Laura Widener (College ’16)

Laura WidenerAt the time of receiving the award, Laura Widener was a third year student majoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. During her second year (2013- 2014), she was the LGBTQ Center’s Speakers’ Bureau Intern, organizing over twenty panels for professors, University organizations, and Contracted Independent Organizations (CIOs).

Currently, Laura is a Marketing Communications Intern at University of Virginia’s Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, providing content for the Center’s Instagram account (@uvawomenscenter). Recently, she accepted a spot in UVa’s all-female student group One Less, which aims to educate students about sexual and domestic violence and to empower survivors.

When she is not fulfilling her duties as a student or an intern, Laura volunteers with Thrive, a local health care medical center. Furthermore, for the past two summers, she worked at the Presbyterian (USA) Church’s Montreat Conference Center with children aged six months to three years. Once she graduates, Laura hopes to work in a career dealing with gender-based issues and aspires to work with children who have siblings with disabilities.


Eric McDaniel (College ’14)

At the time of receiving the award, Eric McDaniel was a fourth year from Richmond, Virginia, studying English in the College of Arts & Sciences. Eric served as the President of Student Council, and served at all levels of the organization from fall of his first year to graduation. His major projects while on student government included the reform of internal structure and recruiting methods to increase diversity among Council’s membership, the creation of the undergraduate-wide newsletter StudCo News, and sponsoring several resolutions to advocate on behalf of marginalized students and student groups.

Outside of Council, Eric served as the head of the Undergraduate Humanities Initiative at the University, where he and a team of undergraduate students planned events and initiatives to promote the Humanities across Grounds. He planned and organized the student speaker series On Being Human, where he and seven others spoke about their thoughts on what it might mean to be a human being.


Dr. Marcus L. Martin

Dr. Marcus L. Martin is professor and past chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Virginia. He held the chair position from July 1996 to December 2006. During his tenure at UVa, Dr. Martin served as Assistant Dean, School of Medicine, Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice President, Interim Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity. He was appointed Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity in April 2011.

The University’s Diversity Council, Women’s Leadership Council, LGBT Committee, and the John T. Casteen III Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Award Selection Committee are organized and staffed by the Office for Diversity and Equity under Dr. Martin’s direction. Dr. Martin also established the UVa IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) Fund and its associated Trustee Board at UVa.

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Tara Saylor (GSED ’06)

At the time of receiving the award, Tara Saylor was a PhD candidate at the Curry School of Education. Her dissertation examined what she calls a “sexual minority curriculum” in high school. Ms. Saylor found that this curricula established regulatory learning environments for LGBT adolescents. Sexual minority students learned the rules and codes of appropriate student behavior and the limits of sexual embodiment, but also how to circumvent and resisted school homophobia and heteronormativity. The dissertation has been supported by the Curry School of Education, and the proposal won a Doctoral Research Award in Education Science from the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning.

She received support to establish a LGBT families program in Oklahoma from the Doris Buffett Fellowship for Families and the Law, funded by the Sunshine Foundation and the U.Va. School of Law. Tara has been an active volunteer with UVa’s Queer and Allied Activism, the Reider Otis Scholarship Committee, Tulsa’s All Souls Unitarian Church with emphasis on LGBT rights in Uganda, and Oklahomans for Equality. She currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband Ryan and their young daughter, Evelyn.


Robert “Bob” Covert (Faculty, Curry School of Education)

Bob Covert has been a faculty member at UVa since 1972. He helped develop and currently teaches the popular Multicultural Education class. He is the co-chair of the Curry school’s Faculty Diversity Group, a member of the University wide Diversity Council and the co-founder and member of the Va. Chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Education. His research focuses on the impact of diversity training on University students and community members. He has done diversity training in a wide variety of settings including public and private schools, universities and social service agencies.