First Cohort of Faculty, Staff, and Students Complete Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program

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Twenty faculty, staff, and students were recently honored for completing the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program at the program’s poster expo and celebration event.

The first cohort of fellows included Jennifer Beveridge, Brienné Coates, Santanu Dey, Lana Ferreira, Michelle Gaines, Stephanie Gillespie, Tia Jackson-Truitt, Ronald Johnson, Timothy Lieuwen, Susannah McFaul, Jerrold Mobley, Lauren Neefe, Dionne Nickerson, Irina Nikivincze, Yelena Rivera-Vale, Sebastian Ruf, Calvin Runnels, Hussein Sayani, Jacquelyn Strickland, and William Todd.

“Through this program, we wanted to create a grassroots movement that would accelerate cultural change at Georgia Tech,” said Magnus Egerstedt, professor and Julian T. Hightower Chair in Systems and Controls in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, executive director of the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, and co-director of the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program.

According to the Harvard Business Review, a number of organizations experienced consistently positive results with diversity and inclusion programs that apply three basic principles: engage ambassadors in solving the problem, expose them to people from different groups, and encourage social accountability for change.1

With support from Institute Diversity, the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program was launched last year to bring together faculty, staff, and students who individually and collectively advance their action, research, or teaching objectives while improving inclusivity on campus.

The goals of the program are to cultivate a network of ambassadors who will advance a culture of inclusive excellence and create an environment where people feel safe, comfortable, and empowered to discuss diversity and inclusion at Georgia Tech.

“After selecting the first cohort from their submitted proposals, the fellows were grouped into teams, and each team had a leader or co-leaders,” remarked Beril Toktay, ADVANCE Professor in the Ernest Scheller Jr. College of Business, Brady Family Chair and faculty director of the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, and co-director of the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program. “This cohort represented an excellent cross-section of the Institute. We are proud of the authenticity of this program thanks to the unique perspecties of the fellows.”

Projects from the first cohort included podcast stories, blogs, icebreakers, online training modules, panel discussions, and circus arts performances focusing on the dimensions and intersectionalities of diversity, including race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, and disability. To learn more about the fellows’ projects, visit

Yelena Rivera-Vale, one of the fellows and TV and web operations coordinator for the Georgia Tech Cable Network, described her team’s project: “Accent Stories is a series of podcasts where campus community members share their personal recollections and perspectives related to the way they speak. The way one speaks tells a story, and accents can be related to bias. After hearing these stories, it is our hope that listeners will think about accents in a different way.”

The second cohort of 21 faculty, staff, and students was recently selected for the 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program. Following an application period last fall, this year’s fellows will be expected to:

  • Complete an individual action, teaching, or research objective and share with the campus community;
  • Contribute to a group project, to be determined by the fellows, that will raise the profile of the diversity and inclusion theme on campus or make a campus-wide contribution; and
  • Attend the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program meetings.

“Institute Diversity is pleased to support the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program, which was launched after a Strategic Plan Advisory Group proposal was submitted. We applaud the first and second cohorts who are making a difference and transforming the culture through modeling inclusive excellence,” said Archie Ervin, vice president for Institute Diversity.

To learn more about the program, visit


1 Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, “Why Diversity Programs Fail,” Harvard Business Review (July-August 2016).


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Annette Filliat
  • Created:01/05/2018
  • Modified By:Annette Filliat
  • Modified:01/05/2018