No matter where her research interests take her, Lucy Mkandawire-Valhmu’s priority will always be to advocate for vulnerable women.
The 45-year-old native of Malawi is a professor in the College of Nursing at UW-Milwaukee. Early in her career, she studied Malawian women with HIV. More recently, her focus has been on American Indian women and girls who have experienced sexual assault. “I was able to transfer the lessons I learned in rural Malawi communities to rural communities in Wisconsin,” she says.
Mkandawire-Valhmu says research has shown that Native women do not seek help from mainstream health care facilities due to a lack of trust and a lack of cultural relevance in their services. She recently received a $2 million grant from the Department of Justice to delve into this issue.
“It is my passion to speak for women who are not confident enough yet to speak for themselves,” she says.
Lucy Mkandawire-Valhmu is one of the 2021 recipients of a Betty Award. Each year, Milwaukee Magazine presents these awards as a tribute to the late Betty Quadracci, the magazine’s former publisher who founded Quad with her husband Harry. Read more about this year’s honorees here.