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Assata Zerai

Assata Zerai came to the University of Illinois in 2002 as a faculty member in Sociology. In spring 2015, as Associate Dean in the Grad College, she worked with colleagues to establish an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at the University of Illinois. They were awarded $1M to increase the number of graduate students underrepresented in STEM. In 2015-2016, Assata served as co-PI on a US State Department award to offer a Young African Leaders Public Management Institute to Mandela Washington Fellows at the Center for African Studies at the University of Illinois. Her research interests have included maternal and child health, health activism, safe water and sanitation. She is currently at work on her fifth book. Assata is the recipient of several awards includingthe Larine Y. Cowan “Make a Difference” Leadership in Diversity Award received in November 2015. She alsoreceived recognition from the Women’s Resources Center and Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations for her work on behalf of women internationally during the March 2016 International Women’s Day Celebration. Assata currently serves as the Associate Chancellor for Diversity.


Women featured in our weekly series are part of the 150 for 150 website Celebrating the Accomplishments of Women at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The website was created by the Gender Equity Council and the University Library to highlight women who have made significant achievements during their time at the University either as students, staff, faculty, or alumni.