The David Mathews Center for Civic Life is pleased to announce Dr. Mark Wilson as the recipient of the David Mathews Center for Civic Life’s 2020 Jean O’Connor-Snyder Award. Dr. Wilson is a longtime partner of the Mathews Center and the longest-serving Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program faculty mentor.

The Jean O’Connor-Snyder Award annually recognizes an Alabama community leader who has empowered others in the spirit of Jean O’Connor-Snyder. Award winners are epitomized by their unique ability to uncover the potential in others. Jean O’Connor-Snyder Award recipients demonstrate a commitment to finding the worth in everyone and empowering others to use their talents to improve their communities.

“Dr. Wilson embodies the spirit of the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Award,” says Cristin Brawner, the Mathews Center’s Executive Director. “We appreciate Mark’s undying commitment to creating meaningful partnerships with communities and to equipping students for civic life. We deeply admire and respect Mark’s work, and I cannot think of a more deserving recipient of the 2020 Jean O’Connor-Snyder Award.”

Most major Mathews Center initiatives over the past decade have benefited from Mark’s leadership, partnership, and collaboration. Many Mathews Center historic issue guides, contemporary discussion guides, and community-based forum series owe their success to Mark’s leadership and to the Mathews Center’s partnership with the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities at Auburn University which Mark directs.

One of Mark’s greatest accomplishments is his longstanding dedication to creating mutually beneficial university-community partnerships that provide meaningful living-learning experiences for students. Most notably through Living Democracy, a program co-created by Dr. Wilson and Professor Nan Fairley, that is now part of the Mathews Center’s Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program.

Living Democracy brings together students and citizens to collaborate on issues of concern to Alabama communities. Coordinated by the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities through the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University, the project prepares undergraduate college students for civic life through living-learning experiences in the summer. Living Democracy has impacted forty-three students, a dozen small towns across Alabama, and numerous community partners and citizens of all ages in the past eight years.

In light of Mark’s numerous accomplishments and his humble leadership, it is with deep gratitude that the Board of Directors of the David Mathews Center for Civic Life bestows the 2020 Jean O’Connor-Snyder Award on Dr. Mark Wilson.

To learn more about Living Democracy, visit Further information about Jean O’Connor-Snyder and how the Mathews Center honors her legacy through the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program can be found at