Conference and Events



The Inclusive Excellence Awards, held on April 12, 2022, provided an opportunity to honor the work of staff, faculty, students, and community leaders across OneUSF. Honorees have dedicated themselves to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in their daily lives and in ways that have transformed the lives of others, their units, or the broader USF community.

  • Honorees are persons in the USF community who embody one or more of these elements of Inclusive Excellence:

  • Honors difference and promotes belonging through exceptional service to diverse populations through day-to-day professional activities
  • Engages in Innovative approaches to Diversity Equity and Inclusion programming and initiatives with outcomes
  • Inspires and/or mentors in ways that build institutional capacity or multiply the broader impact of Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging
  • Promotes institutional policies, practices, and initiatives that support Diversity Equity Inclusion, and Belonging
  • Encourages thoughtful and deliberate integration of Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging into everyday practice
  • Champions, integrates, and/or institutionalizes anti-racist practices in service, teaching, research, or engagement
  • Engages in collaborative partnerships across all three campuses or in the broader community to address discrimination, bias, and systemic inequities














More photos of the awards ceremony are accessible here! (Password: usf2022)


Cultural presentation





CuKiAra Tampa Bomba Dance and Drumming Group

Showcasing the folkloric song, dance, and drums of Bomba. Bomba is a practice with West African roots and brought to the Caribbean islands with blended influences of European and Indigenous cultures. The improvised dance to the beat of fiery drum rhythms was a form of communication for sugarcane field workers.

CuKiAra, a community-based group share their cultural heritage through music. At the event, participants listened to the beating of the drums and the beautiful energy that helped to pull them into this event. Perhaps this is the first time hearing this music or perhaps it is familiar in many ways, it is its rich beat that drew us in. Music often helps us unite across differences and while it may not be familiar, like the beat of our hearts, music is there, a constant and vital part of what gives us life and brings us together.

Nominees for the 2022 Inclusive Excellence Awards


  • Alexandra Espaillat
  • Amanda Boczar
  • Asia Wright
  • Charity Lewis
  • Cheryl Lawson-Young
  • Clara Reynardus de Villanueva
  • Darren Gambrell
  • David Chapel
  • Deborah McCarthy
  • DeWayne Anderson
  • Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton
  • Ellyn Couillard
  • Katie Haff
  • Katrina Anderson
  • Marie Bowen
  • Megan Stowe
  • Michon Shaw
  • Dr. Monica Lee Miranda
  • Samyntha Francis
  • Stephanie Wise
  • Sydney Jordan
  • Dr. Thomas Knudsen
  • Walter Jennings


  • Adrian M Ravenel
  • Dr. Antoinette Jackso
  • Dr. Alastair Graham
  • Dr. Brenda Walker
  • Dr. Carol Marrero-Placeres
  • Dr. David B Koontz
  • Dr. Dejun "Tony" Kong
  • Dr. Edelyn Verona
  • Emily Mann
  • Erin Scheffels
  • Dr. Frank Muller-Karger
  • Dr. Gary Lemons
  • Dr. Geveryl L. Robinson
  • Dr. Harold Paul MD
  • Dr. James Garey
  • Dr. James McHale
  • Dr. Janelle Wells Brenda
  • Dr. Joe Bohn
  • Kaleb Demerew
  • Dr. Kellas Cameron
  • Dr. Kimberly Fields
  • Dr. LaSonya Moore
  • Lauren Roberts
  • Dr. Michelle Arnold
  • Dr. Misha Johnson
  • Mishon Shaw
  • Dr. Rachel Dubrofsky
  • Dr. Rebecca Lopez
  • Dr. Ruthmae Sears
  • Dr. Srinivas Katkoori
  • Dr. Syliva Thomas
  • Dr. Trina Spencer
  • Dr. Wayne Guida
  • Dr. Will Forde-Mazrui
  • Dr. William Schanbacher

Academic Unit

  • Academic Affairs Sarasota-Manatee
  • CAS/Communication
  • CAS/ENG NSF STEER Grant - Transformational Implementation Leadership Team
  • Computer Science and Engineering
  • College of Education:
  • Educational leadership and policy studies             
  • Department of Cardiology
  • Medical Response Unit
  • (Department: Student Health Services)
  • Muma College of Business
  • Office of Decision Support
  • Office of Multicultural Affairs
  • School of PT & Rehab Sciences
  • Student Success
  • Student Accessibility Services
  • Student Support Services
  • USF Athletic Training Program
  • USF Counseling Center (Student Success)
  • USF Morsani College of Medicine
  • Undergraduate Studies


  • Dr. Alexis Mootoo
  • Carlos Moreira
  • DeWayne Anderson
  • Dr. Dana Thompson Dorsey
  • Dr. Randy Borum
  • Dr. Valeria Garcia
  • Dr. Jacob Diaz
  • Kydani Dover
  • Lani Boothman-Carpenter
  • Leslie Laney
  • Dr. Martin Tadlock
  • Olga Slavick
  • Dr. Raheleh (Rahi) Dayerizadeh
  • Samantha Cleveland
  • Stephanie Wise
  • Dr. Theresa Chisolm


  • Aaron Drake
  • Abdul Muqeet Khawaja
  • Aishwarya Kulkarni Raunak Ghosh
  • Akshat Gupta
  • Alexandra Baughns
  • Alina Atiq
  • Ariadna Ruiz Islas
  • Biloliddin Farkhodov
  • Brandi Cook M.S.
  • Cassandra Richardson (Cassie)
  • Cedric McCray
  • Cedric Street
  • Curtis L Williams
  • Daniela Moino
  • Darlyce Beach
  • Destiny Gomez
  • Divya Sheth
  • Elisa Carsten
  • Elizabeth Laburda
  • Elyssa Carfley
  • Emily Mitchell
  • Emma Frank
  • Emma Rebman
  • Goziem Nwafor
  • Hannah Mirza
  • Harold Rocha
  • Irene Nguyen
  • Jacob Light
  • Jasmine Ayo-Ajayi
  • Kayon Henderson
  • Kerrijo Ellis
  • Kishore Kadari Lorissa Wright
  • Kurt Rodriguez
  • Lance LaNeve
  • Lorissa Wright
  • Lucas Werneck
  • Majdi Jlaiel
  • Malika Ellis
  • Mathew Mattamana
  • Meredith Mechanik
  • Mohamed Mossad
  • Nalaka Kapuruge
  • Onika Griffiths
  • Prachi Misra
  • Rachel Hertz
  • Rebecca Ruiz
  • Rio Tate
  • Shirley Morejon
  • Spencer Margulies
  • Syed Hasan
  • Trever Saint Paul
  • Tysha Porter
  • Weiwei (Mimi) Liu


  • Alpha Omicron Pi, Sorority
  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated - Theta Gamma Chapter
  • Beta Theta Pi
  • Network of Enlightened Women at USF
  • PAInt Center Program - Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton
  • USF Psychology Diversity Committee
  • USF African Students Association
  • University of South Florida Hillel

Community Partners

  • Arts4All Florida
  • Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg
  • Gamma Xi Boule
  • Tampa Bay Refugee Task Force
  • The East Tampa Community Redevelopment Agency


Recipients of 2022 Inclusive Excellence AwardS


Dr. Ruthmae Sears

We are pleased to recognize Dr. Sears for the Inclusive Excellence Award for contributions that are cross-disciplinary, multi-dimensional and high impact across numerous local, regional, and international communities.

 Dr. Sears serves as an associate professor for mathematics education, and associate director for Coalition for Science Literacy with a focus on inclusive excellence. She also serves as the lead faculty facilitator for the inclusive and equitable pedagogy program at the University of South Florida. Dr. Sears is also a member of the USF Anchin Center STEM Professional Development Leadership Team and serves on the NSF-funded STEER-Transformation Implementation Leadership Team (TILT). She is the principal or co-investigator on two National Science Foundation grants focused on racial equity in STEM. Dr. Sears is also the chair of the USF Enlightenment Series and is a member of the university’s I-Aspire Implementation Team, and the NSF-funded “All ABOARD” – A Bull’s Eye for JEDI initiative. This only scratches the surface of her work. Dr. Ruthmae Sears served as the principal investigator for the City of St. Petersburg-funded grant entitled, "Examination of the historical and modern-day impact of structural racism on the lives of Black people in the City of St. Petersburg, Florida." The recommendations from this report were approved and integrated as part of a City for a St. Petersburg Resolution to address systemic racism.

Dr. Sears’s achievements are almost too numerous to recount and she’s only getting started. She has received multiple awards for her scholarship and commitment to inclusive excellence. Focusing on 2022 alone, Dr. Sears was the recipient of the University of South Florida-Outstanding Faculty Award and the 2022 USF Office of Multicultural Affairs- I Heart Diversity Award. She previously received 2021 Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) – Connections for Life-Mentorship Program's Paper Plate Award, and the 2018 USF chapter of the National Council of Negro Women – Catherine Johnson STEM Award. Dr. Sears also previously received the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid Missouri Heroes award, and the VEX robotics volunteer of the year award. Dr. Sears was selected as an NSF-funded I-Aspire Leadership Academy Fellow in 2020.

The culmination of all of these achievements, Dr. Sears was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow for her distinguished contributions to social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at both national and community levels, and for her contributions to mathematics education.


Dr. Brenda Walker

Dr. Brenda Walker has spent over three decades as a faculty member at The University of South Florida, where she advanced through the ranks from Assistant Professor to full Professor and later as the Interim Associate Dean for The College of Education at the USF St. Petersburg. Not only is she one of few faculty members with experiences that span more than one USF campus, she is also one of the very few faculty who has earned both a Ph.D. and JD. She earned her Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law and in addition to being a professor, she is a lawyer interested in civil rights, education, and poverty laws. In 1995, she developed Project PILOT, Preparing Innovative Leaders of Tomorrow, the first of several initiatives that prepared African American men for urban special education teaching careers. Years later, the fruits of her labor have yielded more than 30 African American men who have graduated and are teaching children with special needs. Her most recent endeavor is the Call Me Mister Program, where MISTER stands for “Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models” which involves a partnership with the Pinellas County Schools to guarantee a full-time teaching position to the USF St. Petersburg campus MISTERs in urban school settings. The program has received generous external funding and is intended to boost the number of Black male teachers.


Muma College of Business

We are pleased to recognize the Muma College of Business with the Inclusive Excellence Impact Award.

 In 2020, the Muma College of Business launched an innovative and free seven-week Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate to participants locally, regionally, and internationally. Within only weeks, registrants began pouring in and by the time the certificate program started, there were well over 60,000 registrants. In July 2021, at least 130,000 people signed up for the free class. At our last check, the DEI certificate program had touched over 200,000 individuals who have open access to online materials on YouTube and curricular materials that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through the DEI certificate modules, participants learn how building a workforce that collaborates effectively across race, religion, age, gender, and sexual orientation, disability status can lead to innovation and improved performance. The certificate guides participants through Emotional Intelligence, Stereotypes, and Biases, tools to understand the organization, provides guidance about the importance of shifting mindset towards an inclusive workplace, and addresses recruitment & retention, community outreach, and creating sustainable business models. This program was developed as a partnership between JABIL, the Lightening, and USF and has included local business leaders as expert leaders that guide participants in their DEI journey. In recognition of the broad reach of the Muma College of Business DEI certificate and the diverse topics that it covers, we are pleased to award the Muma College of Business, under the leadership of Dean Moez Limayam, with the Inclusive Excellence Award.


Staff Awards

Dr. Mónica Lee Miranda - Director of the Center for Student Involvement, Tampa campus

Dr. Miranda is empathetic, compassionate, an asset to this campus as a whole, and a role model and supporter for every individual she meets. Her recommender notes “Her energy and passion for students deserve the utmost recognition and appreciation as she has been one of the most endearing and amazing individuals I’ve met.” Dr. Miranda is the co-founder and inaugural President of the recently launched Alianza Latina Faculty & Staff Association which has already been active in the underrepresented student calling campaign. While working at USF, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in Educational Leadership & Administration.


Darren L. Gambrell - Assistant Director for the Office of Student Service, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Sarasota Manatee Campus

Darren is a positive force on campus and is known by many as the first face that visitors see when they arrive at the USF Sarasota Manatee campus. His recommender notes, “He makes everyone feel welcome and seen. He shares and promotes opportunities for everyone on campus to participate in DEI programs, activities and events.” Darren is not only a champion for DEI, he is a veteran who brings his organizational and programming expertise to shape relationships for students, faculty, and staff. He is an active member of the Black Employee Steering Committee and has played a role in developing a virtual space for underrepresented men across OneUSF.


DeWayne Anderson - Assistant Program Director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, St. Petersburg Campus

Though DeWayne Anderson only recently began at the University of South Florida, his impact has already been widely felt. He has been very committed to different opportunities to engage students, staff, and faculty on various events, directly and indirectly, related to inclusiveness and diversity.  He played a lead role in developing the successful Spring 2022 OMA Diversity and Inclusion conference, he has organized numerous innovative DEI programming and training, and serves in multiple roles/committees on the campus to support our diverse campus communities. His recommender notes, “it has been great and pleasant to have such an enthusiastic staff committed to the theme of inclusion.”


Faculty Awards

Dr. Antoinette Jackson – Professor and Chair of Anthropology, Tampa Campus

Dr. Jackson has led her department toward a more inclusive and equitable workplace and learning environment. Her contributions to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion do not stop with her administrative duties, however. Dr. Jackson has emphasized Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in her research on Critical Heritage Studies. Her most recent work on African American Cemeteries in Tampa has received national recognition, including in the New Yorker among other venues, and is an important part of developing conversations about racial equity in cultural/historic preservation and the treatment of burial remains. Under her leadership as Chair of the Department of Anthropology, the department is considered a model for how to institutionalize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts. She also led the initiative to establish a Land Acknowledgement Statement that is currently being considered at the institutional level.


Emily Mann – Student Success Librarian, St Petersburg

Emily Mann truly embodies all elements of Inclusive Excellence. Emily is a cheerleader and accomplice for all marginalized members of our university community. She unabashedly uses her voice to amplify the voices of others across intersectional identities. She approaches all of her Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work with humility, continually striving to learn more. Emily has served as Chair of the USF Libraries Diversity and Inclusion Committee since 2020. Since then, the library has established numerous resources that focus on DEI and anti-racism that will benefit those across the USF and the broader community. Emily participated in the Dismantling Racism Circle and was selected to serve as a DARE fellow to work on specific challenges of anti-racism with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


Michelle Arnold - Assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and a director of the Auditory Rehabilitation and Clinical Trials laboratory, Sarasota Manatee

Dr. Arnold engages in Innovative approaches to DEI programming and initiatives with outcomes. Her research with the Auditory Rehabilitation and Clinical Trials Laboratory is aimed at creating quality hearing loss education materials for the Hispanic community, which has been in need of this sort of work for decades. She has published research and established a research agenda that focuses on the needs of diverse communities, extensively studying the Hispanic population in order to provide them the utmost quality of care that also reflects the group’s individual and cultural needs and preferences. She has previously also conducted research on audiological rehabilitation for blast-injured US Veterans. Dr. Arnold honors difference and promotes belonging through exceptional service to diverse populations through day-to-day professional activities


Academic Unit Award

Student Accessibility Services under the leadership of Deborah McCarthy, Director OneUSF

The Student Accessibility Services office has proactively provided guidance, mentorship, and training to ensure accessibility for all across OneUSF. Each year the number of students seeking their assistance has increased severalfold. In fall 2021, the SAS received nearly 200 applications for accommodations and this office manages all of these. Under Deborah McCarthy’s leadership, according to the recommender, “the SAS office’s most striking achievement in the last year is the completion and implementation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility.” The product of nearly seven years of Deb’s persistent advocacy, the Presidential. Advisory on Accessibility elevates the importance of accessibility for USF and provides a safe place to explore the interdependence of accessibility and student success.


Administrator Awards

Dr. Alexis Mootoo - Associate Vice President, Fiscal and Business Services, Tampa Campus

Dr. Mootoo manages a significant budget as part of her role as the AVP of fiscal and business services. And, in addition, she teaches courses in Africana Studies focusing on Racism in American Society and issues of Black Women in America, Political Science, Latin American Studies for the USF School of Interdisciplinary & Global Studies, and American Culture and Introduction to the Humanities in USF’s Department of Humanities.  In the fall of 2020, at the encouragement of USF students demanding more instructional opportunities delving in to racism and prejudice, she created a course entitled, “Prejudice, Stigma, and Racial Consciousness.” In 2020, Dr. Mootoo played a significant role as a collaborator with the USF Muma College of Business, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Jabil to create diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace certificate program.


Carlos Moreira - Director of Campus Engagement for Veteran Success and Alumni Affairs, Sarasota Manatee Campus

Carlos serves as Director of Veteran Success, USF Alumni Engagement Officer, Advisor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Sarasota Manatee campus.  He’s a member of the Status of Latinos Presidential Advisory Committee and Alianza Latina. Carlos is also very active with the Staff Advisory Council at the Sarasota-Manatee campus. He serves as the chair for SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society for all three campuses. Carlos is a willing volunteer and supporter of DEI initiatives across OneUSF.  His impact cannot be overstated.


Dr. Jacob "Jake" Diaz - Regional Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Dean of Students at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg campus

Dr. Diaz is an active chair in numerous diversity committees, from NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program Board, serving on the President's Task Forces on Racial Diversity and Principles of Community, the 2009 NASPA Outstanding Senior Student Affairs Officer for the Latino/a Knowledge Community, and several presentations of Multiculturally Competent Leadership at NASPA National Conferences. Dr. Diaz leads his life and career by example, commitment, and passion and stands up for issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. He is a member of the newly developed Advancing Latino Access and Success Task Force as part of his collaborative partnerships directed at supporting underrepresented groups. Dr. Diaz’s doctoral dissertation on Marginalized Narratives in the Academy speaks to his passion for Inclusive Excellence.


Student Awards

Destiny Gomez - Psychology Major, Racial Justice Student Fellow, St. Petersburg campus

Destiny has worked to create a more inclusive and just campus on both Tampa and St Pete campuses by raising awareness of numerous injustices through xer work as Social Justice Director for OMA, as a racial justice fellow, and as a member of the Students of Color Advisory Board and as a student in xer personal interactions and social media engagement. Xe has consistently advocated for students of all backgrounds to feel accepted on campus and is even spearheading a new annual program to address the tension between University Police Department and the student body.


Elisa Carsten - Clinical Psychology Graduate Student

As President of the Department of Psychology’s Student Diversity Committee at the Tampa campus, Elisa has innovated the approach to diversity and inclusion in the psychology department and has pushed the movement to new boundaries. This has inspired several other students to join the mission and also resulted in the creation of the undergraduate mentorship program within the department. This program is now in its second successful year of building relationships between undergraduate students and graduate mentors. In her role as the President, she has gone above and beyond to refresh the organization, and begin campaigns and events as grass-roots initiatives while juggling Ph.D. level academic pressures and clinical duties. Elisa cultivates a true sense of inclusivity within the entire psychology department by instituting a collaborative atmosphere with the faculty, staff, administrators, graduate students, undergraduate students, and highly motivated high school students.  Elisa is genuine, deliberate, and effective in her work. She champions DEIB causes in her everyday work and promotes anti-racism in her teaching and client-facing duties.


Organization Awards

The PAInT Center Program under the leadership of Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton

Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton is a nationally recognized educator and arguably one of the most popular and energizing figures on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. Dr. Davis-Cotton works tirelessly to develop, promote, and secure resources for programs in the arts for socio-economically depressed communities.  As director of the Center for PAInT (Partnership for Arts Integrated Teaching), which is housed on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, she has helped develop innovative art-based programming across Florida. Among her recent efforts, she produced a series of educational videos for children to view at home during the pandemic. She also received an $8.5 million dollar grant to explore arts integration and racial equity through a partnership with the Arts School Network. This is the largest grant in the history of USF SM!


Arts 4All Florida

The vision of Arts 4All Florida is to create a world in which the arts are universally accessible. The organization collaborates with the College of the Arts faculty to regularly produce arts and disability events, bringing professional artists with disabilities to the campus and surrounding community.Arts4All Florida conducts art education programs in schools, Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, and community centers; promotes the accomplishments of artists with disabilities through the artist registry, exhibitions, and performances; and increases access to the arts through professional development workshops. 


Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg

The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg believes that race equity will lead to health equity. The organization acts as a connector, a listener, and a source of fuel that accelerates the powerful work already being done to advance equity. Their work includes advancing Anti-Racist Practices and Policies to improve the lives of all Pinella County Residents. The FHSP is an amazing partner to USF, in supporting faculty research, student initiatives and collaboration efforts within St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. Among many other efforts, the Foundation granted the emerging SPHERE Racial Justice Consortium with a planning grant that afforded the opportunity to allow the organization and initial operation of the multi-institution higher education coalition to explore ways to begin their mission of combating racial inequities within higher education.


Gamma Xi Boule

Founded in 2001, the Gamma Xi Boulé Foundation is dedicated to encouraging excellence in education and providing youth development programs for underserved youth in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Its partnership with the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus to provide college and career development was established in 2018 and has served over 500 students at Booker and Southeast High Schools.  Additionally, Sarasota-Manatee is hosting its 2nd Journey to Success student intern. Gamma Xi Boule is affiliated with Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.