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Demonstrate Courageous Leadership for a Diverse World

Diversity is Roberta Wilburn's passion. It's evident in her work: contributions at Whitworth and in the community too numerous to detail. It's evident in her job title, which reflects her focus: associate dean for graduate studies in education & diversity initiatives. And it's evident in the honors she recently received: local and national awards recognizing her commitment to diversity and racial justice.

"It's in my DNA. It's who I am," Wilburn says. "I've always been one of those people who has been a champion for the underdog, who wants to help marginalized people feel valued, accepted and respected."

For 10 years and counting, Wilburn has worked tirelessly to diversify Whitworth's campus community and to increase cultural competence in the School of Education, where she formed the Actualizing Our Commitment to Diversity Initiative.

Her efforts as coordinator of diversity initiatives for the school have included launching the annual International Education & Diversity Forum, recruiting diverse faculty and students, organizing workshops and guiding course curricula. She also serves on the Whitworth Institutional Diversity Committee.

Wilburn's work is yielding results – the School of Education now has more diversity among students and faculty, she says – and her efforts are gaining external recognition. Last year, she received the YWCA Spokane's 2016 Women of Achievement Carl Maxey Racial and Social Justice Award.

"It was very humbling because I do what I do not to get recognition but because I believe in it," Wilburn says of the award.

Then, in 2017, she received a national honor, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine's Giving Back Award for college administrators. Wilburn says it was powerful to be recognized at the national level.

"Sometimes you don't know exactly the type of impact your work is having," she says. "[The awards affirm that] I really am making a difference, and that's what I really want to do."