Andrea began her time at UW-L in Continuing Education and Extension (CEE) where she was awarded a grant from UW-Extensin to address workforce diversity and inclusion. Through this grant, Andrea formed an advisory group which designed a series of community workshops, highlighting the need to to support workplace diversity initiatives and lift up the strengths and assets of the area’s changing demographics. The advisory group did not want to disband after the grants ended and, with lead sponsors and memberships, the Diversity Council was born.
Andrea feels fortunate to find a niche at UW-La Crosse that allows her to engage in community education and change work within an academic setting. SSP, CEE, and the the work of creating the Diversity Council reflect UW-L’s commitment to the “Wisconsin Idea,” the idea that the university should be active in solving problems that affect the quality of life of citizens of the state.
Like many of the other board members of GLADC, Andrea is active in numerous community initiatives, including the AAUW-La Crosse Branch and WINGS program for community women interested in going to college; helping to establish and provide leadership for Lugar de Reuion, an area resource for Spanish-speaking residents; working to raise awareness of issues related to aging, family caregiving, and the long term care workforce; and designing a ACT Prep Program for Hmong students that included family sessions and support. In 2011, Andrea received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Leadership Award in for promotion diversity and justice through education and advocacy. In 2014, she was recognized by the YWCA Tribute to Outstanding Women program in the activist category.
After 10 years of helping launch and develop GLADC, Andrea continues to devote significant time to the Council, currently serving as our Treasurer. Andrea says she values how the Council has grown and transformed over the years. She reflected on the contributions each leader on the Board, and the past and current Executive Directors have made to increase the awareness and capacity of the Council. Positive energy for change comes from each member organization and individuals embracing the mission and vision of diversity, inclusion and equity.
Andrea hopes the Council will continue to build and grow. The increased level of total organizational buy-in is one aspect needed to increase our region’s ability to attract and retain a more diverse workforce. Andrea believes that workplaces can be great agents of change that have a positive impact on the wider communit. It is her hope that organizations and employers will embrace the values and practices that build open, inclusive, and equitable workplaces and lead to more just, creative, and healthy communities.