Catt Center director Dianne Bystrom is one of three recipients selected for the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing One Community Award at Iowa State University.
The recipients will be recognized during the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Convocation on Thursday, Jan. 21, from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. Awards will be presented by Reginald Stewart, ISU’s vice president for diversity and inclusion.
The convocation will also recognize the Black Student Alliance and Jazmin Murguia, a senior in journalism and mass communication and director of student diversity for ISU’s Student Government, as recipients of the 2016 Advancing One Community Award.
Since 2006, Iowa State has honored students, groups, and faculty or staff members who demonstrate a commitment to King’s principles and goals to create an inclusive multicultural community that embraces justice and equity. Recipients receive a $500 stipend and a plaque.
Bystrom was selected as a recipient for her long track record of advancing the status of women at ISU as well as at the state, national and international levels. She was nominated by College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Beate Schmittmann with letters of support from Elizabeth Hoffman, professor of economics who formerly served as executive vice president and provost and LAS dean; Lissandra Villa, senior in journalism and mass communication and political science; and John Schuh, director of the Emerging Leaders Academy and a distinguished professor emeritus of education.
“Since her arrival at Iowa State University in 1996, Dianne has been an agent of change on campus as an advocate for social justice and equality,” Schmittmann said. “She has paved a path for women and other underrepresented individuals to organize, communicate, collaborate and provide leadership for diversity and equality.”
“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” Bystrom said. “I appreciate the support and collaborative efforts of numerous colleagues who are committed to creating a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment at Iowa State.”
During her 20 years at Iowa State, Bystrom has worked to expand the Legacy of Heroines scholarship program to include internships as well as scholarships and build stronger ties with donors. She developed ISU’s signature program in leadership studies, which currently enrolls more than 200 students, and its core course in “Leadership Styles and Strategies in a Diverse Society.”
Bystrom proposed and created the center’s online Archives of Women’s Political Communication, which now includes more than 1,260 speeches of some 365 present and past women leaders from around the world. The archives’ website receives some 20,000 visits each month from people living in such countries as the United States, China, Ukraine, Russia, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Sweden.
In 2007, under Bystrom’s leadership, the Catt Center spearheaded the first bipartisan campaign training workshop in Iowa to encourage women to seek elected and appointed public office or become involved in other community leadership roles. Ready to Run® Iowa: Campaign Training for Women has been held every other year since 2007 as part of a national network. The Iowa program, which is open to men, has provided leadership development and campaign training for 293 participants.
A recognized scholar in the field of political communication, Bystrom is also highly sought by local, state and international media for her insights and opinions about American political campaigns and elections – especially the role of women voters and candidates.
“She will give an interview at any time or any place, often getting up at odd hours to accommodate journalists from around the world interested in how the American political system works,” Hoffman said. “She maintains her credibility with an impressive publication record that keeps her current.”
Bystrom actively promotes diversity and social justice on campus. She served as a co-director with Schuh for Shared Leadership for Institutional Change, a three-year program designed to increase the number of women and minority faculty and staff in leadership positions at Iowa State, and convened ISU’s Cross-Unit Planning Team on Multicultural, Diversity and Women’s Activities, Programs and Services. Through her service on the Women’s Leadership Consortium, Bystrom was among the proponents for establishing a chief diversity officer position in the university president’s office.
“Dianne’s work has centered on inclusiveness and providing learning opportunities to help those who wish to serve their university and their communities,” Schuh said.
Over the years, Bystrom has taught numerous Iowa State students about women and politics, political communication and leadership. She also takes a personal interest in helping students.
“Dianne works tirelessly to reduce the involvement gap between men and women in politics,” Villa said. “She is especially encouraging of students because she understands the college years are a critical time in terms of women being encouraged to seek public office.”