Iris Marion Young Awards honor five for work to promote justice

Five members of the Pitt community were honored this year with the Iris Marion Young Awards for Political Engagement, given annually by the Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies Program and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs to honor those who work to promote justice in the University, at the local or national level, or across the globe.

The awards are named for Iris Marion Young, a philosopher and social theorist who was a professor in GSPIA and a member of the Women's Studies Program Steering Committee during the 1990s before taking a position at the University of Chicago in 2000. She died in 2006 of cancer. During her time in Pittsburgh, Young volunteered and organized on behalf of peace and social justice, fair labor practices, adult literacy, and children’s rights.

This year’s awards were presented on Jan. 27.

Faculty award: Gina Garcia (associate professor of higher education in the School of Education) is being honored for her scholarship about Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education, her teaching in courses such as “Politics and History of Higher Education,” and her advising and mentoring of individual students and student organizations.

Staff award: Prince Matthews Sr. (academic and student services coordinator, Katz Graduate School of Business), a recent GSPIA graduate, has a long record of public service, activism and politically engaged research at Pitt and throughout America. His work focuses on poverty, inequality, injustice, and black mobility. Prince was recently selected by the White House as a 2020-21 White House Fellowship Regional Finalist.  

Graduate student award: Kess Ballentine (Ph.D. student, School of Social Work) has pursued feminist, intersectional approaches to social justice through her work as a graduate student. She co-founded the Coalition for Engaged Social Workers as a space for social workers to have critical conversation linking theory, research, policy, and practice. 

Undergraduate student awards:

  • Beatrice Fadrigon (Psychology) is a co-founder of AQUARIUS (the Alliance of Queer and Underrepresented Asians in Recognition of Intersectionality to Uphold Solidarity) and has helped to raise funds for organizations such as SisTersPGH and co-hosted workshops and conferences supporting LGBTQ and Asian students.  She also has served on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of Pitt’s Student Government Board.

  • Kathryn Fleisher (Politics-Philosophy and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies) is founder and executive director of Not My Generation, Inc., a nonprofit committed to localized, intersectional gun violence prevention organizing for young adults. She has been named a Harry S. Truman Scholar and a Giffords Courage Fellow.