2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing One Community Award Winners

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is pleased to announce Natalia Rios Martinez, Lisa Dazzell, and Gene Manhattan as the recipients of the 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing One Community Award.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing One Community awards recognize efforts to enhance and cultivate an inclusive university community that embraces justice and equity. Recipients of the award have demonstrated commitment to the principles and goals of Dr. King as they engaged with our campus community and made a difference for current and future Iowa Staters.

Natalia Rios Martinez, the undergraduate student award winner, is a triple major in political science, international studies, and public relations. A recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an active member of the Honors Program, Rios Martinez appears regularly on the Dean’s List and has received multiple academic awards and scholarships at the department, college, and university levels.

Among her many accomplishments is the revival of the Political Science Club and her contributions as a Student Government senator, a role in which she sponsored legislation supporting underrepresented students and served as the Senate’s student ambassador to the Iowa General Assembly. Rios Martinez’s academic and professional excellence extends beyond the classroom with internships for the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Iowa House of Representatives.

“Much of what she has accomplished has been directed toward improving the climate at Iowa State for members of underrepresented groups,” said one of her nominators. “Her volunteer activities, engagement with student groups, scholarly achievements, and service exude an emphasis on systemic change.”

Graduate student award recipient Lisa Dazzell is a counseling psychology doctoral student. As an educator and researcher, she provides leadership and support as a skilled counselor with a commitment to humanity and social justice.

Dazzell’s research centers on the lived experience of Black Americans in the examination of systemic issues. Her thesis was the first of its kind to examine Black people’s perceptions of racial inequalities and its impact on their ideas of advancement and liberation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students in Dazzell’s classes praise her ability to create a safe environment to engage in complex and sensitive conversations about diversity. In addition to her work at Iowa State, she has served as an online adjunct instructor at City University of New York’s Lehman College where she is also invited yearly as a panelist to speak with students about research and higher education.

Dazzell is passionate about mentorship and founded the Dazzell Research Lab in 2019. The lab provides a collaborative space for Black women interested in research to gain experience and conduct ethical, Black-centered research. Lisa’s commitment to promoting diversity awareness is evident in her work on and off-campus including multicultural training initiatives in the psychology department, the DiversiTea Panel Series, and the creation of a diabetes and nutrition therapy group at the Mary Greeley Medical Center here in Ames.

As one of her nominators shared, Lisa is leaving an incredible legacy at Iowa State for her tireless efforts to serve and support others and meet them where they are in their human condition.

Gene Manhattan, an international student advisor in the international students and scholars office, was the employee winner of the MLK Advancing One Community Award. His daily work of supporting international students during their journey at Iowa State is crucial to cultivating an inclusive campus community and he is not only a champion of students but of employees.

After noticing a discrepancy in the institutional support for families with newborn biological children and the lack of resources for employees who welcome a child via adoption, Manhattan researched adoption policies at other institutions and presented the information to senior leaders and ultimately the Board of Regents.

The Board of Regents granted Manhattan’s request and implemented the Adoption Assistance Plan, a three-year pilot program at all three state schools designed to help employees in the LGBTQIA+ community and those with non-traditional families, fertility concerns, or anyone for whom natural childbirth was not a possibility grow their family.

As one of his nominators said, “Gene is a changemaker whose work in the ISSO creates an inclusive multicultural community, and his success in creating the Adoption Assistance Plan brought about systemic change to reduce injustice and inequity at Iowa State.”

Rios Martinez and Dazzell were unable to attend the in-person ceremony, and the awards were accepted on their behalf by academic advisor Jason Chrystal and counseling psychology doctoral student Sterling Hubbard respectively.

Learn more about the Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing One Community Award and view a list of past winners on the office of diversity, equity and inclusion website.

About The Award

Each January, the Iowa State University community observes the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a campus-wide celebration and the recognition of individuals and groups who have followed the principles of Dr. King.

The Advancing One Community Awards recognize efforts to enhance and cultivate an inclusive university community that embraces justice and equity. Up to three $500 awards may be awarded in the categories of employee, student and/or group.