The American Association of Geographers congratulates the individuals and entities named to receive an AAG Award. The awardees represent outstanding contributions to and accomplishments in the geographic field.

2021 Diversity and Inclusion Award

The AAG Diversity and Inclusion Award (formerly the Enhancing Diversity Award) honors those geographers who have pioneered efforts toward, or actively participate in efforts towards encouraging a more diverse discipline.

Raynah Kamau and Whitney Kotlewski, Esri

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

The AAG is impressed by their work beyond academia, especially their service as role models for aspiring BIPOC and female geographers. They deploy an effectivene public outreach strategy using StoryMaps to support Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes. Ms. Kamau’s and Ms. Kotlewski’s co-founding of “Black Girls M.A.P.P.” and “People 4 the People” are two such examples.

Equally important is their work in changing GIS and tech culture at Esri to incorporate a more diverse set of voices (e.g., women, women of color, the LBGTQ+ community). Within a few short years, these two awardees have built a bridge between geography and these diverse communities, which is a testament to their interpersonal skills and steadfast dedication to community members.

Ms. Kamau’s and Ms. Kotlewski’s efforts champion the ideals of diversity and inclusion of this AAG award, while demonstrating the transformative potential of geography. Read more from Esri here.

Jovan Lewis, University of California Berkeley

Dr. Jovan Lewis is an Assistant Professor at the University of California Berkeley whose efforts in research, teaching, mentorship, and service are bringing Black geographies (and Black geographers) to the forefront of the discipline.

We commend his integration of multiple facets of work to leverage and amplify Black Geographies within the AAG: he has taken a leadership position in the Black Geographies Specialty Group and led a symposium that resulted in the inclusion of Black Geographies as a theme of the 2018 AAG Annual Meeting. Locally, Dr. Lewis is changing UC Berkeley Geography’s intellectual culture in emphasizing Black studies and Black geographies. He has worked across departments and programs on his campus and beyond, to engage public groups. He is integrating this work into his teaching (e.g., he developed a symposium on the topic and is recruiting black students to his program), research (e.g., his co-edited volume, The Black Geographic), and service (e.g., his mentorship of other faculty and students).

His efforts are comprehensive and effective at multiple levels and with different audiences. Dr. Lewis’s dedication to his students and to the larger community is remarkable for a junior scholar and reflects the best of what Black geographies and the discipline have to offer.

2021 Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award

The AAG bestows an annual award recognizing an individual geographer, group, or department, who demonstrates extraordinary leadership in building supportive academic and professional environments and in guiding the academic or professional growth of their students and junior colleagues. The late Susan Hardwick was the inaugural Excellence in Mentoring awardee. The Award was renamed in her honor and memory, soon after her passing.

Hilda Kurtz, University of Georgia

Dr. Hilda Kurtz’s mentorship strategies demonstrate variety, replicability, novelty, inclusivity, and community creation both within and beyond geography.

Her students benefit from her hands-on facilitation of quality research papers and proposals, with a high track record of funding success. Through journal editorship, she mentored diverse early career scholars with regard to academic publishing. Dr. Kurtz is co-Founder of the Franklin College Diversity and Inclusion Graduate Fellows Program, which establishes a local community of engagement around social justice. Multiple individuals commented on her success in mentoring focused on work-life balance through both formal and informal channels.

Finally, Kurtz developed a quasi-formal professional development workshop series in 2015, emphasizing job market preparation and tangible skills for success in academe. The workshops have since been integrated formally into the University of Georgia Geography Department’s required first year graduate student seminar.

For all these reasons, the AAG is proud and pleased to recognize Hilda Kurtz as the recipient of the 2021 AAG Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award.

The 2021 Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Award in Geographic Science
The Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Award recognizes excellence in academic performance by undergraduate students from the U.S. and Canada who are putting forth a strong effort to bridge geographic science and computer science as well as to encourage other students to embark upon similar programs. The award is an activity of the Marble Fund for Geographic Science of the AAG.

Jessica Embury, San Diego State University

Daniel Council, Ball State University