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Four honored as UW-Madison’s 2012 Outstanding Women of Color

September 4, 2012 By Valeria Davis

Four women deeply rooted in the community through social justice work, service, research and community building have been named recipients of UW–Madison’s Outstanding Women of Color Awards.

They are associate surgery professor Jacquelynn Dawn Arbuckle; law professor Tonya Lynn Brito; Dawn Bryant Crim, associate dean for external relations at the School of Education; and Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions graduate fellow Rohany Nayan.

The selection committee also identified Brito and Arbuckle as UW–Madison’s nominees for the UW System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Awards.

The campus’ Outstanding Women of Color Awards were established to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of women of color.  This year’s recipients will be honored at a reception on Monday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge of the Pyle Center.

“Each year the committee is delighted to find women of color who are doing tremendous work on the campus and in the community,” says Ruby Paredes, assistant vice provost for diversity and climate.

Here is more on this year’s recipients:

Jacquelynn Dawn Arbuckle

Photo: Jacquelynn Arbuckle


Arbuckle is a lecturer and surgical instructor active in the Department of Surgery’s Women and Surgery Club, where she advises, mentors, and offers support to current and future female surgeons. She has implemented diversity initiatives at the institutional level and served as a mentor. Now working to develop the Native American Health Office as part of the Collaborative Center for Health Equity, she continues to reach out by introducing pre-college American Indian students from Wisconsin to health professions.

Arbuckle has led efforts in diversity at the racial and gender levels, according to Herbert Chen, MD, chairman of the Division of General Surgery in the Department of Surgery at the University of Wisconsin.

“Through Dr. Arbuckle’s efforts the number of women in our faculty and residency has grown to the point where women comprise over half of our surgical trainees in our residency programs and one-third of our faculty members in general surgery,” Chen said.

Tanya Lynn Brito

Photo: Tanya Brito


Brito joined the Law School faculty in 1997, and embodies the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea through her contributions to social justice, community service, scholarly research and writing on issues of race and poverty. 

She has been devoted to social justice and community service through family law and three non-profit agencies; the Center for Family Policy and Practice, WORT 89.9 FM and the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, serving as state and national policy advocate for families with respect to welfare programs, fatherhood initiatives and child support.  Brito also has been the on-air host for “A Public Affair” at WORT 89.9 since 2007.  She has also provided pro bono advocacy for families before the United States Supreme Court.

At the Law School, she has worked to reform fundamental curriculum and foster an inclusive and supportive environment for diversity in the Law School, serving on a half-dozen working committees.   

Dawn Bryant Crim

Photo: Dawn Crim


Crim is described by one nominator as “a woman of integrity who is a wonderful role model for young women regardless of their race or ethnicity.”

“She has readily volunteered to serve as a speaker and workshop leader for a variety of community organizations that serve young women of color, including co-founding the Madison Network of Black Professionals,” says education professor Gloria Ladson-Billings.

Nominator Annette Miller notes Crim’s  “unwavering commitment to advancing the agenda of women; particularly women of color.” She adds: What is truly phenomenal about Dawn is the way she accomplishes her agenda. It is seamless and quiet without a lot of pomp and circumstance.”

Valyncia Rapheal, a graduate student and athlete, has been mentored by Crim for seven years. “Now, as a second-year law student and first-year Ph.D. student, I owe much of my current success to the mentorship and support of Mrs. Crim,” she says.

Rohany Nayan

Photo: Rohany Nayan


Nayan is dedicated to forging long-term understanding among Jews, Christians and Muslims. She is heralded for her work as a Morgridge Graduate Fellow at the Lubar Institute, says Charles Cohen, Lubar Institute director. Nayan combines broad linguistic skills with exposure to cultures across the globe and is an effective mediator and engaging educator.

“She has advanced the cause of improving inter religious understanding both on and off campus more effectively than anyone else I know or can imagine,” Cohen said. 

Nayan is director of LISAR’s Community Forum, which brings together adults from the greater Madison area to discuss and learn about each other’s traditions.  Her reputation for knowledge, tact and insight on how to improve interfaith relations has mushroomed into outreach engagements ranging from school districts and across campuses across the state to St. Mary’s Hospital and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to churches of all denominations throughout the region.

For a list of past UW–Madison and UW System honorees, click here.