UW System Outstanding
Women of Color In Education Awards
Award Recipients for 2011
Front row seated: Pa Vang, UW-Colleges; Maura Vazquez, UW-Green Bay; Kazoua Moua, UW-Extension, and Lopamudra Basu, UW-Stout. Standing: Leslie Bow, UW-Madison; Chris Navia, UW System Administration; April Puryear, UW-Parkside; Debra K.S. Barker, UW-Eau Claire; Pamela Lassiter, UW-Oshkosh; Nikki (Temi-Tayo) Shpnoki, UW-River Falls; Nikki Miller, UW-La Crosse; Estrella Sotomayor, UW-Milwaukee; Kym Young, UW-Superior; Aneneosa A.G. Okocha, UW-Whitewater. Missing from photograph: Ana Martinez-Donate, UW-Madison; and Shenita Ray, UW-Platteville.
Pa Vang, UW-Colleges
Debra K. S. Barker, UW-Eau Claire
Kazoua Moua, UW-Extension
Maura Vazquez, UW-Green Bay
Nikki Miller, UW-La Crosse
Leslie Bow, UW-Madison
Ana Martinez-Donate, UW-Madison
M. Estrella Sotomayor, UW-Milwaukee
Pamela Lassiter, UW-Oshkosh
April Puryear, UW-Parkside
Shenita Ray, UW-Platteville
Nikki (Temi-Tayo) Shonoiki, UW-River Falls
Lopamudra Basu, UW-Stout
Kym Young, UW-Superior
Aneneosa Okocha, UW-Whitewater
Chris Navia, UW System Administration
Past Award Recipients by Campus or by Year
Pa Vang, UW Colleges
Pa Vang is a sophomore student at UW-Marathon County. She is the first Hmong student to serve in two different and important student leadership positions. During the 2009-2010 academic year Pa was the Gender and Women's Issues Director on campus, in which involved working with the campus’s Straight Gay Alliance. She was very active in the position, making a great effort to reach out to the PRIDE club (then the Gay Straight Alliance). The same year Pa Vang also served on the campus Diversity Committee. The committee’s faculty advisor described Pa was “balanced and inclusive and thoughtful“ in her work. “Pa is very intelligent and very thoughtful. She is not bitten by causes so much as by some kind of drive to be involved and she provides a rather mature presence – her thoughtfulness shows.
Pa is now the Executive Director of the UW-Marathon County Multicultural Resource Center (MRC). The MRC serves as a resource for minority student populations and promotes diversity on campus and in the local community. Its purpose is to educate, promote and provide services to build a supportive environment in which all students can develop a better understanding and appreciation for the multiculturalism in the community and beyond. This is accomplished through programs that enhance the academic achievements of all students and the development of activities that promote cultural diversity, awareness, and understanding.
As the MRC Director, Pa has successfully brought together diverse groups of students to discuss issues related to multiculturalism, organized educational and social activities, and created a safe learning environment for underrepresented and at-risk students. She has been especially effective in her ability to address concerns related to campus climate and resolve conflict between different student populations on campus. Because of Pa Vang's efforts, the campus has seen a significant increase in the number of students using the Multicultural Resource Center and participating in its activities. We recognize student leader Pa Vang.
Debra K.S. Barker, UW-Eau Claire
Debra K. S. Barker, an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota Nation), is Professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she teaches introductory and advanced courses in American Indian Literatures. Her research interests include modern American Indian writers (with a special interest in Lakota writers, past and present), the representation of American Indians in Euramerican culture, and the rhetoric of colonial discourses. Her publications include articles on the Indian boarding school system, Lakota women's life writings, and the literary production of Louise Erdrich.
Debra’s conference papers have addressed not just literary works by American Indians, but also topics that involve anti-racist pedagogies and education for social justice. A particular theme of her work addresses the political and moral necessity of Act 31 compliance to ensure that throughout their public school education Wisconsin children grow into a broader understanding about the history and cultures of Wisconsin Indians. She realized early on the complexity of Native American-Settler relations in the state of Wisconsin, seeing all--the positive and the negative-- reflected in her classroom. To a certain extent I see my work in the classroom as an opportunity to not only relate course content but also to educate students to become empathetic citizens, as they arrive at some clarity in the process of sorting through their thoughts and emotions about American Indians.
Joining UW-Eau Claire in 1993, Debra worked with the founders of the American Indian Studies Major, drafting curriculum for core courses and chairing the American Indian Studies Committee, later serving as a director of the fledgling American Indian Studies Program in 1996. Particularly satisfying was her service as advisor to the Native American Student Association. One of her favorite memories was when students invited her to go camping with them at a retreat they organized at Beaver Creek Reserve.
Her service in the broader area of literary studies includes work as President of the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, Delegate Assembly Member in the Modern Language Association (MLA) representing Ethnic Studies, member of the MLA committee on Native American Languages, and MLA's Committee on the Literatures of People of Color in the United States and Canada.
The UW-Eau Claire Office of Multicultural Affairs graciously recognized Debra in 2010 with a Distinguished Service Award; ten years earlier the UW-EC American Ethnic Coordinating Office presented her with a Distinguished Service Award.
Kazoua Moua, UW-Extension
Kazoua Moua is a Nutrition Educator with the Cooperative Extension Nutrition Education Program in Dane County. Moua is a remarkable woman who devotes herself to helping Hmong women acquire the education and services they need to raise their families and participate in their communities. Born in Laos and raised in the refugee camps of Thailand, Kazoua lived in California and Minnesota before moving to Madison. While Hmong women her age were expected to marry instead of attending school, Moua defied the tradition when she attended community college.
Kazoua began working for the UW-Extension nutrition education program in 2002. Her past experiences as a teacher’s and library assistant, a court translator, and an interpreter helped prepare her for the challenges of working in communities of people living with sparse resources. Kazoua provides small group and individual nutrition education in senior centers, food pantries, farmers markets and afterschool program sites as well as in the homes of clients. She has translated and interpreted existing educational materials for Hmong learners and expanded upon them with her knowledge of nutritious traditional foods. A respected member of the Cooperative Extension Hmong Affinity Group, she serves as a mentor and coach for newer Hmong educators. Moua is currently piloting a new Hmong nutrition curriculum and creating a food pyramid that reflects Hmong culture and foods and is using her translation and interpretation skills to encourage Hmong families to join the Madison Troy Community Garden.
Kazoua Moua’s most ambitious project was establishing English Language Learner and citizenship classes for Hmong immigrant women through her church community. Understanding the family needs of mothers, Kazoua made certain childcare and nutritious meals are provided while the women are in classes. She personally prepares the meals and used the opportunity to teach adults and youth about nutrition. In her ‘spare’ time Kazoua tutors a woman who is working toward her GED. When her neighborhood elementary school merged with another school without arranging for busing Kazoua organized volunteer escorts for the children to their new school.
Kazoua and her husband Luke Thao have six children between the ages of 5 and 15. Individually and as a couple, they are well known in Madison and nationally as advocates for Hmong families. Kazoua Moua is currently working on her associate degree at Madison Area Technical College. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in some aspect of human services.
Maura Vazquez, UW-Green Bay
Maura Vazquez is a student majoring in Art with a minor in the Arts and Visual Design at UW-Green Bay, while also pursuing a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certificate.
Maura is a very active community volunteer. Throughout her time at UWGB she has given her time to such organizations as: The Giving Tree (emergency pantry with food, personal care items, school supplies, winter apparel); Danz Elementary School (In addition to volunteering in the library and at school events she spent over 100 hours painting a school mural last summer); and she has served as a bilingual volunteer with the Back to School store of the Service League of Green Bay and the Salvation Army Coats for Kids distribution. She has also been a “Shavee” (allowing her head to be shaved to raise donations) for St. Baldrick’s Foundation against childhood cancer and her hair was sent to Locks of Love to create hairpieces for disadvantaged children. Vazquez also worked with the US Census Bureau, as a Recruiting Assistant and Interpreter, making community contacts; visiting recruiting sources; conducting presentations; testing applicants; promoting census opportunities and participation in 2010.
An actively exhibiting artist Maura already has a prolific exhibition record. She has had her work included in student and group exhibitions at UWGB; Neville Public Museum; and Lawrence University. Her work has been reviewed and praised by the very respectable, Daniel T. Keegan, Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Her achievements include awards and scholarships recognizing her creative and critical work. She has been the recipient of UWGB’s Distinguished Drawing Award, Art Agency Purchase Award, and Faculty Development Center Purchase Award, as well as being recognized with numerous other off campus awards and scholarships including the Prevetti Art Scholarship; the Lederer Scholarship; a Study Abroad Scholarship; a Foundation travel scholarship while at UWGB and a Latino Link Scholarship.
Maura Vazquez exemplifies the selection criteria for this award. As one of her professors noted, “The gracious manner in which Maura opened up her life story in her work consistently provided a space where other students felt comfortable...many productive, open conversations were had within my classroom as a result of her work regarding immigration, race, and family traditions.”
That Maura Vazquez has accomplished so much as an undergraduate student, while raising three young children, is a testament to her strength and commitment as a parent, an artist and an engaged citizen.
Nikki Miller, UW-La Crosse
Officer Nikki Miller, of the University Police Department, is being recognized for her extraordinary efforts to help make the UW-La Crosse campus safe for all students. Given the nature of her job, not all the events that prompt Nikki’s interactions with students would be considered “positive.” Nonetheless, Nikki treats every student with respect. She makes sure that students understands their rights and have a voice, but also that they must take responsibility for their actions. Nikki Miller engenders respect from students. She seldom forgets a fact and is never shy to say ‘hello’ or check in with students to show them, that regardless of their pervious interactions, she is here to ensure everyone succeeds at UW-L.
One of the most impressive things about Nikki is that she is very secure with who she is, and being around her shows others that we come from all different places and have different life experiences, but that we have to make the most of every day. She has a wonderful sense of humor and helps others have fun and creates lasting memories of their time at UW-L. Moreover, she has wonderful ideas about programming in our residence halls and is willing to visit the halls and talk with students at any time.
Nikki works evening shifts on a rotating basis. Her normal shirt is 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. During this time she encounters many students who have various problems and needs that require police intervention. Nikki has developed a reputation of being very approachable and dedicated to providing the best possible outcome for all of the cases she works on. She has taken on a special role as a lead officer in investigating sexual assault cases. Nikki has attended national level specialized training to help prepare her for this role. Additionally Nikki is a liaison officer working closely with Residence Life on campus to help build partnerships between the police and residential students.
Ana Martinez-Donate, UW-Madison
Ana Martinez-Donate is an Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and Public Health at UW-Madison. Professor Martinez-Donate has an outstanding record of scholarship and community engagement, bringing her knowledge and skills as a teacher and researcher par excellence to serve women of color in Dane County and beyond.
Soon after she joined the UW-Madison faculty in 2007, Ana quickly sought ways to become more engaged with the Latina population in Dane County. She won a 3-year $500,000 grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program entitled "Taking Care of Me," to collaborate with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin in promoting breast and cervical cancer screening among low-acculturated, monolingual Spanish Latino women in Dane County. Professor Martinez-Donate’s study provides the foundation for future collaborations between the UW-Madison’s Department of Population Health Sciences and Planned Parenthood to improve the sexual and reproductive health of women, and particularly minority women in Wisconsin.
Teaching, training and nurturing students, developing scientists and scholars comprise a major part of Professor Martinez-Donate’s service to women. Through her “Taking Care of Me” project, she has contributed to the research training of a Latina PhD student and two undergraduate students, one of who identifies as Latina. While her PhD student is expected to build her dissertation on this project, the undergraduates have obtained an Undergraduate Research Fellowship to conduct a small study on the background, barriers, facilitators, and predictors of continuity and sustainability of lay health advisors, known as “promotoras” in the Latino/Latina community. As a leader on campus working in the area of minority and women’s health, Professor Martinez-Donate helped develop the UW Health Disparities Interest Group as a forum for investigators and their students, and work teams to network, form collaborations, and disseminate their research on health disparities with community partners, in service to the larger community.
President Barrack Obama recently recognized Dr. Martinez-Donate excellence, when he named her one of two UW-Madison researchers, and one of 85 national researchers, to receive the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. We join in recognizing Professor Ana Martinez-Donate’s excellence in community service and her dedication to social justice and public health right here in Dane County.
Leslie Bow, UW-Madison
Leslie Bow has been a Professor of English and Asian American Studies in the College of Arts & Science at UW-Madison since 2002. From 2004-2007 she served as Director of Asian American Studies and she was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 2009.
Her nominators noted “Leslie’s stellar scholarship, leadership and teaching are all strongly marked by her commitment to a rigorous and deeply human interrogation of the category of race and its filiations to class and gender. Precisely because her scholarly work so eloquently speaks to the perplexities of race and gender in contemporary American culture, she is a remarkable presence among her colleagues and her students.”
Professor Bow is the author of two highly influential books, Betrayal and Other Acts of Subversion: Feminism, Sexual Politics, Asian American Women’s Literature (Princeton University Press 2001; reprint as an E-book 2003) and Partly Colored: Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South (New York University Press, 2010) as well as numerous articles, eight of them reprinted in major collections after their first publication. Leslie’s remarkable record of reprints demonstrates her significant impact on race and gender studies in contemporary U.S. literature and culture. In addition, she has published as many more essays in major refereed journals. Her forthcoming essay, “Asian American Women’s Literature and the Promise of Committed Art,” will soon appear in the ground breaking critical anthology, Cambridge History of American Women’ s Writing (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and she is currently editing a four volume scholarly work, Asian American Feminisms (Routledge). Leslie is also a contributor to Progressive magazine and the Progressive Media Project through which her op-ed columns appear in newspapers across the United States.
This award acknowledges Professor Leslie Bow’s special and powerful contributions through teaching and scholarship to advance diversity, and excellence in multicultural and cross-racial learning.
Estrella Sotomayor, UW-Milwaukee
Estrella Sotomayor has been assistant coordinator of language instruction, undergraduate major advisor, and the academic director in residence for the both the Madrid summer language and culture program, and the Chile spring semester program for UW-Milwaukee. The Steering Council of the Center for Women's Studies at UW-Milwaukee nominated Estrella to receive this award for her eight years as dedicated teacher and an energetic colleague with an exceptional record of service to her students, department, campus, and the broader Milwaukee community.
Estrella is an active Women's Studies affiliate. She has served on the program’s Steering Council and Scholarship Committee. In addition to cross-listing her courses with Women's Studies when possible, Sotomayor taught a freshman seminar on Latin American women and feminism when the instructor became ill right before the start of classes. The course was extremely successful due to her knowledge of the subject and superb teaching.
In addition to teaching a broad array of Spanish language and culture courses, Sotomayor has developed new classes that draw on her background in social work and commitment to social justice. She has collaborated with the UWM College of Nursing and the School of Health Sciences to create a Certificate Program in Spanish for Health Professionals, designing and teaching a sequence of courses for the program (both face-to-face and on-line). With support from the UW System Institute for Race and Ethnicity, Estrella designed and regularly teaches "Health Issues in the Hispanic World." Since 2005, she has organized and run a service- learning program that takes UWM students to Oaxaca, Mexico, where they do three weeks of community service. Upon their return, students work for an additional week at a Spanish-speaking, community-based organization in Milwaukee. The experience provides language practice as well as the opportunity to learn about the effects of globalization at the local level. While the students work in Mexico, Sotomayor volunteers as a translator and interpreter for families with immigration concerns and distributes supplies and computers (which she previously gathered) to a local women's shelter for indigenous women to use for school and training. Locally, she has assisted with the translation of materials for the Milwaukee Public Schools and the Center for Addiction and Behavioral Research.
Estrella Sotomayor has received the UWM Academic Staff Outstanding Performance Award for these and other activities. She represents UWM at its finest.
Pamela Lassiter, UW-Oshkosh
Pamela M. Lassiter is the Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Affirmative Action, Director of Equity and Affirmative Action, and a Lecturer in Human Resources Management in the College of Business at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as well as an attorney. For ten years she has taught courses in employment law, human resources management, organizational behavior, negotiations and business ethics.
Ms. Lassiter provides campus leadership in developing, recommending and implementing policies, procedures and programs regarding all aspects of equity, equal employment opportunity, diversity, affirmative action, and employee and student disability issues. She led leadership team that focused on the writing of the UW-Oshkosh’s planning for participation in UW System’s current diversity process, Inclusive Excellence. Under Ms. Lassiter’s guidance, UW Oshkosh leads the UW System’s inclusivity efforts as demonstrated by 2010 presentations to the UW System Board of Regents.
Pamela Lassiter was responsible for establishing the University’s Social Justice Week, now in its third year. This initiative provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, students and external communities to discuss issues of social justice. Forum topics have included: efforts to close the achievement gap between students of color and others; the effects of incarceration on communities; mental health issues at work and in the classroom; veterans returning to the campus and classroom; employment law update; and student facilitated dialogues on interracial love and life as a student of color on campus. Pamela is a member of the team organizing the UW Oshkosh Spring 2011 initiative Civility in Everyday Life. This initiative’s goal is to provide a dialogue on how to conduct difficult and thought-provoking conversations while maintaining a respectful, caring and supportive environment.
Beyond campus Lassiter provides leadership to Wisconsin Society for Human Resource Management (WISHRM) as the Diversity Director. In this role, she offers guidance and insight to state chapters and members on current diversity and inclusion efforts of the state council, national SHRM, and state and federal legislatures. She is also Chair of the Diversity Sub-committee of The New North, an education and business consortium of North East Wisconsin that identifies and supports various diversity and inclusion efforts affecting its membership.
April Puryear, UW-Parkside
April Puryear is the University Services Program Associate in the office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) at UW-Parkside. Managing the OMSA office, she provides a warm, welcoming and professional environment for all students, faculty, and staff she comes in contact with. April is recognized campus-wide for her dedication and commitment, for her organization and involvement, and for willingness to go the extra mile for UW-Parkside students, and for her colleagues.
As a proud UW-Parkside alumna and strives to have a positive impact on every person she sees. Ms. Puryear is seen as a primary resource for students, staff, and faculty alike. Drawing on her own past experience, April encourages and nurtures students to be successful while setting clear and specific boundaries. April has often been credited by students who have worked for her as being the reason they have remained in school.
April Puryear is very involved on campus and often assists other offices in maximizing their services. She serves on the Classified Staff Committee, Parkside Employee Alumni Group, the Classified Staff Recognition Committee, and serves as advisor to IMPACT, the campus Christian organization. In addition to her day-to-day responsibilities, April also serves on search and screen committees and spearheads the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration as well as the Taking Care of Business Banquet for the campus. She can also be found volunteering at Hunger Clean-Up Day, at Special Olympics, and at her church.
April Puryear is describes as “going above and beyond the necessary requirements to ensure the success of herself, students and the department. There are not enough words that could speak to the efforts and contributions to UW-Parkside and to the community.” A recipient of the Wisconsin Education Association of Student Support Trailblazer Award and the UW-Parkside Classified Staff Distinguished Service Award, April strives to be someone others can emulate.
Shenita Ray, UW-Platteville
Shenita has been Assistant Director of the Distance Learning Center since 2006. Since day one in she has contributed to the UW-Platteville as a campus diversity advocate on search and screen committees; through her membership on the UW-Platteville Academic Staff Senate Personnel Commission; as a member of the UW-Platteville Legislative and Regent Relation Committee; and on the UW-Platteville Racial Disparities Task Force. There she is spearheading the implementation of a two-day, UW system-wide, culturally inclusive conference slated for 2011. Driven by the desire to encourage and provide others with access to education, Ms. Ray viewed joining the task force as a means of implementing tangible programs that could make a difference for those most severely harmed by exclusion.
Shenita Ray has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, and a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis to be awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011. Her article “Factors Contributing to Distance Learning Faculty Changing their Teaching Practices” is pending publication in the referred journal, Annals of the Next Generation. Dedicated to life-long education and research focused on advancing minority success in higher education, her dissertation entitled “Institutional Factors that Contribute to and Militate Against the Success of Minority Adult Learners,” is evidence of her concern for disadvantaged, marginalized minority populations.
Since 2009, Ray has taught “Management, Gender and Race,” an undergraduate course offered by the Department of Business and Accounting and cross-listed by Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies Programs. Devotion to addressing the health epidemic among all Americans, particularly minority women, has led Shenita to another calling. She is co-host of “Cooking Raw,” a television series broadcast on Milwaukee Public Television (MPTV) and co-author of “A Mother and Daughter Diary of Raw Food Recipes for Beginners.” Shenita Rae leads in every day in every way.
Nikki (Temi-Tayo) Shonoiki, UW-River Falls
Nikki is a Senior undergraduate student at UW-River Falls. Her groundbreaking extracurricular work directly impacts women of color. In 2008 she ran for elected office as a Pierce County Board Supervisor against a white male incumbent who held the seat on the board for over 10 years. Winning more primary election votes than the two other candidates combined, she went on to defeat the incumbent 2 to 1, becoming the youngest ever member and the first African American woman elected to the Pierce County Board. Nikki served a term of two years and participated on a number of committees including the Board of Health, where she helped advocate for Pierce County Reproductive Health to stay in close proximity to the UW-RF campus so that students would have better access to its services.
Also in 2008, Nikki co-founded Rise Up For Women’s Rights, the first feminist student organization at UWRF. With her co-chair Nikki recruited new members through tabling and presentations on topics such as “Fair Trade and Women of Ghana,” and they co-organized HIV awareness day on December 1. To raise awareness about the value of reproductive justice the organization members covered lawns with flags commemorating the lives lost to illegal abortion prior to the passage of Roe v. Wade, and they organized an on-campus celebration of Take Back the Night.
In 2009, Nikki became the first college chapter student to be elected onto the Board of Directors for Choice USA, a national youth empowerment reproductive justice organization based in Washington, DC. With Nikki’s leadership, Rise Up sponsored a performance of Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues,” bringing a global perspective to the post-performance discussions by raising awareness about rape as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most impressive was Nikki’s visionary “Week of Action,” a coordinated coalition-building event that brought together student groups across campus for a week of events addressing social and environmental justice.
In Spring 2010, Nikki ran for Student Body President. Originally elected, her election was overturned when her opponents used distasteful strategies, replete with unacknowledged racism, to challenge her campaign strategies and her voting records. Undaunted, Nikki applied for and was selected to work as one of Falcon Programs Co-Diversity Programmers, a position she will hold throughout this final year of her studies at UW-River Falls. In this position, she has helped develop the first Diversity Organization Coalition on campus. It will bring together disconnected student groups, under-represented populations, and allies into a larger conversation about institutional culture change. Nikki Shonoiki holds true to her values of inclusivity, equity and justice.
Lopamudra Basu is an Associate Professor of English and Assistant Director of the University Honors Program at UW-Stout. Since she arrived on campus, Lopa has worked tirelessly on behalf of all students, particularly including female students of color. She has infused Stout’s Literature curriculum—especially the Honors Seminar in Literature, Women Writers, Multicultural Literature and Recent World Literature—with texts by women writers of color.
Basu is an active scholar; in 2009 she co-edited a volume of essays on the Indian-American poet, Meena Alexander. She has published and presented at scholarly conferences on writers such as Alexander, Bapsi Sidhwa and Marjane Satrapi as well as on challenges of post-colonial literature in which women of color are central actors. She has also been instrumental in bringing female authors of color to UW-Stout, most notably Tess Onwueme and Kao Kalia Yang. Lopa has been awarded two grants from UW-Milwaukee’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity to initiate campus-reading groups focused topics such as Arab and Muslim identity.
Lopa Basu’s campus service has included service on UW-Stout’s Race and Ethnic Studies Committee, where she participated in a revision of the RES curriculum. More recently, she has served on the 2010 Search Committee for the Special Assistant to the Provost on Equity, Diversity and Inclusiveness. Lopa has served as faculty advisor of STAND (Stout chapter of Students Against Genocide), a group that worked to raise awareness of the catastrophe in Darfur and to raise money for victims of genocide. In the broader Menomonie community, Basu has worked with the Red Cedar Peace Initiative, speaking about Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese activist and Nobel Laureate. She has further participated in campus teach-ins on the military regimes in Burma and Tibet. With a grant from Stout’s Teaching and Learning Center, Lopa has organized an ongoing group dedicated to issues related to being a mother and an academic in an attempt to help new mothers achieve work-life balance. She has accomplished all of this with verve and unfailing good humor.
Lopa Basu is not only an exemplary colleague but she has also demonstrated what curriculum and shared campus life might look like if issues related to women of color assumed their proper place.
Kym Young is a campus leader, community activist, diversity representative, and graduate student pursuing feminist scholarship in the Visual Arts Department at UW-Superior. Her thesis project, “Fem Fatal: A Socio-cultural History of Violent Imagery in Women’s Art,” springs from her own experiences with surviving domestic abuse. Kim states that, as a visual artist, she endeavors “to put a ‘face’ on my own past, my pain, my wall.” She currently volunteers for the Northern Central Windows Project (NCWP), a new art enrichment program, leading art workshops with survivors of domestic violence and training representatives from Domestic Violence organizations who then what they learn in the workshops back to their own organizations.
One of Ms. Young’s major accomplishments on campus has been leading the transformation of the struggling Black Student Union into a flourishing, inclusive, and active student organization that provides student mentoring, recruitment, and necessary cultural and diversity programming for the whole campus. As an undergraduate, Ms. Young completed a McNair Scholars Program research project on "Matriarchal Heritages in Women's Pottery: An Examination of Similarities in West African and Native American Women's Pottery Traditions." She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Art History from UW-Superior in 2003 with Magna Cum Laude honors and plans to graduate with her Master of Arts degree in the spring. Young regularly helps UW-Superior recruit prospective students by mentoring for the African American College Student for a Day Program.
In the larger Superior/Duluth community Kim Young has worked for five years as an employee and a volunteer advocate for Safe Haven Shelter in Duluth. Recently, she was the featured artist in an exhibition in Superior that included work from survivors of domestic abuse. Ms. Young is employed as a Program Coordinator with the Five Points mentoring program, part of the Mentor Duluth organization. A mother and grandmother herself, she embodies Inclusive Excellence as she mentors and advocates for youth and their families and for domestic violence survivors, both on campus and elsewhere in the Twin Ports of Superior and Duluth. Kim Young is an artist who is also a leader in the campus and larger community.
Aneneosa A.G. Okocha, UW-Whitewater
Dr. Aneneosa A.G. Okocha is a Professor and former Chair of the Counselor Education Department at UW-Whitewater. Okocha has been described as a guiding force in facilitating the department’s infusion of diversity into its curriculum, and as an advocate for marginalized groups. Her scholarly agenda, including publications and presentations, addresses multicultural groups, especially racial ethnic individuals, immigrants, members of the GLBT community, persons with disabilities, and also women’s issues.
Dr. Okocha has been invited to co-author a research article on an international counseling theme in the premier journal in the field of counseling, The Journal of Counseling and Development. The invitation acknowledges her vital contributions to the field of multiculturalism. She was recently granted a sabbatical during which she completed a research study entitled, “Racial Ethnic Identity and Career Development Concerns of College Students from Immigrant African and Hmong Families.”
Aneneosa Okocha’s professional recognitions include: Wisconsin Counseling Association Research Award, UW-Whitewater College of Education Research Award and National Career Development Association Service Award. She has also received grants from UW System. Dr. Okocha served as an international, national and local consultant on multicultural counseling and supervision issues. She is currently coordinating student and faculty exchange, as well as collaborative research work between the UW-Whitewater Counselor Education Department and Umea University Counseling Program, Sweden.
Her commitment to advocacy can be seen in her mentoring efforts, including work with AOP (Advanced Opportunity Program), ELL (English Language Learners), STREAM (Support Training and Resources for Educating Able Minorities) and Upward Bound students. She is appreciated by the counselor education students that seek her guidance as well as by members of the student organizations that she has served as their advisor. This includes such organizations as the African Student Organization. Many female students have gone on for PhDs at least in part due to her mentoring. Okocha has mentored non-tenured faculty women of color as they work to attain promotion and tenure. Her service also includes work on the University Graduate Council, Women’s Issues Committee and College of Education Diversity Committee, as well as the City of Whitewater Race, Ethnic & Diversity Task Force. Her commitment to promoting diversity and have it be honored and celebrated is underscored by the many lives she has touched.
Chris Navia is a change agent. Since joining the University of Wisconsin System Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in 2008, Chris has worked closely with Associate Vice President Vicki Washington to develop, coordinate, and lead the implementation of Inclusive Excellence, the System's emerging strategic framework for its work on diversity and equity following Plan 2008. She has lead responsibility for EDI's "Closing the Achievement Gap" grant program, has been instrumental in moving the Equity Scorecard project forward at a number of UW institutions, and is a member of Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin’s team for the national “Access to Success” initiative. Chris provides both leadership and administrative support for EDI's work among major System constituencies and partners, including the President's Diversity Council, Minority and Disadvantage Coordinators, Pre-College Directors, the University of Southern California's Center for Urban Education, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
If this work shares a common purpose it is to help more students have access to, persist through, and complete high-quality undergraduate degrees, in particular those students who have been historically left behind by higher education. Equally comfortable as a higher education scholar and a practitioner of action research, Chris is a tenacious advocate for people of color at all levels of the higher education enterprise, eloquent in her insistence that Inclusive Excellence will not be realized unless the UW System and its institutions attend to equity of outcomes, not just equity of access, and that changes in outcomes will only come through changes in practice.