WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for service, has awarded long-time national service champion, Rowena Madden, with the Lifetime of Service Award at this year’s virtual AmeriCorps Symposium. Rowena Madden was selected for her work in the State of New Jersey, where she expanded national service programming and paved the way for a greater AmeriCorps presence in the state. She was recognized alongside four other AmeriCorps honorees representing the best of national service.   

A lifelong volunteer, Rowena Madden has served the State of New Jersey since 1975, fostering the growth of national service programs in the state. As the Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission, Rowena trains and supports the state’s 1.6 million volunteers, and has led service initiatives that meet diverse community needs such as education, economic development, and conservation. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, she was appointed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead the state’s volunteer response. Her career is a testament to her passion for service and her affinity for turning compassion into action. 

Now in its sixth year, the Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards were created to recognize the outstanding and innovative AmeriCorps programs, members, and alumni tackling our nation’s most-pressing challenges.  This year’s winners were honored at the annual AmeriCorps Symposium, held virtually in 2020. 

 “AmeriCorps members are an integral part of the framework of service in the state of New Jersey,” said Chester Spellman, Director of AmeriCorps. “Rowena Madden’s continued support of AmeriCorps –as well as her personal commitment to service – will impact communities and change lives for years to come. As we navigate challenging times, our Excellence in AmeriCorps awardees bring a message of hope: the spirit of service in America is alive and well.” 

As large swaths of the nation face unprecedented natural disasters alongside a public health crisis, AmeriCorps is poised to respond. While teams of AmeriCorps members deploy to Hurricane Laura relief efforts, more are joining the fight against the devasting wildfires on the West Coast, just as teams remain on the ground responding to the effects of the Derecho in Iowa. Even as they address these arising challenges, AmeriCorps maintains a sustained effort to fight hunger, keep communities safe, and facilitate youth education in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Since the program’s inception in 1994, more than 1.1 million AmeriCorps members have served the nation, giving more than 1.6 billion hours of service and earning nearly $4 billion in education awards. Every year, the 75,000 AmeriCorps members prepare students for success, rebuild communities and revitalize cities, support veterans, fight the opioid epidemic, respond to disasters, preserve public lands,  foster economic opportunity, and more.