2015 Lynton Award Finalists

NERCHE and the Center for Engaged Democracy at Merrimack College are pleased to recognize eight finalists for the 2015 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty.  These finalists were selected from an impressive pool of nominees, all of whom are pushing the boundaries of community-engaged teaching, research/creative activity, and service in fundamentally new directions. 

The Award recipient will be announced in early August 2015, and the Award will be presented at the 4th Annual Lynton Colloquium on the Scholarship of Engagement on November 14, 2015, at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  (Register for the Lynton Colloquium here.)

The Award recipient will also be recognized at the 21st Annual Conference of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), "A Love of Place: The Metropolitan Advantage," which will be held from October 11-13, 2015, in Omaha, Nebraska. CUMU is a co-sponsor of the Award.

Lynton Award Finalists


Eric DeMeulenaere
Education Department
Clark University

Eric DeMeulenaere is an Assistant Professor of Urban Schooling in Clark University’s Education Department. Prior to joining Clark University’s faculty, he taught middle and high school social studies and English and coached soccer in Oakland and San Francisco, CA.  In 2004, he co-founded and directed an innovative small public school in East Oakland that focused on social justice and increased academic outcomes for youth of color.  Before opening the school, Dr. DeMeulenaere earned his Ph.D. in the Social and Cultural Studies Program at U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education.  He has consulted with urban school leaders and teachers nationally and internationally to transform their pedagogical practices and organizational school cultures. His research employs participatory action research and narrative inquiry methods and draws extensively from critical theory to examine how to create more effective and liberatory learning spaces for urban youth.   He is co-author of Reflections from the Field: How Coaching Made Us Better Teachers. 



Robert Glover
Department of Political Science and Honors College
University of Maine

Robert W. Glover, an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Honors at the University of Maine, teaches courses in political science, public policy, as well as the interdisciplinary honors curriculum. Glover holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. At the University of Maine, he has developed a policy studies sequence where undergraduate students work with community partners to collaboratively envision, design, and execute applied policy research that enhances democracy through its impact on public policy and decision-making. In the sequence, research teams have tackled issues such as the “town-gown” divide, fostering local economic development, or understanding what factors encourage young professionals to stay locally in areas experiencing demographic decline. In addition, he was worked with state and national partners on complex challenges such as poverty and immigration policy. He was awarded the 2014 Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence from Maine Campus Compact. In addition, the Maine State Legislature has recognized Glover for his innovative work in engaged policy studies. His research on community engagement, participatory democracy, and public policy has been published in numerous academic journals and scholarly publications.  


Hordge Freeman

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman
Sociology; Institute for the Study of Latin America & the Caribbean
University of South Florida

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman is Assistant Professor of Sociology with a joint appointment in the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean at The University of South Florida (USF). She received her B.A from Cornell University, and her M.A./Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University.  

Dr. Hordge-Freeman’s first book, The Color of Love: Racial Features, Stigma, and Socialization in Black Brazilian Families, is slated for publication with UT Press (November 2015).  Her work is published in the Journal of Marriage and Family and Ethnic & Racial Studies, and her co-edited book with Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, Race and the Politics of Knowledge Production, is under contract with Palgrave. With funding from a Fulbright grant, Ruth Landes Memorial Fund, and the American Sociological Association, Hordge-Freeman’s new project, “Second-Class Daughters” will examine how informal adoptions in Brazil serve to exploit Brazilian women in slave-like conditions in their “adoptive” homes.  

In 2014, Hordge-Freeman launched a global service-learning program in collaboration with Instituto Steve Biko and Brazil Cultural in Bahia, Brazil. In 2014, she was received the USF Outstanding Community-Engaged Teaching Award.  This year, she was awarded the McKnight Junior Faculty Development Fellowship and the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Junior Faculty Research Award.


ShlaferRebecca Shlafer
Pediatrics; Developmental Child Psychology
University of Minnesota

Rebecca Shlafer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. She received her PhD in Child Psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, and her bachelors and masters degrees in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Shlafer's community-engaged research focuses on the health and development of incarcerated parents and their minor children. She is particularly interested in risk and protective factors that influence the developmental outcomes of children with a parent in prison, as well as the programs and policies that impact families affected by incarceration. She has taught a number of child psychology courses, including an honor’s seminar on mass incarceration and its impact on American families. In addition to her academic work, Dr. Shlafer is a volunteer guardian ad litem; in this role she advocates for the best interest of abused and neglected children in juvenile court. Combined, her research, teaching and scholarship reflect a deep commitment to community-engagement.  


SparksShannon Sparks
Civic Society and Community Studies and American Indian Studies Program; Applied Medical Anthropology 
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Shannon Sparks, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Society and Community Studies in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Human Ecology.  She holds a joint appointment with the American Indian Studies Program and also works with Program Development and Evaluation at University of Wisconsin-Extension.  Dr. Sparks was trained as a cultural and medical anthropologist at the University of Arizona, where she received her doctorate in 2007.  She is an applied, qualitative researcher who utilizes community-based approaches to examine issues related to health disparities and health equity from a social justice perspective.  She approaches health disparities in partnership with communities according to their needs and priorities utilizing culturally-informed, strengths-based approaches to health promotion that simultaneously build community capacity to address health concerns and make concrete differences in health outcomes in the community.  While at UW-Madison, she has partnered with a number of minority and underserved communities around the state on a variety of issues including cancer health disparities, disparities in birth outcomes, barriers to health care access, health care decision making, lay health education, patient navigation, and youth health messengers.


Sprague Martinez

Linda Sprague Martinez
Macro Practice Department; Social Work, Public Health
Boston University School of Social Work

Linda S. Sprague Martinez, PhD is a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Macro Community Practice at the Boston University School of Social Work. In addition, she holds an appointment at Tufts University in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine.  Her work is focused on how assets can be recognized and leveraged by communities to improve living environments and health. She is specifically interested in examining culturally relevant organizing and development strategies to tackle health inequities. Community and youth engaged approaches to intervention are central to her work. Dr. Sprague Martinez has expertise in urban health; community, student and youth engaged research; photovoice; community assessment and mobilization; and qualitative research methods and analyses. She currently co-directs a community-engaged study exploring transnationalism, culture and health among Brazilian and Dominican immigrants in MA funded the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and supported by the National Institute on Minority Health And Health Disparities 


TiekenMara Tieken
Bates College

Mara Casey Tieken is an assistant professor of education at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Her research focuses on racial and educational equity in rural schools and communities. Her book Why rural schools matter (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) is an ethnographic study of two rural southern communities. Examining how rural schools define and sustain their surrounding communities, it counters stereotypes of rural deficiency and decline, revealing the complexity and vibrancy of rural institutions and places. Mara is currently working on a multi-year project, supported by a grant from the Spencer Foundation, that explores the college aspirations, transitions, and persistence of rural, first-generation students. 

Mara also studies community organizing for education reform; she works with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, where she supports organizing efforts in rural New England. 

At Bates, Mara teaches classes on school reform and racial equity; through fieldwork, her students partner with local teachers and after-school providers to expand educational opportunity in Lewiston. She has worked with a number of local organizations to provide professional development and build public awareness on relevant educational issues, like college access and rural schooling, and she also serves on the boards of several community organizations and foundations. 

Before receiving her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Mara taught third grade at a public elementary school in rural Tennessee. 



Alma Trinidad
School of Social Work
Portland State University    

Alma M.O. Trinidad, PhD, MSW is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Portland State University (PSU), and has served in a shared position with University Studies (PSU’s general education program).  She earned her PhD in social welfare from the University of Washington, Seattle, and her MSW from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with a concentration in community organization and social policy.  She also earned her BSW from the University of Hawai'i, Manoa. Dr. Trinidad is a macro social worker and scholar activist. She brings an array of work in community organizing, health promotion, and education among diverse communities that impact children, youth, and families. Her scholarly work focuses on critical Indigenous pedagogy of place, youth empowerment, social determinants of health, multicultural education, youth and family participatory action research, social movements, and leadership and mentorship for social change. Other research and teaching interests include community practice and culturally responsible research and evaluation methods.  She has published her work in Polymath, Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, Journal of Pacific Studies, Journal of Indigenous Social Development, and Hulili: Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-Being. Dr. Trinidad  is a former Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) fellow, and a former National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Prevention Research Trainee.  In her spare time, Dr. Trinidad enjoys spending quality time with her family, especially her two small children, scrapbooking and crafts, photography, sightseeing, nature walks, and learning cultural dance.


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