Recipients of 2015 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award

(from left) Back row: Dandrielle Lewis, UW-Eau Claire; Michelle Lopez-Rios, UW-Milwaukee; Heather Johnson, UW-Madison; Yunmei Reeder, UW-Platteville; Sylvia Carey-Butler, UW-Oshkosh; Idella Yamben, UW-Extension; Renée Gralewicz, UW-Fox Valley; Doris Strehlau, UW-Stout; Crystal Chevalier, UW-Extension
Front row: Adrienne Viramontes, UW-Parkside; Mai Lo Lee, 2009 UW-Green Bay recipient; Ozalle Toms, UW-Whitewater; Hli Vang, UW-River Falls; Xia Vang, UW-La Crosse; Caitlin Lee, 2010 UW-Eau Claire recipient; Ka Lia Smith, UW-Stevens Point; Simonita Perales Simkins, UW-Superior
Not pictured: Juliet Cole, UW-Green Bay; Earlise Ward, UW-Madison (Photo by Joe Koshollek)


MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System has announced the 17 recipients of the 2015 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award, an annual honor given to faculty, staff, students, or community members to recognize their contributions to diversity and the status of women within the UW System.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the award.

“The UW System has a longstanding commitment to promoting diversity at our institutions. The women we are honoring with these awards are shining examples of how innovative thinking and dedication can come together to impact and enrich the UW experience for everyone,” said UW System President Ray Cross.

Recipients will be formally recognized on Oct. 9 in Madison at an awards ceremony and luncheon, held in conjunction with UW System’s presentation of the Dr. P.B. Poorman Awards for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ People.

“I am delighted that the Outstanding Women of Color in Education award has reached its 20-year anniversary,” said Andrea-Teresa “Tess” Arenas, who formerly served as both assistant vice president for academic affairs and senior advisor to the president for multicultural affairs at UW System.  “When I created this award, the goal was to affirm and support the many women of color in the UW System who have dedicated their lives to enhancing higher education experiences and scope through advocacy. This award is as important now as it was when I created it. I salute all women of color who through their tireless efforts have continued to shape their campuses to be sites of educational reform.”

The 2015 Outstanding Women of Color in Education honorees are:

  • Renée Gralewicz, Associate Professor, Anthropology, UW Colleges (UW-Fox Valley )
  • Dandrielle Lewis, Assistant Professor, Mathematics, UW-Eau Claire
  • Crystal Chevalier, 4-H Youth Development Educator and Co-department Head, Menominee County, UW-Extension
  • Idella Yamben, Entrepreneurial Consultant and Program Manager for Ideadvance Seed Fund, Division for Business and Entrepreneurship, UW-Extension
  • Juliet Cole, Associate Director, Institute for Learning Partnership, UW-Green Bay
  • Xia Vang, Financial Aid Counselor, UW-La Crosse
  • Heather Johnson, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, UW-Madison
  • Earlise Ward, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, UW-Madison
  • Michelle Lopez-Rios, Associate Professor, Theatre, Peck School of the Arts, UW-Milwaukee
  • Sylvia Carey-Butler, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Support of Inclusive Excellence, Center for Equity and Diversity, UW-Oshkosh
  • Adrienne Viramontes, Associate Professor, Communication, UW-Parkside
  • Yunmei Reeder, Director, Confucius Institute, UW-Platteville
  • Hli Vang, Director, Pan-Asian Student Services, Augsburg College, and Alumni Advisory Board Member, UW-River Falls
  • Ka Lia Smith, Financial Aid Advisor, UW-Stevens Point
  • Doris Strehlau, Office Operations Associate, Memorial Student Center, UW-Stout
  • Simonita Perales Simkins, Graduate Student (now Alumna), Co-founder and Past President, Hispanic Organization/Organización Latino Americana (HOLA), UW-Superior
  • Ozalle Toms, Assistant Professor, Special Education, UW-Whitewater

UW institutions submit nominations for the awards, which highlight each recipient’s contributions to diversity, women’s studies scholarship or activism, or to improving the status and climate for women, particularly women of color.

For more information about the awards and past recipients, see

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