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Flyers for Life

Sarah Richard '19

Since graduating, Sarah Richard ’19 has become a proud Dayton transplant who is heavily involved in local and regional environmental justice efforts. She has worked for a local non-profit, CleanEnergy4All, co-authored international and local food system grant efforts, and joined a team in the local community working to create a more just local economy rooted in food access.

“Much of my experience lies in the field of social innovation around issues such as food insecurity, environmental justice, ethical sourcing and holistic job training,” said Richard. “While I have a degree in mechanical engineering, it was my unique UD education paired with programming and mentorships that allowed me to transfer my technical skills to impact social movements and systems. UD not only gave me concrete skills to take into my professional life but grounded me in how I wished to use them.”

As director of special projects at ClearnEnergy4All, Richard authored a sustainability addendum to the Xenia Ave Corridor Revitalization Plan which looks at future development through the lens of equity, resilience and climate protection. She currently sits on the CleanEnergy4All board to help advise the future of its energy burden programs in the community.

Richard also co-authored a grant that now funds the City of Dayton Summer Recreation Camp's Dayton Sprouts program, designed to educate youth on sustainability and healthy lifestyles. Additionally, she has worked with more than 100 local stakeholders to author an international grant focused on the future of local food systems.”

In the spring of 2021, Richard joined the administration team to open and sustain the long-awaited Gem City Market, a grocery co-op bringing fresh food and a burgeoning sense of community to one of the largest food deserts in the U.S.

“In my role, I work directly with the general manager to help guide the strategic future of our market growth as well as day-to-day operational needs guided by the needs in the Dayton community,” said Richard. “The Gem City Market is a first-of-its-kind project that has paved the way for an equitable economy in the Dayton community as well as modeling sustainable change in our food system on a national scale.”

As a community and worker-owned co-op, Richard’s role is heavily involved in the day-to-day interactions and deep listening to her community’s short and long-term needs. She oversees all marketing and communication efforts as well as community partnerships ranging from small nonprofits and community groups to large private partnerships and government programming. “One project I am specifically proud of is the partnership with Produce Perks where all Snap EBT recipients in our community can double their dollars to spend on healthy fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Paired with educational programming in our community spaces and teaching kitchen, I am able to facilitate the connection of resources across our community to make a lasting and sustainable impact in individuals' lives.”

Richards also runs a small, hand-thrown ceramics business (Gem City Ceramics) and studio (MADE by LLC) where she offers memberships for artists to work, sell and collaborate. She is active in the small business community, specifically female-led business, and has fallen in love with the passion and drive that propels small businesses to thrive in the Dayton area.

“I owe my passion for my community to the principles that UD instilled in me. UD not only started my passions towards sustainability and equitable economies, but it also gave me the tools to sustain them beyond my years on campus. Guided by its mission to learn, lead and serve, UD allowed me to build a foundation in living a mission-oriented life through purpose and vocation. I often say I do not have a dream job or rather jobs, I have a dream life.”

While on campus, Richard loved spending time on Humanities Plaza.

“I loved to take breaks outside between classes and see the seasons change and campus life thrive. It was often the meeting place to chat with friends and exchange a few minutes of laughter. There are many locations with which I greatly associate my time at UD, but the lawn sticks out for the simple and consistent joy it brought to me every day.

She may not be out on plaza these days, she stays heavily involved. She’s led three student classes to help with work around community solar and brownfield revitalization. She’s also worked with the Dayton Civic Scholars and the Art and Design Department to help with needs at the Gem City Market and has remained involved with the River Stewards, IACT, and REAL Dayton through mentorship, programming and networking events.

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Danielle Ruffolo '19

Dani Ruffolo '19 sees the individual elements of UD’s unofficial motto, "Learn. Lead. Serve." as powerful on their own, and she knows that the three elements together — led by faith — create a wonderful recipe for her to follow in attempting to be a Christ-like disciple and role model.

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