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AAG Diversity and Inclusion Award
(formerly AAG Enhancing Diversity Award)

Deadline September 15, annually

The AAG Diversity and Inclusion Award honors those geographers who have pioneered efforts toward or actively participated in efforts toward encouraging a more diverse discipline over the course of several years. The award is presented at the Awards Luncheon during the AAG's Annual Meeting.

Criteria: Individuals are eligible, regardless of their status as AAG members.

Nominations: To make nominations for the Diversity and Inclusion Award, include the complete name and address of the nominee, a concise (500 words maximum) yet specific description of the accomplishments that warrant the nominee’s selection, a resume or CV for the candidate, and at least two supporting letters. The deadline for receipt of submissions is September 15.

Submission: Please gather all required supporting documents before completing the online Application Form at this link. The Application Form will require you to upload all supporting documents before being able to complete your submission. You cannot save a partially completed form and return to it later, so it is important to have all materials ready before accessing the online Application Form. For questions or difficulties, please contact or call the AAG at 202-234-1450.

Alternately, nominations can be sent to: American Association Geographers, attn: AAG Enhancing Diversity Award, 1710 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20009-3198.

For more information about AAG's activities on diversity and inclusion, please visit



Raynah Kamau and Whitney Kotlewski, Esri, for being both Esri employees and grassroots activists  whose collaborative work has fostered increased visibility for community-engaged geography and greater inclusion within GIS professional culture. 

Jovan Lewis, University of California Berkeley, for his efforts in research, teaching, mentorship, and service that are bringing Black geographies (and Black geographers) to the forefront of the discipline. 

Demetrice (Dee) Jordan has been a true change agent for diversity in our discipline. Among Ms.Demetrice (Dee) Jordan - recipient of AAG's 2020 Diversity and Inclusion award Jordan’s many notable accomplishments, she founded and co-leads the Michigan State University Geography Department’s graduate student diversity recruitment initiative “Advancing Geography through Diversity,” which actively recruits and increases application submissions and acceptance among underrepresented minorities. Dee is a tireless mentor and advocate for creating an institutional climate that encourages the development of under-represented minorities as leaders in our discipline. Ms. Jordan was named MSU’s 2018 Excellence in Diversity, Individual Emerging Progress recipient, as well as the 2018 Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association’s Graduate Student Emerging Leader recipient, becoming the first Geographer at MSU to receive this recognition. 

LaToya Eaves has worked to bring emancipatory geography to the forefront through institutional advocacy, mentorship, community engagement, and intellectual production. Her scholarship engages and informs racial, gendered, and sexual dimensions of identity and politics. She is widely applauded for her commitment to establish the AAG Black Geographies Specialty Group, and for her support of other under-represented groups of geographers. Her dedication to the discipline and the AAG has inspired many graduate students and faculty to engage in Black Geographies thought, and is also influencing some departments to seek out scholars whose research involves Black Geographies.

Minelle Mahtani’s theoretical and applied work has made great inroads into the problem of racism in our discipline as well as in racist policy practices in Canada. Mahtani’s work on mixed race identities; the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, and gender; and the production of identity and knowledge have laid the foundations for other geographers’ work and teaching. Additionally, Dr. Mahtani is applauded for her generous mentoring of students of color. As a journalist, Dr. Mahtani has used her skills to engage the public in issues of identity, diversity and the lack of diversity and place. As Senior Advisor to the Provost on Racialized Faculty at the University of British Columbia, she is expected to continue advancing equality and inclusion for faculty at UBC.

Banu Gokariksel of the University of North Carolina Chapel is recognized for her unwavering

commitment to mentoring, her recruitment of young scholars into the field of geography, and the lasting impact as Director of Graduate Students (DGS) at UNC. She received her university's most prestigious teaching award, the Chapman Award. This is due to her engagement with issues such as Islamophobia, xenophobia, and the associated forms of gender-based discrimination. She was also co-organizer for the 2017 Feminist Geography Conference, and when the new US administration's rules regarding entry to the US from several Muslim majority countries were announced, she mobilized efforts to remotely connect those newly banned participants to the conference. Dr. Gokariksel has been selected to receive the AAG Enhancing Diversity Award because her actions (of which we listed only a few) provide a model for other AAG members invested in enhancing the diversity of our discipline.

Leela Viswanathan
, Associate Professor of Geography at Queen's University, focuses her research on the cutting edge of planning theory and indigenous studies. Her commitment to decolonizing urban planning and practice has resulted in securing significant changes to Ontario's 2014 Provincial Policy Statement, which now recognizes the right of Aboriginal peoples to inclusion at all stages of the planning process under the Human Rights Code. In addition, Dr. Viswanathan is a stalwart advocate for accessibility rights on her university campus and has never failed to support students in need of an advocate when such rights have been denied.

Lawrence E. Estaville
, Professor of Geography at Texas State University, has had a career-long dedication to championing greater inclusion of a wide range of diverse and underrepresented minorities at various institutions. In the 1980s and 1990s, he developed a pioneering lecture series focused on women and minorities. During his time at Texas State University, Dr. Estaville has hired eight minority women into tenure track positions and published seminal works for university administrators and faculty that address diversity in pedagogy and planning. At the AAG, Dr. Estaville led the establishment of the Ethnic Geography Specialty Group and participated in the AAG’s inaugural Diversity Task Force. Through his work, Dr. Estaville has truly encouraged a more diverse and inclusive discipline.

Wendy Jepson keenly understands the importance of increasing diversity in our discipline. In her role as Chair of the Texas A&M University Faculty Senate Committee on Diversity, she has contributed to diversifying both faculty and student bodies at this institution. As Director of Undergraduate Education in her department, she is spearheading a renewed recruiting effort to bring in diverse students. Jepson also works closely as a mentor to students who are the first in their family to attend college, and also their parents. She has been an active and tireless participant in efforts to achieve excellence through equality and inclusion.

Enhancing Diversity AwardJay T. Johnson, Renee Pualani Louis, Laura Smith, Zoltan Grossman, Douglas (RDK) Herman are recognized for working to expand the presence and participation of indigenous peoples in the AAG, and geography more broadly, through visionary leadership in the association, academia, and beyond. They have worked collectively over many years of collaboration through the AAG Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group. Their efforts have led to increased number of Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiians participating in the AAG. The number of members of the IPSG have doubled under their leadership. They have organized many valuable activities and sessions and plenaries, attracting greater participation in our annual meetings, including enriching the meeting program with speakers like the late Vine Deloria, Jr., Winona LaDuke, and Dr. Daniel Wildcat. In recognizing these geographers together, the committee is also acknowledging teamwork and long-term partnerships as an important part for enhancing diversity in the discipline.

Laura PulidoLaura Pulido for her research on how various groups experience racial and class oppression, how these experiences differ among particular communities of color, and how they mobilize to create a more socially-just world. She also worked to complete several projects left by her recently deceased friend and colleague, Clyde Woods, whom was also honored. She is a professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

Clyde WoodsThe late Clyde Woods for developing a one-of-a-kind research program engaging social and public policy issues by examining the cultural practices of those oppressed by such policies. His book, Development Arrested, was highly acclaimed and a model of interdisciplinary research. Woods will be remembered as an important mentor to many, and as a public intellectual challenging how we understand race and human geographic knowledge production. 

Rickie Sanders
in recognition of her longstanding contributions to supporting students who are underrepresented in geography to enter into the profession at all levels of training and to prepare them to be exceptional professionals.

Laurence G. Wolf
for his pioneering efforts to advocate for inclusion, particularly related to sexual identity and differences in ableness, and in the domains of geographic research and publications on issues of diversity in the discipline and in society.

John Frazier
for his accomplishments in creating an environment where geographers make matters of race and ethnicity a priority in their classrooms and research, and for demonstrating and practicing effective models for inclusion and broadening participation in the discipline and beyond.  

Glen Elder for his empirically grounded and theoretically sophisticated scholarship at the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, culture, and place; for his ardent voice for the marginalized, the dominated, and the less powerful; for making significant contributions to the fields of Gender Studies, Queer Studies, African Studies, and Political and Urban Geography; and for his deep and lifelong commitment to social justice and practices of broad inclusion.

Reginald Golledge for his long-standing efforts to support and mentor underrepresented students in higher education, particularly for his attention to those with disabilities, and in recognition of his excellence in scholarship discovering ways to allow disabled people to become fully integrated into their communities around the world.

Jacquelyn Beyer for her work to establish nondiscrimination and monitoring of the status of women and minorities within the association, for her promotion of research on lesbian and gay communities, and for her introduction of scholarship on women into the university geography curriculum, among her other pioneering efforts and advocacy for women within the profession and discipline of geography.

Janice Jones Monk for her many and incomparable personal, professional, and scholarly contributions to promoting and enhancing diversity in our society, our discipline, and our association over her illustrious career as a geographer.

Joe Darden for being a stellar personal and professional role model, a national leader for promoting diversity in universities, and a champion for the greater inclusion of minority groups into our society and the discipline of geography.

Don Deskins for his pioneering leadership toward enhancing diversity within geography particularly through serving as the founding Director of the AAG Commission on Geography and Afro-America; for his support of faculty from predominantly Black colleges and universities, and many other tangible and intangible benefits of his deep devotion and dedicated leadership in promoting diversity in geography.

Saul Cohen for being one of the strongest and most vocal supporters of early diversity activities within the AAG, for his initiation of numerous activities designed to increase the enrollment of Black students in geography, and for his role as major advocate for diversifying the discipline, fundraiser for diversity activities, and mentor to young students and professionals, helping to establish and grow a new generation of African- American geographers.