Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group

Ursinus College is committed to the celebration of and respect for human diversity.

Purpose

The purpose of the Ursinus College Alumni Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group is to gather voices and experiences of Ursinus College alumni with the purpose of advising and informing the office of advancement of unconscious bias related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, socioeconomic status, and other topics that hinder an inclusive environment for all alumni. This group will independently evaluate existing programs and services for alumni with the purposes of making recommendations to programming that address diversity, equity and inclusion, helping to remove barriers to engagement amongst a more representative population of alumni, and encouraging the elevation of alumni leaders into volunteer roles who were previously not represented.

Objectives

The Ursinus College Alumni Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group will:

  1. Work with professional staff to support alumni, enlighten the college, and build stronger engagement amongst alumni, amplifying experiences related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, socioeconomic status, and beyond.
  2. Provide a platform for alumni voices to be heard by conducting focus groups, and creating and reviewing a survey to help the advancement office understand how to expand the inclusive campus atmosphere to the alumni experience. 
  3. Analyze trends in higher education and create recommendations to Ursinus College’s alumni affinity programming, with the aim of creating safe spaces for alumni to connect around topics and issues of shared interest, and engage with one another and the College.
  4. Examine the four questions and the college curriculum’s role in alumni programming, drawing attention to their relevance for issues of equity and inclusion, and make recommendations for programs that allow communities to be uplifted, supported, and heard.
  5. Examine practices, policies, and trends to determine if barriers exist to alumni leaders serving the college after graduation.
  6. Collaborate with volunteers and Ursinus College staff to create educational curriculum and resources for the alumni community that guide alumni in furthering their advocacy efforts.

Read a statement from Ava Willis-Barksdale, Associate Vice President for Advancement here.

Meet the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group

Rebekah Adens ’01

Rebekah Adens ’01 is the founder and lead consultant for Community Matters Now,  a firm that partners with non-profit organizations to provide diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging training and strategic planning. Rebekah and her organization are currently providing support to school leaders in the LAUSD, New York Charter School center as well as smaller schools in the Philadelphia area. Rebekah says, “I am excited to pay it forward to the Ursinus community in the sense that Ursinus was a great example of fostering belonging for underrepresented groups through the Bridge, multicultural, and chapel programs, with Ms. Paulette Patton and the late Reverend Charles Rice. I was deeply changed by these programs, mentors, and peers, and I want to ensure that young Black and Latinx students receive the same life-altering experiences.”

Bryanna Bonner ’14 

Bre Bonner 14Bryanna Bonner ’14 currently serves as associate director of student affairs at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2). In this role, she works closely with students who identify as LGBTQA, first-generation college students, and students from low socio-economic backgrounds. While at Ursinus, Bryanna worked in the Unity House, assisted with the Crigler program, and worked with the Admissions team to help plan and organize the Multicultural Open House for prospective students. Bryanna is volunteering on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group because she believes this work is important and necessary, and she believes all students and alumni deserve to feel welcomed, safe, and accepted.

Allison DeGerlia ’20

Allison DeGerlia '20Allison DeGerlia ’20 recently graduated from Ursinus, majoring in media and   communications studies and with minors in peace and social justice and sociology. She is currently serving as an AmeriCorps member in the Campus Compact VISTA Program. At her host site, the Intercultural Center at Roger Williams University, she works to build capacity for programs that serve first generation and low-income students. Allison is volunteering on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working because she feels it is important, especially as a recent graduate, to continue to be an ally for students on campus and offer her perspective as both a recent graduate and as a professional working in the DEI space in higher education.

Janel Forsythe ’15

Janel Forsythe '15Janel Forsythe ’15 is a coordinator at UpShift Strategies where she helps nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations tell stories about their causes through traditional media and online communication. She previously served in communications roles at the Project On Government Oversight and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Janel is excited to be part of Ursinus College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group because she wants to help the campus community be a more welcoming and affirming place for everyone. Her time as Black female student at Ursinus College was critical to her personal and professional growth, and she looks forward to working with this group to ensure the same is true for current and future students.

Marcus Foster ’14

Marcus Foster '14Marcus Foster ’14 currently serves as Title IX coordinator at SUNY Geneseo. There, he oversees the university’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct and the campus’s prevention education. Foster holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from Ursinus and his juris doctorate from Tulane University Law School. During his time at Ursinus, he was employed by the Crigler program; Marcus believes that the program has had an impact on so many students and created a safe environment for BIPOC students. He hopes to continue to create meaningful spaces for BIPOC students and alumni through his role in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group.

Kevin Hankins ’02

Kevin Hankins '02Kevin Hankins ’02 currently serves as MTA membership manager/national MTA communications director for Kappa Alpha Psi® Fraternity, Inc. International Headquarters. His experience as an African American male on Ursinus’s campus has shaped his career as an educator and mentor. Kevin is serving on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group to help the students of today have the best experience they can by supporting this work, and is hoping to promote change in the Ursinus community.

Alex Harwood ’12

Alex Harwood '12Alex Harwood ’12 is finding his way, most recently as a freelance tutor and narrative structure instructor. Alex is eager to get into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a career field. Alex is eager to participate on the DEI Working Group to help create a stronger connection from the values instilled in him as an Ursinus student, as well as for the engagement opportunities for alumni.

 

Mark Hickey ’14

Mark Hickey '14Mark Hickey ’14 is a current Ph.D. student in curriculum studies at Oklahoma State University. Mark earned their master’s degree in teaching, learning, and leadership from Oklahoma State University in 2020. Prior to going back to graduate school full-time, Mark taught high school English in Little Rock, Ark., Philadelphia, Pa., and Brooklyn, N.Y. Mark’s academic and professional research interests are motivated by exploring what it means to be a queer subject in public educational spaces. They are especially concerned with research that benefits queer and gender-nonconforming teachers and students.

Sara Jacobson ’94

Sara Jacobson '94Sara Jacobson ’94 serves as executive director of training for the Public Defender Association of Pennsylvania (PDAP), where she trains public defenders across Pennsylvania in trial skills, criminal defense, and case theory, often in partnership with Dickinson Law School. Before joining the PDAP, Sara served as the director of trial advocacy and an associate professor at Temple Law School. At Temple, she also co-chaired the Dean’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion. Sara is a member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)-PA Diversity, Equality, & Inclusion Board Committee and has trained judges, prosecutors, public defenders, court staff, and law professors on transgender competency in the courtroom and in the classroom.

Heidi Jensen ’14

Heidi Jensen '14Heidi Jensen ’14 currently works at the American Law Institute in their membership & development department. Heidi also serves the college as a volunteer on the Bear2Bear Committee, and Ursinus College Alumni Council. Heidi shares, “I am invested in amplifying what this working group’s recommendations are, and will carry them with me into my other volunteer roles to create a safer, more diverse, and affirming alumni experience for everyone. I would like to help carry out any and all initiatives that make the Ursinus alumni experience more equitable and less harmful for marginalized communities.”

Mackenzie Kilgore ’17

Mackenzie Kilgore '17

Mackenzie Kilgore ’17 worked in education following her graduation from Ursinus and is planning on pursuing a graduate degree in disability studies. Mackenzie says, “I’m thrilled to be a part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group because I have a physical disability and representation is very important to me. I want to make sure current and future students have the same great experience that I did.”

 

Dr. Conrad Lindes ’70

Dr. Conrad Lindes '70Dr. Conrad Lindes ’70 is a retired family physician after 42 years of practice and after serving many years in leadership of his hospital medical staff and medical specialty. Dr. Lindes is also an acknowledged Quaker minister and, currently, executive director of a beginning non-profit dedicated to improving his local government. Dr. Lindes is volunteering on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group because, personally and professionally, he has always valued every person as a unique and precious child of God. He is looking forward to helping to expand this perspective at Ursinus.

Heather Potts ’02

Heather Potts '02Heather Potts ’02 currently serves as associate vice president for development at Villanova University. In her role at Villanova, Heather has been involved with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts within her department and with alumni of Villanova. Having worked in higher education for nearly 20 years, Heather is seeking the opportunity to become more involved with the DEI efforts at Ursinus because she believes DEI best practices and initiatives are essential in higher education and throughout society. Heather looks forward to working with fellow alumni to examine current practices at Ursinus and collaborate on new strategies.

Ethel Richards ’05

Ethel Richards '05Ethel Richards ’05, MBA, MPH, CPH, LSSGB, PMP(c) currently serves as an organizational change management consultant for a global health care IT company. Ethel is proud member of Toastmasters International, and is also leading a racial and ethnically diverse small group at her church titled “Racial Reconciliation: Be the Bridge” to bring healing and a more holistic perspective and worldview in restorative and social justice. Ethel is chairwoman of the Girard College Alumni Association Diversity and Racial Reconciliation Steering and Advisory Committees, and is also serving as a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group at Ursinus to re-engage in a positive way, help those that did not have a positive experience to heal, and to bring better perspective for current students and alumni.

Rickie Lee Sands ’68

Rickie Lee Sands '68Rickie Lee Sands ’68 retired from FEMA after 18 years and now spends much of her time volunteering. Rickie is active at the Manna on Main Lansdale food bank, serving as the liaison for her VFW post, and teaching/running ranges as part of the BSA Cradle of Liberty Council shooting sports committee. Rickie is an an NRA training counselor and a USA Archery Level 2 coach. Rickie was recently involved in a group at her church called “Creation Stewards” with the goal of an improved, inclusive society. Since her retirement, Rickie is interested in supporting the LGBTQIA community and is hoping that engaging with the DEI Working Group will open the doors for the free exchange of ideas on inclusivity.

Courtney Stewart ’14

Courtney Stewart '14Courtney Stewart ’14 is chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group and is currently working in development and fundraising in the nonprofit sector in Philadelphia as well as coaches youth basketball and lacrosse. Courtney has been a member of the Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Council and now Ursinus College Alumni Council for several years. During her time at UC, she often felt like the only person of color on the lacrosse field and in her courses. Courtney is volunteering on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working group because she would like to help change the dialogue and create a more inclusive and diverse active alumni base.

Carmelina (Staino) Tyler ’09

Carmelina (Staino) Tyler '09Carmelina (Staino) Tyler ’09 is a pharmacist living in Huntsville, AL, who works remotely for a pharmaceutical company. The recent national attention on racial injustice has helped Carmelina to acknowledge her “own ignorance and detrimental acceptance of the status quo.” Carmelina says, “I want to listen to and learn from people who are different from me and be a better advocate for equity and equality.”