Known for her strong sense of integrity, conviction and passion, Queens University of Charlotte senior Sydney Stepney has excelled both inside and outside of the classroom. Her excellent character and commitment to humanitarian service has also earned her the 2021 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Queens.
Since 1948, Queens has selected individuals to receive the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for excellence of character and humanitarian service. Two awards are typically presented to recognize and honor a member of the graduating class, as well as a person or couple affiliated with the university who represent the highest ideals of both the university and society.
Judy and Paul Leonard were this year’s community recipients.
During her time at Queens, Stepney served as a resident assistant and then as head resident assistant during her junior and senior years. Her exemplary service and leadership in those roles led her to receive the 2020 Resident Assistant of the Year Award. Additionally, she tutored peers through the Roadmap Scholar program and served as a mentor through the L.E.A.D. (Learn, Empower, Act, Diversify) mentoring program and Transition to University (T2U) program.
An active member of the Black Student Union, she became one of the inaugural Racial Justice Fellows for the Charlotte Racial Justice Consortium. This group was charged with examining the city’s history with race and equality and leading healing projects in the community.
She was also a Charlotte AHEC Public Health Scholar, where she worked to improve the diversity of health professions and to support health system transformations across the state.
Stepney has received a full scholarship to Ohio State University’s Masters in Healthcare Administration program, where she will continue pursuing her goal to provide leadership that bridges the gap between health literacy and health equity.
The desire to serve and improve the lives of others has been a driving force for Judy and Paul Leonard throughout their lives and exemplifies the Queens motto, “Not to be Served, But to Serve.”
Judy Moore Leonard, a 1967 graduate of Queens, is a nurse by training, and in 1979 she made the first hospice call in Charlotte for Hospice and Palliative Care of the Charlotte Region. In her 15 years of hospice service, she helped build the foundation for the largest hospice in the Carolinas. Judy has been one of Queens’ most loyal alumni leaders, serving on the Queens Board of Trustees, as president of the Alumni Association Board, and on the Advisory Board of the Presbyterian School of Nursing and Blair College of Health.
Paul Leonard’s professional career began in ministry, where he led a non-traditional church that focused on community action and service. While there, Paul helped to organize Charlotte Fair Housing and served as its first president. He later left the traditional ministry to work with a city housing program and was later recruited by the John Crosland Company, where he served for many years in various executive leadership positions. After retiring, he used his extensive experience in the housing industry as a resource for service with Habitat for Humanity International, where he served as chairman of the board.
Judy has also been committed to creating fair housing opportunities for all citizens. She is a past board chair of Habitat Charlotte, and she also organized the first Women Build project for Our Towns Habitat. Together with Paul, she participated in eight Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Projects and in building efforts on five continents. In 2011, the Leonards were honored with the Habitat Charlotte’s Founders Award for their extraordinary service and commitment to the mission of Habitat.
This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Queens University of Charlotte website.