Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!
Dr. Alaine Allen will join Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering as the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As CMU Engineering’s new full-time chief diversity officer, Allen will foster an inclusive environment and welcoming culture to advance the college and university mission in DEI. She will also work closely with Engineering department heads and their department DEI committees, supporting department-level DEI initiatives and developing anti-racist practices.
“I am delighted for Alaine to join the College of Engineering as our new Associate Dean for DEI,” said Bill Sanders, dean of the College of Engineering. “Alaine is a professional practitioner with longstanding experience in DEI coupled with formal training in this field.”
Allen joins the college from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering where she has held a variety of leadership roles focused on broadening participation in science and engineering for individuals from historically underrepresented groups. She most recently served as the director of educational outreach and community engagement for the school and co-PI of the NSF INCLUDES Alliance: STEM Pathways for Underrepresented Students to HigherEd (PUSH) Network.
“Alaine is a wonderful fit for the College of Engineering with deep connections to the Pittsburgh region, as well as associations with several national professional organizations,” said Jon Cagan, professor of mechanical engineering and chair of the search advisory committee.
“We are excited for Alaine to build on the college’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to date and bring her considerable experience to bear on our DEI goals in this new and critical role in the College of Engineering,” said Sanders. Allen will begin her new role on February 1.
Robert James previously served as supplier diversity director for the enterprise
(Jan. 11, 2021) — Highmark Health today announced the appointment of Robert James, JD, MBA, MHA, as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. James joined Highmark Health in 2015 as supplier diversity director and has steadily grown the program to become one of the top award-winning supplier diversity programs in the Americas, as recognized by industry peers through the Procurement Leaders Americas Supplier Diversity and Inclusion Award.
In his new capacity, James will work closely with Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, MD, MEd, MPPM, FACOG, who serves as Allegheny Health Network's Chief Clinical Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. James will implement and advise upon Highmark Health's enterprise-wide diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, while Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew will focus her efforts across AHN to shape an inclusive workplace culture and further establish the network's strong commitment to workforce diversity, cultural competency, and equitable health care delivery and outcomes.
Prior to joining Highmark Health, James served as CEO of a diversity and inclusion consulting firm and in an advisory role with the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A practicing lawyer for more than 20 years, he spent several years facilitating Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) financings nationally for capital projects through a U.S. Department of Education program.
"As a leader in health care, we are committed to being a diverse and inclusive organization at its core, to closing the health disparity gap, and to actively investing in people, suppliers and communities of color," said Larry Kleinman, Highmark Health Chief Human Resources Officer. "Robert’s vast experience and deliberate approach will be invaluable in driving forward a measureable and comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion strategy."
James was named a Top 30 Champions of Diversity by Diversity Plus Magazine in 2018. He is currently an active member of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's Advisory Council for Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities and serves as a member of its Executive Committee. James has a Master of Business and a Master of Health Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College. He is also a graduate of the inaugural class of Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business/The Advanced Leadership Institute (TALI) Executive Leadership Academy.
Lisa L. Edmonds has been named the county’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer and will lead the Department of Equity and Inclusion. The announcement was made to county staff last week and announced publicly by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald during this week’s quarterly address to County Council.
“Equity and inclusion is a big part of what our administration has strived for, and why the decision was made to rename the department and expand its mission,” said Fitzgerald. “Lisa has been in the department and brings a lot of good experience and ideas to the table. I’m excited to see what she does there to ensure that we have a government, society, and business community open to all.”
Edmonds was selected as the new Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer following a rigorous search and selection process organized by an executive search firm. Nearly 100 candidates from across the region and country were included in the pool of candidates. Within the impressive group of professionals, her experience and commitment to the mission of the department stood out.
“I’m looking forward to working with Lisa and the department staff to support an environment at the county that is inclusive and equitable,” said County Manager William D. McKain CPA.
Since September 2019, Edmonds has served as the acting director of the department. In that time, she has expanded collaborative efforts, built key external relationships, educated and created additional opportunities for Minority Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MWDBE) firms, and continued to manage the certification program. She also served as the deputy director of department from 2005-2019. Before her employment with the county, Edmonds worked as a project engineer for an engineering, design and construction firm and also served in the Mayor’s Office of the City of Pittsburgh from 1993-1999 as an MBE/WBE Technical Assistance Specialist.
Edmonds is also involved with various organizations such as the Southwestern Pennsylvania Engineering Outreach (SPEO) and the MWDBE Governmental Committee that also assist minority and women businesses. She is also a Certified Compliance Administrator (CCA) and received her Master Compliance Administrator (MCA) certifications from the American Contract Compliance Association (ACCA). An electrical engineer, Edmonds earned her degree from Hampton University in Virginia. She resides in the City of Pittsburgh.
“I am excited to continue leading the department’s efforts to ensure that MWDBEs have maximum opportunity to participate on county contracts,” said Edmonds. “I am also looking forward to collaborating with current partners and developing new partnerships to share and implement best practices for equity and inclusion which are vital for regional success. We have to listen, look inward, be open to addressing hard questions, and make change.”
Renamed in late 2019, the department continues to build the capacity of MWDBE certified businesses, monitor contracts to ensure compliance with county goals and provide outreach and technical assistance to the business community. The mission also expanded to focus on equity and inclusion within the county and its external-facing services, and to promote shared prosperity through community development and other opportunities.
Learn more about the department at https://www.alleghenycounty.us/equity-inclusion/index.aspx.
The City of Pittsburgh Office of Management and Budget has changed its procurement systems to better meet the needs of local businesses owned by women and people of color when they do business with the City.
Through a Living Cities City Accelerator cohort on Inclusive Procurement, the City’s Office of Equity, Office of Business Diversity, and the Equal Opportunity Review Commission worked with OMB to get feedback from local businesses, and found the City could be doing a better job in publicly displaying future solicitations, and shortening the time between when a contract is awarded and executed.
“Equity is a priority for the City of Pittsburgh, and inclusive procurement is an opportunity for our city to recognize and understand the needs of our businesses owned by women and people of color and identify what tools they need to be successful. When our disadvantaged businesses succeed and are awarded city contracts, our money is invested into our communities and our entire local economy is stronger,” said Riley Stewart, OMB’s Senior Manager of Contracting.
"When our disadvantaged businesses succeed and are awarded city contracts, our money is invested into our communities and our entire local economy is stronger," Mayor William Peduto said.
Government solicitations can be confusing and complex, so the City implemented a forecasting system so small businesses have more time to prepare or plan their proposals.
OMB worked with 19 City departments to develop a 12-month outlook of upcoming contracting needs, and merged them with future contract needs from City authorities, and updated them quarterly. This let businesses view upcoming contracts and bidding information in one spot, instead of having to search multiple websites.
OMB also worked to shorten the time between when a contract is awarded and executed, which further helped small businesses plan for income from contracts and the labor and other costs they would need to complete their work.
It also launched “Contract Connections: Bids for PGH,” an remote training series to help local, diverse small businesses learn how to participate in the City and other agencies’ procurement processes.
Businesses interested in contracting with the City can visit OMB’s procurement site Beacon for further information.
In 2020 Strong Women Strong Girls (SWSG) celebrated two decades since its founding at Harvard University. Since inception its organizational configuration has expanded and contracted, gone through iterations and hosted incredible leaders changing the landscape for women and girls. And while SWSG certainly didn’t expect this milestone year to coincide with a global pandemic, it has successfully adapted.
In addition to transitioning programming online, SWSG consolidated organizational, operational and management across program sites in Pittsburgh and Boston under the leadership of its first-ever CEO Natalie Martinez. Martinez joined the organization as co-president and Boston’s executive director in 2019 and had an immediate impact.
“We are very fortunate to have a leader like Natalie who brings nearly 20 years of experience, success and passion for our mission as a mother of three,” said Kathryn Fishman, chair, SWSG executive committee. “She has ensured we are poised for strategic reach and connection with program affiliates while also enabling us to welcome new leaders into the fold.”
In addition to Martinez, SWSG recently appointed three new professionals into executive roles:
“Kimmi joined us as Communications and Special Projects Associate in 2017,” Martinez said. “She’s been promoted three times in three years – including mostly recently to Managing Director – as a result of her promise and potential. Throughout her tenure, Kimmi demonstrates leadership, tenacity, and excellence. When the time came to think about the next leader of the Pittsburgh team, Kimmi was a natural fit.”
With these shifts also comes the transition of longstanding executive board members – Laura Freedman, Louise Herrle and Elaine Stokes – into other positions with SWSG.
“We are deeply grateful for all that Laura, Louise and Elaine have done to fortify SWSG,” Martinez expanded. “Through their vision and commitment to SWSG we are very well positioned in this new decade. I’m looking forward to working with Kathryn and Aleya, both of whom bring a spectacular skillset, to complement the needs of our staff and program participants.”
As SWSG moves into the 2020 – 2021 program year, and in the midst of a complicated landscape due to COVID-19, the organization is focused on positives mined during this tumultuous time including program reach expansion to more girls in more schools, thanks to virtual accessibility.
To learn more about Strong Women Strong Girls please visit our website.
Natalie Martinez, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, Strong Women Strong Girls Inc.
The City of Pittsburgh is following up on Mayor William Peduto’s commitment to make city leadership more reflective of Pittsburgh’s diversity as a whole.
New numbers based on an internal review of hiring show the Mayor’s Office is 54% Female, 46% Male, 42% Black, 42% White and 15% Asian.
Of the Mayor’s 198 appointments to boards and commissions, the breakdown is 61% Female, 39% Male, 58% White, 36% Black, 4% Asian and 2% Lantinx.
The full Peduto administration, including department directors and assistant directors, is 51% Male and 49% Female. By race the administration is 62% White, 30% Black, 7% Asian and 3% Latinx.
The City’s largest department, Public Safety, is 64% Male, 36% Female, 71% White and 29% Black.
“We still have far to go, but I am happy that our efforts to promote diversity and equity within City government are paying off. I want to thank all of our hard-working employees and board and commission volunteers for their public service,” Mayor Peduto said.
Source: City of Pittsburgh
DICK'S is the first sports-related company to support the LISC impact investment fund
DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc., the largest U.S.-based, omni-channel sporting goods retailer, is investing $12.5 million in the Black Economic Development Fund to fuel minority lenders and anchor institutions and businesses as part of an effort to close the racial wealth gap.
DICK'S is the first sports-related company to invest in the fund, which is managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national impact investor that has invested more than $22 billion to promote economic opportunity in urban and rural communities.
With investments from DICK'S and other corporate investors, LISC expects to raise more than $100 million for the fund by year-end. Investments will include deposits in Black-owned banks and financing for minority businesses, charter schools, affordable housing projects, and athletic facilities – all designed to support economic development in communities of color.
"DICK'S started as a small business with just two stores in upstate New York, so we understand the critical importance of access to capital," said DICK'S Sporting Goods Chairman and CEO Ed Stack. "We're pleased to be able to take action and help Black-owned businesses get the resources they need to grow and continue to be an essential part of communities."
LISC announced the fund this summer, encouraging corporations to make investments that are specifically designed to improve economic opportunity for Black Americans and, at the same time, boost the national economy as well. The racial wealth gap has cost the U.S. economy an estimated $16 trillion over the last two decades.
"One of the most exciting aspects of this fund is that it offers companies like DICK'S, which already have strong philanthropic commitments, an opportunity to also invest their assets in ways that help promote inclusive growth and opportunity," said George Ashton, managing director of LISC Strategic Investments, the organization's fund management and venture capital arm.
"This isn't charity," he explained. "It is a treasury strategy that directs corporate funds to businesses that fuel broad social and economic benefits. This investment strengthens the American consumer base, builds up our communities, and makes our economy work better for everyone," Ashton said.
DICK'S Sporting Goods Chairman and CEO Ed Stack
A Swanson School of Engineering alumnus and his wife have made a major commitment to the school—which could total more than $10 million when realized—to help support generations of minority students and contribute to a stronger and more diverse workforce, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced today.
“I am extremely grateful for this gift, which supports the University of Pittsburgh’s efforts to tackle one of society’s greatest challenges—the inequity of opportunity,” Gallagher said. “Put into action, this commitment will help students from underrepresented groups access a world-class Pitt education and—in doing so—help elevate the entire field of engineering.”
The anonymous donors have made an eight-figure bequest intention to provide financial aid to undergraduate students who are enrolled in the Pitt EXCEL diversity program at the Swanson School, hoping to encourage others to make similar commitments. Specifically, their gift will provide tuition support for underprivileged or underrepresented engineering students who are residents of the United States and in need of financial aid, said U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering James R. Martin II.
“This cornerstone gift allows the Swanson School to develop the workforce of the future by offering high quality educational opportunities to a broader constituency and by developing a platform of learning that extends for an entire lifetime,” Martin said. “The generosity of these donors opens a pipeline for a more socially equitable future of academics and experience that keeps our country at the forefront of innovation and economic prosperity.”
Pitt EXCEL focuses on the recruitment, retention and graduation of academically excellent engineering undergraduates—particularly students from groups that are historically underrepresented in the field.
“Anyone who talks to today’s EXCEL students can see how exceptional these young people will be as engineers and individuals,” said Yvette Wisher, who directs the program. “They, and the hundreds of students who preceded them, are the reason why Pitt EXCEL is a game-changer for so many.”
Since its inception, the program has helped more than 1,500 students earn an engineering degree and become leaders in their communities. Pitt EXCEL also encourages students to give back to others after graduation through mentorship, volunteerism, philanthropy or advocacy.
Martin noted that the gift will accelerate the Swanson School’s ongoing efforts to address the needs of a diverse body of students who represent a transformative demographic shift in the American workforce.
“By 2050, when the U.S. will have a minority-majority population, two-thirds of the American workforce will require a post-secondary education,” he said. “We are already reimagining how we deliver engineering education and research, and generosity such as this will lessen the financial burden that students will face to prepare for that future workforce.”
Mayor William Peduto and the Urban Redevelopment Authority formally launched the “Avenues of Hope” initiative to reprioritize business district investments in diverse city neighborhoods.
Avenues of Hope is a place-based, people-first approach that intervenes across all layers of successful, healthy, and sustainable Main Street development in largely Black and diverse neighborhoods across Pittsburgh, focusing on seven major business corridors. This initiative seeks to invest in existing small businesses and residents, supporting the inclusive growth of these neighborhoods.
The initiative will boost neighborhoods and help support middle-class jobs, families and entrepreneurship. The URA focus will be on housing investment, workforce connectivity, commercial corridor activation, façade renovations, and other impactful MWBE and small business supports.
The Department of Mobility and Infrastructure will assist with paving, sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and pedestrian enhancement, and Public Works will assist in land maintenance, with the assistance of City Planning.
Avenues of Hope will also have an affordable housing component and work in conjunction with the City/URA Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
“Retail follows rooftops. By supporting both business districts and high-quality affordable housing, Avenues of Hope will bring a holistic approach to community revitalization,” Mayor Peduto said.
The avenues currently targeted for the program are Homewood, Larimer, Centre, Perrysville, Chartiers, Warrington and Irvine Street in Hazelwood.
“The URA was asked by the City to prioritize development with a focus on building black wealth and community health. What would it mean to intentionally drive investment into Black neighborhoods in a way that centers the preservation and celebration of Black life in Pittsburgh? Avenues of Hope takes the first step towards this kind of holistic community revitalization, revealing economic justice is about action, not rhetoric,” said Diamonte Walker, Deputy Executive Director of the URA.
Interim Vice Provost for DEI emphasizes importance of recruiting
Computer Engineering in his 26th year at Carnegie Mellon is teaching, advising six Ph.D. students — with a few more on their way — and leading a research group pursuing a National Science Foundation grant to create technologies that help to serve the underserved.
A full plate, for sure, but when university leadership came calling days after announcing 34 action items to promote equity and inclusion, he felt compelled to accept.
“This is something I’m passionate about,” said Blanton, who was asked to serve as Interim Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “We have a lot of work to do, but over the last several years, there’s not only a recognition that something’s got to be done, for the first time there are significant resources being provided to make it happen.”
Blanton has helped make it happen in the College of Engineering as a member of its DEI Planning Committee. Now, he’s bringing his expertise to the university level with a focus on increasing diversity among faculty and students, and expanding CMU’s engagement with the Pittsburgh community.
The College of Engineering has been successful attracting minorities by taking a proactive approach, Blanton said. Faculty and staff have become recruiters at conferences, such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Convention, and have been seeking out opportunities and avenues to expand their search process.
“Alabama football and Duke basketball don’t sit back and wait for superstars to show up at their door. They’re out there fiercely recruiting the best athletes. We have to do the same thing,” said Blanton, who has been recognized by US Black Engineer for his leadership in recruiting.
The College of Engineering has doubled its investment in the Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship program at the University of California, which provides academic and research opportunities for women and minorities. Seven Presidential Postdoctoral Fellows have come to CMU and two have accepted faculty positions.
“We have a lot of work to do, but ... for the first time there are significant resources being provided to make it happen.”
Engineering also is a member of the national GEM Consortium, a clearinghouse for prospective minority graduate students. Blanton said Engineering had the most GEM grad students last two years and received the nonprofit’s biggest honor.
“This is a huge accomplishment, and we’re going to easily double that number over the next year,” he said. “All our peers, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Georgia Tech and Michigan are GEM members. But we’re number one.”
Blanton credits Provost Jim Garrett, former dean of the College of Engineering, Jon Cagan, former interim dean of the College of Engineering, and a team of committed department heads for the success. He’s looking forward to spreading the progress across campus.
“The School of Computer Science, Mellon College of Science, Heinz College and the Tepper School all have technical STEM programs and they can easily jump into what Engineering has done over the last several years. I’ve talked to several deans already, and there’s enthusiasm there. They want to see this happen,” he said.
Blanton plans to brainstorm with the Office of Admission on ways to engage and follow up with prospective undergraduate minority students from Pittsburgh Public Schools.
“If we can get Pittsburgh students excited, the next step would be creating a pipeline so they follow through with the application process.”
“I’m wondering if they know the stars of Hamilton and Star Trek 2 went to CMU,” he said. “If we can get Pittsburgh students excited, the next step would be creating a pipeline so they follow through with the application process.”
Local community engagement is another way to help recruit Pittsburgh students. Blanton hopes to have more Pittsburghers — students and parents — on campus after the pandemic.
“There are such amazing things here, from robotics to drama. You have Oscar winners on one side of campus and Nobel laureates on the other, and everything in between. It would be very powerful if we get this community to know more about this place,” he said.
Blanton also wants to increase awareness and expand the reach of CMU’s high school and summer programs post-pandemic.
“I’m a data guy,” he said, “so I’d like to see once they have awareness, are they utilizing the programs, and if not, why not. Are there barriers to these opportunities? If they engage, is it successful for them? Our ultimate goal is they end up at CMU as their next step in education.”
Blanton is encouraged about the current climate at CMU. He said it’s important for the community to become more aware of the efforts taking place and the opportunities to participate.
“A lot has happened, and a lot is happening. I’m very optimistic,” he said.
Shawn Blanton’s work in DEI is informing his research.
Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, Nationally Recognized Leader in Diversity and Global Health, Joins Network from Case Western University.
Allegheny Health Network (AHN) today announced the appointment of Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, MD, MEd, MPPM, FACOG, as the health system's first Chief Clinical Diversity & Inclusion Officer (CCDIO). Effective December 1, Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew joins AHN from University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, where she currently serves as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Chair of Clinical Diversity and Inclusion and Assistant Dean of Students.
In her new capacity, Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew will work with leaders across AHN to shape an inclusive workplace culture at the health system, further advancing its commitment to workforce diversity, cultural competency, and equitable health care delivery and outcomes for all patients and communities served. Her experiences as a nurse, a distinguished professor, a Naval officer, a global health strategist and an obstetrician-gynecologist specializing in global health issues bring a unique perspective to the important role she will play at AHN and in the greater Western Pennsylvania region.
"At AHN, we are committed to cultivating an inclusive, diverse workforce at every level of our organization, and we could not have found a better champion for that cause than Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew," said Cynthia Hundorfean, AHN Chief Executive Officer. "As one of the nation's most respected voices and authorities on the value of cultural diversity in healthcare, she shares our belief that one of the best ways to eliminate disparities in medicine is to promote diversity within the ranks of those who lead and staff our clinical and academic programs."
During her time at University Hospitals, Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew worked to improve the health of underserved women across Northeast Ohio, especially those living with HIV, LGBQTIA+ populations and those experiencing food insecurity. She founded and served as CEO of University Hospitals' WONDOOR (Women and Neonates, Diversity, Outreach, Opportunity, Research) global health program; and in 2014, she was named the University's Chair of Clinical Excellence and Diversity, an endowed position established to promote diversity of academic faculty.
"From her early days working at refugee camps in Ghana and Swaziland, to her experiences as a critical care nurse and her ongoing advocacy for marginalized groups of women, Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew has been on the front lines, witnessing and treating immense health disparities," said Lonie Haynes, Ph.D., Highmark Health Chief Diversity Officer. "She has made it her life's mission to improve health outcomes of her patients, particularly those who are at-risk. We are confident her work, along with our collaborative efforts across Highmark Health, will have a profound and lasting impact on our organization and those we serve."
Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew earned a bachelor's degree in nursing at the University of Pittsburgh, a master's degree in education from California State University and her medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She served in the U.S. Navy for 16 years, achieving the rank of lieutenant commander and completing an OBGYN internship at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. She returned to Pittsburgh for a residency at Magee Women's Hospital, and practiced at UPMC for the next 15 years, while also serving as Magee's Director of Global Health Programs. Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew joined University Hospitals in 2010 after receiving a master's degree in public policy from the University of Pittsburgh.
She holds numerous national and international professional appointments, including the American Association of Medical Colleges Group on Diversity and Inclusion; the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics Global Health Task Force; Fellow, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Board of Trustees, Centering HealthCare Institute; Leader, First Year Cleveland; President, Cleveland American Hospital Association Board of Trustees; Co-lead, Committee on Economic Inclusion of Greater Cleveland Partnerships; Vice Chair Elect and Board of Directors, Three Rivers Youth Foundation; and Board of Trustees and Co-Chair of the Women's Leadership Advisory Board, Robert Morris University, among many others.
Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, joins AHN as chief clinical diversity and inclusion officer.
While jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have grown nearly 80 percent since 1990, representation of racial minorities, those with disabilities or from lower income backgrounds and women in these career fields remains low.
It’s something a group of graduate students in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine noticed, along with the current social climate.
To be eligible for the program, students must have a strong interest in microbiology or immunology. Ideal candidates will be interested in pursuing medical or graduate studies in a biomedical field.
Students must also:
Be a member of an underrepresented racial/ethnic group as defined by the National Institutes of Health.
Be 18 years of age or older and currently enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh.
Have completed at least one semester of undergraduate coursework.
Have a working knowledge of computers, standard office software packages (Word, WordPerfect, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, etc.)
“Looking into the fact that Pitt also doesn’t have a lot of retention with minority students, we knew that we needed to do something,” said Ayana Ruffin, a graduate student researcher in Immunology.
Ruffin and several other graduate students in Pitt’s Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI) came together to create a new program that aims to promote diversity in health and science. The Microbiology and Immunology Diversity Scholars Program, sponsored by the PMI graduate program, will engage underrepresented minority undergraduate students to consider careers in science, medicine and public health, as well as provide exposure to microbiology and immunology research, and improve diversity in STEM by preparing these students for careers in the biomedical sciences.
“We’re prepping these scholars’ careers in biomedical sciences by focusing on research, mentorship and career development,” said Sidney Lane, a graduate researcher in microbiology and molecular genetics. “We also hope to improve diversity in university faculty by having more undergraduate and graduate researchers become interested in academia.”
The students behind the program’s inception were part of undergraduate or semi-graduate research programs at their respective previous schools. Lane graduated with her bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, while Ruffin graduated with her master’s degree from Towson University.
“We realized that without these programs, we wouldn’t be here at Pitt, and Pitt didn’t have a program that other schools we went to for our undergraduate degrees had,” said Ruffin. “We talked to faculty and department chairs about our program idea (at Pitt) and they backed us on this.”
The students also recently held a virtual town hall in early September to introduce and talk about the program.
The program will provide $1,500 in funding per semester (fall and spring) to cover 10 weeks of research working 10 hours or more per week; $3,500 for the summer term to cover 10 weeks of research working 40 hours or more per week (on-campus housing provided); and $500 to participate in national research events.
The program is currently taking applications for the fall 2020 semester until Sept. 21. Applicants will be notified of their selection on Oct. 5 and research begins Oct. 12.
Program leaders said this model can be used by other departments and schools at Pitt to better engage with underrepresented minority students.
“I’m really impressed with these students’ motivation and their wanting to make a difference,” said Jennifer Bomberger, associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Pitt and PMI graduate program director. “We want to maintain the momentum this program has going forward.”
Students who have questions on applying can contact program director Partha Biswas at email@example.com.
Ayana Ruffin, graduate student in Pitt and CMU's Program in Microbiology and Immunology.
Clyde Wilson Pickett, a leading expert in higher education diversity and inclusion strategy, has been named the University of Pittsburgh’s vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. Charged with ensuring a welcome, inclusive and equitable environment for students, faculty and staff across all campuses, Pickett is set to start in July 2020.
Pickett is no stranger to Pittsburgh. An alumnus of the Doctor of Education (EdD) program in Pitt’s School of Education, he served as chief diversity officer for the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), and most recently, as chief diversity officer for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. While at Minnesota State, Pickett was responsible for leading and developing system-wide diversity, equity and inclusion strategy and policy guidance for Minnesota State’s 54 campuses.
In his new role, Pickett will collaborate with University leadership to ensure that Pitt’s mission, vision and strategic priorities are aligned with creating a more inclusive, diverse culture of belonging. He will also lead proactive initiatives, services, connections and education across Pitt’s campuses pertaining to diversity and inclusion. In the last academic year, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion underwent a strategic restructure to position itself toward more focused, proactive work with an emphasis on prevention and education.
“There is no one better to serve in the position of vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion than Clyde Pickett,” said Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the Board of Trustees. “I am delighted to welcome Clyde to the University of Pittsburgh, where his experience and leadership will help us live up to our commitment of making Pitt a more equitable place.”
“I am very excited about joining the University of Pittsburgh and working collaboratively on strategies to further advance equity, access, inclusion and belonging at the University,” said Pickett. “I am appreciative for the opportunity and am committed to working hard to establish strong relationships built on trust, integrity, authenticity, visibility and transparency.”
Pickett has assumed various leadership roles over the course of his career including advancing best practices for diversity; recruitment; and the retention of students, staff and faculty of color. He is an expert in organizational leadership development and data-informed decision-making related to diversity and inclusion. An administrator and scholar with considerable experience translating theory into practice, he has expertise in strategic planning and Title IX.
Pickett’s professional accomplishments include:
At Pitt, Pickett will succeed Pamela Connelly, who served as the University’s first vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and stepped down in January 2020. Katie Pope, associate vice chancellor of civil rights and Title IX, served as interim vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion while a national search for Connelly’s successor was conducted.
Pitt Names New Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion
As calls for racial justice echo across the country, the University of Pittsburgh has developed a new course to allow students to gain an understanding of the county’s long struggle with anti-Black racism.
The course, “Anti-Black Racism: History, Ideology, and Resistance,” will be offered as a required, asynchronous, one-credit offering for first-year students on the Pittsburgh campus starting this fall. Students at the regional campuses, as well as any other interested students, may also register.
“The course is designed to inform us all about Black history and culture, about the multiple forms of anti-Black racism, and about how we can be anti-racist,” said Ann E. Cudd, provost and senior vice chancellor. “It is a deposit on our commitment to transform our institution and our society, beginning with education and focusing on our future through the special class of 2024.”
Leveraging the world-renowned expertise of Pitt faculty and activists in the Pittsburgh area, the course will introduce students to the long tradition of scholarly activism, specifically on the Black experience and Black cultural expression. It will also analyze the development, spread and forms of anti-Black racism in the United States and around the world.
“A talented committee of faculty experts came together from across the University to create this innovative course in response to the persistent challenges around anti-Black racism that drive social divisions and limit opportunities and equity for people of African descent,” said Covington-Ward. “We wanted to make sure that the course provided some historical context, while also looking at ideologies of race and contemporary struggles against anti-Black racism locally in Pittsburgh, nationally and globally as well. We also wanted to focus on the humanity of Black people in creating a course that emanates from their own perspectives, experiences and agency.”
Topics will be presented by different scholars each week, including faculty from the Departments of Sociology, History, Africana Studies and criminal justice in the Dietrich School, as well as the Department of Epidemiology in the Graduate School of Public Health and the School of Computing and Information.
The course will be centered around three key areas: the roots, ideology and resistance to anti-Black racism. The semester will begin with an exploration of the beginnings of anti-Black racism tying it to African history, the history of slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Then, students will discuss the ideology of anti-Black racism and how it connects with the idea of racial hierarchies. The semester will also highlight the theme of resistance and look at strategies that Black activists and their allies have utilized to create a more just and equitable society.
To explore these themes, class discussions will delve into topics such as pre-colonial African history; race, policing and mass incarceration; health disparities; racial capitalism; formal schooling and anti-Blackness; and how to be anti-racist.
Most weeks will have at least one piece of required reading, which will be available through Canvas, along with a list of suggested texts and videos. Students will also learn about future Pitt courses they can take to further their study.
“We hope that this course is a first step in helping students to recognize and challenge anti-Black policies and practices when they encounter them, and to develop strategies to be anti-racist in their everyday lives,” said Covington-Ward.
Aside from the required readings, students will be asked to complete two brief questions after each lecture to check for comprehension. During week seven, in lieu of class, students will be asked to attend at least one synchronous activity during the Black Study Intensive from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, a week in which the Center of African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) will hold virtual performances and creative sessions open to any discipline and the general public.
The course will be graded on a “Satisfactory/Non-Credit” basis.
Source: University of Pittsburgh
Yolanda Covington-Ward, chair of the Department of Africana Studies at Pitt.
The Advanced Leadership Initiative (TALI) is pleased to announce the receipt of a $1 Million Grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The grant, which was approved in early December, will propel TALI forward in its mission to advance the presence of African Americans in executive leadership roles by helping to establish The Advanced Leadership Institute, Inc. (TALI Institute). The new funds will be utilized to build the team and infrastructure for TALI Institute to expand its capacity and impact, both locally and nationally.
According to Evan Frazier, Founding Director of The Advanced Leadership Initiative and Senior Vice President of Community Affairs at Highmark Health (pictured), "It has always been our vision, from day one, to create a self-sustaining institute that will provide longevity for TALI and its mission. This grant will be transformational, enabling TALI to build on early local success while expanding reach and impact through expanded areas of focus and a new national footprint." Frazier also added, "We are truly grateful to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for this grant and their strategic investments in TALI at critical times over the years."
This is not the first time that the Richard King Mellon Foundation has shown its support for African American leadership development. In 2018, the Foundation provided TALI with a grant for $100,000 to pilot its flagship program, the Executive Leadership Academy (ELA), in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. The Executive Leadership Academy is a robust, seven-month Executive Education program that provides instruction geared to addressing the challenges that African Americans uniquely face and equipping them with tools to help propel them towards success. TALI will continue to partner with Carnegie Mellon University to operate ELA, which will serve as a model as the initiative expands. The grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation is distinct from TALI's existing program and is designated primarily for operational expansion.
"Supporting Black leadership has been an ongoing focus for us," said Richard King Mellon Foundation Director Sam Reiman. "That's why we seeded TALI with its first six-figure grant in 2018. And now, we are making an even larger grant of $1 million, in hopes that TALI can seize this remarkable societal moment to generate even greater private-sector enthusiasm for its important work. TALI has enjoyed noteworthy support already, from corporate leaders such as BNY Mellon, Highmark, PNC and UPMC. But even more private-sector partners are essential for this ambitious initiative to achieve its full potential."
The Advanced Leadership Institute's mission will be to cultivate African American executive leadership to strengthen companies, institutions, and communities across America. Its primary focus will be to educate, develop, connect, and position African American leaders for executive advancement.
TALI Pittsburgh will be the flagship and demonstration model that provides measurable success for other regions across the country to follow.
"The future of TALI and all that it stands for has been strengthened, with this sizeable grant. We are very encouraged by the support that we are receiving from R K Mellon, as we move forward toward securing our long-range mission." – Marsha Jones, Advisory Board Co–Chair and Executive Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer at PNC
"This has the seeds that can grow into a strong institution that supports the advancement of African Americans in ways that few have done in the past." – Greg Spencer, Founding Board Co-Chair of The Advanced Leadership Initiative and President and CEO of Randall Industries
"I have always supported the inclusion and advancement of African Americans in the c-suite. They need access to the tools, networks and opportunities to excel. This grant provides more opportunities to make TALI's vision a reality." – Jerry MacCleary, Advisory Board Co–Chair and Retired Chairman, President and CEO of Covestro
Formation of The Advanced Leadership Institute, Inc. has begun and will continue over the next several months; the leadership team anticipates an official launch by Summer 2021. POISE Foundation will serve as the fiscal sponsor for the new Richard King Mellon Foundation grant.
The Advanced Leadership Initiative will continue to move forward with its plans for the 2021 cohort (Year 3) of the Executive Leadership Academy beginning in January. Support for The Advanced Leadership Initiative continues to grow as regional corporations and foundations embrace the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Below is a partial list of current sponsors and contributors:
Lead Contributors: The Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, BNY Mellon Foundation of SWPA, and Hillman Family Foundations. Presenting Sponsors: Highmark Health, PNC, and UPMC. Contributors: Buhl Foundation. Gold Sponsors: Bank of America, BNY Mellon, Covestro, Dollar Bank, FHL Bank, Gateway Health, Giant Eagle, Giant Eagle Foundation, Koppers, and PPG. Silver Sponsors: Ernst & Young (EY), and Wabtec Corporation. Academic Partner: Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business. Fiscal Sponsor: POISE Foundation
Companies, organizations and individuals can support the work of The Advanced Leadership Initiative in multiple ways, including sponsorship, mentorship, and advocacy. For information about how you can be involved, visit www.advancedleadershipinitiative.org
SOURCE The Advanced Leadership Initiative
Evan Frazier, Founding Director of TALI