” she said.

Bogner, of Somers, N.Y., has chaired Outreach Tulane, the annual day of public service involving hundreds of Tulane students working throughout New Orleans, and chaired the Community Action Council of Tulane University Students and the Undergraduate Student Government Community Service Council.

She received the UGL Services Community Service Scholarship to support her work with CACTUS. Bogner co-founded a tutoring program for at-risk youth and volunteered with Epifania, a community support agency in Valparaiso, Chile. Selected by Teach For America, she will teach middle-school English at KIPP Believe College Prep in uptown New Orleans.

White, of Johns Creek, Ga., has been active in TUchangemakers, the Public Service Fellows Program and the Benjamin Banneker Elementary School charter board. White founded Swim 4 Success, a program that provides free swimming lessons to children in low-income families, and co-founded Citizen Circles, which supports self-directed students around the world.

After graduation, White will work with the Ashoka Foundation in Washington, D.C., on the new Empathy Initiative that seeks to make empathy as important as traditional subjects like math and literacy in schools.



Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000