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.”

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.

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.