Co-head of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, Nyah Doe.
Recognizing the diversity of a team is essential for leaders in various workplaces. The Buccino Leadership Institute's new Diversity and Inclusion Initiative emphasizes the immense influence that diversity has on a work environment to both student leaders and professors. The Diversity and Inclusion Initiative first originated within an interdisciplinary project at the Institute, The Price of Admission, which was created to improve the admissions process and the diversity of applicants to the Buccino Institute. During the year, the team suggested the creation of a diversity committee to help with the recruitment and retention of diverse students in the Institute.
Following feedback from both faculty and students, the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative was approved by Dr. Bryan Price in the summer of 2020. With the amount of civil unrest and discussions regarding social justice around the country, Dr. Price believed that the immediate inception of the Initiative was important. Regarding the vision for the Initiative, Dr. Price said, "When students leave the Buccino Leadership Institute after four years, they know what 'right' looks like when it comes to creating and leading diverse and inclusive teams."
To achieve this, the mission of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative is "to promote an enriching and supportive climate that allows all members of our family to thrive and succeed inside the Buccino Leadership Institute. The Institute recognizes that the most effective teams are diverse in a variety of forms, and the most effective leaders are inclusive. The Institute is committed to policies that promote inclusiveness, social justice, and respect for all—regardless of race, color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, age, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, political belief or affiliation, marital status, veteran status, immigration status, gender identity and expression, genetic information, or any other characteristic or status protected by state or federal laws."
Co-head of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, Christopher Lucas.
The Diversity and Inclusion Initiative is co-led by Christopher Lucas and Nyah Doe, with membership from various cohorts and majors. When asked about diversity and inclusion, Lucas said, "Diversity and inclusion have always been very close to my heart. Growing up as an African American male in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most diverse places in the country, I have seen the importance of this idea of diversity and inclusion. After the outcry and response that came after the murder of George Floyd this summer, I understood the importance of having a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative being a part of the Leadership Institute. We are creating leaders, and a major portion of being a leader is being able to work with diverse teams." Additionally, Doe, an original team member of The Price of Admissions, said, "I volunteered to research and create the diversity and inclusion committee guidelines. Through my research, I realized how important diversity is to students, their development as leaders, and their comfort in the Institute. As a young woman of color, diversity and inclusion have always been something I have been passionate about. I grew up in Prince George's County, Maryland, a very diverse community of successful people of color, which has molded me into the young leader I am today. The time is now more than ever to push diversity and inclusion because it is evident that the world needs more diverse leaders."
In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the importance of social justice and difficult discussions was at the forefront of many communities. When asked what diversity and inclusion meant to the members of the initiative, and their reasoning for joining, the members gave thought-provoking and personal reasons. Maham Bashir, a sophomore in the Institute, said, "The reason I wanted to join the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative is that as a Muslim woman of color, who also wears a hijab, I have personal experience with discrimination and misrepresentation. I remember when the Muslim Ban happened on travel that my mosque had to put up a large banner that stated, "We do not support terrorism." We had to call in lawyers to speak to us about what we should do if pulled over in an airport and questioned. It hurt that all the good my religion stands for was tainted by the media portraying one radical minority as the representatives of the entire Muslim population. This is why I believe education and inclusion are so critical, especially in light of recent events."
Sophia Dinman, another sophomore in the Institute, responded, "This past summer in the wake of George Floyd's death my hometown, Leesburg, Virginia, began to reevaluate some of its racist and controversial history. Confederate statues were removed and my former high school's mascot, the Raider (based on a local confederate militia) was changed. These events made me realize how disconnected I was from my town's history. It deeply saddened me that in the year 2020, my neighbors and myself had allowed these despicable figures to remain. During this process, I was shocked as neighbors, friends, and former teachers resisted this change. It made me realize how my upbringing was not as tolerant or inclusive as I had previously thought. When I heard about the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to better myself and to learn from my peers."
The Diversity and Inclusion Initiative began its work in the Fall 2020 semester with multiple presentations to all the cohorts. The Initiative encouraged members of the Institute to examine their own biases, to consider the effects of their complacency regarding social justice, and to learn how to become better allies and members of society.