Campuswide campaign recognizing accomplished women at University of Arizona expands with support from Commission on the Status of Women

March 18, 2024

The Office of Research, Innovation & Impact fosters empowerment, connection and mentorship through the Women of Impact and Young Women of Impact initiatives

The 2023 Women of Impact and Young Women of Impact cohorts pose for a picture after the awards celebration.

The 2023 Women of Impact and Young Women of Impact cohorts pose for a picture after the awards celebration at Stevie Eller Dance Theatre on campus

Ryan Hunt

The Office of Research, Innovation & Impact fosters empowerment, connection and mentorship through the Women of Impact and Young Women of Impact initiatives

The Office of Research, Innovation & Impact (RII) is enhancing its commitment to inclusive excellence through its annual Women of Impact (WOI) program with the boost of a grant from the University of Arizona Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

The endorsement of a CSW mini-grant signifies a strategic investment in projects that align with the university’s mission and values and demonstrate leadership in addressing issues that affect women and underrepresented minorities.

"Women of Impact perfectly aligns with our mission to advocate for gender equity and recognize the significant contributions of women across disciplines," said Christina Kalel, assistant director of faculty affairs for the College of Medicine – Tucson and co-chair of the CSW. “What impressed us most about the program was its comprehensive approach to acknowledging women's achievements and creating a platform for their stories to inspire others,” she said. “This program embodies the spirit of community and empowerment we strive to support, and we anticipate its continued success in shaping a more diverse and equitable university environment.”

The RII Communications and Marketing team submitted the nomination proposal. According to associate vice president and WOI initiative lead, Lisa Romero, the support of the CSW boosts RII’s ability to not only recognize the remarkable contributions of more accomplished women across the university today, but also to nurture a pipeline of future leaders.

"We extend our deepest gratitude to the Commission on the Status of Women for their endorsement of the aims of our Women of Impact initiative,” said Romero. “Through WOI, the Office of Research, Innovation & Impact and our sponsor organizations reflect the university's commitment to fostering an environment where diverse talent flourishes and their accomplishments are celebrated."

"I am proud of my team for writing a compelling nomination package that led to this generous grant, and for working diligently throughout the year on this campaign, always envisioning new ways to expand its impact to more deserving individuals."

The selection of WOI awardees is entrusted to an independent campus committee employing a detailed 20-point rubric to evaluate nominees on critical areas such as impact, engagement, collaboration, mentorship and character. This meticulous process, aimed at selecting 30 finalists each year, highlights RII’s dedication to nurturing leadership and excellence.

Initiated in 2022, the WOI campaign added its burgeoning sister program, the Young Women of Impact (YWOI), in 2023. YWOI exemplifies the university's purposeful approach to connecting students with meaningful opportunities, promoting dialogue on academic and career paths, and retaining talent within Arizona. At the 2023 awards event, twenty young women representing local high schools across Pima County were also honored.

By recognizing the achievements of UArizona staff and faculty together with outstanding high school students in Pima County, WOI collectively plays a pivotal role in building a network of mentorship and inspiration that transcends generations.

Elizabeth Rivera, principal of Tucson High Magnet School, praised the transformative power of the Young Women of Impact program, emphasizing its effect on high school students, including those from her school.

"Young women in high school are working hard to achieve academic goals and support their community, family and cultural expectations,” she said. “Acknowledging their impact at a young age is vital in encouraging teens to keep going. Recognition will help young women know they can achieve anything their heart desires after high school. It allows students to network and meet other girls doing great things, and maybe someday, they will do more incredible things together."

With the call for nominations now open for the 2024 cohort, anticipation is building for another year of celebrating impactful University of Arizona women. This year’s awards ceremony is scheduled for September 5, 2024, and the investment from the CSW helps to ensure that WOI can continue to build on the successes of previous years.

"I am deeply passionate about Women of Impact’s mission to foster a vibrant, inclusive network where we proudly lift one another up and ensure that the achievements of women across the university are illuminated,” said Lauren Lombardo, RII program coordinator of events and marketing and a key organizer behind the initiative. “Our team is excited about honoring more inspiring women through our 2024 campaign."

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