About the DCA's

For twenty-five 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.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the division in advance at ddei-iesi@uiowa.edu.

ASL interpretation will be provided by Hands Up Communications during the awards ceremony.

The University of Iowa prohibits discrimination in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy (including childbirth and related conditions), disability, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, service in the U.S. military, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preferences. The university also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to university facilities. For additional information on nondiscrimination policies, contact the Director, Office of Institutional Equity, the University of Iowa, 202 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242-1316, 319-335-0705, oie-ui@uiowa.edu.

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2023 Diversity Catalyst Award Winners

Distinguished Catalyst Award Honoree Gabriela Rivera

Gabriela Rivera

Claudia “Gabriela” Rivera was born in Toluca, Mexico. Iowa has been her home for 35 years now. An only child, Latina immigrant, and first-generation college student, she completed all her higher education in the United States starting at Scott Community College, Central College, and the University of Iowa. She is a proud Hawkeye. She earned her master’s in higher education and student affairs in 1999. Her first professional job was as an admissions counselor at The University of Iowa. Among other jobs, she has worked as a paralegal, newspaper reporter, Belin Blank Center counselor, smoking cessation counselor, Spanish teacher, Multicultural Specialist at the Center for Diversity & Enrichment, and currently as an Associate Director, Engagement and Belonging in the Tippie College of Business. She has been the advisor for Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, a Latina sorority at the University of Iowa, and a member of the UI Latinx Council. At the state level, Gabriela has served as a member of the Strengthening and Valuing Latino/Communities in the state of Iowa Conference. Most recently she traveled to the country of Colombia to assist with entrepreneurship training with the Colombia Creative Economy in San Andres and Providencia. She is a recipient of the Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award, the Susan Buckley Distinguished Achievement Award, and the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame Award.  She is very passionate about immigrant and women’s issues, mentoring, social justice, and leadership development. Gabriela was a co-founder of the chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council in Iowa City in 2013 because she believes in community involvement and empowerment. She lives with her mother Maria Guadalupe, husband, Diego Rivera, son Diego Omar, two daughters, Isabel and Camila, dog Jack and cat Ivy.   

“Her deep passion for students and communities and her commitment to diversity has positively impacted not only the UI campus but Iowa communities as well.” -Guadalupe De La Rosa

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Practitioner Crystal Lewis

434 Crystal Lewis_head shot

Crystal Lewis (she, her, hers) is the Associate Director of Inclusive Career Services and Career Coach at the Pomerantz Career Center (PCC). She has over ten years of experience working with students as an Instructor, Academic Advisor, and Career Coach at the University of Iowa. Her approach with students primarily highlights their strengths and decision-making power and supports student efforts to build community and networks for success. Before her work at the PCC, Crystal served as a Senior Academic Advisor and the Coordinator for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives at the Academic Advising Center (AAC). In her role at the AAC and her current work at the PCC, Crystal focuses on creating, developing, and supporting practices to foster inclusive workplace culture and inclusive services to students in higher education.  

 Crystal earned a B.A. in Government and African American Studies from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and an M.A. in African American World Studies from the University of Iowa. 

Crystal is an inspirational leader and co-worker whose keen intellect not only challenges you to be your best but supports you on the journey.” -Ben Landsee

Diversity Catalyst Award Honorees

Jeanine Abrons, PharmD, MS, FAPhA

 434Jeanine Abrons head shot

Dr. Abrons attended pharmacy school at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa graduating in 2004. She then pursued and completed a Master of Science in Social and Administrative Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Her first teaching experience was at Albany College of Pharmacy. She taught and coordinated a pharmacotherapy, and medicinal chemistry course focused on cardiology and internal medicine. She created and ran an internal medicine rotation, served on numerous committees, and became more involved with research/publishing, and editing. Dr. Abrons' practice and research focus on global health and underserved populations. She has developed and coordinated an international experience in rural and natural medicine in Dominica, West Indies. She currently trains students on providing preventative health service screenings to underserved patient populations. Dr. Abrons is developing innovations to assist with screening provision and documentation. She is active with the national American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) global special interest group. She is the Director of Student Pharmacists International Activities for the University of Iowa, College of Pharmacy. Regarding editing, she holds editing positions with the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, and Pulses. She is the Editor for the University of Iowa Teaching Cases and Active Learning Exercises. She is Author / Editor to the Pharmacists Peripheral Brain.

“She goes above her roles and positions to meet frequently with her students to discuss potential opportunities and to make all feel included and to advance our careers. Not only does she make her Iowa students feel included and welcome but also our colleagues from abroad when visiting.”  -Carlos Nuñez

Nicholas Benson

434 Nicholas Benson headshot

Nick serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Community Engagement and provides leadership on campus for community-engaged teaching, learning, and research. He has worked for eight years in various community engagement roles at the University of Iowa, including as director of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities and as director of Community Development and Outreach. Nick holds a master's degree in urban and Regional Planning and Juris Doctorate from Iowa. Before his time at Iowa, Nick worked for the City of Iowa City in community and economic development and at Leff Law Firm. 



“Nick's determination in leading and developing our office, and the extraordinary effort he has put forward in uniting campus and community partners, will have an enduring and sustained impact on generations of Iowans for years to come.” -Leslie Finer

Rainbo Hultman, Ph.D

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Dr. Rainbo Hultman is an assistant professor in the Dept. of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Iowa Neuroscience Institute. She completed her undergraduate studies in biochemistry and global studies at the University of Iowa and her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Duke University. Her postdoctoral research was conducted in the Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Hultman’s research uses a novel approach to probing brain-wide networks of electrical activity using pre-clinical rodent disease models. She and her team are working to identify the role of these networks in mediating complex behavioral states related to neurological and psychiatric disorders. She has received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and a McKnight Neurobiology of Disease Award for this work. 

Dr. Hultman is passionate about mentoring students in STEM and fostering an environment of inclusivity in science. She has outstanding training and a strong track record in mentoring students from groups historically excluded from science, employing a value-based mentorship approach and evidence-based mentoring strategies. Dr. Hultman’s scholarship reflects her strength in a rigorous scientific research program and a commitment to working with the larger scientific community to prioritize the mentorship and development of students. She recently initiated the iDREAM program (Iowa, Diversifying Research and Mentorship), an NIH-funded doctoral readiness program for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain critical experiences in neuroscience research.  

“Dr. Hultman brings creativity, energy, and dedication to the work of envisioning and strengthening diversity and inclusivity on our campus. She helps bring out the best in her colleagues along the way. I cannot think of a person who is more deserving of this recognition.” -Aislinn Williams

Tevin Robbins

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Tevin Robbins Associate Director of Student Leadership Development in the Tippie College of Business, Undergraduate Program Office. He serves as an academic advisor, college transition course instructor, and recruitment and retention collaborator and oversees leadership development programming with the Tippie undergraduate population. Tevin intentionally weaves diversity, equity, and inclusion into every aspect of his work to promote holistic future business professionals. He strives to strongly advocate for underrepresented and first-generation students like he was himself. Tevin has coordinated diversity case competitions, supported Tippie student organizations in their DEI initiatives, and consulted with staff and faculty members to ensure that Tippie is always growing and aiming for inclusivity.  

One of Tevin’s most significant achievements at Tippie is serving as the Black in Business Series director. Black in Business is a series of programs designed to expand the dialogue in the Black community around issues of higher education, business, and entrepreneurship, intending to help students grow professionally. Tevin and his student coordinator team are committed to providing a safe and inclusive space within the Tippie College of Business and University of Iowa for Black students to thrive and grow professionally by 1) seeing representation from Black professionals from an array of industries, 2) accessing mentorship from leaders who look like them, and 3) discovering unique career opportunities. The Black in Business Series culminates in the annual Networking Dinner every Black History Month. The Black in Business Networking Dinner is a gala-like event that shifts the perspective for students at a predominately white institute by creating a space where Black and Brown students are surrounded by people who look like them and support them.  Tevin has developed important external partnerships with alumni, campus guests, and corporate entities who partner with Black in Business programs to make the Networking Dinner a success.  

 Tevin has been a Hawkeye since 2009 and is soon to be three-time alumni. He received his BA in Psychology with a Human Relations minor and Certificate in Critical Cultural Competence in 2013. He then received his MA in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, focusing on Higher Education and Student Affairs in 2015. And now, Tevin is receiving his MBA from the Tippie College of Business in December 2023. Tevin is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 

“He goes out of his way to make sure that students, specifically underrepresented students, feel seen and heard in Tippie. Tevin has not only offered his time within the nine to five workdays, but he has given so much of his time to students outside of those hours. He is always finding new ways to uplift and highlight the successes of those around him and celebrates their success as if it was his own.” -Neah Howlett

Diane L. Finnerty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Legacy Award

Facilitating Difficult Dialogues Obermann Working Group

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 be 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.

Led by: Jamarco Clark, Teri Schnelle, and David Supp-Montgomerie

Alliant Energy & Erroll B. Davis, Jr. Achievement Awards

Arianna Burkes

Arianna Burkes

Management Information Systems, Ivy College of Business, Iowa State University

Arianna Burkes is a Management Information Systems major at Iowa State University. She holds leadership positions in Student Government (Business Senate) and in the Color of Love Club (Secretary). Arianna is also a peer mentor and participates in several student clubs. She has been on the Dean's List each semester. Arianna has participated in over 100 community service hours. 

Natalie France

Natalie France

Majors: Marketing and International Business Minors: Supply Chain Management and French, Iowa State University

Natalie France is a rising scholar; and has strived to maximize her time during undergrad. She acquired her first internship with John Deere as a first year, was a peer mentor, and completed an independent study abroad in Belgium. Outside of extracurricular activities, she has built intentional relationships with the Ivy College of Business staff and students and is very active in the community.


Ignacio Gomez


Economics major, International Relations minor, International Business certificate. University of Iowa Tippie College of Business

Ignacio Gomez is a third-year student majoring in Economics and International Relations. He is part of the Alpha Sigma Phi executive board, Interfraternity Council, and First Year Direct Admit Program.

Sean Rolle

Sean Rolle

Management & Finance, Iowa State University

Sean Rolle is a rising senior at Iowa State University majoring in Management & Finance. Outside of the classroom, he is the Vice President of the Multicultural Business Network Student Organization and a Resident Assistant. He is an incoming Corporate Client Banking intern at JP Morgan Chase and is from Atlanta, Georgia. He loves spending time with his family and is excited to start his professional career. 

Phillip G. Hubbard Award

Emily Bushman: College of Law

Emily Bushman

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. Many of you have enjoyed activities held in Hubbard Park to the south of the Iowa Memorial Union and Hubbard Commons which are both named in his honor.

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, in keeping with the University’s commitment to human rights, equal opportunity, and equal access.

Emily Bushman will graduate from the College of Law in May 2023. Emily worked for two years at the University of Iowa Legal Clinic focusing on immigrants’ rights and community advocacy.  After law school, Emily will continue her work in immigration law as an Immigrant Justice Corps fellow - the first in the law school's history - at Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy in New Orleans, Louisiana. 


Diversity Seed Grants

Bridging the Language Gap: Developing a Learning Module for the Appropriate Use of Medical Interpreters and Translators When Caring for Patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

Submitter: Carolina Gonzalez Bravo

Description: Faculty and healthcare professional students across the University of Iowa campus can elect to participate in this module to obtain the tools, cultural competency, and knowledge to appropriately use interpreters and translators when caring for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) in the clinical setting.

Museums for Everyone: Designing for Access at the Pentacrest Museums

Submitter: Carolina Kaufman

Description: The Pentacrest Museums at the University of Iowa has found a great opportunity to team up with UI REACH to develop and design new accessibility museum resources and activities for neurodiverse learners and audiences with disabilities.

Using BIPOC Skin Model in Suturing Skills Workshop to Simulate Racially Diverse Patient Demographics

Submitter: Marc F Doobay

Description: The purpose of this study is to assess students’ self-perceived engagement, confidence, competence, and appraisal of suturing dark- and light-colored skin in a wound simulation workshop.

Creation of MENA/SWANA Graduation Stoles

Submitter: Yasmina Sahir

Description: The purpose of this project is to bring cultural and ethnic awareness to the Middle Eastern/Southwest Asian, North African, and Arab students on campus.

Honors Diversity Council Annual Food Drive Competition

Submitter: Xiangheng Li

Description: The Honors Diversity Council aims to initiate an annual food drive competition for the Food Pantry at Iowa in collaboration with multicultural and service-oriented organizations to counteract the constant shortage of food with an emphasis on multicultural food.

Relive the 2022 DCA's

2022-2023 B.U.I.L.D. Certificates

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