The Marlene Kowalski-Braun Award for Service to Women in Student Affairs recognizes an outstanding woman in the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, (NASPA) IV-East Region who has served the Student Affairs profession through contributions in leadership roles within WISA and/or active membership within the NASPA; has made significant contributions to the advancement of female practitioners; and shown dedication to the profession. The award will be given at the bi-annual Women in Student Affairs (WISA) conference.
Kowalski-Braun helped establish the sustainability and growth of the WISA conference serving as the Knowledge Chair for the East Region. The award recognizes her dedication to the advancement of professional women in student affairs and her commitment to providing a forum for women’s voices at all levels.
For Ann Marie Klotz, the chair of the WISA conference, the award represents Kowalski-Braun’s vision that WISA provide opportunities to network, learn best practices and create a more tangible career path as a result of the WISA conference.
“Marlene believes in the importance of creating strong networks among women — this is evident in her work style, her commitment to student activism and through her legacy with the WISA conference. She is so deserving of this service award which formally recognizes her commitment to the advancement of women,” Klotz said.
For Kowalski-Braun, the award provides evidence that professional conferences now recognize the importance of creating spaces for women and gender equity issues to be acknowledged and addressed.
“Women in higher education often share unique challenges whether it is trying to find work-life-balance, determining a career path, or pursuing a terminal degree while raising a family.” Kowalski-Braun said. “Looking at these experiences through a gendered lens shapes common understanding and allows us to look at the culture of higher education in order to improve it.”
Kowalski-Braun has always had an interest in issues of equality and social justice, spending most of her professional and educational life working towards helping marginalized groups.
She hopes that the award will give the recipients the sustained energy and encouragement to carry on with their important work.
Kowalski-Braun, who has been working at Grand Valley for 14 years, is proud to work somewhere that supports professional development. “My regional and national involvement in higher education initiatives has been supported by Grand Valley and I am grateful for the opportunity to make space for gender equity to be addressed,” Kowalski-Braun added.