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Honoring the Life and Legacy of Dr. Patricia Dawson

Story by
Sutapa Basu, Director of the Alene Moris Women's Center
December 2020
Dawson, one of the “founding mothers” of Making Connections, presents Hassan with the UW Women’s Center’s 2019 Alumna of the Year award.

Dr. Patricia Dawson, one of the “founding mothers” of the Making Connections program, presents alumna Ayan Hassan with the UW Women’s Center’s 2019 Alumna of the Year award.

It is with deep sorrow that I share of the passing of my soul sister, Dr. Pat Dawson.

Pat was a beloved, remarkable woman and my dearest friend, who I have known since 1988. I always called her Dr. Dr. as she had both a M.D. and Ph.D. Despite facing outright racism and sexism, she overcame many obstacles placed before her to become a stellar breast cancer surgeon and a transformational leader in gender, racial and healthcare equity.

Not one to ever stay on the sidelines, Pat joined the Women’s Center board in 1993, the week after I received my position appointment, where she helped found the Making Connections program. In the early days, she mentored the young women on potential career paths while teaching them how to suture using pig’s feet (yes, she traveled to the Center with pig’s feet). Her influence was vast, and through her efforts and support, more women of color are working in healthcare and technology fields than ever before. The University recently published an article on Pat’s transformational role in the life of Making Connections' alum, Ayan Hassan. Pat made an incredible contribution to this world!

Pat and I spent numerous days together, sharing food, laughter, and friendship. We spent late nights chatting, supported each other through loss and joy, and worked side-by-side to fight injustice. She was the epitome of compassion — a loyal, fierce friend, who I could always turn to, and who I will miss tremendously.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to the Patricia L Dawson Endowed Faculty Fellowship, established by UW Medicine to support in perpetuity her team’s work on healthcare equity.