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Conor Hodges '21

Racial reckoning without which the American democratic project cannot thrive

Our 2022 winner is Conor Hodges. Conor graduated in December, 2021 and is pursuing an online MPA through John Jay College. He was a College Scholar with majors in Government, History and American Studies, and minors in Law & Society, Inequality Studies, and Crime, Prisons, Education & Justice. He was the University’s inaugural Racial Justice in Public Safety Fellow and continues as a consultant to the President’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). An excerpt of his undergraduate thesis won third place in the Virginia Military Institute’s annual scholarly competition for best Cold War History articles and is being considered for publication by the Journal of Military History.

Conor made a series of reform recommendations to the Public Safety Advisory Committee resting on his findings that reliance on law enforcement as a catchall crisis response resource leads to racially disproportionate harm and distrust. PSAC’s report led to Cornell’s beginning to implement an alternative response system which is already being studied by several other universities.

Outside of Cornell, Conor served as a combat medic in the United States Army and was honorably discharged following two heart surgeries. He is also a trustee and director of the national Telluride Association, where he contributes to the management of a $73 million endowment and a variety of scholarship and summer programs for high school and college students.

One of Conor’s references called attention to his “commitment and capacity to be a transformative leader in building a more just world.” Another called him a “tremendous resource,” saying, “He will be an extraordinary representative of the University.”

We were delighted to present Conor’s award at a ceremony on campus during Cornell's Volunteer Leadership Week in late March, 2022. Here's the program from Conor's award ceremony.

Conor receiving the award certificate from Cynthia Wolloch '64,
 Chair of the JFK Memorial Award.

Conor receiving congratulations from David Einhorn '90 and a companion. David's parents, Stephen and Nancy Lore Einhorn, are members of the Class of 1964.