Dedicated Lasallian educators receive a special award for their commitment to students inside and outside the classroom


A La Salle University faculty and staff member with more than 25 years of combined service were honored for their unwavering commitment to the Lasallian mission of education and pastoral care both inside and outside the classroom.

Candace Robertson-James, DrPH, MPH, and Joanne Woods, MA '14, were recognized for their commitment to the La Salle community with the 2024 Distinguished Lasallian Educator Awards during the university's annual community dinner with students, faculty, staff and Christian brothers excellent . Honorees are nominated and selected by a panel of La Salle faculty and staff.

“This award demonstrates how our faculty and staff embody the ideals of St. John the Baptist of La Salle and our Lasallian values,” said Alisa Macksey, vice president for mission, diversity and inclusion. “Both Dr. Both Candace Robertson-James and Joanne Woods lead by example by bringing positivity to the people they meet and making a strong impact on our university community through their hard work and dedication.”

Robertson-James joined the university in 2012 and is now an associate professor and director of the undergraduate and graduate programs in public health.

Her research spans multiple areas of focus, including gender and racial health disparities, particularly those issues affecting women, minorities, and youth; intergenerational health between mothers and daughters; health initiatives for incarcerated women; intimate partner violence; Health promotion interventions and the role of intersectionality (racism and sexism) on black women's subjective social status and overall health.

Robertson-James has also led and evaluated collaborative participatory research initiatives to promote health in diverse and underserved communities.

During the awards ceremony, Macksey shared comments from Robertson-James, who was unable to attend, and demonstrated her commitment to supporting her students and community

“I am truly humbled and honored to receive the 2024 Faculty Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award,” Robertson-James wrote. “This award is so meaningful because there is such a valued legacy of educational excellence at La Salle. There are so many educators here that I have truly learned from and admire for their creativity, innovation, and commitment as they interact with diverse students across the university. I believe that my work as a health educator is actually a calling. I feel very privileged to be part of the La Salle community where education is truly a cornerstone that can be used to inspire students to transform their circumstances, families and communities.”

In addition to Robertson-James, Woods, director of the Bilingual Undergraduate Students for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA) program, was also honored.

Alisa Macksey, vice president for Mission, Diversity and Inclusion (left) and Joanne Woods, MA '14, director of the Bilingual Undergraduate Students for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA) program (right).

Macksey shared that Woods is known for her commitment to her students and colleagues and for leading by example to promote cohesion and is always willing to go the extra mile to help students succeed.

Woods joined La Salle in 2010 and now directs the BUSCA program, which helps native Spanish speakers complete their associate degrees at La Salle while improving their English language skills.

This year marks the 30th anniversaryTh anniversary of the program. In 2015, the White House named La Salle's BUSCA program one of the country's bright spots in Hispanic education.

In April 2023, the National Endowment for Humanities awarded La Salle a grant to fund the Access Language Through Academics (ALTA) program, a college readiness program under the BUSCA program.

“It is an honor to have my name associated with past recipients of the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award,” Woods said. “These phenomenal colleagues mentored and inspired me throughout my time at La Salle. It was a pleasure working with them and the students in the Academic Discovery Program and BUSCA. The students in both programs have accomplished so much through their hard work and have been an asset to the Lasallian community. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with all the students I have met here and for this recognition of everything we have accomplished together.”