Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award

The Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award honors faculty who have done significant research, teaching or service/leadership to advance justice, equity, diversity and inclusion at the University, in the person's field of study, or in our broader community. These awards are meant to advance and elevate equity work; provide funding in recognition of the value of that work; and showcase critical scholarship, pedagogy, and community engagement.

Candidates for the awards are nominated by their departments. These awards are made possible through the generous support of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Office of Equity and Diversity.

Nomination materials are available at https://faculty.umn.edu/review-recognition/awards-recognition/awards

Award Recipients


Douglas Kearney, English, College of Liberal Arts, UMN Twin Cities

Douglas Kearney has co-chaired and chaired the English Department’s EDI Committee, programming grad-level EDI workshops with topics ranging from Institutional EDI Statements to Black feminist pedagogical interventions. His writing examines the collisions between Black people, violence, and entertainment. He is currently writing a book about aesthetic disruption in Black music.

Sarah-Jane (Saje) Mathieu, History, College of Liberal Arts, UMN Twin Cities

Saje Mathieu is a dedicated educator and historian whose work centers the experiences of African-descended people in the Americas and Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She specializes in the Black Diaspora, war, immigration, race, globalization, social movements, and political resistance. Her books, scholarly articles, museum, library, radio, and television projects have forged meaningful partnerships between the university and community stakeholders.

Hessam Kassra Mirgolbabaei, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, UMN Duluth

As Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisor, Editor, and Higholt Endowed Professor at the University of Minnesota, Hessam Mirgolbabaei promotes inclusive and diverse learning and work environments. Hessam's expertise in developing data-driven and computational solutions for complex problems stems from over a decade of academic and research experience in engineering.

Mary J. Owen, Family Medicine & Biobehavioral Health, Medical School, UMN Twin Cities

Mary Owen has developed programs with the primary aim of increasing representation of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students pursuing careers in medicine. She has been instrumental in ensuring that the Medical School remains aligned with the healthcare and educational needs of AIAN communities. She is Associate Dean of Native American Health and Director of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health.

Heather Peters, Psychology, Division of the Social Sciences, UMN Morris

Heather Peters has been a tireless advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion at UMN Morris. On campus her leadership has been essential to the creation of the Human Services Social Justice Major, Equity and Diversity Advocate program, and new Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor program. Beyond campus, she has forged meaningful partnerships with various tribal and non-tribal partners around the state to improve the health and well-being of individuals who experience marginalization.


Ruby Nancy, Marketing, Labovitz School of Business and Economics, UMN Duluth

Dr. Ruby Nancy infuses her values into her service, leadership, teaching and research at the University of Minnesota Duluth—supporting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the classroom and beyond. Her committee work, leadership, and teaching in the Labovitz School and her efforts with UMD-wide organizations all center DEI concerns: anti-racist pedagogy, teaching for accessibility, economic equity, and community building. Her research brings Black feminism and queer feminist rhetorical practices into the field of business.

R. Lee Penn, Chemistry, College of Science and Engineering, UMN Twin Cities

Lee’s outreach and advocacy for students, staff, postdocs, and faculty who hold marginalized identities has consistently grown since arriving at the UMN, with recognition of their work at the local, national, and international levels. Their focus on continuing education on topics related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion emphasizes their own development and growth as well as that within the communities of current and aspiring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) professionals and instructors.

Jeanine Weekes Schroer, Philosophy, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, UMN Duluth

Dr. Schroer’s research concerns racism, sexism, and ableism; oppressive narratives; and restorative
justice. Her current project examines how narratives of untrustworthiness permeate the healthcare
experiences of black patients and correlating shortcomings in healthcare and medical research they
reveal. Her anti-racist policy work — specifically the liberal education category on race, power, and
justice and faculty development work in accord with it — have had a considerable impact on justice,
equity, diversity and inclusion at UMD.


Brooke Cunningham, Family Medicine & Community Health, Medical School, UMN Twin Cities

Dr. Cunningham advances justice, equity, diversity and inclusion as a researcher and medical educator. Her research broadly focuses on race and medicine. Her current study aims to reduce racial disparities in healthcare by training White physicians to safely and effectively talk to Black patients about experiences of racism. As co-director of the DEI Thread in the Medical School, she partners with faculty, staff, and students to increase health equity content in the curriculum and to cultivate antiracist learning environments.

Malinda Alaine Lindquist, History, College of Liberal Arts, UMN Twin Cities

Malinda Alaine Lindquist's research explores how Black social scientists understood, challenged and constructed masculinity and debated and contested the meanings of educational equity, achievement, and harm. Her justice, equity, diversity and inclusion work is most visible in her embrace of assessment tools and pedagogical frameworks that center equity; her engagement with University-wide efforts to excavate institutional racism and center racial analysis; and her collaborations with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Allen Mensinger, Biology, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, UMN Duluth

Increasing equity, inclusion and diversity in the biological sciences, Dr. Mensinger has used his extramural funding during the past two decades to substantially increase the number of research opportunities for students in the STEM fields and to support a diverse group of scholars in undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral research in the biological sciences at the university, regional and national level. This has resulted in disproportionate numbers of students in marginalized populations enrolling and completing graduate degrees in the STEM fields.

Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, Educational Psychology, College of Education & Human Development, UMN Twin Cities

Dr. Wackerle-Hollman has pursued a research agenda that focuses on family engagement and early childhood assessment with families and children that has a deep commitment to promoting social justice, equity and inclusion in community and educational settings. She has used community-based participatory research methodology in collaboration with communities to build family and educator capacity to assess and nurture Spanish and Hmong language development as well as to build positive parenting skills through an empowerment lens.