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Lee Penn receives Breaking the Silence Award

Professor Lee Penn has received a Breaking the Silence Award from the University of Minnesota's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Ally Programs Office.

The Breaking the Silence award recognizes individuals or groups demonstrating courage in the face of  discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation by improving climate through specific departments or initiatives that have an impact on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ally (GLBTA) people at the University of Minnesota. Breaking the Silence is the highest honor awarded by the GLBTA Programs Office.

Penn is being honored for her groundbreaking work in coordinating professional development opportunities for the Department of Chemistry, which includes serving as chair of the department's diversity committee, and engaging faculty, graduate students, and staff members in Ally training; her advocacy for all-gender restroom spaces; her presence, involvement, and passion for social justice; her advocacy on behalf of students; and her continuous efforts to raise awareness about issues facing not only people who are GLBTA, but people who face discrimination of any kind.

As chair of the Department of Chemistry's Diversity Committee, she is leading efforts to develop activities and initiatives aimed at improving the department’s diversity, and enhancing the experiences and mentoring of people who are in underrepresented groups, are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, or otherwise contribute to the diversity of the department.

"I'm very proud of Lee's commitment to making our department a welcoming place for all, and helping to implement new efforts to increase the diversity of our community," said William Tolman, chair of the Department of Chemistry.

Penn will receive her award at the annual Lavender Celebration and Awards Ceremony, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, May 5, at the Whole Music Club located in the Coffman Memorial Union.