Thursday, April 7, 2022
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Click here to visit the home of the Diversity Catalyst Awards. 


The University of Iowa Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion announced its 2022 Diversity Catalyst Award (DCA) winners in advance of the 24th annual reception slated for April 20, 2022.

The Diversity Catalyst Awards honor the excellent, innovative, and distinctive efforts of University of Iowa students, faculty, staff, programs, departments, and student organizations engaged in DEI initiatives during the previous academic year. 

Dr. Liz Tovar, Executive Officer and Associate Vice President of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, will provide a welcome message. Valerie Garr, Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion & Coordinator of Supplemental Instruction/N.E.S.T. Tutoring Program, College of Nursing, will deliver the keynote address.

The 2022 DCA award recipients are:

  • The Anti-Racism Collaborative in the College of Education
  • Lia Plakans, professor of Multilingual Education at the University of Iowa and the Departmental Executive Officer for the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education
  • Joyce Goins-Fernandez, clinical assistant professor and Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital 
  • Milagros Michels-Cordao, Graduate Student with the U of I College of Pharmacy
  • Shana Harris is a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Science Ph.D. program and a Lulu Merle Johnson Fellow
  • Ariel Kershner, Ph.D. candidate and NSF Graduate Research Fellow studying cognitive psychology

Also recognized on April 20 will be the Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award, the Alliant Energy & Errol B. Davis, Jr. Achievement Awards, and the Diane L. Finnerty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Legacy Award.

The Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award was established in 1981 by then-President Willard Boyd in honor of Vice President Emeritus Philip G. Hubbard, a faculty representative on the first UI Human Rights Committee and the first African American tenured professor at the UI.

This award is given to the student(s) who has made the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in the preceding year, keeping with the University's commitment to human rights, equal opportunity, and equal access.

The 2021-2022 recipient is Gada A. Al Herz, a 3L student at the University of Iowa College of Law, is pursuing a career in international law. Since her undergraduate years, Ms. Al Herz has attended the University of Iowa and has been very active in the UI and Iowa City communities. She is dedicated to advocating for human rights and currently sits on the advisory board of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights.

The Alliant Energy/Erroll B. Davis, Jr. Achievement Award was created by Alliant Energy to honor Erroll B. Davis, Jr. and his nearly 30 years of service to the utility industry. They recognize the importance of scholarship and leadership by underrepresented minority students in the state of Iowa. 

This award recognizes academic achievement, leadership in campus and community organizations, and potential for the future career success of rising seniors in business or engineering. Each student selected to receive the award can receive up to $5,000.

The 2022 Alliant Energy/Erroll B. Davis, Jr. Achievement Award winners are Iris Espana and Nikole Molina of the University of Iowa, Iluda Ko and Jacqueline Trujillo Garcia of Iowa State University, and Tristen Prouse of the University of Northern Iowa.

The Diane L. Finnerty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Legacy Award recognize members of the UI campus community who have played an integral role in creating positive institutional change related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Diane Finnerty's career at the University of Iowa spanned more than 25 years, most recently holding the position of Assistant Provost for Faculty, Office of the Provost. In her work at the University, she committed herself to being a relentless advocate to create a community and a more inclusive campus. Finnerty was a dedicated advocate, educator, and leader, who helped transform how many units and people addressed diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Her legacy is deeply woven into UI's history and story.

Lan Samantha ChangElizabeth M. Stanley Professor of the Arts, Director, Iowa Writers' Workshop, and author of "The Family Chao," is this year's recipient. Chang is recognized for her extensive work with the Iowa Writer's workshop, her ability to attract extraordinary talent to visit the campus, and her continuous partnership with multiple departments (including the Women's Leadership Initiative) to establish substantial institutional transformation.

Students, guests, and members of the Iowa City community are welcome to watch the virtual ceremony on April 20th from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at

For all the information about the award reception, the award winners, and the history of the Iowa Diversity Catalyst Awards, please visit the Diversity Catalyst Awards' online home.


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