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UIC Office of Diversity Honors 2023 Community Engagement Awardees


The UIC Office of Diversity, Equity & Engagement (ODEE) recently announced the 2023 awardees and honorable mentions for the UIC Community Engagement Award. This award was created to honor dedicated faculty for their achievements in areas of community-based research, scholarship, service and teaching that addresses critical community needs, supports community advancement and promotes collaboration among UIC and its community partners.

The 2023 UIC Community Engagement awardee was Jeni Hebert-Beirne, PhD, MPH, associate professor of community health sciences in the UIC School of Public Health. Dr. Hebert-Beirne is noted for her central role in building the UIC Collaboratory for for Health Justice (CHJ), her development of the ChiTracing Citizen Scientist Certificate program during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that she has since transitioned into the Life Scholars Program and her community-engaged scholarship via many grants (including those funded by the MacArthur Foundation, the CDC and NIH).

The Emerging awardee was Renee C. Hatcher, JD, assistant professor in the UIC School of Law. Dr. Hatcher is noted for her role as the director of UIC Law’s Community Enterprise and Solidarity Economy Clinic (CESEC) in focusing its advocacy and direct client representation efforts on behalf of community-owned or controlled projects and grassroots organizations doing transformational work, her work with policymakers to educate them on solidarity economy theory which led to the creation and passing of the Limited Worker Cooperative Act, her service on the Advisory Council of the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice’s Community Wealth Building Initiative and as a co-organizer of the 2018 Cooperative Professionals Guild conference.

Honorable Mention was given to Lisa A. Razzano, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry out of the UIC College of Medicine. Dr. Razzano is noted for her decades-long commitment to developing and improving health and mental health services for the LGBTQ+ communities, including leading studies specifically focused on the lesbian community and on LGBTQ+ individuals living with HIV. She assisted in organizing a biannual and bilingual (Spanish and English) forum addressing issues related to HIV/AIDS in local Latinx communities, worked with Chicago House to develop and evaluate a peer-led medication adherence intervention, spearheaded development of the first stand-alone employment program for LGBTQ+ and other HIV-positive individuals (the Increased Individual Income & Independence (iFour) Employment program) and redesigned the Gender, Sexual Disorders and DSM-5 UIC course to highlight the significance of gender affirming care.

Awardees will be honored at the annual Faculty Awards Ceremony and Reception, which will be held in the fall.