Sandra Reid, a lecturer in human service studies, recently received the 2021 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Sullivan Foundation partner school Elon University for her decades of selfless public service.
Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley presented the annual award at a recent ceremony, calling Reid “a tremendous force for good at the university and in the community.”
“Sandra demonstrates the highest standards of character, integrity and leadership in service to others and the community,” Dooley said.
Related: Lucy Burch, a “unicorn” at Huntingdon College, honored with Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is presented each year by more than 70 colleges and universities in the American South. At Elon University, the award is presented to two students and one faculty or staff member who demonstrate the highest standards of character, integrity and service to others and to their community.
This year’s student recipients were Yannick Twumasi, a political science and international relations double-major, and Jubitza Figueroa, a political science major.
A 1985 Elon graduate in human service studies, Reid spent nearly two decades working in juvenile justice in Alamance County, Guilford County and the Triad area before joining Elon’s faculty full time in 2006. She earned her master’s in counseling from N.C. Central University in 1999.
Among many roles with state, regional and local civic boards—often focused on services that impact youth and the community’s most vulnerable—Reid has served in various capacities on the Governor’s Crime Commission since 2007, as chair of the Alamance County Community Services Agency Board of Directors, and as chair of the Positive Attitude Youth Center Board of Directors.
Reid is currently serving as a member of the Alamance County Community Coalition of Remembrance, working with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., to memorialize the lynchings that occurred in Alamance County at the EJI national museum and monument.
“As an alumna of Elon University and the human service studies program, Sandra Reid demonstrates on a daily basis what it means to work to improve her community and the lives of those who are often excluded from it,” said Bud Warner, associate professor and chair of the Human Service Studies Department. “Sandra is an outstanding role model for our HSS students. She inspires them to tackle the difficult and challenging issues facing us today.”
“I’ve always felt like [serving others] is the purpose of my life, and I am honored to be recognized for something that’s such a part of who I am,” Reid said.
Related: How Sullivan Award recipient Issy Rushton guided her University of South Carolina campus through the pandemic.
Reid found her calling within juvenile justice while completing a high school senior seminar course in Greensboro for students interested in social work. She realized early on how broader societal and community issues can lead to trauma that results in criminal behavior, and that those root causes need to be addressed, along with individual rehabilitation and support.
While serving on the Governor’s Crime Commission, she was part of the task force that worked toward raising the age of majority within the state’s criminal system from 16 to 18 years old. North Carolina was the last U.S. state to raise that age when it did so in December. Along with research-based interventions, she hopes that change will decrease the “revolving door” of youth and adults in the criminal system.
“It’s hard for a system to be a family for children,” Reid said, “so if I can influence students who are interested in the field now and train them to work with communities and systems, they will be able to provide the support for individuals and families that is needed so much in this profession.”
At Elon, Reid teaches numerous courses, including juvenile justice, criminal justice, working with groups and communities, and the African-American family. Her civic roles and responsibilities continue to inform her teaching.
“You can’t separate a community in tatters from individual trauma,” Reid said. “That’s the core of what we teach in the Human Service Studies Department, from the micro piece of families and individuals, to services at the advocacy and community level, to the macro level of policies and systems—and we are able to teach students interested in working at all of those levels.”
She is involved with the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education’s DEEP program, providing opportunities to learn about, reflect on and apply concepts of social justice with a foundation in racial equity. In 2018, students selected Reid as the recipient of the Wilhelmina Boyd Community Service Award, presented at the Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Awards.
Angela Lewellyn Jones, associate dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and associate professor of social justice, noted the many community organizations, boards, commissions and nonprofits to which Reid lends her time and talent.
“She has been a reliable and inspiring presence in these organizations, just as she has been for her students here at Elon,” Lewellyn Jones said. “We couldn’t be happier that she has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.”
Reid recently served on Elon’s History and Memory committee, examining untold aspects of the university’s past, including anti-Black racism and unheralded achievements by Black students, and guiding steps to ensure the committee acts in culturally appropriate ways going forward.
“I see the work I do in the community, in the classroom and on Elon’s committees as interconnected,” Reid said. “If we can get people to understand root causes, our solutions will make better sense.”
This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Elon University website.