Millie Kastenbaum '16 receives town-gown leadership award

May 24, 2016

Senior Millie Kastenbaum, a government major in the College of Arts & Sciences, has been named the inaugural winner of the Cornell Division of University Relations’ Campus-Community Leadership Award. The award will be presented annually to a graduating senior who has shown exceptional town-gown leadership and innovation.

Kastenbaum was instrumental in launching and chairing the Cornell Student Assembly’s (SA) City and Local Affairs Committee. Its mission is to “advocate on behalf of student interest at the city and county government levels [and] organize events that foster a sense of engagement in the Ithaca community for Cornell students.”

Among a variety of initiatives promoting town-gown connectivity – including the popular “Home Plate at Cornell” – Kastenbaum organized a well-attended “town hall” with city of Ithaca officials at which city staff and elected officials took questions on housing, law enforcement, planning and other quality-of-life issues. As an Ithaca City Hall intern, Kastenbaum worked on the city’s proposed new drug policy, called the Ithaca Plan.

“Millie’s leadership and contributions to the city of Ithaca have gone far beyond input from an average student volunteer or intern,” said Mayor Svante Myrick ’09. “Her insights during the development of the Ithaca Plan, her steadfast approach on town-gown quality-of-life issues like rental housing … represent the tenets of a strong leader with a very bright future. I am proud to be her friend and look forward to working for her one day.”

Said Cornell Vice President for University Relations Joel Malina: “Millie’s efforts represent some of the best work Cornell students undertake in our shared communities, year-round. Her work with and for the city of Ithaca, including her service on the Rental Housing Advisory Commission, has been essential and appreciated.”

“Interacting and engaging with the Ithaca community has been one of the most rewarding parts of my time here at Cornell,” said Kastenbaum. “I hope that through my work and the efforts of the SA City and Local Affairs Committee more students continue to positively embrace the idea of a shared community. I am very grateful to those both on and off campus who have encouraged me, and helped me engage in town-gown life.”

Kastenbaum, a Los Angeles native, will work for her mother, Diana Kastenbaum, who is running for Congress in New York’s 27th Congressional District.

This story first appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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