UMSI announces 2020-2021 DEI Awards recipients
The UMSI Diversity Awards each year recognize students, staff members and faculty members who have had a positive impact on the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion [DEI] efforts.
The UMSI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office and the DEI Committee announced the recipients of the 2020-2021 UMSI Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and UMSI Award for Impact in Gender Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Information and Technology.
“The nominations and awards continue to highlight the UMSI community’s strong commitment to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Devon Keen, director of inclusion, equity and outreach . “These efforts are all the more meaningful because they took place against the challenging backdrop of the pandemic.”
UMSI Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Ihudiya Finda Williams and Black@SI Student/Alum Group
Both Black@SI as a group and PhD candidate Ihudiya Finda Williams as an individual are being recognized with a DEI award. Finda has demonstrated significant leadership of DEI and racial justice work at UMSI, particularly as a leader/founder of Black@SI. Collectively, the students and alumni of Black@SI collaboratively engaged with UMSI leadership over the course of summer 2020 and beyond to advocate for concrete interventions, policy change and initiatives. Their calls to action have catalyzed redoubled DEI efforts and an anti-racism focus across UMSI.
Throughout their time at the University of Michigan, Luke Kudryashov (MSI ’21) has been deeply involved in campus-wide advocacy related to disability and LGBTQ+ issues. They have served on the Services for Students with Disabilities Student Advisory Board, the Office of Institutional Equity Student Advisory Board, and the Student Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Board (for which they co-chaired the Disability Community, Culture, and Climate sub-committee). Since 2019, Luke has served as the co-facilitator of disability culture at U-M.
Luke’s work on disability issues has addressed systemic anti-autistic ableism and held the institution accountable for providing meaningful disability accommodations during a pandemic, resulting in a number of large-scale events addressing issues around accessibility, disability identity and disability culture, helping build a vibrant, diverse and supportive disability community at U-M.
Since she started her journey at the University of Michigan, Bachelor of Science in Information student Malana Chan has served as a pioneer for sharing useful and accessible information with people at the right time. Her efforts can be seen through her anti-Asian racism work, mentorship, health equity initiatives, and support for local Ann Arbor businesses. She assisted with research for the Healthy Asian Americans Project, where she engaged with victims of domestic violence in the Asian American community through interviews and provided essential translation assistance. Malana also led a domestic violence assistance program workshop to equip survivors with social and community support systems, resulting in health care awareness, confidence and accessibility for 80+ participants.
Malana also serves as the advocacy and service chair of the Vietnamese Student Association.
Barb Smith and team members: Jacques Chestnut, Rebecca Epstein, Colum Slevin, James Reitz, Claudia Leo, Todd Stuart
Senior Assistant to the Dean Barb Smith, as an individual/team lead, and the team of Jacques Chestnut, Rebecca Epstein, Colum Slevin, James Reitz, Claudia Leo and Todd Stuart are receiving the DEI Impact award in recognition of their initiative and efforts in revising and expanding the University of Michigan’s Religious Holiday Website. Barb initiated and led the project in which the team transformed the website from approximately 11 holiday names and dates to 48 holidays that come complete with fact sheets verified by local religious leaders about each holiday (including greetings, common practices and celebrations, dietary restrictions, etc).
Associate Professor Tawanna Dillahunt has significantly contributed to DEI through her role as faculty co-chair of the DEI committee, where she served a very active role on the education and co-curriculum committee and was responsible for bringing in speakers like Dr. Anu and Dr. Peoples. Tawanna also uses her scholarly and professional work to enhance the success of students, faculty, staff and community members from underserved and minoritized communities. This includes 9+ publications aimed to advance diversity in some way (primarily racial and economic diversity).
Through her teaching, Tawanna employs an anti-racist pedagogical structure, giving students agency to direct their learning experience by providing them a space to make reading contributions and highlight the experiences and voices of groups experiencing marginalization in the course context. This inherently leads to a syllabus that is more inclusive to a diverse set of researchers, topics and best practices highlighted by the anti-racist curriculum subcommittee’s good practices document.
UMSI Award for Impact in Gender Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Information and Technology
Oliver Haimson (Faculty)
Assistant Professor Oliver Haimson has made concrete changes with how UMSI addresses gender, from the range of options on admissions forms to making a gender inclusive bathroom a reality. His research has also pushed the field forward in being more gender inclusive. Working with the UMSI DEI committee and with Spectrum Center, he helped put together a series of upcoming workshops on LGBTQ+ identities and inclusive language. Oliver also made a concerted effort to include more diverse authors on his course syllabi and to intentionally and critically address racial justice issues in his courses.
Much of Oliver’s research relates to improving the lives of marginalized people and communities. He was named an inaugural Senior Fellow by the Center for Applied Transgender Studies. Additionally, he has spent time working with the Office of Academic and Student Affairs to mitigate demographic disparities among admitted UMSI students.
Shannon Li (Student)
With intersectionality as a framework, Bachelor of Science in Information student Shannon Li has been working on campaigns pushing inclusion and equity for queer and women’s communities. Through her advocacy work with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and in her role as a GLAAD ambassador, she’s worked on campaigns, fundraisers and the publishing of narratives for LGBTQ+ representation in media. She’s also volunteered in a range of advocacy work, from publishing articles about her personal narrative as a queer person in order to inspire and empower other queer folks to contributing toward GLAAD’s Spirit Day campaign.