2023-24 Recipients

Rebecca Cheung, Assistant Dean for Leadership Development Programs in Education (BSE)

Rebecca Cheung headshotAssistant Dean Cheung is a passionate public scholar of educational leadership, and the director of several broadly influential equity-centered educational leadership programs, each of which benefits both the Berkeley School of Education (BSE) and the larger education community. For 9 years, she led the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI), developing a robust framework for equity-driven leadership practices, and working with hundreds of PLI students on improving education for vulnerable and historically underserved students in California’s public schools in support of social justice. PLI’s goals also include diversifying the educational workforce, and the program has been particularly successful in attracting and mentoring students who are historically or currently underrepresented in education leadership. In 2021, as Executive Director of Leadership Programs, Dr. Cheung also led a multifaceted effort to relaunch BSE’s educational doctorate program, Leaders for Equity and Democracy, with a similar equity framework and the goal of preparing graduates to effect large scale liberatory change. She is a valued teacher and mentor, and she provides her students with ongoing support and development throughout their studies and into their careers. At the state and local level, Cheung’s work has been scaled up and shared widely, through her leadership in the California Department of Education’s 21st Century California School Leadership Academy, and through programmatic partnerships with local school districts and other state initiatives. Over the past 4 years, she has served as Principal Investigator for more than $34 million in equity-related educational leadership grants, and she is a respected strategic advisor to local, state, and national educators, administrators, and policy advocates.

Damian Elias, Professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM)

Damian Elias headshotProfessor Elias is a renowned behavioral ecologist and scholar of animal communication, whose multifaceted commitments to equity, inclusion, belonging and justice have transformed his department, the Berkeley campus, the national landscape for graduate education, and his own scientific field. Within ESPM, he has provided innovative leadership on holistic, equity-centered graduate admissions and graduate education, worked to advance the department’s anti-racism learning and teaching efforts, helped increased grad student funding, improved department climate, and served as an inclusive community-builder and DEIBJ facilitator. He is a beloved teacher and mentor to grad students and undergraduates alike, including many first-generation college students and students from underrepresented backgrounds. At the campus level, Elias has partnered with the Graduate Division to develop and roll out the UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions Institute and Graduate Diversity Leadership Academy, offering resources, training, and workshops on inclusive graduate admissions, climate, mentorship, wellbeing, and using data for equity to more than 200 faculty and staff.  At the state and national level, he represents UC Berkeley on the California Consortium of Inclusive Doctoral Education and the nationwide Equity in Graduate Education Consortium and is a highly regarded thought-leader on graduate diversity, holistic admissions and mentoring. Since 2015, Elias has served on or chaired the Diversity Committee for the Animal Behavior Society, where he has helped develop support programs for underrepresented students, inclusive mentoring and teaching workshops, and accessible meeting practices for disabled scholars. In recognition of these contributions across his discipline, he was awarded the Animal Behavior Society’s Exceptional Service Award in 2023.

Thomas M. Philip, Professor of Education, and the Berkeley Teacher Education Program

Thomas Philip headshotProfessor Philip is a distinguished learning scientist, STEM educator, and national leader in the field of teacher education, race, equity, and social justice. As Faculty Director of the Berkeley Teacher Education Program (BTEP), he has led a transformational program redesign and restructuring, drawing on his own groundbreaking research on the ethical and political dimensions of learning, and partnering with his BTEP colleagues to weave diversity, equity and justice principles and practices into every aspect of the program – including admissions, coursework, pedagogy, MA projects, student support, program structure, team culture, and community relationships. The collective efforts of the BTEP Lead Team have helped bring about profound change: a dramatic shift in BTEP’s demographics; new curriculum and field learning experiences centering equity and justice throughout; the addition of a Spanish bilingual authorization pathway; ethnic studies coursework for all BTEP teachers; reimagined local school partnerships grounded in mutual benefit; and a collaborative decision making structure that supports shared learning and continuous program improvement.  Manny Herrera, Libby Gerard, Kyle Beckham. Philip’s support for program faculty and his community-building within BTEP are deeply valued. In 2023, the American Educational Research Association honored Philip and BTEP with its Innovations in Equity and Social Justice in Teaching and Teacher Education Award, uplifting the program as a powerful national model. Professor Philip has also been influential in advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice at the campus level, through his leadership as Chair of the Academic Senate’s committee on Diversity, Equity, and Campus Climate (DECC) and his ongoing work to enhance DECC’s impact with campus departments and the academic program review process

In photo above: Bottom row (left to right): Thomas M. Philip, nives wetzel de cediel, Elisa Salasin, Fatimah Salahuddin, Chela Delgado. Top row (left to right): Manny Herrera, Libby Gerard, Kyle Beckham.