Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award

2018 Trailblazer winner, Zaynah Afada

Created in 2011 to honor John H. Barnhill, the founding executive director of NC Campus Compact, the Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award is given to ONE from the statewide network. Nominees — one per campus — must be undergraduate students in their final (senior) year. The Civic Trailblazer should demonstrate innovation in civic engagement, work to integrate their service into campus structures, inspire others to serve, and make a meaningful impact on campus or community.

The Trailblazer Award winner must demonstrate:

• Creativity and innovation to start or deepen campus efforts to address community issues
• Long-term leadership that inspires others to engage
• Effort to integrate their work into campus structures in a sustainable way
• Evidence of tangible and meaningful impact on campus or community


  • Nominee must be an undergraduate student in his/her final year at a member campus
  • Can be current nominees or former winners of the Community Impact Student Award
  • Each member campus may submit only one nominee
  • Both nominators and nominees must attend the CSNAP student conference
  • Campuses are encouraged to have a special awards presentation on their campus


  • Faculty or Staff contact completes online nomination form.
  • Nominator submits letter(s) of support on office letterhead to nccc {at} elon(.)edu.
  • Nominator submits print-quality headshot image (300 dpi or larger) of student as .jpeg or .png file to nccc {at} elon(.)edu

Submission deadline: Oct. 4

NOTE: Nominators may tell student that he/she has been nominated for this award. NC Campus Compact will inform all nominators of the Barnhill winner by Oct. 15.

Past Trailblazers

Click on the Trailblazer’s name to learn more.

2018 – Zaynah Afada, Guilford College
2017Brian Wuertz, Warren Wilson College
2016 – Jenny Fukunaga, Elon University
2015 – Kate Gatterdam, Queens University of Charlotte
2014 – Aaron Marshall, Western Carolina University
2013 – Amanda Moore, Appalachian State University
2012 – Rachel Stanley, Elon University
2011 – Morgan Abbott, UNC-Chapel Hill and Sam Williams, Appalachian State University


John Barnhill entered college with a passion for service and a commitment to sharing that passion. While a student at Elon University, John co-founded the campus’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and Elon Volunteers! (EV!), a student community service group. Today, Elon’s Habitat chapter is one of the most active in the country, fundraising and building one house every year; and EV! includes 150 student leaders who engage peers in more than 100,000 hours of service annually through a host of local, national, and international volunteer projects.

After graduation, John kept working to develop student leadership through service, becoming Elon’s first staff service coordinator. Under his leadership, the Office of Volunteer Programs became the endowed, nationally- recognized
Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement. As one administrator shared, “John created the student leadership model for Elon, focusing students’ passions for service in productive ways to address community

In 1993 John broadened his vision by helping to form North Carolina Campus Volunteers (NCCV), a statewide coalition of students and staff that strengthened college volunteerism across the state. NCCV held the student conference which would later become CSNAP. When NC Campus Compact was formed in 2002, John became its founding executive director and the conference became a Compact event. During his four years in the executive director role, John worked with many campuses to build their civic engagement infrastructure. Today, John is the Associate Vice President for University Advancement at Elon.