CLGBTE announces winners of service awards

May 28, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equity (CLGBTE) announced the winners of the CLGBTE Outstanding Service award for 2015. This year, the commission also created an LGBT Academic Achievement Award to acknowledge outstanding achievement in the areas of research, teaching or academic coursework. The award prioritizes the recognition of LGBT-focused research and instruction and distinguished sexuality and gender studies minor students.

The awards were presented at the annual Lavender Graduation on April 17 in Heritage Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center.

Outstanding Service Award

Aimée Brown-Shadduck, programming and education coordinator for the All-Sports Museum, Intercollegiate Athletics

Brown-Shadduck was nominated by Alexander Yakacki, a senior majoring in film and video. Alexander wrote:

“With obvious passion, Aimée told me about how she was working to bring the You Can Play project to Penn State. She explained that the goal of the organization is to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. I learned how she had been working since the past summer to gather funds, support, and interviews with administrators, coaches and student athletes to make the idea a reality. She was so excited about the project, I felt more than compelled to join as production assistant/editor. Aimée worked tirelessly for over a year to make this dream a reality. There were multiple setbacks during that time … a less dedicated person would’ve left the project behind. But she never stopped pushing, calling, emailing, asking, demanding that this project be completed to the absolute highest degree of quality. Aimée saw an opportunity with the You Can Play project and got behind it full heartedly. There is no doubt that she has made a difference in the lives of many at Penn State.”

Bria Williams, undergraduate student, College of Communications

Bria was nominated by Sarah Kim, who indicated that Williams has “dedicated her time here to improving LGBTQA+ spaces, spreading awareness of queer issues and creating new opportunities for the LGBTQA+ people in our community.” In her time at Penn State, Bria has served as an editorial intern at the Student Resource Center (SRC). In addition to her duties editing the monthly newsletter OUTRider, her nominator notes that she “went above and beyond her responsibilities … to facilitate discussion groups, organize LGBT-friendly events, and promote awareness of opportunities in the SRC. She created the student organization Queer People of Color and founded the magazine Love Yours, focusing on social, political and health issues for queer people of color. Kim wrote: “Bria Williams has inimitable drive and unparalleled passion for the LGBTQA+ community at Penn State and for the community at large. She will not rest until LGBTQA+ people feel safe and valued … .” 

Cheryl Nicholas, associate professor of communication arts and sciences, Penn State Berks

Cheryl Nicholas was nominated by Belen Rodriguez-Mourelo, an associate professor of Spanish at Penn State Berks, who noted Nicholas’ extraordinary LGBT-focused achievements in research, pedagogy and service. Currently at work on a book-length project exploring sexual and gender identity among Malaysian lesbians and conducting research in Malaysia, she has previously published three articles on LGBTQ topics. She is currently serving on the editorial board of Sexuality & Communication Journal. Her dedication to LGBTQ work extends to her teaching. Last year, she took 23 students on a trip to New York City, which included a visit to the Stonewall Inn; the LGBT Community Center, where organizations such as ACT UP, GLAAD and Queer Nation took root; and even had some cultural experiences, including seeing a performance of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and a drag show. She serves as the adviser for Rainbow Alliance, assisting students in organizing important events and speakers. She has also developed a special-topics class on LGBTQ identity. Mourelo wrote: “As evidenced by this impressive list of achievements, Dr. Nicholas works hard to bring awareness and understanding to our University, and to create a safe space for faculty, staff and especially students. I could not think of any other scholar, teacher and citizen of our college so committed and engaged in bringing extraordinary learning opportunities to our students."

Academic Achievement Award

Douglas M. Charles, associate professor of history, Penn State Greater Allegheny

CLGBTE recognizes as its first distinguished recipient of the LGBT Academic Achievement Award, Douglas M. Charles, associate professor of history at Penn State Greater Allegheny, who specializes in modern U.S. and gay and lesbian history. His research has focused on the FBI’s persecution of people based on their sexual orientation, having authored several articles on the FBI’s surveillance and investigation activities in relation to the Lavender Scare and the Early Homophile Movement. He has two publications that are forthcoming and that build on this previous research, "Hoover’s War on Gays: Exposing the FBI’s 'Sex Deviates' Program" and a book chapter titled “Policing Public Morality: Hoover’s FBI, Obscenity, and Homosexuality.”

He was nominated by Tahirah Walker, instructor of education at Penn State Greater Allegheny, who wrote: “I think his work opens necessary public discourse on LGBTQ issues … . His research contributions are both astute and critical. They reflect Penn State's commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion. In order to continue honoring this commitment, we must have dialogue that recognizes context and history. Dr. Charles' work ensures that such communication and discussion can take place.”

Last Updated May 10, 2016