International Studies & Programs

Inspirational Woman of the Year Award

The Inspirational Women of the Year Award is an opportunity to inspire the dreams of other women and provide accessible role models for all. The goals of this award are to honor the impact women have on and off campus, life one another up as a community, and highlight the culture of high performance at MSU.

The Inspirational Woman of the Year Award recognizes the achievements of women staff and faculty affiliated with Michigan State University (including main campus and all off-site and satellite campuses). The award highlights woman-identified individuals who demonstrate integrity, leadership, quality performance, integrative and inclusive action, and influence on campus and in the community. Three individuals will be honored—one per category of Professional Achievement, Community Engagement, and Culture of Empowerment.

Becky Campbell--Spartans Will 600px.jpgThis year, GenCen is proud to be the new administrators of the third-annual Award, previously administered by the MSU Women’s Resource Center. The award recognizes outstanding women affiliated with MSU in three distinct categories: Professional Achievement, Community Engagement, and Culture of Empowerment.

The category of Professional Achievement will be awarded to a woman who demonstrates a unique drive and passion for her career and contributes positively to MSU’s culture of excellence. The woman selected for the Community Engagement Award will demonstrate a commitment to engaging and advancing communities and organizations at Michigan State University and/or in communities beyond campus, through service/volunteerism, leadership and/or involvement. Lastly, the award for the Culture of Empowerment will recognize a woman who has demonstrated dedication to the advancement and empowerment of women on campus and/or across the globe through mentoring, programs or other leadership opportunities. If you are aware of an individual who demonstrates outstanding character in the area(s) of professional achievement, community engagement, and/or has created a culture of empowerment, you are encouraged to nominate them for this prestigious award.


History of the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award

Spartans Will Break The Mold--600px.jpgIn Fall 2014, the MSU Women's Resource Center created the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award. The award was developed in order to celebrate and feature the accomplishments of women-identified faculty and staff at Michigan State University. The intention of the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award was to highlight and recognize the achievements of woman-identified individuals who demonstrate integrity, leadership, quality performance, integrative and inclusive action, and influence on campus and in the community. The award was developed to elevate and advance MSU's culture of appreciation for the courageous and empowering work of the women change agents at MSU. The Women's Resource Center stated, "By recognizing the incredible impact women are having right here on campus and in the greater Lansing community and beyond, their stories, experiences and success can inspire other women to excel."

Creator of the award, Lydia Weiss (Educational Program Coordinator at the Women’s Resource Center, 2013-2016) said, “I have witnessed first-hand the empowerment that can be produced by seeing, meeting and engaging with inspirational women on campus. In the spring of 2014, the Women’s Networking Association [a program developed by the Center to connect and empower women] hosted a panel of MSU executive women, including Paulette Granberry Russell, Dr. Janet Lillie, and Jacquie Joseph. The advice and experiences these women shared with the audience were powerful, but most importantly, it was inspiring. Participants gained ‘momentary mentors’ and role models for their careers from one evening event; thus, the MSU Women’s Resource Center sees the value in recognizing the accomplishments of women on campus with this prestigious award.”

The award has historically honored three outstanding women affiliated with MSU each year in three different categories: Professional Achievement, Community Engagement, and Culture of Empowerment. The Inspirational Woman chosen for Professional Achievement demonstrates a unique drive and passion for her career and contributes positively to MSU’s culture of excellence. The woman selected for the Community Engagement award demonstrates a commitment to engaging and advancing communities and organizations at MSU and in the greater Lansing community through service/volunteerism, leadership and/or other involvement. Lastly, the woman who best demonstrates dedication to the advancement and empowerment of women on campus and in the community through mentoring, programs, and other leadership opportunities, is awarded the Culture of Empowerment award. Recipients are selected by a Selection Committee which consists of a diverse group of MSU staff and faculty.


Previous Award Winners

Spring 2017


Community Engagement Award: Sophia Koufopoulou, Instructor, Department of Sociology

Professional Achievement Award: Dr. Filomena Nunes, Professor of Physics in the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and Department of Physics and Astronomy

Culture of Empowerment Award: Dr. Denise Troutman, Associate Professor in Linguistics and Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures

Spring 2016


Community Engagement Award: Officer Melissa Congleton, MSU Police Department

Professional Achievement Award: Mona Hanna-Attisha, Director, Pediatric Residency Program, Hurley Medical Center and Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Human Development

Culture of Empowerment Award: Holly Rosen, Director, MSU Safe Place

Spring 2015


Community Engagement Award: Audrey Bentley, Community Outreach Senior Coordinator, Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives

Professional Achievement Award: Jeanne Wald, Professor, Department of Mathematics

Culture of Empowerment Award: Karin Wurst, Advisor to the Provost for Intercultural Learning and Engagement, Office of the Provost


Congratulations to this year's recipients of the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award!

Filomena Nunes_BioPhoto.jpgDr. Filomena Nunes
Presented with the award for Professional Achievement
Dr. Filomena Nunes was nominated for the Inspirational Woman of the Year award by Dr. Scott Bogner. Dr. Nunes is a Professor of Physics in the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and Department of Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Nunes is being recognized for her extensive contributions to the STEM field, particularly in the field of Theoretical Nuclear Science. She has made immeasurable impacts on the development of the work that will be carried out at the Michigan State University Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. Dr. Nunes' work is extensively published, cited, and called upon for conference presentations and workshops. In 2015, she was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), which is an honor given to only a tiny fraction of APS members each year. Dr. Nunes also created the FRIB Theory Alliance, which will bring researchers together from around the world and establish MSU as the global center of theoretical nuclear physics research. Additionally, she has served as an advocate for diversity and gender equality in the sciences and society, by increasing diversity among the organizations she participates in and by highlighting the research of up-and-coming female and minority scientists. "In my nearly 20 years in Nuclear Physics, I'd be hard pressed to name another person (of either gender) with a comparable balance of professional excellence, visionary leadership, and strong commitment to fairness and equality," wrote nominator Dr. Scott Bogner.

Denise Troutman_BioPhoto.jpgDr. Denise Troutman
Presented with the award for Culture of Empowerment
Dr. Denise Troutman was nominated for the Inspirational Woman of the Year award by Maria Martin. Dr. Troutman is an Associate Professor in Linguistics and Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures. She is also a faculty-affiliate with the African American and African Studies Program. Dr. Troutman is being recognized for her work as the co-founder of Daughters of the Collective (DOC), a mentoring organization that connects Michigan State University students with 6th-8th grade girls throughout Lansing and Detroit. DOC simultaneously builds the leadership capacity of African American female MSU students and the self-confidence and support for African American youth throughout the community. Dr. Troutman was also a U.S. Senior Fulbright Scholar, received the Outstanding Faculty/Staff Award from the Center for Persons with Disabilities, and received an American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women. "She is a rigorous scholar and champion of diversity and inclusion. Over the time that I have known her, she has been a supportive, honorable, patient, and hardworking mentor for Black women and girls on MSU's campus, in the greater Lansing community, and also Detroit," wrote Martin in the nomination packet.

SophiaKou.jpgSophia Koufopoulou
Presented with the award for Community Engagement
Sophia Koufopoulou was nominated by Kelly Birch Maginot. Koufopoulou is an Instructor (Adjunct/Fixed Term Faculty) in the Department of Sociology and in 2016, she was a recipient of the Undergraduate Teaching Award. Koufopoulou is being recognized for her impressive and innovative strategies for weaving together community service, college-level learning, and cultural immersion. Her instruction and facilitation of a sociology-based study abroad program "Greece and Turkey: Contemporary Culture, Politics and Society" is particularly noteworthy. Not only did she tailor the learning experiences for each student individually, but she also coupled the curriculum with community service as a learning tool for her students. During the summer 2015 study abroad program, Koufopoulou developed a service learning project with local NGOs and activists in order to serve the influx of refugees from the Middle East and Northern Africa to Greeceall while teaching students about migration flows and crisis response. Koufopoulou has demonstrated a global impact through her community engagement, through her personal service and also by inspiring students to continue their own engagement with the migrant populations locally and in Greece. In the nomination packet, Birch Maginot wrote, "Particularly through her response to the refugee crisis in Greece over the past two years, she has served as an exemplary model for how to engage personally and professionally on both local and international levels." Sophia Koufopoulou works not only to create awareness of the current refugee crisis in Greece, but also to demonstrate the solidarity and compassion of the Greek people, particularly the response towards refugees on the island of Lesvos.

*Photos courtesy of Spartans Will campaign

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