Alumna honored for social justice education work

May 18, 2011

A Nelson Institute alumna has received a 2011 UW-Madison Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award.

Cynthia Lin, a social justice education specialist at the Multicultural Student Center, was one of six UW-Madison staff and faculty members to be so honored this spring by the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate. As a scholar-activist, she melds research with organizing and teaching in credit-bearing courses and training workshops.

Described by many as "thoughtfully passionate," Lin is the co-founder of the Institute for Social Justice and Transformative Leadership, a Multicultural Student Center initiative that provides and supports campuswide opportunities for deep reflection and action around issues of social justice for multicultural students and their allies. The institute works across communities to establish partnerships that celebrate and reclaim the legacy of student movements and build students' capacity to be effective as activists, organizers, institutional change agents, and transformative leaders.

In the community, Lin has worked with Centro Hispano, WORT Community Radio, and Operation Welcome Home advocating for and with Madison's homeless for affordable housing, jobs, and the end of criminalization of homelessness, along with Freedom Inc., a grassroots nonprofit organization that provides services and advocacy to low and no-income communities.

Lin earned combined masters degrees in land resources and urban and regional planning in 2009. Her bachelor's degree in environmental engineering and environmental studies is from Princeton University.

This is the fourth year that the UW-Madison Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate has highlighted the contributions of several women of color on the flagship campus as a supplement to the 16-year-old UW System Outstanding Woman of Color in Education Award.

"It is important to recognize the work and role women of color play both on campus and in our community," says Ruby Paredes, assistant vice provost for diversity and climate. "In the case of the Madison campus, we are fortunate to have a rich selection of campus leaders whose work and personal contributions deserve special recognition."

Recipients of the Outstanding Women of Color Award are selected by a committee of students, faculty, and staff for excellence in one or more of the following areas: 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 for an inclusive and respectful environment.