Promoting diversity in innovative ways

Diversity Leadership Council awards grants to students, faculty, staff

The Diversity Leadership Council recently awarded its first-ever round of Diversity Innovation Grants to eight students and faculty and staff members from across the Johns Hopkins Institutions.

The selected programs use everything from classical music to a YouTube video to promote collaboration and inclusion.

Winner Linda Kress, of the Applied Physics Laboratory, will use her grant money to create a Johns Hopkins-specific It Gets Better video in order to show at-risk members of the LGBT community that it's possible to be "happy, healthy, engaged, fulfilled, and out" at Johns Hopkins.

Ashley J. Llorens, a signal-processing engineer at APL, who chairs the DLC subcommittee that oversees the grants initiative, says, "I'm excited about that one because it's something that we can share broadly."

The grants range from $100 to $2,500 and represent the DLC's latest effort to establish programming that bolsters diversity within the Johns Hopkins Institutions. Winning proposals had to promote inclusion across Johns Hopkins, encourage courtesy and respect, use diversity in the fulfillment of core JHI objectives, and generally advance cooperation among Johns Hopkins entities.

"Each of the eight projects we selected has an underlying theme of bringing people together or increasing awareness," says Risha Zuckerman, projects and events specialist in the Office of Institutional Equity and manager of the DLC's events and initiatives. "But they're going about it in different ways, and that really gets at the heart of what the entire program is about: creating new and exciting ways to promote diversity, share it, celebrate it, learn about it."

Some of the winning proposals address issues of awareness within the LGBT community, while others aim to increase interaction between the JHU and East Baltimore communities or bring together underrepresented students within the university system.

Another winner, Emily Austin Smith, an undergraduate pursuing a dual degree in English at the Krieger School and cello at Peabody, plans to bring together string musicians from across the country to perform at a West Baltimore venue in an effort to bolster community outreach and teach students about organizing their own community events.

Grant proposals will be considered twice a year and must include a short description of the proposed activity, a timeline, and an itemized budget. According to Llorens, also a member of the grants selection committee, the group had difficulty narrowing down the selection to just eight proposals.

That's an indication that we're getting a lot of participation, a lot of good ideas from around JHI," Llorens says. "And in the future, if we're able, certainly we're going to try to secure additional funds so that we can select more good ideas to help realize."

The full list of winners and their plans is as follows:

• Amelia Buttres, Bloomberg School: Organize a speaker series regarding LGBT public health issues.

• Emily Austin Smith, Peabody Institute and Krieger School: Bring Baltimore music students and professional string players together for a performance in West Baltimore.

• Jennifer Cohen, School of Medicine's Department of Urology: Create a Family Mentoring Network that connects underrepresented minority graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members in an effort to "demystify the pipeline from student to postdoc to tenured faculty."

• Linda Kress, APL: Produce a Johns Hopkins-specific It Gets Better video to raise awareness about youth LGBT issues and provide examples of successful LGBT role models in the fields of science, technology, and medicine.

• Mindi Levin, Bloomberg School of Public Health: Organize a Community Conversations Dinner to connect students and faculty from the schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health with East Baltimore community leaders.

• Pedro Lozada, Center for Talented Youth Summer Programs: Acquire and screen Inclusion Insights, a DVD about creative approaches to inclusion, in order to generate a forum for discussion about diversity-related issues among CTY staff.

• Emily Miller, School of Medicine's Orthopedics Interest Group: Organize a Women in Orthopedic Surgery Exposure Night to connect female medical students in the Baltimore area with successful women in the field of orthopedics.

• Daniel Teraguchi, School of Medicine's Office of Student Affairs: Grow the Milestone Celebration, an event begun four years ago by the Biomedical Scholars Association to recognize the accomplishments of underrepresented students, from high school through graduate school, in the fields of science and math.

The inaugural grants were sponsored by Johns Hopkins Health System Human Resources and Johns Hopkins Hospital General Services.

The deadline for the next round of grants has not yet been announced, but potential applicants can get updates at All Johns Hopkins students, faculty, and staff are eligible to apply, as individuals or as groups. Questions can be addressed to the Office of the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Risha Zuckerman at or 410-516-8116.