CLAS DEI director inducted to Iowa’s Latino Hall of Fame

Liz Mendez-Shannon received this recognition for her dedication to advocating for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the state and at the University of Iowa.
Monday, October 16, 2023

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.  

Liz Mendez-Shannon
Liz Mendez-Shannon

“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.” 

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.