Baylor Celebrates Champions of Change, Solid Gold Neighbor Community Honorees and SGN Research Fellows

June 2, 2022

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (June 2, 2022) – Baylor University celebrated its 2022 Champions of Change, Solid Gold Neighbor (SGN) Community honorees for their outstanding community engagement and SGN Research Fellows during a May 25 recognition ceremony, hosted by Baylor’s Office of External Affairs.

Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., joined Jeremy Vickers, Ph.D., associate vice president for external affairs, in celebrating this year’s honorees who make a difference in the collective social and economic progress of the local community.

The Champions of Change program recognizes and acknowledges the accomplishments of alumni, faculty and staff who have demonstrated efforts to foster greater appreciation and advancement of diversity, inclusiveness and equity for communities of color at Baylor and in Waco. During the spring semester, a diverse and representative volunteer advisory committee sought nominations and made the final selections.

In recognition of their commitment to embracing and advancing racial equity on the Baylor campus and in the Waco community, the 2022 Champions of Change are:

  • Alumni: Pearlie Beverly, M.S.Ed., director of multicultural affairs
  • Faculty: Lori Baker, Ph.D., vice provost for faculty development and diversity and professor of anthropology
  • Staff: Crystal Diaz-Espinoza, Ph.D., director of enrollment and alumni services for the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work

In addition to an engraved plaque, the 2022 Champions of Change will be recognized permanently on a list of Champions of Change at a future public space on campus dedicated to honoring cultural wealth at Baylor. By recognizing these leaders, the program will cement their legacy among other Baylor greats, firsts and champions.

Ceremony recognizes SGN honorees, Research Fellows

In addition to the Champions of Change, this year’s ceremony recognized the extraordinary dedication and leadership of Solid Gold Neighbors within the Waco community. Solid Gold Neighbor is Baylor’s intentional and purposeful community engagement initiative that focuses on economic development, education, health, cultural wealth and city growth.

The 2022 SGN honorees are:

  • Stephen Sloan, Ph.D., and Adrienne Cain, Baylor Institute for Oral History, Waco History App and Waco History Walks
  • Matt Burchett, Ph.D., and Jordy Dickey, Baylor Student Activities, Revolve
  • Zach Tufenkjian, Student Government, Baylor Neighborhood Association
  • Benji Gomez, Match Waco
  • Nicole Wynter, Cultural Wealth Conversations
  • Fabled Bookshop & Café (Alison Frenzel, co-owner), Diversity and Behavioral Health Conversations with Jemar Tisby and David Magee

The inaugural Solid Gold Neighbor Research Fellows were recognized as they completed their projects. The comprehensive annual community-based participatory research grant program ties civic and nonprofit needs with academic research capabilities through master’s degree and doctoral students to advance social change within the greater Waco community.

The SGN Research Fellows are:

  • Karla Bautista (public health) and Sher Isada (University Scholar): one-semester research project with First United Methodist Church of Waco, funded by $5,000 from ExtraCo Banks.
  • Yingling Liu (sociology, community analytics): one-semester research project with the Talitha Koum Institute, funded by $5,000 from Baylor/Waco Foundation.
  • Azile Nelson (organizational communications): $5,000 from ExtraCo Banks for a one-semester research project with Esther’s Closet, funded by $5,000 from ExtraCo Banks.
  • Will Ward (social work): a one-semester research project with the Community Cancer Association, funded by $5,000 from Baylor/Waco Foundation.
  • Alexandra Tyra (psychology): two-semester research project with The Cove, funded by $10,000 from Baylor/Waco Foundation.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.