The Princeton Area Community Foundation has honored Bill Wakefield with the 2016 Leslie “Bud” Vivian Award for Community Service.
The award is presented annually in honor of the late Leslie “Bud” Vivian, the longtime director of community and regional affairs at Princeton University. Established in 1995 by members of the Princeton University Class of 1942 and 16 local organizations in honor of Vivian’s commitment to community service, the award is made possible through the Vivian Memorial Fund, an endowed fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation.
Wakefield, a Princeton resident and engineer who is passionate about social justice issues, is well-known for his years of service in the region advocating for immigrants, helping them obtain identification cards in Princeton, and visiting detainees at the Elizabeth Detention Center.
Shirley Satterfield, a member of the Vivian Award selection committee, said Wakefield was chosen because of his sincere involvement in community concerns and because his passion for the people of Princeton and those who come to Princeton who may be refugees.
A former board member of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund who now serves on the organization’s advisory council, Wakefield is also a former board member of IRATE/First Friends, an advocacy and support organization for those being held at the detention center. He also teaches in the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s ESL program and is the co-leader of its Mercer County Community ID Card program.
Wakefield is currently working on the issue of mass incarceration as the chair of the Presbytery of New Brunswick’s mass incarceration task force and as part of the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow.
He is a member of the Paul Robeson House board of directors and executive committee, a member of the immigration committee of the Princeton Human Services Commission, and a mentor at the Corner House Academic Success Today program for middle school students. He and his wife, Pam, have three children and 13 grandchildren. They are both deacons at Nassau Presbyterian Church, where he serves as chairman of the church’s immigration reform advocacy group.
“Bill’s work is an inspiration,” said Jeffrey Vega, president & CEO of the Community Foundation. “He strives to make the community welcoming to everyone.”
Wakefield said the recognition is just an indication of the way the church, the community and the Community Foundation create a fertile and accepting ground where social justice work thrives. “Walking with them is not a lonely path,” he said.