Diversity Award from the State Council on Affirmative Action

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​Join Us in Celebrating the 2022 Diversity and Virginia Hart Special Recognition Award Winners!

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Watch the livestream of the awards ceremony from Friday, October 21st! 

23rd Annual ​Diversity Award Winners

The Department of Workforce Development will receive the 2022 Diversity Award for its DEI Recruitment and Retention Initiative. This multi-level, comprehensive initiative builds internal accountability, provides training and support to staff, and further develops avenues to recruit, retain, and promote a diverse workforce.​

The University of Wisconsin-Stout will receive the 2022 Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award for the Stoutward Bound Program through its Multicultural Student Services office. This program demonstrated a high retention rate and the supremely high post-graduation employment rate for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Dr. Michelle Robinson, Director of the Office of Health Equity in the Department of Health Services, is the recipient of the Outstanding Leadership Award for the pioneering work she has done as the inaugural director of the OHE and the leadership she has provided to DHS in accomplishing their health equity and DEI goals. 

“My mantra is that the work of achieving inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) in an organization requires we move as a chorus—not as a bunch of soloists. In order to for us to truly create and support a diverse and inclusive workforce culture, leadership must work in harmony to figure out how to operationalize this culture. It is when we are collaborating to break down silos and institutional barriers that we begin to really operationalize IDEA work. And this is key as addressing gaps and failures of inclusion, diversity equity and access are necessary to remedy historic and present wrongs so that we can build a future where people of all backgrounds can truly thrive." (Dr. Michelle Robinson)

​Dr. Belle Rose Ragins, Sheldon B. Lubar Professor of Management - University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, is the recipient of the Lifetime of Service Award for dedicating her 24+ year career at UW-Milwaukee to championing DEI initiatives in her research, publications, and as a leading contributor in the development of several campuses, academic and community efforts to advance the field of DEI.

"Dr. Ragins has been instrumental in fostering diversity and inclusion throughout her 24 years as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Lubar College of Business. She is an award-winning teacher, an internationally renowned diversity scholar, and exceptionally gifted in her service in disseminating knowledge" (Mark Mone, UW-Milwaukee Chancellor).

Honorable Mentions

​Under the Outstanding Leadership award, the Council selected two honorable mentions. The first to ananda mirilli, The Network Grant Director on the Special Education Team of the Department of Public Instruction for her strong commitment to social justice not only with the Department of Public Instruction, but within her community and throughout the state. 

Tamara Mouw, Director of Partnerships and Equitable Practices of the Department of Public Instruction was also named an honorable mention for her work in creating a shared community for educators across the state to learn collectively, explore shared histories, and work towards healing and liberation.​

The SCAA selected two honorable mentions under the Lifetime of Service award, as well. The Council named Gale Johnson, of the Department of Health Services. Gale has been a state of Wisconsin employee for over 30 years and serves as the inaugural Program Director for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. She is described as a tireless advocate for the people she serves, uplifting the voices of some of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable populations.

The Council also named Terra Wendricks of the Department of Corrections, who has been with the state for 21 years and is the Assistant Regional Chief of Region 2. Throughout her career she has been an advocate for underrepresented employees and incorporating DEI principles in all she does. 

​​39th Annual Virginia Hart Award

The awards ceremony will also celebrate the 2022 Winner of the Virginia Hart Special Recognition Award. The Virginia Hart Special Recognition Award Committee is pleased to announce that Trina Zanow, from the Department of Administration, was selected as the winner of the 2022 Virginia Hart Special Recognition Award. The annual award is given in honor of Virginia Hart, Wisconsin's first female cabinet member. Trina is described as a natural leader who actively uses her private and public sector experiences to create her own legacy of organization change, transparency, and improvement. She has served the state for 25 years, including during several appointments to project-orientated councils, helping devise solutions in IT security and identifying cybersecurity risks to Wisconsin’s elections.

The committee also selected two honorable mentions this year, Alice DeLaO of the Department of Workforce Development and Nicole Roehm of the Department of Justice. Alice is described by her peers as a passionate role model who is engaged, thoughtful and fairminded. Nicole's nominators referred to her as change-making scientific leader, and a humble yet tenacious advocate.​​

Award ceremony details:

This year's winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony at the Wisconsin State Capitol Assembly Chambers Friday, October 21, 2022, beginning at 9:00 am, followed by a reception in the Assembly Parlor. The event is open to the public. The event remarks will be given by Governor Evers, Lt. Governor Barnes, and First Lady Kathy Evers, with special guest speaker Vanessa McDowell, CEO of YWCA-Madison.​

We would also like to honor all the nominees to this year's Virginia Hart Award. Please join us in celebrating the following individuals:

Pamela Austin, DHS                        Laneice McGee, DWD
Sonya Bice, DOJ                             Amy Mikalofsky, DOJ
Sheriffo Bojang, DHS                      Kay Mittelstadt-Lock, DHS
Jennifer Broad, DHS                       Katherine Miller, DOA                          
Gwendolyn Cooley, DOJ                  Leah Moore, DMA
Becky Craig, DWD                         Christena O’Brien, DOT
Latorsha Cunningham, DOR            Mary Pesik, DHS
Kelli Douville, DHS                         Keri Petrie, DHS
Alexandra Dunn, DHS                    Laura Pratt, OST
Cheryl Edgington, DOA                  Maria Redmond, DOA
Heidi Erickson, DHS                       Kari Reindl, DHS
Jana Lane Frey, DHS                      Eli Retzlaff, DHS
Barb Greuel, DHS                          Anne Rishadi, DOT
Venesha Harden, DHS                    Jennifer Rombaski, DHS
Judi Haymon, DHS                         Jamie Vareka, DHS
Linda Hendrickson, DWD                Amy Wick, DHS
Jennifer Hesse, DHS                      Jolene Wilkens, DWD
Jennifer Johnson DHS                    Grace Knutson, DOC
Car Lee-Allen, DHS                        Kari Malone, DHS
Kim Marheine, BOALTC

About the Diversity Awards

This year celebrates the 23rd anniversary of the State Council on Affirmative Action's annual Diversity Awards. The SCAA established the Diversity Award in 2000 to recognize the achievements of outstanding affirmative a​ction 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 r​recruitment​ 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.

​​​Previous Diversity Awards Programs:

The 2021 Awards Ceremony can be viewed on the DOA YouTube Channel​

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 nicole.bailie@wisconsin.gov.