It didn’t take Beverly Hutcherson long to make an impact at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Less than one year into her time at the school, she was named one of the 2017 Outstanding Women of Color by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of the Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer.

Beverly Hutcherson photo
Beverly Hutcherson

Hutcherson joined the school in early 2017 as its diversity outreach and communications manager. She is also a Career Pathways coordinator at UW Health.

While she may have only been at the School of Medicine and Public Health a few months, she has been a part of the University of Wisconsin as a whole since 2003, when she joined the university as a research assistant in the National Primate Research Center.

During her research training at the center, she embarked on a stint in the Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE), from 2009 to 2012, working with middle and high school students instructing a variety of science and health topics, as well as ACT test preparation.

When Hutcherson joined UW Health as a Career Pathways coordinator in 2014, she often worked late into the day and out of the spotlight – just as she did in the PEOPLE program – dutifully helping create a bridge between UW-Madison and underserved populations. For example, in her role with UW Health she would meet with students of color who felt they didn’t want to continue at UW-Madison, and encourage them to stay – sometimes with her young son by her side because the meeting would happen after school.

“This is very affirming for the journey,” she said, regarding the award. “This is meaningful for me because I work behind the scenes.”

In her new role at the School of Medicine and Public Health, Hutcherson has been developing a comprehensive diversity plan for the school focused on optimizing inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA). Additionally, she is spearheading the planning and implementation of the Ladder Program at the medical school, a peer-to-peer mentoring program focused on engaging diverse youth from fourth grade to college years. The goal of the program is to introduce them to health care and science in an effort to encourage the students to consider a career in healthcare.

If that wasn’t enough, she is still a graduate student pursing a master’s degree in endocrinology reproductive physiology.

Her work at UW Health and the School of Medicine and Public Health could certainly be seen as enough to justify the recognition she received, but her work with underrepresented populations in the community isn’t restricted to the campus, hospital, area schools – or even Madison.

While a student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Hutcherson began her service work volunteering at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Marquette’s mentor program and the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. In Madison, Hutcherson has given her time to the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, Dane County Welfare Office, Boys and Girls Club and several others.

“Beverly has made a tremendous impact with her keen focus, professional acumen and technical expertise,” said Brian Gittens, associate dean for human resources, equity and inclusion at the School of Medicine and Public Health. “She effectively leverages her training as a scientist, her strong relationships in the community and her firm belief that the status quo regarding health care disparities and inclusion are not tenable or acceptable.”

Bridgett Willey, director of Allied Health Education and Career Pathways departments, and founder of the HOPE outreach program at UW Health, led the nomination effort with help from Gittens, who also nominated her. Veronica Cox, Career Pathways coordinator, also nominated her, Hutcherson said.

In addition to those who nominated her, David Abbott, her graduate advisor, and Ian Bird, both professors of obstetrics and gynecology at the School of Medicine and Public Health, have been indispensable to her success, she said.

“They get it. They get it when it comes to supporting women of color in a graduate program,” Hutcherson said.

Finally, Tim Gaillard, UW Health chief operating officer, has also been a tremendous influence in charting her career aspirations.

“He’s given me life-changing advice,” she said. “I literally follow everything he says.”

This is the 10th year of the award. Winners are chosen by a committee through the University of Wisconsin Office of the Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer. The awards were given out at a campus-wide diversity forum Nov. 7.

This year’s other winners included:

  • Christy Clark Pujara, associate professor, Afro-American studies
  • Taucia Gonzalez, assistant professor, rehabilitation psychology and special education
  • Helen Lee, assistant professor, art
  • Barbara Nichols, executive director, Wisconsin Center for Nursing/Wisconsin Action Coalition
  • Brianna Young, Posse scholar and senior undergraduate student

Winners are honored for their academic achievements or contributions to the life of the university and beyond in one or more of the following areas:

  • Social justice, activism and advocacy on behalf of disadvantaged, marginalized populations
  • Community service
  • Scholarly research, writing, speaking and/or teaching on race, ethnicity and indigeneity in American society
  • Community building on or off campus to create an inclusive, respectful environment for all