Joseph G. Bonito Award

The Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award is presented to a Jenks graduating student who is unanimously selected by the student directors as the person who best exemplifies the Jenks program's motto “learning for leadership and leadership for service.”


Joe Bonito '79 is the Senior Vice President, Learning & Leadership Development Executive at Bank of America. He holds a BA from Boston College, an MS from the University of Pennsylvania and an Executive Masters in Human Resource Leadership from Rutgers University. As an undergraduate student, Joe participated in what was then the Paraprofessional Leader Group (PLG) and later served as a student director. Dubbed by Sandy Jenks as a "rough gem," Joe admired and emulated Sandy and since his graduation from BC has continued to give back to the program by leading workshops year after year. In the words of one student who benefited from Joe's tutelage, "Joe has been an invaluable foundation and glue to Jenks, and the PLG before that. His unselfish commitment and service to this organization has been exemplary and in the true spirit of Sandy Jenks." Joe has given almost four decades of service to the Jenks Leadership Program, and as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Jenks program, the Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award has been created in his honor.

Joe Bonito and Ashton Gillespie

Joe Bonito and Ashton Gillespie


Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Ashton Gillespie and witness the incredible work that she has done. Not only has she grown tremendously as a leader, but has helped those around her to do the same. Ashton’s caring nature, drive, passion, and can do attitude makes her an exemplary leader. Always seeking to improve and learn, she embodies Sandy Jenks motto “learning for leadership and leadership for service”.  While she may not be the loudest or most talkative voice in the room, when Ashton speaks she commands the attention of all those in her presence.

Ashton’s hard work does not go unnoticed, and her passion for her group’s service project was instrumental to its success. I remember talking to Ashton individually during the planning phases of her group’s project. I asked her, “Why do you want to build a garden at a school?” and she responded, in her southern charm, “You should see how ugly this poor elementary school’s playground is! Imagine how much we can inspire these kids to be the best they can be if we can make this school look a little bit more beautiful!” Ashton had a vision and worked with her group to accomplish it. I can hardly wait to see the impact that her group’s work will have on the community.

Ashton, you have motivated and pushed others to be the best they can be for themselves and more importantly, for the community. Speaking on behalf of myself and many others, it has been a privilege to work with you, learn from you, and see you grow. Your charm makes us all smile, and your leadership makes us all want to follow. I am excited to see where you and Cody can take the next Jenks class.

It is my honor to award Ashton Gillespie with the Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award.

Carson Truesdell '17, Jenks Student Director