Annual Diversity Achievement Awards

The Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at Case Western Reserve University gives awards to members of the university community in recognition of significant contributions toward enhancing the university's commitment to diversity through inclusive thinking, mindful learning and transformative dialogue.

These awards recognize contributions that promote respect, build community, establish effective cross-cultural initiatives and advocate equity and inclusion within the university community.

Award Categories and Criteria

Faculty Diversity Excellence Award

Recognizes a faculty member’s contributions or efforts made toward enhancing the goals of diversity, equity, inclusion and multiculturalism at the university, particularly in the areas of teaching, research or service that exceed the routine expectations of the faculty’s position.

Staff Diversity Excellence Award

Recognizes a staff member who promotes a culture of inclusion that encourages relationships and interactions among people of diverse backgrounds. Also, promotes a culture that enhances human dignity, diversity and inclusion on campus.

Undergraduate Student Diversity Excellence Award

Recognizes an undergraduate student who has demonstrated leadership and commitment to diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism through academic excellence, service, volunteerism and/or research.

Graduate/Professional Student Diversity Excellence Award

Recognizes a graduate or professional university student who has demonstrated leadership and commitment to diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism through academic excellence, service, volunteerism and/or research.

Department/Office/Unit Diversity Excellence Award

Recognizes an office, department or unit that has demonstrated a commitment to building a workplace and learning space that is inclusive of difference and values various aspects of diversity. This commitment should be evident by proactive actions including, but not limited to, inclusive policies and procedures, workshops and training and other undertakings that help to create an inclusive environment within the department/office or unit.

Senior Leadership Diversity Excellence Award

Recognizes a university dean, executive or other senior administrators for their contributions to campus diversity and inclusion efforts.

Collaboration Diversity Excellence Award

Recognizes a successful inclusion and/or diversity-related campus collaboration or partnership between departments, offices, institutes, organization and others. The partnership can be an ongoing or short-term partnership.

Office for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity Inclusive Excellence Certificate

Recognizes Case Western Reserve University campus community members who go above and beyond to support OIDEO and its mission, particularly with overlooked aspects of diversity. 

2023 Winners

Undergraduate Student Diversity Excellence Award: Aja Leatherwood


Aja Leatherwood was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio. Aja is a rising junior majoring in communication science and cognitive science with minors in childhood studies and art studio. Aja is also the founder and president of the American Sign Language club.

Faculty Diversity Excellence Award: Ann W. Nguyen


Ann W. Nguyen, PhD, MSW, MS is an Associate Professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. She received her doctoral training in Social Work and Psychology from the Program for Research on Black Americans at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.  Her research, teaching, and service promotes and advances diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her research aims to identify psychosocial determinants (e.g., social relationships, discrimination, religious participation) of health equity among Black Americans across the life span. In her work, she prioritizes mentoring students from minoritized backgrounds as an important means to not only promote diversity in academia and the social work profession but also to retain a diverse student body and workforce.

Senior Leadership Diversity Excellence Award:  Monica Yepes-Rios, MD


Dr. Monica Yepes-Rios is Assistant Dean, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine / Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. She is an Internal Medicine Physician at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio City Hispanic Clinic, and Medical Director for the Community Health and Partnerships on Food as Medicine.

Dr. Yepes-Rios joined the Cleveland Clinic in 2017, has over 25 years of experience in medical education and internal medicine clinical practice with a special interest in education to promote thriving and equitable learning environments and the care of underserved communities. She earned her medical degree and training in Internal Medicine Residency at The George Washington University Medical Center, and is a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, Yale University. 
Originally from Colombia, she spent part of her career with the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences with experience in medical education in many different areas of the country. She is an avid Stand Up Paddler and enjoys everything outdoors with her family.

Staff Diversity Excellence Award: Malana C. Bey


Malana Bey joined the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in 2001 before later joining the Graduate Education Office in 2012. She is currently the Administrator for the Heart, Lung and Blood (HLB) Summer Research Program and Coordinator for the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), both diversity training programs funded by the NIH. She was also the staff representative for the School of Medicine’s Minority Graduate Student Organization (MGSO) for several years.   Known as the “PREP Momma”, she has had the pleasure of assisting many students and is proud to see the impact that the HLB and PREP programs have had on her students as they make an impact in the world of science and medicine.

Department/Office Diversity Excellence Award: University Technology - [U]Tech


DEIB+ is UTech’s chosen acronym to represent the division’s dedicated efforts towards diversity and equal opportunity.  The acronym stands for:
+ (More)

Belonging is an especially important concept to the division, as we strive to maintain a work culture of respect and acceptance in which all feel welcomed and can be fully themselves. We also understand that diversity, equity and inclusion are evolving fields and More expresses our aspiration to also keep evolving, learning and growing as individuals and as a division.

UTech fully embraces the university's vision and diversity statement. The division’s dedicated DEIB+ programs also intend to demonstrate commitment to the advancement of this vision.

More programming is in development and UTech’s DEIB+ Committee is working to consolidate plans to continuously offer training, workshops and, most importantly, a space for sustained dialogue.

Graduate/Professional Student Diversity Excellence Award: Christopher Rhoades


Chris Rhoades is a rising third-year medical student at the Case Reserve University School of Medicine. He was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan. He received a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology in 2018 from Michigan State University. Chris first began his work in DEI while at Michigan State, where he served as an Intercultural Aide supporting minoritized, low-income, first generation college students with their academic, social, and cultural transitions into college. He wished to continue this work while in medical school, and during his first year he was elected by his colleagues to serve on the Dean's Council (officially, the Committee of Student Representatives) as the Diversity Affairs Representative. He also served as the Chair for the Diversity Action Council 2.0 (DAC 2.0) at the School of Medicine. DAC 2.0 was created to increase the number of diverse and minoritized students that matriculate to the School of Medicine, improve representation of diverse identities and experiences in the curriculum, support students’ professional development through intentional mentoring and holistic student affairs, as well as build spaces of empowerment and belonging in our communities both within and outside the School of Medicine.

Collaboration Diversity Excellence Award Winner: Student Affairs DEI Committee

The Division of Student Affairs Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, founded in the fall of 2019, works to understand the needs of diverse and marginalized student populations and create both educational opportunities for professional staff to learn, as well as provide recommendations for divisional strategies and programs for student support. We recognize the importance of continually increasing staff awareness of DEI issues, including personal examination of biases, while supporting staff in gaining skills to better serve all students. We enhance current Division of Student Affairs processes and policies with an eye toward diversity, equity, and inclusion. We provide the division with access to awareness, knowledge, and skills focusing on DEI frameworks. We also work to create inclusive and supportive spaces within the division, such as the Staff of Color Alliance, to enhance retention and community.

Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Engagement Excellence Award: Lou Stark


Lou Stark arrived at Case Western Reserve University to begin his tenure as Vice President for Student Affairs on July 1, 2013.  His career in student affairs spans forty-five years, serving thirty of those as a Vice President for Student Affairs.  He was at Central College from 1993-1997, Coe College, 1997-2013..

Prior to beginning his career as a Vice President for Student Affairs, Lou was the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Tulane University, as well as Associate Dean of Students at Washington University in St. Louis.  As a new professional, Lou served in various positions that provided a breadth of experience serving college students within residence life, Greek life, student conduct, academic advising and admission, and financial aid.  He has served as a consultant to colleges and universities evaluating their programs and has done reaccreditation work. 

Lou has served in local, regional and national organizations. He has served as a past president and board member of the Iowa Student Personnel Association and has been active in NASPA.  He has served as Chair of the Delegates Committee for the University Athletic Association and was a member of the NCAA Division III Management Council. While in that role, he served on the President’s Council/Management Council Joint Legislative Steering Committee, the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, the Convention Planning Subcommittee and the NCAA/NASPA Alcohol and other Drugs Steering Committee.   He served on the Board of Trustees of Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia and served as a member of the City Council in Marion, Iowa.

Lou received a B.S. in Psychology from Davis and Elkins College and an MS in Education in Counselor Education with distinction from Hofstra University.  He did additional graduate work at the University of New Orleans and Drake University.  He received a certificate in Management from the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane.