2013 UW-Madison Outstanding Women
Women of Exemplary Service
Clockwise from upper left: Awardee Li Chiao-Ping (l) with
presenter Aaron Bird Bear; Awardee Desiree Alva (r) with
presenter Deiadra Gardner; Awardee Saemyi Park (r) with
presenter Janice Rice; Awardee Carmen Valdez (l) with presenter
Ilsa Valdez; Awardees Desiree Alva (l-r), Carmen Valdez, Saemyi
Park, Wilma Callaway, Roberta Hill and Karma Chávez; Awardee
Karma Chávez (r) and presenter Niko Magallon; Awardee Roberta
Hill (r) with presenter Sharon Long; Awardee Wilma Callaway (r)
with presenter Seema Kapani
The 2012 UW Outstanding Women of Color are:
Desiree Alva, Assistant Director
Diversity Affairs Office in the College of Engineering
As the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention in the Diversity Affairs Office (DAO) of the College of Engineering,
Desiree interacts with many individuals with specific and related needs — including students and their families, staff and faculty, as well
as corporate donors or corporate representatives seeking to recruit and employ engineering student interns and graduates. In each
interaction she treats individuals with respect and compassion, and through body language and verbal cues she communicates that she
is listening and that she cares.
Desiree constantly encourages all students to stop by the DAO office to grab a snack (there is always food in DAO!), heat up their lunch in
the microwave, or just hang out in between classes. And throughout the semester, there are always fun activities (Valentines to write to
a friend, brain-buster games, etc.) for students who need to take a break and de-stress. Walking by, it’s tough to miss the DAO office.
Desiree and her staff decorate the display cases leading to the office and there’s a full-size K’nex suit of armor from the doorway. What
engineering student wouldn’t be curious enough to stop in?
Wilma Callaway, Assistant Director
Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO)
This year marks Wilma’s 20th year with the Center for Educational Opportunity, a federal- and state-funded center more popularly known
as CeO. Expanded from the original TRIO/Student Support Services Program, CeO provides academic and ancillary support to students
who meet federal income guidelines, first generation college student status, or have a documented disability. The faculty, staff and
students who have nominated her for the UW-Madison Outstanding Woman of Color Award feel there would be no better way to honor
Wilma for the innumerable hours she has given CeO students, over a thousand of whom she has mentored, supported, celebrated and
advised. She tirelessly advocates for their success and, through the years, students have attributed their success and graduation from
UW-Madison in part to the person they fondly call “Ms Wilma”.
Karma R. Chávez, Assistant Professor
Department of Communication Arts
With two books, 15 journal articles, and 13 book chapters, Karma Chávez’s volume of productivity is astounding for a junior scholar in
the humanities. Not just astounding in quantity, her publications are in the top journals in her field. For example, her 2012 article “ACT
UP, Haitian Migrants and Alternative Memories of HIV/AIDS” was published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech: the flagship journal of
National Communication Association, but also a venue for very traditional scholarship.
Karma serves on the Board of Directors for the Griffin Harte Foundation that promotes civil communication in communities, and she
serves on the Advisory Committee for the Wisconsin Uprising Archive. Karma gives regular talks and organizes ongoing public events
to foster public discourse across the country. Just over the course of this year so far, she organized public town hall discussions on
LGBT immigration rights at a Southerners on New Ground Meeting in Greensboro, NC, and as well as at Wingspan, Southern Arizona's
LGBT Community Center. In Madison, she spoke on the importance of gender inclusive language at the LGBT Open Career Fair, and she
hosted three community dialogue potlucks at the Wil-Mar Center to engage members of the LGBT community in Madison on issues
related to race, health, and transgender inclusion. She gives regular interviews on LGBT and immigration/Latino issues to outlets
including NPR, the Huffington Post, WORT FM, WTMJ FM, Capitol Times, and several university newspapers.
Li Chiao-Ping, Professor of Dance and Chair
Department of Dance
Li Chiao-Ping is an artist extraordinaire. In 2012, Li Chiao-Ping was featured on the cover of Spectrum Magazine for her contributions to
the Greater Madison Area. She is known for working with dancers of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. She says one of her career
highlights and favorite projects is her latest intergenerational work, The Knotcracker, which she presented in December 2012 for the
third time. The cast members’ ages ranged from six to 80 years old. Additionally, the cast was very diverse which embodies the
inclusive nature of Li Chiao- Ping’s works. It was amazing to observe and experience first-hand how Li Chiao-Ping intertwines the skill
and talent levels of professional dancers, students, and community members, all the while being appreciative of the individual talents
that everyone brings to the production.
As a teacher, Chiao-Ping expects technical proficiency and performance quality from her professional dancers and dance students. At
the same time, she is also able to meet the community members at their own movement levels and elicit strong performance from them
as well, creating an integrated whole.
Roberta Hill, Professor
Department of English, and American Indian Studies
Recently, the Native American campus community’s 40-year long wait ended with the designation of a house on Brooks Street as the
American Indian Student and Cultural Center (AISCC); Roberta has had an extremely prominent role in the social and cultural life of this
house, having set up an office there to encourage student engagement, and having served every year on the AISCC board, which
oversees the operation of the house.
As a poet, Roberta felt it was especially important that the extant stories be told in the original languages, so that their cadences and
inflections could be heard in all of their richness. Storytellers would come and speak in their heritage languages, and then translate what
they had said into English. From these considerations was born our Evening of Storytelling program, which celebrated its 16th year in
February of this year. The event brings together indigenous-speaking storytellers, our indigenous students, who have the opportunity to
spend time with the storytellers while they are in Madison, our faculty, and the general UW-Madison community.
Especially notable is Roberta’s leadership in the area of digital humanities. She was an early adopter of integrating digital creations and
expressions into her course work. In all of her classes, she guides students into using various technologies into their projects.
Roberta Hill’s considerable accomplishments as a poet include the publication of several outstanding volumes of poetry, including
Philadelphia Flowers and Star Quilt.
Saemyi Park, Assistant Professor
Department of History, Political Science, and Sociology Carson-Newman University
Saemyi is a promising scholar who has made important contributions in her teaching and research to scholarship, writing, speaking and
teaching on race, ethnicity and indigeneity in US society. As a PhD candidate, she taught a political science course, “Political Economy
of Race in the United States,” that examines issues of inequality and poverty among different racial groups.
Saemyi’s dissertation, “The Political Interests and Representation of Asian Americans,” is an ambitious study that examines how civic
organizations represent Asian American interests. A vast majority of the work on racial and ethnic representation concerns African
American and Latinos; of that work, most examines legislative representation.
Saemyi is an outstanding teacher, with a very comfortable, easy style that promotes good rapport with the students. Organized and
extremely well prepared, she knew all of the names of the students in the section, which is greatly appreciated by the students. She
develops her students’ critical thinking skills while making sure they learn the substantive material.
Carmen R. Valdez, Associate Professor
Department of Counseling Psychology
Carmen Valdez has focused her work and research on understanding adjustment for the most vulnerable segments of U.S. society:
children raised in low income families; often having ethnic, racial, and/or linguistic minority status; and with some being raised in
families where parenting has been further compromised by maternal depression. Her more recent work is focused on an even higher
risk group: children with immigrant parents who are residing in the U.S. without authorization.
Carmen is receiving the 2013 School of Education Award for Community-Engaged Scholarship for her work in low-resource, high-risk
communities in Wisconsin and Arizona. As further recognition of the importance of her research for public policy, Carmen was recently
appointed to the Committee on Children, Youth and Families, which advises the American Psychological Association’s (APA) CEO, Board
of Directors, and Council of Representatives on priorities for public policy lobbying efforts.
By Jonathan Gramling
On September 25, around 200 people gathered at The Lowell Center on the UW-Madison
campus to honor seven women who have achieved excellence in their fields and exemplify
the Wisconsin Idea in their service to the campus community and beyond. In a ceremony that
began with the remarks of Chancellor Rebecca Blank and emceed by 2012 recipient Tonya
Lynn Brito, each awardee was presented by a member of the selection committee before
receiving her plaque and making acceptance remarks to the appreciative audience. These
seven awardees were an inspiration to all of those gathered and to all women and young
girls in the Madison area.