Professional News

UK Women’s Forum announces 2023 Sarah Bennett Holmes awardees

Sarah Bennett Holmes Award winners and nominees.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 14, 2023) — The UK Women’s Forum is pleased to announce the 2023 Sarah Bennett Holmes Award winners. A celebratory luncheon was held March 29 to honor the nominees and award winners who reflect the accomplishments and legacy of Sarah Bennett Holmes. The 2023 Sarah Bennett Holmes award winners are: Cassandra Gipson-Reichardt, Ph.D., (faculty), Alyssa Stubbers (graduate student), Tiana Thè (staff) and the Inclusive Job Description Team, Human Development Institute (team).

These awards recognize individuals and teams who promote the growth and well-being of women at the university and across Kentucky. Faculty, staff and graduate student recipients receive a monetary award and a plaque. The team and its members receive a framed certificate and plaque for their achievement. All winners are named on plaques in the Main Building. The Sarah Bennett Holmes Awards is among the most esteemed recognitions bestowed at the University of Kentucky and brings recognition for efforts that might otherwise go unnoticed.

2023 Faculty Award Winner: Cassandra Gipson-Reichardt, Ph.D.

Cassandra Gipson-Reichardt, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences. She studies neurobehavioral mechanisms of addiction in preclinical models with a particular focus on female-specific factors that may translationally contribute to drug use in women. Gipson-Reichardt is dedicated to mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and junior faculty, and is specifically dedicated to mentoring women throughout their careers. Gipson-Reichardt places a particular focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and prioritizes this for trainees.

2023 Graduate Student Award Winner: Alyssa Stubbers

Alyssa Stubbers is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Materials Science and Engineering. She is the current president and co-founder of the UK Graduate Society of Women in Engineering (GradSWE), an organization that supports women in STEM-related graduate programs. Additionally, Alyssa is working towards getting certified as a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for children in foster care to ensure each child can live in a home where they are safe and comfortable. Alyssa hopes to continue to support women by creating channels for communication and advocacy to foster a sense of community among women with similar STEM backgrounds and interests.

2023 Staff Award Winner: Tiana Thè

Tiana Thé is an executive communication specialist with UK Public Relations & Strategic Communications. Beyond her role, she works closely with the vice president and units in the Office for Institutional Diversity. Since 2020, Tiana has served as a co-facilitator for UK’s diversity implementation plan. Additionally, she is a member of the Sustainability Strategic Plan Steering Committee. As part of the committee, whe co-chairs the diversity, equity, justice and inclusion guiding principle. Tiana graduated summa cum laude from UK in 2019 with degrees in Environmental Sustainability Studies, Political Science and Philosophy. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society.

2023 Team Award Winner: Inclusive Job Description Team, Human Development Institute

Team members include Michele Laur, Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Jessica Whiting and Kimberly Wickert. The Inclusive Job Description Team identified a barrier to inclusive hiring wherein job descriptions utilized verbiage limiting diverse candidates including women from applying for jobs. The team recognized the marginalization of women with disabilities in the recruitment and retention process. The team reviewed language in the process of developing a job description and adjusted to increase inclusivity. Job descriptions may not be inclusive in the use of gender specific terms such as “businessman” or “salesman.” Using “they” rather than gendered pronouns reflect an inclusive opportunity open to all potential applicants, including women. The team developed and updated job descriptions to be more inclusive, avoiding gender specific terminology.

The UK Women’s Forum would like to congratulate all nominees for the 2023 Sarah Bennett Holmes Awards that included three faculty members, five staff members, five graduate students and four teams.

Category: Faculty

  • Cassandra Gipson-Reichardt, Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, College of Medicine 
  • Aubrey Jones, College of Social Work 
  • Wendi Owen, Diagnostic Radiology, College of Medicine  

 Category: Graduate Student

  • Faraneh Fathi, Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering 
  • Minoo Hosseinzadeh, Computer Science, College of Engineering
  • Samaneh Rabienia Haratbar, Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Alyssa Stubbers, Chemical and Materials Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Harshini Suresh Kumar, Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering

 Category: Staff

  • Drew Elisabeth Ard, Office of University Events
  • Jill Smith, Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement
  • Andrea Strassburg, Trauma Surgical Services, UK HealthCare
  • Tiana Thè, Public Relations & Strategic Communications
  • Martha Tillson, Substance Use Priority Research Area (SUPRA)

Category: Team

  • Inclusive Job Description Team, Human Development Institute. Team: Michele Laur, Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Jessica Whiting, Kimberly Wickert 
  • Justice Community Opioid Innovation (JCOIN) Team, Behavioral Science Department. Team: Brittany Anderson, Jaxin Annett, Casey Baker, Jessica Brothers, Sarah Despain, Sarah Engle, Amanda Fallin-Bennet, Laura Fanucchi, Kathy Frost, Bryan Garner, Sarah Johnson, Shelley Ledford, Mary Levi, Stephanie Literall, Katie Marks, Kathryn McCollister, Carrie Oser, Drew Spear, Leah Scott, Michele Staton, Martha Tillson, Matt Webster, Erin Winston 
  • Sister Circle Forum, Martin Luther King Center. Team: Ruth Gonzalez Jimenez, Kim Jones-Goldring, Krista Rigsby, Casey Roley 
  • Women’s Law Caucus, Rosenberg College of Law. Team: Harper Anderson, Rachael Beller, Lindsay Bates, Holly Couch, Kathleen Dudgeon, Sarah Garber, Meera Ghetia, Trevor Holsey, Sydney LaRue, Shelton Owen, Hope Rowlett, Morgan Sanchez 

For a list of past winners, visit

This year’s Sarah Bennett Holmes Awards process and ceremony was managed by the UK Women’s Forum Awards and Recognition Committee and Volunteers: Catherine Masoud, committee member (UK HealthCare), Jasmine Prince, co-chair (Martin Luther King Center), Jacqui Greene, UKWF and committee chair (UK Innovate), Tricia Hensley, UKWF past chair (Student Organizations and Activities), Candace Bramley-Hardest, UKWF chair-elect (Gatton College of Business and Economics), Lynn Hiler, former UKWF Board Chair and volunteer (Chellgren Center) and Kim Henken, volunteer (College of Agriculture, Food and Environment).

Sarah Bennett Holmes, a distinguished former dean of women at UK, tirelessly championed the rights of women throughout her career. Widowed at an early age, Holmes raised four children while completing her own education. She then began a successful career at the university where she inspired young women to persevere in the face of hardship and pursue their career goals. Among her accomplishments, Holmes developed work programs for women during the Depression. In her honor, the UK Women's Forum created the Sarah Bennett Holmes Award and since 1994 has been honoring women at UK who demonstrate the same principles as Holmes through their work and service.

Since the beginning, the UK Women's Forum has existed to create an equitable community at the University. As the role of women in the workplace continues to evolve, our commitment remains the same: creating space to discuss relevant issues and using collective problem solving and educational opportunities to empower and champion women.

For more information about the UK Women’s Forum, visit or contact

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.