Dear Friends,

As Yale starts a new fall semester, I pause to take stock of the YAA’s activities over the past year – a year once again fraught with uncertainty and marked by great challenge, but one also featuring much perseverance and progress. As in previous years, this pause includes reviewing the YAA’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and belonging.

I have previously provided updates about DEI and belonging. The last update was my January 2021 message. I encourage you to forward this and previous DEI updates to other alumni and ask them to let me know if they would like to receive future reports. If you are no longer interested in receiving these messages, please let me know and we will remove you from this list.

I begin by thanking you for your continued interest in and support of the YAA’s programs and offerings. We appreciate your thoughts, feedback, and remarkable work. I am particularly grateful for your interest in and encouragement about the YAA’s and Yale’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Fostering a Connected and Vibrant Community to Advance Yale’s Excellence

The Yale Corporation, President Salovey, and other university leaders have made advancing DEI a clear priority – from launching Belonging at Yale in 2018 and extending the Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative (FEDI) in 2019 to increasing financial aid and implementing best practices in policing.

In October 2020, President Salovey announced a number of activities that are “part of necessary efforts to mitigate racism in society, which will require continuous hard work on many fronts.” These activities are focused on six areas as part of a five-year plan, with 10 priorities indicated. The activities, areas, and priorities are summarized on the Belonging at Yale website and also at the end of this letter.

Work on the priorities is well underway and in addition to this April 2021 update, please note the following examples:

  • Examine Yale and Slavery: Under the leadership of Prof. David Blight, the preliminary findings will be discussed this October at the annual conference of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. Prof. Blight will be in conversation with former Yale College Dean and current Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway and renowned poet, scholar, and current Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. More information about this work may be found at the Yale and Slavery Research Project website.
  • Invest in BIPOC Faculty: Through the FEDI program, there have been 119 ladder faculty appointed and supported.
  • Reimagine Public Safety and Policing: Yale’s Department of Public Safety and the Committee on Policing have embraced the foundational themes of the 21CP Report; to date, more than 82% of the 88 recommendations in the March 2020 report by 21CP Solutions have been implemented or are underway. In addition, Yale Public Safety has implemented and is working on other policies and practices with input from Yale faculty and the Justice Collaboratory at the Yale Law School. Yale Public Safety has also adopted a Differential Response Program, which dispatches the most appropriate public safety resource – including the police when necessary – in response to calls for assistance. Differential response better integrates Yale’s public safety structure and resources, and it focuses police on responding to situations where their expertise and training are most applicable.
  • Require DEI/Belonging Unit Plans: Yale’s schools and administrative divisions are developing five-year action plans for DEI and belonging, due this fall. The plans will include specific attention to the experiences of staff, faculty, alumni, and students of color, and will address professional development, education, and training in DEI and belonging. Planning is tailored to the needs of the school or division but oriented toward a common set of six priority areas, allowing for alignment and prioritization. Yale is unique among our peers and other institutions in including alumni needs and interests in the planning process.
  • Yale has also reviewed policies, reporting processes, resources, and staffing to prevent and address discrimination and harassment. An outcome of this review is a new Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment, which sets out, in one place, the definitions of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation applicable to all students, faculty, and staff. This work also: clarified the means for providing support, informal resolution, and investigation, where appropriate; added, and continues to add, staff to Student Accessibility Services and the Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility, which handle accommodations for students and employees, respectively; and launched a new website that gathers information and resources regarding accessibility at Yale for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

DEI Programs Advance the YAA’s Mission

The YAA’s mission is to enhance and renew the lifelong Yale experience for all alumni. As the alumni body has grown more diverse, the YAA must find ways to cultivate a stronger sense of inclusion. Accordingly, the YAA Board of Governors has embraced DEI as a priority, seeking to promote learning and understanding of DEI issues, and emphasizing inclusion. This is evident in this year’s Excellence Awards winners. Several of these awards, given to alumni group efforts for excellence in their events, programs, and best practices, illustrated outstanding DEI initiatives.

The new YAA board members for the 2021-22 academic yearThe YAA Board of Governors’ commitment to cultivating inclusion among alumni leaders is also evident in the new members of the YAA Board of Governors, who reflect the alumni body’s diversity and enthusiasm for Yale.

Working with volunteers, the YAA continues to support and encourage community-building activities for Yale College classes, Yale regional clubs, and existing and nascent shared interest groups. This partnership resulted in the appended – and astounding – list of programs this year that have celebrated the depth and breadth of our diverse, rich community. (See below for more on YAA and YAA affiliate events discussing, celebrating, and commemorating DEI issues and efforts.) Thank you to the alumni volunteers and YAA staff who worked so hard to bring these events to life!

Additionally, there are YAA-produced programs I’d like to highlight:

  • Our second biennial conference “IMPACT 2: Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The IMPACT 2 recordings are on our website and also on the YAA YouTube channel playlist. If you haven’t viewed any of the recordings, I encourage you to add your view to the more than 26,000 views! Here are some highlights, including keynote remarks by Michael Curry ’78 MDiv, 27th presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church.
  • Image from the Yale Alumni Academy Black History Month seriesConversations with “Daughters of the Movement,” with daughters of Harry and Julie Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Bill Lynch, Al Sharpton, Malcolm X, and the granddaughter of Percy Sutton, moderated by Yale Associate Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies Crystal Feimster. This was a follow-up to the not-to-be-missed Yale Alumni Academy’s series honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and “African American Civil Rights: From Reconstruction to Right Now.”
  • The alumni leaders’ Assembly and Convocation 2020-21 sessions, with speakers and topics showcasing the talents, expertise, and diversity in our alumni community, including Arts in Conversation: Genevieve Gaignard ’14 MFA, a Conversation on Digital Accessibility for Social Media with Yale’s Michelle Morgan; and Authors in Conversation: Deesha Philyaw ’93 (“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies”) and Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (“The Undocumented Americans”).
  • With limitations on in-person gatherings, A Year of Service beyond the traditional Yale Day of Service, with sessions ranging from “Public Health Considerations in Indigenous Communities: Research, Advocacy, and Activism” to “Equity and Access in the Healthcare Industry,” “Increasing Education Access in Underserved Youth Communities,” and “First-Gen Students at Yale: Changemakers and Community Builders.” All videos can be viewed on our service showcase channel on Vimeo.

I hope you will join me in continuing to learn more, understand more, and acknowledge and discuss more often the matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion that will shape our university and our alumni association in the future.

Thank you for all that you do to make this a better Yale and a more inclusive alumni association. I hope this message finds you and yours safe and well, and I look forward to continuing this journey together with you in the days, months, and years to come.

Best regards,



Diversity in Tech: A Conversation with Gary Stewart, CEO and Co-Founder of The Nest     
Date: July 8, 2020        
Group: Accelerate Yale & Yale Black Alumni Association      

Women's Health in the Time of COVID-19
Date: July 15, 2020
Group: YaleWomen, Yale Alumni Health Network, 50WomenAtYale150  

Criminal Justice in Crisis: A Conversation with Yale Law School Alumni
Date: August 14, 2020
Group: Yale Latino Alumni Network  

Black in Nature: In Conversation with Black Environmental Leaders
Date: August 17, 2020
Group: Yale Blue Green

Africa: Opportunities to Invest in Innovation and Impact
Date: September 9, 2020
Group: Accelerate Yale

Bio and Health Innovation in China: R&D Focus Areas, Ecosystem Landscape, and Future Careers
Date: September 10, 2020
Group: Yale Bio Tech Alumni Group  

Freedom Should Be Free: A Discussion on Bail Reform and Mass Incarceration
Date: September 16, 2020
Group: YaleWomen Northern California

Even as We Breathe: In Conversation with a Native Storyteller
Date: September 30, 2020
Group: Native American Yale Alumni

From Suffrage to the Pandemic Homeschooling Crisis: Gendering Civic Engagement
Date: September 20, 2020
Group: YaleWomen of Houston

Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Date: October 1, 2020
Group: YaleWomen    

Hispanic Representation in U.S. Leadership: A Conversation with Marco Davis ’92 
Date: October 8, 2020
Group: Yale Latino Alumni Network  

YaleWomen-Houston: Women Funding Women and Its Impact on Gender Equity
Date: October 21, 2020
Group: YaleWomen    

Breast Cancer Biology, Technology, and Commercialization: A Bench to Bedside to Market Translational Story
Date: October 26, 2020
Group: Yale Alumni Health Network 

Understanding the Impact of the 19th Amendment: Two Scholars’ Perspectives
Date: October 27, 2020
Group: YaleWomen    

Commemorating ADA 30: In Conversation with Judy Heumann and Tony Coelho
Date: November 12, 2020
Group: Yale DiversAbility Alumni Group

An Ocean of Untapped Talent: Investing in Black and Latinx Women Founders
Date: December 1, 2020
Group: Accelerate Yale            

Meet the Profs! Series, Part 4 – To the Galaxy and Beyond! A Woman’s Journey in STEM Featuring Professor Meg Urry
Date: December 4, 2020
Group: Yale Science & Engineering Association         

Fighting for a Cure: The Entrepreneurial Journey of I AM ALS
Date: December 9, 2020
Group: Accelerate Yale            

Our Hiroshima Legacy: A Conversation with the Yale Latino Alumni Network and Leslie Sussan on her book, ‘Choosing Life: My Father’s Journey in Film from Hollywood to Hiroshima’      
Date: December 10, 2020
Group: Yale Latino Alumni Network  

Ethno-Racial Identity in Natural Areas Management
Date: December 16, 2020
Group: Yale Blue Green

What Lies Ahead – COVID Outlook 2021: Yale Alumni at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference
Date: January 11, 2021            
Group: Yale Alumni Health Network & Yale Bio Tech             

Yale Latino Alumni Network Presents: From Zero to $38 billion: A Silicon Valley Vision, and Career Development Attributes to Be Part of It
Date: January 14, 2021
Group: Yale Latino Alumni Network  

Blue Behind the Green: YaleWomen Leaders in Corporate Sustainability Share Their (Unexpected) Career Journeys
Date: January 21, 2021
Group: YaleWomen & Yale Blue Green           

YaleWomen Presents: The Art of the Pivot: Thriving Through Career Reinvention
Date: January 28, 2021
Group: YaleWomen    

A Conversation with Representative Teresa Leger Fernández ’82
Date: February 1, 2021
Group: Yale Latino Alumni Network  

Yale in Hollywood Black Filmmakers Series
Date: February 2, 2021
Group: Yale in Hollywood

The Road Less Traveled: Tales from Yale Women Who’ve Followed Different Paths
Date: March 9, 2021
Group: YaleWomen    

Building an Ethical Fashion Company: A Fireside Chat with Laura Meléndrez, Amor & Rosas
Date: March 10, 2021
Group: Accelerate Yale            

Disability and Civil Rights: The Mission Continues
Date: March 15, 2021
Group: Yale DiversAbility Alumni Group

Allyship in Practice
Date: April 5, 2021
Group: YaleWomen in Architecture   

Innovative Paths for Trailblazing Women in Science
Date: April 7, 2021
Group: YaleWomen    

Cuban Political History Then and Now: A Conversation with Professor Lillian Guerra
Date: April 22, 2021
Group: Yale Latino Alumni Network  

Working with Visionary Founders: An Exclusive Conversation with Dana Wagner, CLO of Impossible Foods
Date: April 27, 2021
Group: Accelerate Yale

Responding to the Movement: Conversations with Alumni Leaders on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Action
Date: April 28, 2021
Group: YaleWomen Houston & Yale Alumni Association of the Northwest & Yale Black Alumni Association & Mixed Company of Yale

Real Talk: Conversations on Race, Heritage, and Identity – Part I & II. Facilitated by Sheryl Carter ’82, The Carter Leadership Collaborative
Dates: July & August 2020, February 2021, April/May 2021
Group: Regional Yale Clubs

Fueling Female Founders: A Conversation with HearstLab, Priori, and Mental Canvas
Date: May 12, 2021
Group: Accelerate Yale            

Yale Asian Alumni Story Sharing: Being Asian During the Pandemic: Moderated discussion about alumni experiences with anti-Asian violence, discrimination, and hate crimes under COVID-19
Date: May 19, 2021
Group: Association of Asian American Yale Alumni (AAAYA) and YAA Board of Governors (Equity & Inclusion Committee)

Advancing DEI in STEM: A Conversation with YSEA Awardee and Author Eileen Pollack
Date: May 27, 2021
Group: Yale Science & Engineering Association         

An Evening with Chef Mam: Live multicultural cooking demonstration
Date: May 27, 2021
Group: Association of Asian American Yale Alumni (AAAYA)

Addiction Medicine 101: Prevention & Treatments
Date: June 7, 2021
Group: Yale Alumni Health Network 

Going Big by Going Small: Ending Health Disparities in Breast and Cervical Cancer
Date: June 10, 2021
Group: Yale Alumni Health Network 

Connecting the Continents, Connecting the Cultures
Date: June 17, 2021
Group: Accelerate Yale            

Small Talk: Inside Stories from a Stamp Designer
Date: June 17, 2021
Group: Yale Latino Alumni Network  

Doctors Coming of Age in a Pandemic: A Fireside Chat with Author Emma Goldberg '16
Date: June 17, 2021
Group: Yale Alumni Health Network 

James Baldwin’s Queer Revolution: A Lecture and Conversation with Kevin Quinn ’01
Date: June 23, 2021
Group: The Yale Black Alumni Association and Yale GALA: LGBTQ+ Alumni

A Prideful Conversation with Sara Gilbert
Date: June 24, 2021
Group: Yale GALA: LGBTQ+ Alumni

Transcending Conflict Through Song
Date: June 29, 2021 & June 30, 2021
Group: Yale International Alliance and the Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors

DiversAbility ‘Study Break’: Moderated discussion on disability, alumni experiences with disability, and the film documentary “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution”
Date: July 13, 2021
Group: Yale DiversAbility Alumni Group

YaleWomen-NorCal presents Pink Shackles: The Locking Down and Freeing Up of American Girls
Date: August 4, 2021
Group: YaleWoman-NorCal