Announcing the UW-Madison Outstanding Women of Color Honorees

The fourteenth cohort of Outstanding Women of Color Award recipients will be honored at a reception on Thursday, March 3, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the AT&T Lounge of the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street. The event to celebrate this year’s honorees is open to the campus and community. You are invited to register here.

Each year, we recognize honorees whose advocacy, activism, and/or scholarship has positively transformed their organizations and/or community, and whose efforts advance equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging for people of color.

“These outstanding women are simply a representation of the countless women who have made excellence the standard within the academy and the community, while also humbly pouring into so many,” said Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer LaVar J. Charleston. “Collectively, we want to make certain they know how valued they are by their villages, how respected and appreciated they are by their colleagues, and how loved they are by their family and friends.”

Please plan to join us in honoring our honorees at a campus-wide reception hosted by the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer on Thursday, March 3, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street. Register to join us today.


*The ceremony also will be livestreamed at

Outstanding Women of Color Honorees are nominated and selected for their:

  • Involvement in social justice, activism and advocacy on behalf of disadvantaged, marginalized populations;
  • Community service;
  • Scholarly research, writing, speaking and/or teaching on race, ethnicity, and indigeneity in U.S. society, and;
  • Community building on- or off-campus, to create an inclusive and respectful environment for all.

This year’s Outstanding Women of Color honorees are:

Headshot photo of Cat Burkat
Cat Burkat

Cat N. Burkat, M.D.

Board-certified Ophthalmologist and Co-Chair of Global Ophthalmology Initiatives ASOPRS Fellowship Faculty in the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences with the UW School of Medicine & Public Health

Dr. Burkat has been uniquely dual fellowship trained in both ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as cosmetic facial surgery. The anatomy around the eyelids and orbit is both delicate and complex, and therefore her training in ophthalmology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and cosmetic facial surgery, with an emphasis in the tissues surrounding the eyes, allows her to offer an approach that combines the microsurgical precision of ophthalmology with the concepts of aesthetic facial surgery.

Dr. Burkat specializes in a broad range of conditions, including surgical repair of droopy eyelids, eyelid and eyelash abnormalities, correction of congenital eyelid abnormalities, tear duct abnormalities, socket conditions, orbital and periocular tumors, cancer reconstruction and thyroid eye disease. She also offers a wide array of non-surgical and surgical cosmetic procedures for enhancing the natural beauty of the face, including cosmetic eyelid and forehead surgery, cosmetic Botox and soft tissue filler injections, facial laser resurfacing and other related procedures.

Headshot photo of Jennifer Gauthier
Jennifer Gauthier

Jennifer Gauthier

Senior Outreach Specialist at Division of Extension: UW–Madison

Jennifer Gauthier has been irreplaceable in building community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing culturally appropriate messaging for tribal communities about the importance of social distancing to a local community that places great value on community and large family gatherings. Gauthier helped to customize messaging specific for the Menominee Nation and customized, culturally relevant digital messaging for the community. She has helped to provide supplemental meals and dairy products to families despite COVID-19 closure through a local partnership the Farm Bureau and adapt no contact distribution for community members. Her work to improve communication has helped Menominee County with informed decision-making using easily accessible technology and other improvements for its employees.

Headshot photo of Sheryl Henderson
Sheryl Henderson

Sheryl L. Henderson, M.D., Ph.D.

Medical Director of the Pediatric/Adolescent/Young Adult Program University of Wisconsin HIV Comprehensive Care Clinic and Medical Director for Madison Area for the Wisconsin Primary HIV Support Network

Dr. Sheryl Henderson has been an active mentor for both African American teens and medical students. Her expertise as a mentor has led to invitations from local church groups, community organizations and members of UW faculty and staff on how to effectively reach African American teens. She continues to mentor underrepresented in medicine UW Medical School students. She has been an active member of the Department of Pediatrics Anti-racism taskforce and helped the Department of Pediatrics BIPOC mentoring, and development committee support Pediatric residents and fellows during their training at UW Madison.

Dr. Henderson’s call to advocacy and service is rooted in her upbringing, where she learnt from her father the joy and reward that came from providing Obstetric care for those who were in desperate need but were not served by our society. From her mother, she learned that groups of citizens could effectuate real change that would benefit those that are vulnerable and underrepresented.

image of Carola Peterson-Gaines
Carola Peterson-Gaines

Carola A. Peterson-Gaines

Community Research Associate with the Community-Academic Aging Research Network and Community Liaison for Quartz Insurance

As Community Liaison for Quartz Insurance, Carola A. Peterson-Gaines brings the force of her advocacy to work for equity in health care for some our most vulnerable citizens –those receiving State Medicaid and Badger Care. Often on their journey, these clients have negative interactions with healthcare systems. She is a dedicated and tireless advocate and problem-solver for her clients.

As evidence of her good work, people in the community routinely contact her, asking for her advocacy and guidance. They reach Peterson-Gaines through her membership in Mount Zion Church as the head of their Mount Zion Health Committee, through her sorority, the Deltas (she is a past president) and her education work at local community sites. Well-known and respected for her outstanding work during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the Madison Community-at-large, she has been exemplary in providing many health resources for marginalized people as well as access to vaccination services during the pandemic by working in parks, schools and other locations.

Headshot photo of Carolina Sarmiento
Carolina Sarmiento

Carolina S. Sarmiento

Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the School of Human Ecology and an affiliate with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Carolina Sarmiento is a graduate from both World Arts & Cultures and Urban Planning from UCLA, where she obtained her BA and MA. She received her PhD from UCI in Planning, Policy and Design. Her research investigates the intersection between urban development, governance, and the creation and destruction of cultural spaces in working class communities of color, on learning from the grassroots, and on building sustainable and creative alternatives that address inequality and injustice.

Headshot of Danielle Yancey
Danielle Yancey

Danielle Yancey

Director of Native American Center for Health Professions, UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health

Danielle Yancey has had a long and distinguished career in the UW System and continues to master the ability to serve others with a purpose in her heart. She has been a role model and an aspiration for indigenous students attending UW as well as other institutions of higher education. Playing a significant role in her work for the Native American Center for Health Profession (NACHP), Yancey received the Indians into Medicine (INMED) Grant to provide opportunities and resources to recruit American Indian students into the HealthCare Field, which will lead to improving the healthcare quality and access to care in Indian Country.

Yancey and the NACHP organization partner with all Wisconsin Indian Tribes to provide experiences and opportunities in the healthcare field through mentoring, on campus support, training within tribal clinics and outreach to youth in all Wisconsin tribal communities. As a result of her work with the NACHP, there is a growing presence in the Health Professions for American Indian students.

About the Outstanding Women of Color Award

In 2007, UW-Madison launched this annual recognition for women of color who have demonstrated outstanding service in higher education and beyond. More than 80 faculty, staff, students and community members have been honored since the establishment of this award.

For a full list of past honorees, please go to: Outstanding Women of Color Honorees.