Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

May 31, 2016

OMA&D’s Magdalena Fonseca To Receive UW Distinguished Staff Award

Magdalena Fonseca, associate director for the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity’s (OMA&D) Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC), will be honored as one of five Distinguished Staff Award recipients at the UW’s 46th annual Awards of Excellence Ceremony on June 9 (3:30 p.m.), at Meany Hall Auditorium.

Magdalena Fonseca

Magdalena Fonseca speaks at the REAL Hope Act Informational Forum hosted by the UW in 2014.Putri Hiendarto

Established in 1997, the award recognizes individuals or teams based on their extraordinary accomplishments and contributions to their departments and the university.

“As a senior administrator within OMA&D, I have seen Magdalena’s growth as a valued leader in our organization,” said Gabriel Gallardo, interim vice president for minority affairs and vice provost for diversity. “She started as a student employee and then stepped into a staff role at the Kelly ECC before moving into her current role as associate director. Over time she has become a respected leader in our organization and someone who is passionate about and committed to supporting student success.”

Fonseca, ’98, ’11, has been particularly instrumental in leading OMA&D’s efforts to better serve and support undocumented students on the UW campus. Her early work in this area started quietly, but as time passed and laws changed, she helped bring greater visibility to both the needs of undocumented students and the ways in which faculty and staff can serve as allies.

Link to eNews letter Summer 2016“I am thrilled that Magdalena’s work to support undocumented students is being recognized by our campus community,” said Gallardo. “This is a great honor for her and a validation of OMA&D’s commitment to supporting marginalized populations at the UW.”

Fonseca’s efforts have been led by the creation of the Kelly ECC’s Leadership Without Borders Center which offers a space for connecting undocumented students to campus and community resources, as well as leadership development resources and peer advising. The center features a lending library where students can borrow books donated by various members of the campus and outside community – a library that Fonseca started long before the center was even established.

Fonseca also leads quarterly Undocu Ally training sessions that offer resources and best practices to help faculty and staff become better allies for undocumented students. She has served as advisor for the Beyond HB 1079 Conference initiated by one of her students in 2012. It continues to be a student-led conference that supports undocumented students, educators and parents through awareness, resources and empowerment.

Maggie Fonseca with Marisa Herrera

Fonseca (right) with Marisa Herrera at OMA&D’s Welcome Daze event.Emile Pitre

“Magdalena has been a tireless advocate for and on behalf of undocumented students at the University of Washington,” said Marisa Herrera, OMA&D executive director for community building and inclusion. “Since 2001, she has been working along with other allies to make the UW a more inclusive space for them. There have been many important milestones that she has helped the university achieve, largely without much attention to the work she has done to make them happen.”

Fonseca’s contributions extend into the community as well. She is a co-chair of the UW Latino/a Faculty Staff Association and through a partnership with a Seattle organization called YouthCare, has volunteered at a transitional home center where undocumented unattended youth stayed until being united with family.

“I hear from students all the time who share how Magdalena has helped impact their educational experience and changed our campus for the better,” said Herrera. “She is someone who has embodied the UW tenet, ‘Passion Never Rests.’”

Fonseca’s honor marks the second straight year an OMA&D staff member has received the award. Tribal Liaison and Intellectual House Director Ross Braine was honored in 2015.

Learn more about the other 2016 Awards of Excellence recipients.