Recognizing the 2020 LEAD Award Recipients

Published May 14, 2020

Student Engagement announced the recipients of its annual LEAD (Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy and Development) Awards. The LEAD Awards are designed to recognize individuals and/or organizations who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership, service, and community development.

LEAD Awards


Outstanding Campus Impact: UB School of Dental Medicine Arts Club
The UBSDM Art Club was created in 2018 to be a multi-faceted avenue for dental students to change the atmosphere of the dental school and give back to the community. Their most impactful on-campus event has been the UB Dental School mural. Faculty, staff, and students were excited to help create this 15-foot by 15-foot piece, and leave their mark on the school forever. 

Emerging Student Leader: Netra Mittal
Netra Mittal
worked to elevate Debate Society to a place it hadn’t reached before: fostering important relationships and connections within and outside of the club. As a result, the club won its first qualifiers award at the University of Vermont under her leadership and has seen an increase of participation from UB students. 

Exemplary Student Leader: Ahsanul Haque and Taylor Naumovski
Under Ahsanul Haque’s leadership, guidance, and delegation of responsibilities, the Muslim Student Association has been run in an extremely organized and effective manner. He urged club members to stay involved and do plenty of community service including hosting a Walk to South Campus in the fall semester to raise awareness for human rights. 

Since 2018, Taylor Naumovski has been involved with Advocates for Girl’s Education and most recently served as the president of the organization. Through her involvement with Advocates for Girls’ Education, Taylor volunteered at Vive Shelter for Asylum Seekers in Buffalo and worked closely with the Girls Education Collaborative, a local nonprofit that raises money for a school in rural Tanzania, Africa. 


Dorothy M. Haas Community Engagement: Jon Bessette and Madeline Donegan
Jon Bessette
served as an Alternative Break Team Leader for a Student Engagement trip to the Dominican Republic. Leading by example—Jon is hard working, willing to listen, and enthusiastically shares his passions for learning and serving. Additionally, Jon is a 2020 recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

Madeline Donegan independently and voluntarily designed and carried out a program for Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) titled "WiSE Workshop: Intro to Technical Projects." . Additionally, Madeline’s participation in the Society of Women Engineers has compounded her dedication to the success of fellow women in engineering. Not only is she a self-motivated learner with a true passion for problem solving, she is a spirited leader. 

Outstanding Community Impact Award: Lambda Chi Alpha
Established in 2016, Lambda Chi Alpha has dedicated itself to the betterment of its members, the campus, and the community. One of Lambda Chi Alpha’s seven core values is the combination of service & stewardship. Last fall semester, they were able to donate 420 pounds of food to FeedMore WNY and raise hundreds of dollars for the Movember Foundation to raise awareness for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.

UB Pride & Service Award: Claire Breslin
Claire Breslin
has made a lasting impact on her peers as well as the UB and Buffalo community. She was involved on campus as a Ready…Set…Buffalo! participant, Student Engagement Ambassador, Alternative Break Team Leader, member of the Outdoor Pursuits club, Oozefest volunteer and was very academically focused. 


Exceptional Community Partner Award: Tool Library
Projects with the Tool Library stand out because they have allowed students to help the organization and the community in innovative ways that deepen students' understanding of both non-profit organizations and of the needs of the local community.

Distinguished Ally Award: Rutuja Sawant
Rutuja (“Rue”) Sawant
led the planning of last year’s UB Pride parade, and continued to demonstrate top notch leadership in the coordination of a faculty-staff-student steering committee for the 2020 Pride festivities. Rue’s commitment to fostering a diverse and safe place for all students at UB is clearly illustrated in the attention and energy they devoted to lifting UB’s inaugural Pride festivities off the ground in 2019. 

Social Justice Program Award: Matt Taboni
Since starting at UB in 2017, Matt Taboni has been an active member of the UB Community. Most notably, he currently serves as the RHA President and as a LEAD Peer Mentor for Leadership Development in Leadership House. In the fall of 2018, Matt was selected to serve as an undergraduate student representative on a task force to examine food insecurity among students on the UB campus.

UB The Impact Challenge Award: Maisha Rahman:
Maisha Rahman has collected 596.5 hours of service, mostly through REACH, a nonprofit impact organization in Roanoke, Virginia that stands for Real Experiences Affecting CHange. Maisha worked as a Summer Service Camp Counselor. In this role, she ensured proper supervision, safety and security of approximately 12 assigned REACHers (campers).



Emerging Faculty/Staff Mentor Award: Stephanie Sortino
Stephanie Sortino
is a second-year Graduate Student in the Higher Education program at the University at Buffalo and currently serves as the Graduate Assistant for the Residence Hall Association. Stephanie is not only her student’s greatest supporter and cheerleader, but she also works closely with each one of them and continues to help grow and develop the Residence Hall Association.

Exemplary Faculty/Staff Mentor Award: Jim Mauck
Director of Athletic Bands Jim Mauck empowers student leaders to take on responsibility for their organization and section performance and encourages them to be their very best. Band alumni return to campus annually to thank Jim for the role he played in their UB story and their personal success. The UB Marching Band is the largest music ensemble at the University at Buffalo and this year they will celebrate 100 years of existence.

For more information on Student Life award opportunities:

Student Engagement

Student Life

University at Buffalo
150 Student Union, North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260

Phone: (716) 645-6469