UW System honors two from UW–Madison with DEI achievement awards

Portraits of Carolina Sarmiento and Finn Enke
Assistant Professor Carolina Sarmiento (left) and Professor Finn Enke were honored by UW System with awards in recognition of their work promoting equity and inclusion.

The University of Wisconsin System honored two members of the UW–Madison community with awards in recognition of their longstanding service and commitment to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging on campus.

Carolina S. Sarmiento, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Human Ecology, will receive the Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award, an honor given annually to faculty, staff, students or community members to recognize their achievements in advancing equity and inclusion for people of color within the UW System as well as communities across the state.

This year is the 27th anniversary of the UW System award, which has recognized more than 400 women of color since 1994. She was among 13 honorees for 2022 from across the UW System.

Finn Enke, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Letters & Science, will receive the Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ+ People, an annual honor given to LGBTQ+ people or allies who have helped to create a safer and more inclusive climate for LGBTQ+ people.

This year marks the 14th anniversary of the founding of the P.B. Poorman Award. Dr. Enke was among 12 honorees for 2022 from across the UW System.

UW System will formally recognize the honorees of both awards at an awards ceremony and reception on Nov. 10 in Madison.

Meet UW–Madison’s honorees

Portrait of Carolina Sarmiento
Carolina S. Sarmiento

Dr. Carolina Sarmiento is an assistant professor of civil society & community studies and is affiliated with the Department of Planning & Landscape Architecture. She graduated from UC Los Angeles, with degrees in world arts & cultures and urban planning, and from UC Irvine, where she received a doctorate in Planning, Policy & Design.

Her research and practice focus on learning from the grassroots and building sustainable and creative alternatives that help address inequality and injustice. She collaborates with Voces de la Frontera, Wisconsin’s leading immigrant rights and low-wage workers center, on a community-based participatory action research project that addresses significant threats to the health and safety of Wisconsin’s essential workers, many of whom are immigrants facing severe pandemic-related challenges both at home and at work. Dr. Sarmiento is part of a team with Voces who are developing curricula on workplace safety with Spanish-speaking immigrant workers.

Dr. Sarmiento connects her research and teaching by building collaborations with organizations at the forefront of social movements. She and her students worked with Freedom, Inc. on the People’s Budget and with Worker Justice Wisconsin (formerly the Worker Rights Center) to develop the Just Dining Guide. Dr. Sarmiento was also one of six honorees to receive the UW–Madison Outstanding Women of Color Award for 2021-22.

Throughout her time in Madison, she has continued partnerships with community-based organizations in Southern California, including El Centro Cultural de México, a cultural and immigration rights organization she helped found, and Nuestras Manos, a domestic-worker-led organization. In 2020, she supported the organization of an Encuentro that brought together Mexican immigrant organizers from Orange County, California with organizers from the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin to discuss questions centered on land, resistance, culture, and organizing.

Portrait of Finn Enke
Finn Enke

Dr. Finn Enke is a professor of gender and women’s studies and history and directs UW–Madison’s LGBTQ+ Studies Certificate Program. They graduated from Swarthmore College with degrees in religious studies and Asian studies and from the University of Minnesota with a doctorate in history.

Dr. Enke specializes in the history of sexuality and gender, with a focus on queer and feminist social movements in the 20th-century United States. Their pathbreaking book “Finding the Movement” illuminates how queer women were central to feminist activism in the 1970s, and “Transfeminist Perspectives in and Beyond Transgender and Gender Studies,” helped launch the field of transfeminist studies and won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Book in Transgender Nonfiction. They are a founding board member for Trans Studies Quarterly.

Dr. Enke has led the LGBTQ+ Certificate Program since it was created, taught the first trans studies course on campus, reinvigorated several long-standing LGBTQ+ courses, and continues to develop LGBTQ+ first-year and graduate seminars. They co-founded the Gender & Women’s Studies committee for Accessibility, Climate & Diversity,  convened a Trans*, Nonbinary & Agender Affinity Group, and helped develop a campuswide gender-inclusive restroom policy and design standards. Dr. Enke has advocated tirelessly for how and why trans concerns are everyone’s concerns and the continued violence of anti-trans policies, laws and worldviews.

About the awards

UW System created the Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award in 1994 to honor women of color from around the state for their leadership in making significant and lasting contributions to their campuses, their communities, or both. Since then, UW System has honored more than 400 women of color for their contributions in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence. Chancellors from UW System campuses select one faculty, staff, student, or community member each year to receive the award.

The Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ+ People honors the legacy of Dr. P.B. Poorman, who played an instrumental role in the foundation of the UW System Inclusivity Initiative for LGBTQ People as a member of the original Steering and Research Committees. Her contributions to improving the lives of LGBTQ students, faculty and staff through research, teaching, service and advocacy all served to define and lay out the identity and activities of the systemwide Inclusivity Initiative. The award recognizes UW System faculty, staff, students, or community members for their excellence in advocacy, research, teaching or service on behalf of the LGBTQ+ communities.