George Mason University staff member Holly Mason Badra received the Rose Pascarell and Ric Chollar Professional Service Award for exemplifying collaboration in her work to advance LGBTQIA+ visibility and efforts on campus. She received the award in April at the Lavender & Women and Gender Studies Graduation.
Mason Badra is the graduate admissions coordinator and fiscal manager for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ English Department. She is also the secretary for the LGBTQ+ Faculty/Staff Alliance, which provides opportunities within the queer community at Mason for advocacy and social activities.
“Receiving this award, getting that level of affirmation that what I do is important, is huge. It feels incredible,” said Mason Badra. “It feels like a million hugs and pats on the back.”
Christopher Carr, associate dean for diversity, outreach and inclusive learning in the College of Engineering and Computing, and David Powers Corwin, associate director of the Women and Gender Studies Program and instructional faculty in the School of Integrative Studies, and Sarah Holland, marketing specialist for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, nominated Mason Badra for the award.
Mason Badra “is the epitome of someone who tends and waters the gardens of so many others while never asking anyone to help sow her seeds,” Holland wrote.
“Her careful listening to multiple perspectives and sincere passion for change make her stand out in the work,” said Corwin. “She does all of this without any desire for recognition, which makes her being the recipient of this award so important.”
The award, created in 2019, is administered as a collaboration between the LGBTQ+ Resources Center and the Women and Gender Studies Center.
Mason Badra grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and graduated from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she fell in love with literature and poetry. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Mason in 2017. Mason Badra returned to Mason in 2019 to her current position because, she said, she missed the creative atmosphere
When Mason Badra was in graduate school at Mason, she came out to her parents. She found support at Mason during that time and hopes to serve as a queer advocate in the community.
“When I came into my job, I very quickly noticed that there were areas in which we are not as welcoming as we could be to the LGBTQIA community,” said Mason Badra. “I felt like it was my job to help us become more gender and queer inclusive. I feel like it’s my duty to speak up.”
Mason Badra said that being highly visible as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is important to her as a way to connect with students, staff, and faculty.
“I went from struggling to navigate homophobia to now being able to support the LGBTQIA community so receiving this award is so empowering,” Mason Badra said.