The V. Shamim Sisson Ally of the Year Award seeks to recognize a member of the University community who has gone above and beyond in their daily life in supporting the LGBTQ community, furthering the rights and acceptance of queer-identified individuals at the University of Virginia and beyond. Understanding that allies coming in many shapes and sizes and with varying access to resources, we encourage and welcome student, faculty, staff, and alumni nominees. This award brings necessary attention to the important role that allies play in the fight for equality, social justice, and the acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

Shamim Sisson was presented with the inaugural award at UVa’s inaugural Lavender Graduation Ceremony on May 1, 2009. As Senior Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Office of Student Life, she worked closely with students, faculty, staff and alumni alike to provide a strong support network and resources for LGBTQQI members of the University community. Most notably, she was an instrumental advocate in the establishment of the LGBT Resource Center in its original Newcomb Hall location and the hiring of UVa’s first full-time faculty LGBT Program Coordinator in October 2006.

Each September, the V. Shamim Sisson Ally of the Year Award recipient is chosen by the LGTBQ Center and is presented annually during the Serpentine Society’s Gala Awards Dinner.

Biography of V. Shamim Sisson

Shamim SissonShamim Sisson is retired from the University of Virginia where she served most recently as senior associate dean of students and director of the Office of Student Life. Her career in higher education has been primarily in the field of student affairs with previous appointments at Auburn University, Valdosta State University, and Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. She has longstanding professional interests in women’s education, communication between men and women, leadership development, and interracial and intercultural understanding.

Other emphases of her work have included student development theory as applied to university systems and college and university responses to sexual assault. She holds a B.A. from Judson College; M.Ed. from Livingston University, and Ed.D. in counseling and college student development from Auburn University.

Sisson served in numerous capacities in Student Affairs at the University after she arrived in Charlottesville in 1988. Shamim chaired the University’s Sexual Assault Board from 1998 until 2006 and co-founded the Women’s Leadership Development Program. Shamim is a former recipient of the Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award and the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at UVa.

Shamim lives in Charlottesville, VA, with her husband Jim Cooper, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. She and Jim sailed twice with Semester at Sea, in 2009 and 2012.


Prior year recipients are listed here.