Commitment to an Inclusive Community Award

Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Commitment to an Inclusive Community award recipient, Karis Hill!


Karis's nominators said the following:

“Karis Hill is the Senior Coordinator for Leadership in Engagement, Leadership, and Service. In the seven months that Karis has worked at UGA, she has displayed a commitment to diversity and inclusion, particularly in consideration of access, ability, and identity in leadership learning. 

With an approach of socially just leadership education, Karis’s ultimate goal is that all students will able to not only identify themselves as leaders but also see the connection between leadership and how they can integrate these skills into their communities beyond the University of Georgia. 

In a newly established department and amid the challenges posed by the pandemic, Karis has found opportunities for socially just leadership education through the development of new curriculum and intentional facilitation of leadership programs. Karis’s contributions toward socially just leadership education includes:

  • Karis played a significant role in researching leadership theories and frameworks and assisted in facilitating aspects of the collaborative working group that influenced the Leadership & Collaboration Essential Skill to include the themes of self-awareness, collaborative action, and empowerment of others. 
  • Karis works to create leadership programs that are accessible to all students. Karis is mindful about ensuring videos are captioned, that there are virtual alternatives to programs, and that there are minimal barriers (applications, fees, etc.) to engage in leadership development.
  • Karis utilizes examples and resources that expand representation beyond typical archetypes of leadership, resulting in affirming student experiences and identities. I witnessed this first-hand during a Leadership Summit when I noticed a student visibly lite up watching a video of a spoken-word artist discussing the various ways to “speak English” as an example of intersectionality. This student couldn’t wait to talk about her own experience of having Jamaican parents and growing up knowing two cultures, which sparked a deeper dialogue around social identities and leadership.
  • Karis served as lead facilitator for the fall cohort of Leadership UGA emerging leaders. With two Destination Dawgs participants in the program, Karis was intentional about communicating with the professional staff member and student mentors to ensure our Destination Dawgs participants could engage fully and authentically by sharing resources and materials ahead of time.

Marina Martinez, a fourth-year student in the Destination Dawgs program, shared the following about her experience in the Leadership UGA program:

‘The Emerging Leaders Program helped me to realize that not only can I do anything I put my mind to, but that I can be a leader in it as well. Karis and the program taught me how to share my story and my background. That helped me realize that I had always been a leader, and it grew my confidence in my ability to lead. Karis helped me to become more open-minded as a leader. She taught me how to use my strengths in a leadership position and to advocate for myself and others.’

Additionally, Alexis Szelwach, Transition Coordinator for Destination Dawgs, had the following to say about working with Karis:

‘Karis truly went above and beyond as a partner for our program Destination Dawgs. She made our students feel included, supported, and appreciated in the Emerging Leaders Program. Her passion and dedication to full inclusion not only supported the mission of our program but helped to impact Leadership at UGA. Karis was a leader to our students, but also was a mentor, and support role at all times. She is in an incredible partner to this program, and has become an advocate for our students, and their leadership journey at UGA.’

Karis leads with intention and passion for creating inclusive spaces that enable student to feel affirmed and valued for their lived experiences. As her supervisor it is encouraging to see that her work is appreciated by students and colleagues. In a short time, Karis has set an example and precedent toward diversity and inclusion in all of the initiatives she has played a role in. Karis is an asset to the Division of Student Affairs and I am both proud to work alongside her and excited to see her work continue to create more inclusive spaces for University of Georgia student leaders.”


Recipient: Individual or Group

Do you have a coworker who strives to make their work more inclusive of others?  Did you collaborate with another department/area to enhance a program or service to ensure it was more accessible for others?

This award recognizes an individual or a group of individuals within UGA Student Affairs who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion in consideration of affordability, ability, identity, and access.

Nominations will be evaluated according to one or more of the following criteria:

  • Advancing diversity and inclusion awareness, knowledge, and skills within the UGA community
  • Developing innovative methods for increasing and valuing diversity through wide-ranging activities or systems
  • Creating opportunities for students and/or staff to foster respect across difference
  • Promoting the advancement of equity and inclusion in daily work, institutional policies, and practices
  • Advocating for the interests of underrepresented and marginalized populations
  • Establishing or participating in staff development opportunities intended to increase understanding and awareness
  • Individual nominees must serve as a current UGA Student Affairs staff member at time of nomination – at least one person in a group nomination must serve as a current UGA Student Affairs staff member at time of nomination

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