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Winners announced for 2020 April Brooks Women of Distinction and Ally Awards

The 2020 April Brooks Women of Distinction and Ally Awards will be announced via the SDSU Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program Facebook page, beginning April 1.

The recipients were: Kas Williams, administration; Christine Stewart, faculty; Marjoanne Thompson, professional staff; Linda Quade, civil service; and Leah Hendrickson, student. Brookings PFLAG won the inaugural Ally Award. In addition, Kayla Moss was awarded the Dr. April Brooks Memorial Scholarship.

“Receiving this scholarship helps me to further my education into women’s history,” said Moss, who is from Valley Springs. “My main interest of study is religious women’s history. I love to study about how the social, economic and religious aspects have played a role in the making of women’s history. This scholarship means I can continue to pursue my passion in the field of women's history.

“Receiving this scholarship is also another great memory that I am able to have because of my time at SDSU. It is because I go to SDSU that I was able to join The Pride of the Dakotas, become president of Phi Alpha Theta chapter (history honor society) and meet my best friend, who lived in the same dorm as I did my freshman year,” she continued. “This scholarship is just another great thing that has helped me further not only my studies and career while I am at SDSU, but also all of the fond memories that I have made here.”

This year’s awards were sponsored by South Dakota State University’s women’s, gender and sexuality studies program.

“The Dr. April Brooks Women of Distinction Awards are given to women who have illustrated excellence in their careers and have promoted opportunities for historically marginalized groups,” said Becky Kuehl, associate professor and the women’s, gender and sexuality studies program coordinator. “This event celebrates all selected for the award, as well as all who were nominated.”

Also nominated were:

  • Administration: Mary Emery;
  • NFE/Professional Staff: Neha Singh;
  • Faculty: Jenn Anderson, Axton Betz-Hamilton, Lisa Madsen, Jessica Mediger and Evren Celik Wiltse; and
  • Students: Madison Dulas, Sana Illahe, Camillle Massmann, Allyson Monson, Amanda Muller, Nusrat Muntaha Qurashi Prithom and Sofiya Zybaylova.

This year’s winners:

  • Administration Award: Kas Williams
    As SDSU’s chief diversity officer, Williams has revitalized programs such as Difference is Dialogue and Safe Zone Trainings. She has also co-developed the First Friday Brunch and Diversity Academy series to reach multiple audiences in addition to being a driving force behind Jack’s Cupboard, which combats students’ food insecurity. She also serves on the Brookings Human Rights Commission and has been a leader on the Campus Climate Committee.
  • NFE/Professional Staff Award: Marjoanne Thompson
    Thompson is a coordinator, adviser and instructor for pre-health professionals in the Department of Biology and Microbiology. She advises approximately 380 students using a holistic approach in academic requirements, career guidance and personal concerns. She helped organize a summer experience in Lower Brule, where high school students come up with a project to help their community and are mentored by current SDSU students. Thompson also helped build an exchange program with KNUST in Ghana, which has impacted graduate and undergraduates from Ghana attending SDSU and has helped many SDSU students experience an international travel course.
  • Faculty Award: Christine Stewart
    A professor in the Department of English, Stewart was named South Dakota Poet Laureate by Gov. Kristi Noem in July 2019. The former program coordinator of the then-women’s studies program, Stewart is the author of numerous books of poetry that give voice to the perspectives of women, as well as numerous poems in anthologies, which have won awards and made significant contributions to poetry in the state of South Dakota and beyond.
  • Civil Service Award: Linda Quade
    An SDSU Extension family nutrition program assistant, Quade provides nutrition education to low-income audiences. She also gives lessons about basic nutrition, food buying skills, food safety, stretching food dollars and budgeting monthly SNAP benefits. Quade also works with a variety of agencies and other sites to implement nutrition education in South Dakota.
  • Student Award: Leah Hendrickson
    Hendrickson, a psychology major from Clear Lake, is also a member of the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College. She created a rape prevention program to be implemented in middle school and high school physical education classes. Hendrickson completed a trial run of her program for Deubrook High School staff and a trial run for its middle school and high school students, reaching over 300 students. Through her research assistantship with SDSU’s College of Nursing, she received a $3,500 grant from the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center.
  • Ally Award: Brookings PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays)
    Founded in 2017, the Brookings chapter strives to create a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued and affirmed. Nationally, PFLAG was founded in 1972 and “is the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families and allies.” The organization’s main mission is to provide support to parents of LGBTQ children and to help the parents come to terms with how to properly support their children. The Brookings chapter recently hosted the American Civil Liberties Union’s Ally Academy, which fostered dialogue regarding what it means to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, informed participants about terminology used within the community and the process of “coming out” as an LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit persons.