It is hard to sum up why I nominated Nick Lemon for the Our Common Ground award. I think UVM Police Chief Bilodeau summed it up best when he jokingly called Nick “Mr. Everything.” In his time at UVM, including working at the Howe Library, UVM Police, and now the Larner College of Medicine IT Department, Nick has had a transformative and positive impact everywhere he’s been.

I can speak mostly about his work at UVM Police, where Nick worked hard to create opportunities for the department to engage with the campus and broader community on topics of social justice. He used the department’s social media platforms to discuss racial and social justice in policing with the community and regularly brought up the intersection of social justice and law enforcement in the workplace. He helped to grow a culture at UVM Police where social justice in policing is always a consideration, which has led to department-wide trainings, discourse, and growth. His efforts have helped UVM Police become a leader nationally in this area.

Since I nominated him for this award, Nick’s proposal was even selected as one of the several MIT Solve: Unbundle Policing Challenge incubators. This is a project working to decrease unnecessary and adverse law enforcement encounters in order to promote health and well-being in the US. As one of several applicants whose proposal was selected, Nick is now working to secure a grant and support to realize his proposal to help to improve law enforcement in the US. Even though he no longer works at UVM Police, Nick is still working hard to promote accountability and social justice in law enforcement, using his experience at UVM Police as a lodestar as he aims to have a similar impact nationwide.

All of this, and I haven’t even touched on his longtime service volunteering as an EMT, his taking on part-time shifts as a UVM Police dispatcher during a staffing shortage despite working full time in the College of Medicine, or anything from his current position at LCOM or his prior work at the library. Nick’s advocacy and relentless positivity toward improving the community around him is contagious and has certainly pushed me to do better every day. I’m grateful to be his colleague, and thankful that he is here at UVM.

I can think of no one more deserving of the Our Common Ground Staff Award than Nick Lemon.