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Central Washington University

Winners Selected for Upcoming CWU President’s Diversity Awards

Friday, March 6, 2020


Six winners have been named for the upcoming President’s Diversity Awards at CWU.

Nominations for the sixth annual ceremony, scheduled for April 9, were submitted for five different categories — student, staff, faculty, alumni, and community member — and the selection committee announced its decisions last week.

This year’s winners are Jessica Hernández (student), Verónica Gómez-Vilchis (staff), Susana Flores and Michel O’Brien (faculty), Mal Stewman (alumni), and Tylene Carnell (community). In addition, CWU English professor Bobby Cummings will receive a lifetime achievement award.

“We received a lot of thoughtful, detailed submissions this year, and the committee is very grateful to everyone who participated in the nomination process,” said Sigrid Davison, the selection committee chair and an associate director for the Office of the Associate Provosts at CWU. “It was inspiring to learn about all of the things people on campus and in the community are doing to promote diversity.”

Sponsored by the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President of Inclusivity and Diversity, the Diversity Awards are hosted every spring by CWU President James L. Gaudino, a longtime proponent of diversity at the university. As part of a commitment to building a more diverse, more inclusive campus community, the university has pledged to celebrate, honor, and understand differences, become more welcoming, and ensure true access by providing equity of opportunity.

The President’s Diversity Awards have been building momentum since they were introduced in 2015, and this year saw a record number of nominations. Davison added that this year’s winners stood out not just for what they are currently doing to promote diversity, but also for what they have done over the course of their careers. 

“Our winners have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to social justice,” Davison said. “On many levels, promoting diversity and inclusivity is their life’s work as well as their profession. They’ve been able to shape their careers in the direction of accomplishing those goals, and that is what really stood out to the committee.”

Meet this year’s winners:

• Jessica Hernández: A CWU student who is involved in supporting and empowering other students through Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (MEChA) and as the current ASCWU VP for Equity and Community Affairs. 

• Verónica Gómez-Vilchis: A CWU staff member who bridges cultures and communities through advocating for others and implementing opportunities to mutual learning. She is integral to the initiation of Día de los Muertos, the growth of Latinx Alumni Association and student participation in the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI).

• Susana Flores: An assistant professor in the College of Education and Professional Studies who promotes the interests of Latinx students on campus and has been a longtime supporter for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. She advocates and supports change through national and state professional organizations, such as American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and the Washington State Diversity Working Group.

• Michel O’Brien: An assistant English professor at CWU who promotes safe spaces for colleagues and students. O’Brien is a founding member and mentor for Queer Arts Collective (QuAC) who has developed new curricular opportunities in the English department around social justice topics for marginalized groups.

• Malbert “Mal” Stewman: A CWU alum who now serves as the academic success coordinator for student athletes. He has been successful in helping men and other advantaged groups to take action to help create a more socially just community. His work with Green Dot, men of color, and male athletes to bring awareness and understanding of masculinity and its consequences has made a distinctive mark on campus.  

• Tylene Carnell: An Ellensburg community member who serves as the regional philanthropy officer for the Pride Foundation. She supports and advocates for human rights, with much of her work benefitting the Ellensburg community. Carnell founded VOICES (Visions of Improving Communities through Education and Support) and is a founding member of Helen House and Justice for our Neighbors.  

The President’s Diversity Awards will be held at 5:30 p.m. April 9 in the SURC Ballroom on the CWU campus. The keynote speaker will be Matika Wilbura visual storyteller belonging to the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples in western Washington. 

The event is free, but tickets are required. Visit Wildcat Tickets to reserve your spot. Questions about the Diversity Awards can be sent to Sigrid Davison at

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,

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