Inspirational Leaders in Diversity, Community

And the Chancellor’s Achievement Awards Go To ...

Quick Summary

  • Recipients include students, postdoc, staff and faculty
  • “Fostering a sense of inclusiveness and community for all”
  • “We still have work to do,” Chancellor May declares

Chancellor Gary S. May presented his annual awards last week for achievement in diversity and community, honoring individuals and departments for notable contributions promoting “an environment that fosters a sense of inclusiveness and community for all.”

“It’s inspiring!” he declared Wednesday, April 28, during a virtual ceremony that replaced what would normally have been a reception at the Chancellor’s Residence.

“They’re the people who are helping UC Davis strengthen our connections and impact across our many communities,” the chancellor said.

“As we celebrate their accomplishments, we’re reminded that we still have work to do,” the chancellor continued. “We’re living in some of the most politically divisive and polarizing times in American history.

“That’s why we must uplift and highlight UC Davis students, faculty, staff, postdocs, community members and departments who do the great work of exemplifying our Principles of Community.”



The Principles of Community, the chancellor said, “remind us that diversity is not just about our multiple and intersecting identities.”

“Diversity includes a range of experiences, ideas, opinions and perceptions that contribute to the vibrancy of our intellectually engaging campus community. It’s also about creating inclusive environments so that each person has an opportunity to thrive.

With a dedicated focus on diversity and inclusion, we are a better university. We are more ready to educate and prepare students for success in an increasingly diverse society.”

Renetta Garrison Tull, vice chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, joined Chancellor May for the program (they are pictured in photo at the top of this page). Tull introduced the award recipients and read off their accomplishments, then chatted live with the honorees and offered her congratulations. Read about the recipients below and watch the video above to hear what they had to say about their efforts and positive outcomes.

Individual awards

Emily Aguilar Gonzalez headshot
Emily Aguilar Gonzalez
  • Undergraduate: Emily Aguilar Gonzalez, senior, community and regional development — Emily designed, developed and implemented the Early Academic Outreach Program’s Family College Advisor Initiative, for which she trained and supervised undergraduate students who provided advising services to more than 100 first-generation college-going families in the greater Sacramento area. She has also been an advocate for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, working with her peers to raise their awareness of labor issues. More recently, Emily has spent time interning at the Transformative Justice in Education Center to work with campus partners to build awareness around transformative justice practices.
Veronica Padilla Vriesman headshot
Veronica Padilla Vriesman
  • Graduate Student: Veronica Padilla Vriesman, Ph.D. candidate and National Science Foundation graduate research fellow, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences — Veronica developed a sustainable mentoring program in her department, pairing undergraduate geology majors with graduate students. Besides providing academic support and demystifying undergraduate research, the mentors aim to instill within underrepresented students a sense of belonging on campus. In addition, she created an anti-racist mentoring guide to improve mentorship and promote advocacy on behalf of marginalized undergraduate students. As president of the student chapter of American Women Geologists, she is establishing a gear-lending program for field-based courses in geology, easing the burden on students who do not own or cannot purchase gear.
Victoria Ngoi headshot
Victoria Ngo
  • Postdoctoral: Victoria Ngo, postdoctoral scholar in health systems and community leadership, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing — Ngo’s research priorities — including health equity and the provision of high-quality care to underserved communities — attest to her commitment to the well-being of diverse communities. She co-teaches, develops and leads group research projects, classes and programs focusing on issues of identity, power imbalances and disparities in health status and health-care delivery. In collaboration with UC Davis Health faculty, she co-leads the Anti-Racism and Cultural Humility, or ARC, training project, which addresses nursing diversity, inclusiveness, health equity and anti-racism.
Kawami Evans headshot
Kawami Evans
  • Staff: Kawami Evans, a student affairs practitioner with more than 20 years of professional experience in higher education administration — Since joining UC Davis in 2010, she has worked in several roles to support institutional diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, including executive leadership in the African American Staff and Faculty Association and the establishment of the Center for African Diaspora Student Success. She serves now as the director of inclusion and organizational development in Student Housing and Dining Services, where she leads and oversees comprehensive and strategic trainings for all staff. Over the past year, Kawami has provided her department with supportive and compassionate leadership as all have dealt with the social injustice and political divide issues challenging the country, while being magnified by the pandemic.
Mary Louise Frampton headshot
Mary Louise Frampton
  • Academic Federation: Mary Louise Frampton, professor of social justice practice and director, Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies, School of Law — Within the School of Law, Professor Frampton has created a nontraditional space for marginalized students in a traditional institution. She organizes weekly discussions that expose students to areas of law and policy that are not often discussed in doctrinal courses, including race, gender, class, sexuality and disability. These discussions not only provide students with the opportunity to build critical thinking skills around important issues, but also validate the experiences of students who come from backgrounds that are often being talked about within the context of the law.
Harry Cheng headshot
Harry Cheng
  • Academic Senate: Harry Cheng, professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and director, Integration Engineering Lab and Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education, or C-STEM, which he founded — Over the last decade, he pioneered the formal integration of computing and robotics into math education in kindergarten through 12th grade — reaching more than 10,000 students a year with his curriculum. Thousands more students participate in other programs with which he is involved: the annual RoboPlay Challenge and Video Competition, and one-week summer camps for C-STEM Girls in Robotics Leadership, or GIRL. With his out-of-the-box thinking on hands-on math education, he has profoundly impacted K-12 STEM education and the national talent pipeline for diversity, equity and inclusion in the STEM fields.
Jose Bodipo-Memba headshot
Jose Bodipo-Memba
  • Community: Jose Bodipo-Memba, director, Sustainable Communities Initiative, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, or SMUD — With this outreach initiative, part of Promise Sacramento, SMUD aims to bring environmental equity and economic vitality to all communities in the district’s service area. The Sustainable Communities Initiative works through partnership alignment, such as with UC Davis, wherein SMUD supports a younger version of the National Society of Black Engineers: NSBE Jr., focusing on the K-12 population.

Departmental recognition awards

These awards recognize departments and units for taking the initiative to champion diversity and inclusion across their organizations by including diversity education or implementing the diversity and inclusion strategic vision as part of their organizational and staff development plans.

Safety Services group shot from diversity-community awards ceremony video
Safety Services representatives, from left: Top row — Eric Kvigne, Becky Grunewald, Suman Dhal and Wes Frey. Bottom row — Heather Spaulding, Karen Gagnon and Hamid Fonooni.
  • Safety Services — For its continuing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, including more frequent educational opportunities on topics that include microaggression and implicit bias, and creating structures to sustain such efforts over the long term. By inviting colleagues from other departments to participate in Safety Services’ professional development opportunities, the unit further promotes diversity by engaging all involved with more diverse perspectives. Over the past year, Safety Services leveraged its connection to safety coordinators around UC Davis to further expand the reach of the unit’s DEI educational opportunities.
MIND Institute group shot, with Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull, from diversity-community awards ceremony video
MIND Institute representatives, with Vice Chancellor Tull, from left: Top row — Leonard Abbeduto, Janice Enriquez, Michele Ono and Aubyn Stahmer. Bottom row — Faye Dixon, Jonathan Bystrynski, Vanessa Avila-Pons and Marjorie Solomon.
  • MIND Institute — For actively pursuing a DEI transformation for the institute as a whole and for its RISE-UP program, in which undergraduate students from underrepresented groups receive mentoring to become researchers. Wanting to immerse the students in the most equitable and inclusive environment possible. the institute organized healing circles, DEI trainings and deep organizational reflection. Outcomes include DEI-themed book clubs for faculty and staff, and other discussion groups with trainees and fellows accompanied by a strong push for trainees at all levels to understand the social determinants of health.
Mondavi Center group shot, with Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull, from diversity-community awards ceremony video
Mondavi Center representatives, with Vice Chancellor Tull, from left: Top row — Marlene Freid, Rob Tocalino, Laurie Espinoza and Sarah Herrerra. Bottom row — Don Roth, Jeremy Ganter, Jenna Bell and Amy Roark.
  • Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts — For applying a DEI lens to the development of a new mission statement, vision and strategic plan to take the center into its 20th anniversary year in 2022. Projects include captioning in English and Spanish for virtual performances, and translating the center’s communications into Spanish (including the website). Eventually, the center will add other major languages that are part of the UC Davis campus community. The center is also focused on overall accessibility — so much so that the center’s DEI committee is now the DEAI committee, recognizing the need to elevate issues related to accessibility throughout the center’s work and programming.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

Primary Category

Secondary Categories