By: Emily Delgado
Liz Mendez-Shannon, the first fulltime director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the Robert D. Ray Award for Equity and Justice from the Iowa Department of Human Rights.
“Receiving the notification was an incredibly humbling experience,” Mendez-Shannon says. “Awards possess a unique ability to make us feel acknowledged, and this particular award, focusing on equity and justice, illuminated the significance of advocating and using our voices to drive positive change.”
The award highlights Mendez-Shannon's 15 years of experience in community work and advocacy for collaboration between people of diverse backgrounds.
The award is given to Latino/a/x people who are working to shape Iowa and lend their expertise to the state. The goal of the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame is to bring visibility not just to the inductees but to the entire Latino community.
Mendez-Shannon entered her role in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences during the 2022-2023 academic year and in her day-to-day, works alongside the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee and CLAS leadership creating community.
“When I was entrusted with the role of CLAS’ inaugural full-time DEI director last year, I embraced the opportunity with great enthusiasm and a deep sense of responsibility,” Mendez-Shannon explains.
Mendez-Shannon's background of being an immigrant from Ecuador and living in Iowa has given her the inspiration to be dedicated to her work.
“It's not just a job,” Mendez-Shannon says. “It's a calling born from my own experiences and a desire to make a positive impact on the lives of others.”