Student Woman of Distinction, Yadira Pérez Páramo
Yadira Pérez Páramo is a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Pharmacy where she studies the pathways of nicotine and tobacco metabolism in the body and their potential role in addiction and cancer. Yadira came to Washington State University as a Fulbright-Garcia Robles scholar from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Mexico where she was a adjunct faculty and research scientist. She is actively engaged in the Latinx community in Spokane and Mexico, including leading a Latinos en Spokane scholarship workshop and teaching Pharmacogenomics to a highly motivated group of students in Monterrey, Mexico for Clubes de Ciencia. Her work with marginalized groups extends nationally, as a College of Pharmacy representative at the Society for Advancement of Chicano’s/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference.
Yadira’s research prowess is also acknowledged through having recently received a National Commission for Science and Technology (CONACyT) dissertation scholarship to finish her graduate studies. She also recently received 2nd and 3rd place poster awards at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual conference. Her leadership ability is evident through her participation as president of the Spokane Graduate Research Student organization and vice-president of programs of the Association of Women in Science group. Her nominators say that Yadira is an example of a conscientious and well-balanced scientist, working toward a better global society through her research and a better local community through her formal teaching, advocacy, and mentoring of underserved populations.
Staff Woman of Distinction, Abby Howard
Abby is a Physician’s Assistant with Cougar Health Services, having earned her BS from the University of Delaware and her Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She is known at WSU as a champion for trans* students and their healthcare needs and is described as a social change agent through her actions at her institution and in her industry. Several years ago, Abby took it upon herself to become one of two individuals within Cougar Health Services trained in providing gender-affirming healthcare for trans* individuals. Since then, she has become known by other health care professionals in the region for her outstanding care and her willingness to educate other providers at the university.
Abby is a staunch advocate for LGBTQ* students all across the WSU system, and her leadership is described as quiet, yet powerful. One nominator said, “Abby has worked to create a more equitable medical experience and more personable patient experience by not only being highly informed on Trans healthcare but focusing on the human need of her patients. Her commitment to the well-being of others shows that she works for the betterment of all and is willing to take the time to continue to learn to advance equity in her work.”
Abby is a change-maker in our community and makes the lives of the marginalized better every day she goes to work.
Faculty Woman of Distinction, Dr. Dedra Buchwald
Dedra Buchwald, M.D., is a Professor of Medicine in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University where she also serves as the Director of the institutionally-funded Initiative for Research and Education to Advance Community Health. Along with these roles, she is the founding director of the Partnerships for Native Health, one of the largest research programs on American Indian and Alaska Native health in the nation. Her work considers health at the level of the individual, the community, and the health system, using an array of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Dr. Buchwald has been the Principal Investigator of more than 30 projects funded by NIH and other major organizations and a current research portfolio of more than $55 million. She has more than 325 publications on diverse topics.
Beyond her outstanding scholarly record, Dr. Buchwald is recognized for her care for others. She has mentored over 100 early career researchers in addition to many graduate students, medical students, and residents, the majority of whom are from Native communities. One nominator said, “As an enormously accomplished woman, Dr. Dedra Buchwald serves as an example of success, excellence, generosity, responsibility, and integrity. Her achievements have very clearly created positive social change and increased equality for all, with a special emphasis on both women and American Indians. Most importantly, Dr. Buchwald has created many opportunities for each of us to pass along the knowledge with which she has gifted us, always encouraging us to go on to train other women researchers highly trained researchers who have often continued to collaborate on research projects throughout our careers.”
Alumna Woman of Distinction, Kathy Dahmen
Kathryn is the Chief Financial Officer and Administrative Manager for WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) and the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. In her role, Kathryn oversees a budget of over 16 million dollars per year and has implemented changes that have increased financial accountability and transparency within the organization. She does this work with dedication, grace, integrity, and a spirit of comradery. Kathryn’s hard work and desire to recruit and work with the best-of-the-best has led to a rich culture of diversity at VTH, with individuals from all over the world including South Korea, Austria, South America and Australia. In this same vein, Kathryn has been a key component of a program that brings veterinary students and faculty from Nihon University in Japan to WSU each summer.
One nominator said, “Kathryn is a born leader and motivator, using soft and subtle approaches to make changes in others and in the environment. She has an ability to take a tough or bad situation and turn it for the best including improving the attitude of those directly involved.” Kathryn’s can-do attitude is felt throughout the College of Veterinary Medicine, having a positive impact on students, faculty, staff, and the clients that depend on the VTH each and every day. Kathryn takes her role as a public face of WSU very seriously and is a stellar ambassador for our community.
Woman of the Year, Dr. Anna Plemons
Dr. Anna Plemons is a Clinical Assistant Professor of English and the director of the Critical Literacies Achievement and Success program. In all that she does, Anna’s persistent driving motivator is a deeply-held belief in the transformative power of education, particularly for those who are marginalized. As the director of CLASP, Anna works with WSU faculty, staff and students on issues of retention and persistence, paying particular attention to the relationship between pedagogy and retention for underrepresented and first-generation students. In her teaching, she focuses on such topics as technological diversity, mass incarceration, and critical pedagogy. Through all of these teaching opportunities, Anna ask students to consider the impacts of language, power, racism, colonization, and other forms of oppression in their everyday lives As one nominator said, Dr. Plemons creates moments that connect undergraduate education, scholarship, and social justice in ways that have real impacts on both structural oppressions and individual lives.
While Dr. Plemons wears many hats, perhaps her most influential one is as an instructor of creative writing through the Arts in Corrections program in the California state prison system. Through this work, Dr. Plemons sees brilliance and passion and kindness in men that society often wants to forget. As in all of her work, Dr. Plemons shuns the deficit model, which defines people by their weaknesses, and instead embraces a view that not only accepts those who have been marginalized, but recognizes and embraces their strengths, experiences, and knowledge. One former student of hers notes, “she pushed us to create our best versions, nothing just ‘good enough.’ I sometimes think of all the wonderful people I have had the fortune to meet over the course of my life, and I wonder how my karmic balance could possibly have had the required tilt to have allowed me to come into contact with them. To you, Dr. Anna, I have no words other than, ‘thank you’.”
Lifetime Achievement award winner, Dr. Kelly Ward
Kelly’s professional work is remembered for her outstanding scholarship and service, especially for her interests in work-life balance, faculty career development, and institutional change to support fairness, equity, and diversity. As a scholar, Kelly was a powerhouse, publishing six books, 28 journal articles, and 13 book chapters. Her book Academic Motherhood: How Faculty Manage Work and Family (co-authored with Lisa Wolf-Wendel) received the American Educational Research Association’s Division J Outstanding Publication Award in 2012.
Kelly was recognized by Washington State as Faculty Mentor of the Year and received the College of Education Excellence Award in Teaching, both in 2007. Her work on academic motherhood was particularly impactful, and she worked tirelessly to make sure that other mothers in higher education knew that their families were not barriers to professional success, but could instead be a source of joy and perseverance.
Beyond her scholarship, Kelly was a persistent believer in the power of a supportive word or shoulder, and her legacy will forever live on in the untold numbers of co-workers, colleagues, and students she inspired to persevere in the academy and beyond. Kelly shared her enthusiasms with all whom she met. The impact of Kelly’s life and love are conveyed most powerfully through the words of those whose lives she touched: “Kelly was a great scholar, a devoted Chair, a great mentor, and advocate for faculty, staff and students. More than all these, Kelly was a kind-hearted fellow who cared deeply about others. She looked out for everyone around her and looked for every opportunity to make WSU a great place to work for everyone.” – Sola Adesope