Women's Center Honors USD's Women of Impact

"I can and will fight/I can and will a warrior be/It is my nature and my duty/It is the womanhood in me/I can and will fight/I can and will a warrior be/It is my nature and my duty/It is the sisterhood in me" — "Warrior" by The Wyrd Sisters


The University of San Diego Women Center's 19th annual Women of Impact awards luncheon took place on Dec. 2 with the theme of "Woven in Community: Co-Creating Experiences for a Better World."

2016 Women of Impact luncheon

Eighty-four Woman of Impact Award nominees from across campus in the categories of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff members and administrators were recognized. Nominated by their peers, it honors women “who have had a profound impact on the USD community through their work and their connection with others."

"A woman of impact," as described by the Women's Center, "lives the principles of social justice. Her community is not merely a place in which she exists; it is a place she actively improves. She practices the principles of creativity, courage, solidarity, empowerment, equity and collaboration."

Each honoree received a certificate while five — Jane Henderson, Ariela Canizal, Kathleen Custodio, Dr. Joi Spencer and Frances Kuhn — received an engraved award and stood on the UC Forum C stage as Women's Center Director Erin Lovette-Colyer read the cherished words of praise from their respective and anonymous nominators.

In addition to the award recognition, the program included a USD Choral Scholars performance of "Warrior" by The Wyrd Sisters; and Henderson, prior to knowing she'd won the undergraduate Woman of Impact honor, joined Southeast San Diego-based nonprofit, Project New Village Managing Director Diane Moss, on stage to talk about food justice and her work at the Mount Hope Community Garden.

"I found healing and community in Mt. Hope Community Garden. This is where my identities and passions were woven together. It has definitely helped me become the person I am today," said Henderson, an ethic studies major who is involved with USD's Black Student Union, is an Alcala Club member, a McNair Scholar, a resident assistant for the USD Social Justice Living Learning Community and is passionate about sustainability and being a vegan.

2016 Women of Impact Award Winners/Nominees 

Undergraduate winner: Jane Henderson, Senior, Ethnic Studies and Spanish double major.

Undergraduate nominees: Nicole Abraham, Kyra Anderson, Alex Annen, Kathlyn Grace Avery, Abigail Barnes, Yvette Beltran, Elly Berg, Erin Carollo, Paola Carrasco, Brittany Castagna, Jordyn Corrington, Maria Dimachkie, Emma Doolittle, Riley Evans, Claire Flynn, Jesse Frost, Ivette Gil, Olivia Gonzalez, Jasmin Hadad, Athena Jimenez, Marguerite Lehman, Paris Lowe, Mylene "Lennie" Macias, Chelsea McLin, Ashley Mendes, Lauren Nilsen, Jocelyne Olguien, Danielle Priore, Natasha Salgado, Victoria Simon, Rachel Stein, Charlotte Vitak, Lina Wallace, Brenna Wertzberger and Selam Worku.

Graduate student winner: Ariela Canizal, second-year student, Master's Degree in Higher Education Leadership, School of Leadership and Education Sciences

Graduate Student nominees: Chenell Braddock, Tamar Cassell, Robin Gustafson, Judy Halter, Jenny Li, Andrea Reyes and Shannon Winchell. 

Staff winner: Kathleen Custodio, executive assistant for Assistant Vice Presidents of Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives and Programs.

Staff nominees: Celina Chavira, Jill D'Errico, Deborah Francisco, Tina Manabat, Catherine Northcutt, Tessa Opperman and Candace Torrey.

Faculty winner: Dr. Joi Spencer, Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Department of Learning and Teaching, School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

Faculty nominees: Erika Cameron, Josen Diaz, Casey Dominguez, Iris Engstrand, Maura Giles-Watson, Jena Hales, Rangapriya Kannan-Narasimhan, Orly Lobel, Robin McCoy, Ann Mayo, Amanda Ruiz, Sharmilla "Mila" Sohoni and Lori Watson.

Administrator winner: Frances Kuhn, director of Accounts Payable.

Administrator nominees: Pauline Berryman Powell, Sarah Borger, Christina de Vaca, Veronica Garza, Amy Gregory, Melissa Halter, Brooke Hauser, Chelsea Kott, Margaret Leary, Persephone Lewis, Barbara Lougee, Stephanie Lynch, Patricia Marquez, Paula Morreale, Tara Murphy, Sybilla Robison and Michelle Rohde.

— Ryan T. Blystone