Join Us in Celebrating the 2021 Diversity Awards Winners!
The State Council on Affirmative Action (SCAA) is proud to announce the winners of the 2021 Diversity Awards. The Council has selected five (5) winners across four (4) categories, as well as a Program Achievement Award and an Honorable Mention. A ceremony honoring the winners, along with the winners of the Virginia Hart Award, will take place on Friday, October 29th at the State Capitol!
Watch our Live Stream on Zoom HERE at 1:00pm on October 29th!
The 2021 Award Winners
This year celebrates the 22nd anniversary of the State Council on Affirmative Action's annual Diversity Awards which recognizes state agencies, universities, and employees for their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workforce.
The Department of Health Services will receive the 2021 Diversity Award for the creation of the Office of Health Equity (OHE) and the Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council (HEDI). These programs represent the Department's comprehensive dedication to the advancement of equity and justice within its workforce and in serving all citizens of Wisconsin.
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will receive the 2021 Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award for the work of its Department of Campus Climate. The department demonstrated a sincere commitment to the recruitment, retention, and promotion of a diverse workforce through various actions and programs, including the facilitation of the Midwest Culturally inclusive Conference.
The Department of Children and Families will receive the Program Award for Outstanding Achievement for its Back to the Future Project in fostering an inclusive workplace through innovation and flexibility.
Bianca Shaw, Director of the Office of Urban Development with the Department of Children and Families, is the recipient of the Outstanding Leadership Award for the work she has done in developing community and department relationships within Milwaukee, taking initiative and leadership roles in department diversity and inclusion initiatives, and relentlessly advocating for equity in her work and community.
"All of Bianca's efforts have advanced our department's internal and external equity efforts and have left an indelible mark on our progress in becoming a more equitable organization, and a better state in which to raise a family for every Wisconsinite." - Secretary Emilie Amundson, DCF
Marianne Rosen, also of the Department of Children and Families, is the recipient of an honorable mention in the award category of Outstanding Leadership for her leading roles in the department's equity and inclusion goals.
"As Marianne’s supervisor, I cannot speak highly enough about the value of the contributions Marianne has made to address diversity, equity and inclusion in our department... Her leadership has been instrumental in creating a safe and respectful culture for staff to engage in difficult conversations." - Connie Chesnik, DCF
Dr. Pilar Melero, Professor of the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, is the recipient of the University Lifetime of Service Award, for dedicating her over 20-year career in education to educating and advocating for the LatinX, Chicano, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ communities, as well as serving as a mentor, resource, and ally to all students and staff around equity and gender issues.
"With a career of almost 20 years at UW-Whitewater, Dr. Melero has held progressive roles... [as] a champion of equity, diversity and inclusion, not only at UW-Whitewater, but for the State of Wisconsin and nationally." - Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, UW-Whitewater
Administrative Law Judge Rose Ann Wasserman, of the Department of Workforce Development, Equal Rights Division is the recipient of State Agency Lifetime of Service Award, for advancing diversity and equity throughout her 30-year career by delivering compassionate justice; and influencing countless others to pursue the same. Her commitment to fair employment law, and respect for the people most directly impacted by its application has earned her the respect of her colleagues, the legal community, and the Wisconsin citizens she serves.
"Over her 30 years with the Equal Rights Division, Rose Ann has advanced diversity and equity by delivering compassionate justice – and has influenced countless others to pursue the same. Her unbiased approach unites workers and employers around DWD's vision of Wisconsin as a fair and just place for all people to work." - Secretary Amy Pechacek, DWD
Virginia Hart Award
The awards ceremony will also celebrate the 2021 Winner of the Virginia Hart Special Recognition Award. The Virginia Hart Special Recognition Award Committee is pleased to announce that Connie Chesnik, from the Department of Children and Families, was selected as the winner of the 2021 Virginia Hart Special Recognition Award. The annual award is given in honor of Virginia Hart, Wisconsin's first female cabinet member. Connie is described as a resourceful mentor, a committed advocate, a giver, a loving friend, and an inspiring role model. She has served on national and local committees advocating for improved outcomes from children and is the driving force behind many of the department’s initiatives on family policy.
The committee also selected two honorable mentions this year, Angela Nimsgern of the Department of Health Services and Shelly Rusch of the Department of Justice. Angela is described by her peers as a hardworking, dedicated advocate, team member, proud mother, and passionate care provider who “hits all the qualities this recognition seeks to exemplify” and Shelly was referred to as a "gifted orator" who has dedicated her career to giving the most vulnerable people in our state a voice in the criminal justice system.
About the Diversity Awards
The SCAA established the
Diversity Award in 2000 to recognize the achievements of outstanding affirmative action and equal employment opportunity practices among state agencies. The Diversity Award is structured to recognize state agencies, Wisconsin Technical Colleges and UW campuses for their strong commitment to the recruitment, retention and promotion of a diverse classified workforce as measured by the creation of programs, initiatives, and practices.
In addition to the annual Diversity Award, the SCAA began recognizing institutions of higher learning in 2003 for their exceptional efforts in preparing minorities, women, and persons with disabilities for employment in the State of Wisconsin. In 2004, the award was named The Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award to honor UW-River Falls Chancellor Ann Lydecker. The Ann Lydecker Award is structured to recognize exceptional efforts made by University of Wisconsin campuses for their rrecruitment and retention of a diverse student and faculty workforce as evidenced by data showing improved outcomes.
The Outstanding Leadership and Lifetime of Service diversity awards were created in 2019 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Diversity Award. These awards recognize state employees state employees in leadership roles or with 15+ years of service, employed by state agencies, Wisconsin Technical Colleges and University of Wisconsin system campuses who have exhibited exemplary service in the areas of inclusion, diversity, and wellness. These awards are given to individuals who have created and maintained an inclusive, healthy, and positive work environment, and promoted equity, acceptance, and understanding of different backgrounds.
The SCAA also awards Program Achievement commendations to participating agencies and higher learning institutions as part of the Diversity Award selection process. The Program Achievement award recognizes efforts that demonstrate strong commitment, initiative or innovation to address diversity issues within state employment and higher education.
2021 Award Criteria:
The State Council members on Affirmative Action, representing diverse communities across the state, will review all nominations and rate them according to the selection criteria. Winners of this year's awards will be notified by September 27th, 2021 of their selection. The awards will be conferred in a ceremony at the Capitol in the Assembly Chambers on October 29, 2021. More details surrounding the awards ceremony will be shared soon.
Questions: If you have any questions, please contact Nicole Bailie by e-mail at email@example.com.
Previous Diversity Awards Programs:
For the 2020 Diversity Awards program, the SCAA created the below video in honor of two decades full of significant strides towards a more equitable and inclusive workforce, honoring every winner of the Diversity Awards throughout the years. For any additional information regarding the previous years' winners or for more information on the history of the awards or the Council, please contact Nicole Bailie at firstname.lastname@example.org.