Watch the 2021 DCA Catalyst Awards

Transcript from Celebration

Opening Remarks

Liz Tovar Standing


Liz Tovar
Executive Officer and Associate Vice President
Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 


2021 DCA Program Cover Image

Keynote Address

Harriet Nembard

Harriet Nembhard
Dean, College of Engineering
Roy J. Carver Professor of Engineering
Professor of Industrial Engineering

Alliant Energy & Erroll B. Davis Jr. Achievement Award

Karen Ruby Devora Cigarroa

Cigarroa Photo

College of Engineering, Iowa State University
Major: Civil Engineering

Minor: Entrepreneurship  

Karen is a first-generation student studying Civil Engineering at Iowa State University, where she is also a Community Advisor for Helser Hall, Peer Mentor for the LEAD Learning community, Multicultural Greek Council exec member, and a proud member of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Inc. Her passion for engineering started in high school when she participated in the Dallas Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program and has grown since then through other internship experiences.

Hieu Nguyen


College of Engineering, the University of Iowa
Major: Industrial Engineering

Minor: Business Administration

Born in Vietnam, Hieu grew up in Coralville, Iowa, for most of his life. While he is an industrial engineer, he hopes to use his technical background in a business-oriented environment. He will be interning at Goldman Sachs this summer in their NYC headquarters. In the future, he plans to transition to an international career where he can also further pursue his charity efforts in Vietnam.

Maria Luz Alcala

Alcala Photo

Tippie College of Business, the University of Iowa
Major: Human Resource Management and Business Analytics

Certificates: International Business and Leadership Studies

Luz Alcala is studying HR Management and Business Analytics at the Tippie College of Business. She is passionate about DEI initiatives and serves as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ambassador for the Tippie College of Business. Luz is president of MBSA, a mentor and coordinator for the BizEdge program, a peer leader for the Iowa Edge program, and a dedicated Lambda Theta Nu Sorority sister, Inc.  

Linnea Dawley

Dawley Photo

College of Engineering, Iowa State University
Major: Chemical Engineering

Minor: Sustainability

Linnea is a 4th-year student at Iowa State University studying chemical engineering and sustainability. She wants to go into the oil and gas industry and use her education and passion for sustainability to find ways to be more sustainable in this industry. Outside of academics, Linnea holds leadership positions in several clubs and works for the College of Engineering.

Seed Grant Recipients

Translating Collection Guides into Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)

This effort aims to translate the most popular collection guides from the University of Iowa's Special Collections and University Archives into Chinese. Also known as finding aids, collection guides are the online gateway to the Special Collections’ manuscript collections. They inform patrons of the contents of the collections to assist them with their research and scholarly needs. Currently, Special Collection’s finding aids are only listed in English, and by translating these guides into Chinese, we aim to help bridge any language barriers that continue to occur in our department with our Chinese patrons, especially international students enrolled at the University of Iowa, therefore creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment.

Lindsay Moen Public Services Librarian, University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives
Jenna Silver Baustian 
Processing Coordinator Archivist, University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives

Surveying Louis Scarborough

Louis Scarborough was a Black animator, character designer, and storyboard artist who was active from the late 1970′s through the 1990′s. His collection, now at the University of Iowa Special Collections and University Archives, will be inventoried to prepare archival processing and description of the materials. This project will result in another collection from a historically underrepresented voice accessible, available, and represented in a field where their voices are often left out.

Jenna Silver Baustian Processing Coordinator Archivist, University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives
Lindsay Moen 
Public Services Librarian, University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives

Student Legal Services Immigration Consultation Program

This initiative aims to provide free, high-quality legal advice to students on immigration issues to ease the stress and distraction these legal concerns can cause. Licensed attorneys will provide legal consultations on issues including, but not limited to, family-based immigration, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and F-1 visa restrictions.

Amanda Elkins Director and Attorney, Student Legal Services
Rachel Howell 
Office Manager, Student Legal Services
Alyssa Pomponio 
Attorney, Student Legal Services
Jessica Malott 
Malott Law, PLC

2020-2021 B.U.I.L.D. Certificates

See the faculty and staff who have earned their B.U.I.L.D. Certificates

About the Awards

For over twenty years, the Diversity Catalyst Awards honor faculty, staff, students, programs, departments, and student organizations who have engaged in D.E.I. initiatives during the previous academic year, promoting the development of an inclusive and diverse campus community.

The University of Iowa's commitment to a welcoming and inclusive campus is embedded in policy, practices, values, and mission. The Diversity Catalyst Award recognizes the excellence, innovative and distinctive inclusion efforts of campus constituents.

We welcome all U.I. community members to nominate their peers for this prestigious award and encourage department administrators to consider nominating those in their unit who have received other diversity awards over the past year.

Award Information

Recipients of the Diversity Catalyst Awards will receive a one-time monetary award and an engraved trophy to commemorate and celebrate their accomplishments.

Who is eligible to receive a Diversity Catalyst Award?

University of Iowa faculty, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdocs are eligible to be nominated for the Diversity Catalyst Awards.


Primary Criteria

The recipients of the Diversity Catalyst Awards are exceptional community members who fit the following criteria:

  • The nominee has developed or implemented an innovative program, policy, or activity to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion within the university; 
  • The nominee's contributions are distinctive and have a positive effect on building respect for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the university community;
  • The nominee has gone above and beyond his/her job responsibilities.
Additional Criteria

A nominee who exemplifies characteristics that are innovative should:

  • Be creative and unique;
  • Introduce something new to the campus;
  • Approach their task with a fresh perspective that results in new outcomes.

A nominee who exemplifies the characteristics of distinctiveness should:

  • Be readily distinguishable in nature and quality from others;
  • Exhibit excellence in process and outcome.

A nominee who has enhanced diversity, equity, and inclusion within the university and has a positive effect on building respect for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the university community should:


How to Apply or Nominate

To nominate a person or group for the Diversity Catalyst Awards, the nominator will need to submit the following items:

The EXTENDED deadline for submitting online nomination forms and letters of Support is Thursday, March 18th, by 11:59 p.m. CST.

2021 Online Nomination Form

Nominations for 2021 are now closed.  

When completing the form, you will need to:

  • Provide specific contact information of each person involved in the nomination, such as the name, title, department/organization, email, and phone of the nominee, nominator, etc.
  • Name up to 2 individuals who are supporting the nomination via a letter of Support
  • Demonstrate the nominee's contributions and qualifications in the nomination statement (a portion of the online form) or the letters of Support by giving specific examples to describe how the candidate meets the Diversity Catalyst Award criteria. 

Nominators are encouraged to provide a statement of nomination in the text box provided in the online form in addition to the Letters of Support.

Letters of Support

The specifications for the letters of Support are as follows:

  • Send these letters as PDFs or Word documents to after submitting the online form and before the stated deadline for consideration.
  • The person completing the online nomination form can be one of the two people to write a letter of Support or can provide an additional nomination statement via email if one was not provided in the text box while filling out the online form.
  • No more than three letters total, including the statement of nomination, will be accepted per nomination. When multiple submissions for the same nominee occur by separate nominators, each complete nomination submission will be reviewed and considered separately and not combined.


A campus-wide committee of peers will review the nominations and determine this year's recipients.


Nomination Applications due: Thursday, March 18, 2021, 11:59 p.m. CST

Award Recipients and Nominators to be notified: Friday, March 26, 2021

Virtual Reception Ceremony: Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Contact us with questions

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