By Hazel Scott/ASU
United States President Joe R. Biden has presented Alabama State University alumnus Brian Howard with the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, along with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the highest level of Volunteer Service Awards. The award was presented in Richmond, Virginia.
“This is a tremendous honor. I’m thrilled to be recognized for my years of volunteer work…It speaks to everything I’ve been doing in the community, everything I’ve been doing with Alabama State University, even everything what I’ve been doing with my fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, where I also give out scholarships…I guess in all my works…they found me worthy of being awarded President Biden’s Lifetime Award,” he said. “It’s the next highest award up under the Purple Heart that you can give to a civilian.”
Presented annually, the award honors individuals, families, and organizations across the country who provide hundreds of hours of volunteer work to help people in need. The award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action.
Along with the ultimate honor of presidential recognition, Howard noted that recipients received a personalized certificate and a coin.
Howard, who is the director of Risk Management and Assurance at the United States Secret Service and a member of the agency’s HBCU Recruitment Team, said he is an ambassador for the University as a member of ASU’s 50 Under 50 Class.
“I volunteer my time to represent ASU, to give back to my alma mater…On behalf of the school, I do a lot of college fairs and recruitment as an extension of the Admission Office,” he said.
As the President of the Washington, D.C. Metro chapter of the ASU National Alumni Association, Howard has spearheaded efforts to provide more than 50+ scholarships to D.C.-area youth attending Alabama State University.
“We just finished our 10th annual scholarship event for incoming freshmen to Alabama State, awarding 11 scholarships amounting to about $15,000. We have about 55 students at ASU that came through our D.C. program. I actively recruit high school students for my alma mater and push the importance of going to college, especially Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) as it breeds a family atmosphere and culture some may lack,” Howard said.
Howard’s D.C. chapter has conducted between 15 to 20 college fairs this fiscal year for ASU.
“I did a college fair in the neighborhood that I grew up in, the forgotten side of D.C…that was the first time a college fair was held on that side of town. I wanted…to give back to them, expose them to what’s possible, that their dreams can be realized at ASU,” said Howard, who graduated from the University in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
He expressed that the main reason he works so hard for ASU is that the University gave him a chance when no other college would accept him.
“Coming out of high school, I got lost in the environment that I grew up in and wasn’t taking school as seriously as I should have…my GPA was a 1.6…no school wanted me…ASU gave me the opportunity…They told me they would see what I could do when I got there. My acceptance into ASU changed the trajectory of my life. I can’t thank Alabama State University enough!” Howard said. “The day ASU accepted me was the day I was about to sign papers to go into the military. God had a different plan for me.”
Howard also serves on the scholarship committee of his fraternity, which has awarded $27,000 in scholarships to high school students this year.
Howard has won numerous awards for his community work, including the Kappa Alpha Psi’s New Brother of the Year Award for all of his community service and volunteerism efforts.
Claudia Burney, host ambassador for the state of Virginia for President Biden’s Lifetime Achievement Award, nominated Howard for the award because “he is the example of true volunteerism.”
“I look for candidates who I see are making a real difference in the community. I know Mr. Howard puts forth a lot of effort into getting scholarships for our young people to attend Alabama State University. That is one of the reasons why he was nominated to receive the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Howard’s volunteerism sends a powerful message that encourages others to act,” Burney noted.
The Washington, D.C. native said his wife, Cynthia Ann Smith Howard, who works in the U.S. Secret Service Human Resources Department, is the reason he can devote time to volunteering.
“She is the trooper in this. She picks up where I’m unable to be present, when I’m away doing volunteer work for my fraternity and the University,” Howard said.
Howard noted that his wife and children—Chloe-Bene (12), Blaire Ella (6) and Brian Charles Howard II (5)—are part of his volunteer work. “Whatever I do, they come and show up, but my wife has said I need to slow it down.”
Howard’s volunteerism also extends to the community where he is involved in food and clothing drives to help those in need.
“That is another one of Mr. Howard’s initiatives…He is awesome and very selfless in giving of his time and his funds,” said Burney.
More about the Award
In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation founded the President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) to recognize the important role of volunteers in America's strength and national identity.
The PVSA has continued under each administration, honoring the volunteers who are using their time and talents to solve some of the toughest challenges facing our nation. Led by AmeriCorps and managed in partnership with Points of Light, the program allows Certifying Organizations to recognize their most exceptional volunteers.