Thank you for your interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion. We thought you would be interested in an update on our activities in this regard.

The mission statement of the Yale Alumni Association (YAA), adopted in 2018, makes clear that we view diversity broadly:

Our mission is to enhance and renew the lifelong Yale experience for all alumni, whoever they are and wherever they may be. We strive to inspire new ideas, affiliations, friendships, professional fulfillment, and acts of service, around the world.

Inclusion is a YAA core value: “[W]e strive for full engagement and a sense of belonging among our alumni, a diverse group that encompasses many generations, identities, and Yale affiliations.”

Being inclusive requires intentional and active efforts to promote full participation. This memorandum summarizes the YAA’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in this regard for the fiscal year, July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019.


Executive Director’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group

The Executive Director’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group (“Working Group”) convened from January 2018 through June 2019.

The Working Group consisted of four subgroups. Their work is summarized below.

Learning Events/Products Subgroup

Jerry W. Henry ’80 MDiv, chair; Lise Chapman ’81 MBA; Darryl Crompton ’76 MPH; Lauren Graham ’13 MEM; Susan Lennon ’85 MPPM; Nicholas Roman Lewis ’93; Rahul R. Prasad ’87 PhD (ex officio); Amy Savage ’10 PhD; Rosita Thomas ’87 PhD

This group produced or promoted events or products (such as webinars) that provide opportunities around the discussion and promotion of DEI. Events such as book discussions and “Real Talk” (an event that encourages conversations about DEI concepts) were organized by this group.

Community Impact Initiatives Subgroup

Erin Roberts ’02, chair; Akosua Barthwell Evans ’90 JD; Nicholas Roman Lewis ’93; Rahul Prasad ’87 PhD (ex offico); Jocelyn Kane; Rosita Thomas ’87 PhD 

This group piloted two events – one in Washington, D.C., and one in Detroit – that provided alumni opportunities for long-term involvement to address community problems. Both events addressed food deserts in urban communities, featuring discussions with local experts, a one-day service project, and continued alumni engagement with local organizations.

Communications Subgroup

Amanda Baker ’00 MM and Erin Roberts ‘02, co-chairs; Marv Berenblum ’56; Lise Chapman ’81 MBA; Jenny Chavira ’89; Rahul R. Prasad ’87 PhD (ex officio); Nancy Stratford ’77

This group developed recommendations that will be included in a YAA toolkit for alumni groups to use in planning and promoting events to engage young alumni and alumni from diverse backgrounds. This toolkit can also be provided as a standalone document to alumni groups upon request.

Diverse Leadership Pipeline Subgroup

Susan Lennon ’85 MPPM, chair; Marv Berenblum ’56; Jenny Chavira ’89; Darryl Crompton ’76 MPH; Jerry Henry ’80 MDiv; Rahul Prasad ’87 PhD (ex officio); Ed Sevilla ’82; Christine Walsh ’73 MD

This group surveyed alumni leaders to identify alumni groups that are interested in developing leadership pipelines that are more diverse. The alumni groups that are advancing DEI provided input that was used to create guidelines for other alumni groups to use to help increase diversity in the leadership pipeline.

We are grateful for the work of these dedicated alumni who served on these subgroups and thank them for their efforts.


Other DEI-Related Activities

Attachment 1 (see below) lists activities and programs organized and/or supported by the YAA during the last year. In addition, President Salovey’s message to the Yale community regarding DEI, Dr. Reese’s report, and the Belonging At Yale initiative can be found here. And please take the opportunity to watch Cornell Brooks' riveting keynote speech at last year's DEI Impact Conference.

Going Forward

It has been proposed that the YAA Board of Governors creates a standing committee dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We gave this proposal serious consideration and discussed it at length with the board’s executive officers. We reached a consensus: We will not be pursuing a standing board committee on DEI. Our reasons are as follows.

  • Every board member is responsible for DEI. DEI is not the responsibility of a single committee.
  • A separate committee could give board members the impression that DEI is solely the responsibility of the members on the standing committee, a concern raised by two DEI experts not affiliated with Yale with whom I (Weili) consulted.
  • The idea of a separate committee seeking to set the DEI agenda for the board may result in some board members feeling excluded. This was also a concern stated by these two DEI experts I (Weili) consulted.
  • Every committee already includes advancing DEI in its stated goals. Every committee also has actively emphasized the importance of DEI in its work.
  • More than a separate committee, the board needs to acquire the tools to engage in more productive and forthright discussions around DEI issues. I (Weili) am addressing this in September during the orientation of the new board.

The next DEI Working Group will focus on three distinct projects:

  • Programming, team leaders: Lauren Graham ’13 MEM, Amy Savage ’10 PhD
  • Communications, team leaders: Camille Jackson ’95, Rahul Prasad ’87 PhD
  • Leadership Pipeline, team leaders: Masa Gong ’96, Tom Opladen ’67

As with all YAA activities and efforts, the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion must be promoted and advocated by alumni. We encourage alumni (yes you!) to: volunteer your time, offices, and residences for events to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. You can:

  • volunteer to mentor current students;
  • organize events (picnics, potluck dinners, cocktail receptions, breakfasts, etc.) for Yale students of color to congratulate them on their admission to Yale, to send them off to Yale and to network with other students and alumni of color over winter and summer breaks (thank you to Oakland alumni for hosting a Yale Black Alumni Association send-off for students this August!); and
  • organize networking receptions for alumni of color in your city or profession.

Don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder! Take the initiative and let us know if you have questions. Thank you again for your interest and support.


Attachment 1

List of YAA-Supported Events and Programs, 2018- 2019

In the last year, in addition to many, many other programs, the YAA supported programs that specifically addressed DEI issues, as listed below. In addition to these events and activities, the YAA and other alumni groups organized programs intentionally working to feature alumni from diverse backgrounds and/or focusing on DEI-related issues. Most notably, the shared interest alumni group 1stGenYale organized and continues to plan programs in support of first-generation and/or low-income Yale students, many of whom are from historically under-represented backgrounds. For more information, see

Yale in Hollywood Entertainment & Tech Inclusion Summit, Los Angeles (April 21, 2018) – Half-day summit with top Hollywood industry and Yale alumni focused on increasing the representation of underrepresented groups in the industry.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Roundtables (Reunion Weekends 2018) – Administrators and faculty provided DEI and belonging updates regarding students, faculty, and alumni and held Q&A/discussions with the audience.

International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), Cambridge, England (June 2018) – Discussion of YAA’s DEI work (Alumni Task Force on DEI and Executive Director’s DEI Working Group).

Alumni Perspectives: Navigating Yale & Beyond (July 21, 2018) – A program organized by 1stGenYale for incoming Yale College students from under-resourced backgrounds, many of whom are among the first in their families to attend college or graduate school. The program featured talks by alumni, many of whom were first in their families to attend college.

Making Unconscious Bias Conscious (Sept. 25, 2018) – 1stGenYale webinar with Dr. Darin Latimore, the Deputy Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Yale School of Medicine, moderated by Professor Claire Bowern of the Women's Faculty Forum.

Diversity Drives Innovation Workshop presented by The Medici Group, New York (Oct. 27, 2018) – Based on the principles of The Medici Effect, this workshop enabled participants to explore the many layers and dimensions of diversity and use those insights to draw a clear line of sight between diversity and innovation.

Skills for Changemakers (Nov. 2-3, 2018) – A Careers, Life, and Yale workshop on creative career paths to address social challenges from social enterprise to sustainability to policy and politics with alumni leaders from diverse backgrounds and in fields ranging from angel investing and health advocacy to law and media.

1stGenYale Career Networking Mixer (Nov. 8, 2018) – Yale alumni and first-generation/low-income students from all schools, exploring many different professions.

Activating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Your Club, SIG, or Group (Nov. 9, 2018) – A session during YAA Assembly and Yale Alumni Fund Convocation to review DEI progress underway through the YAA Executive Director’s DEI Working Group and encourage alumni leaders to engage others through local community impact initiatives, learning events and products, the leadership pipeline, and working with emerging young and diverse alumni.

DEI Roundtable (Nov. 9, 2018) – A session during Assembly & Convocation featuring Yale administrators and faculty who provided updates on university DEI efforts.

Food Equity in D.C. – A Yale Community Impact Panel, Washington, D.C. (Nov. 13, 2018) – A session organized by a subgroup of the DEI Executive Director’s Working Group on food insecurity in urban Washington.

Painting Free: In Conversation with Howardena Pindell (Nov. 28, 2018) – A discussion between Pindell ’67 MFA and curator and scholar Courtney J. Martin ’09 PhD at the Yale Center for British Art.

Association of Asian American Yale Alumni (April 5, 2019) – reception during Asian American Student Alliance 50th Anniversary.

Beauty Perceptions, New York, NY (May 22, 2019) – An exploration of the intersection of race, beauty, and perception. How do images presented in media impact black women? The panelists discussed stereotypes and their effects on young women and girls, examined unconscious biases in interactions among women, and considered solutions for change.

YaleWomen Award for Excellence, Washington, D.C. (March 7, 2019) – YaleWomen and the YAA honored Anita Hill ’80 JD, Catherine Lhamon ’96 JD, Ann Olivarius ’77, ’86 MBA/JD, and Joanne Lipman ’83 with Lifetime Achievement awards, and Araceli Campos ’99, C'Ardiss Gardner Gleser ’08, Kamala Lopez, Rebecca Reichmann Tavares ’78, and Vera Wells ’71 with Impact awards.

IMPACT: Advancing DEI Through Social Change (March 29-30, 2019) – An exploration of our roles in effecting social change to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, featuring alumni stories about advancing social change, faculty discussing the historical and social context for DEI in the U.S., and sessions on how we all can be more effective as advocates for social change.

DiversAbility: Perspectives on Disability, Equity, and Inclusion, Washington, D.C. (April 10, 2019) – Discussion about the reality, widespread misunderstandings, misconceptions, and stigma surrounding disability and the disabled, and the lives, perspective, and contributions of Yalies with disabilities.

Arise: Awakening from the American Dream, Atlanta (April 10, 2019) – Activist, journalist, public theologian, and Yale School of Divinity graduate Rahiel Tesfamariam ’09 MDiv explored black America’s complex relationship with the American dream.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Roundtables (Reunion Weekends 2019) – Administrators and faculty providing DEI and belonging updates regarding students, faculty, and alumni and held Q&A/discussions with the audience.


Rahul Prasad is the chair of the Executive Director’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group.

Weili Cheng is the executive director of the Yale Alumni Association.