The 2019 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Champions:
Ms. Karen Podsiadly
Ms. Karen Podsiadly, director of Community Development, fosters diversity in a way that is inclusive of all. Her engaging personality and ability to challenge people to critically reflect on their own beliefs and unlock their potential have established her as a sounding board and support system.
Within the Office of Community Development, Ms. Podsiadly provides access to leadership positions to students that are typically overlooked by other offices. She leads with a mentality that professional staff have the responsibility to assist in the growth of all students, not just the ones who interview well or have a good resume. Rather if a student expresses a passion for the work and desire to grow, they are given the chance to become part of the team. As a result, there are numerous stories of students who were able to persist and graduate because of the connection to the office.
Ms. Podsiadly creates inclusive spaces outside her office as well. In the classroom, she engages and challenges students thought process, and embraces the importance of education using it as a catalyst to be heard. Her approach is to engage in genuine conversations about diversity and encourage people to examine personal biases and systemic barriers to inclusion. One student who was in her Leadership and Society course said, “She challenged our views and biases and provided a space where everyone felt comfortable sharing their opinions.”
Ms. Podsiadly led the establishment of “Deliberative Dialogs” on campus as a way of having meaningful conversations in which a variety of political viewpoints are explored. She also facilitated the College’s inaugural “Leading with Impact” training for faculty and staff. She has been a dynamic leader with student organizations and as a mentor for the McNair Program.
Ms. Podsiadly is a source of strength and support for underrepresented students, a constant challenger to the status quo, a beacon of access and advisor, and empowering leader.
Dr. Algernon Kelley
Dr. Algernon Kelley is an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as an Academic Skills Specialist for the Ronald C. McNair and Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program.
In an effort to increase the retention rates of students of color and students with learning disabilities, Dr. Kelley has spent countless hours advising, strategizing, and tutoring students, particularly in the hard sciences. Even before he became the Academic Specialist for CSTEP/McNair he was working with students from across campus who sought him out, not only for his expertise in the sciences, but for his approachability, understanding, and willingness to listen carefully and assess the unique needs of each individual student. Dr. Kelley knows what the students are feeling. Before earning his doctorate in chemistry ― a field in which only 5% are African American ― he came from a disadvantaged background and struggled with his own learning disability.
As a citizen of the Brockport community he has served as a speaker and trainer for several events, including the “Men of Color: Journey into Manhood” conference, which sought to educate you men of color from both the campus and the community. Dr. Kelley has also served off-campus as a judge for student research competitions and as an instructor for a local science night at an elementary school. He is also the Founder and President of Creative Learning and Study Skills Solutions, Inc. and educational consultant firm in Rochester, NY, where he offers academic and test coaching, personalized student and academic plans, workshops on improving metacognition-based learning techniques, and executive functioning skills. His business specializes in working with individuals with learning or physical disabilities, non-traditional students, professionals or graduate students, and first-generation college students.
Dr. Kelley works tirelessly to help students from all walks of life become better learners, believe in themselves, and ultimately graduate and become positive difference makers in the world.
Ms. Lisa Jones
Ms. Lisa Jones, academic coordinator in the Arthur O. Eve Opportunity for Higher Education Program, has made it her goal to advocate for students from underrepresented groups in a personal, emotional, and academic manner.
Ms. Jones has made great strides to assist Brockport with advancing the goals of our inclusive mission and purpose. In her role as the EOP Academic Coordinator, she ensures that each student is afforded an equal opportunity to have their learning needs met through personalized tutor assignments and other academic supports. She also works in conjunction with the Academic Success Center to further enhance opportunities for EOP students. She has also been instrumental in developing a working Nursing Support Group for nursing intent students in the EOP Program. Through her efforts and ever increasing collaboration across the campus, she has enhanced opportunities for the diverse students that EOP serves. She has also assisted with making the EOP program and services known to academic departments to enhance communication on behalf of students.
Ms. Jones is routinely developing ideas to assist EOP students feel more welcome within the program, at the College, and in the community. She is able to address needs and approach them from a personalized, pragmatic standpoint to ensure that we meet the unique needs of each student. Her unwavering support of the diverse student population of the EOP program attributes to the success of our students.
Ms. Jones has served on various committees at the College, including the “Goal 4” Committee for the College’s Strategic Plan. Additionally, she works with the McNair Program, has helped facilitate Community Conversations, has led a women’s group connecting young women to the Mayor of Rochester, advocated for the EOP program leading students to Albany on a legislative bus trip.
Ms. Jones exemplifies intersectionality in a way that is compelling, serving as a model counselor to our students of color and students in general.
Ms. Kristi Lane
Ms. Kristi Lane is a graduate student, who graduates in 2019 with a Master of Science in Education, Physical Education, with a concentration in adapted physical education.
As a graduate assistant for Camp Abilities, Ms. Lane involved in numerous service-related activities. She interacts with a variety of constituents in order to facilitate the smooth operation of the camp. In addition, she facilitates Mini-Camp Abilities ― a one-day camp at The College at Brockport every semester. Ms. Lane serves as a Fellow for the Lavelle Fund for the Blind, Inc., where she participates in training of teachers to work effectively with students with visual impairments in their classes as well as in sports-related activities. She also has helped collect and analyze data to assist in faculty research. In addition, she was instrumental in developing a video series that is used by teachers to include students with visual impairments in physical education. Many of her activities have culminated in scholarly papers as well as conference presentations.
Ms. Lane has immersed herself into campus life. She is the Lead Wellness Coordinator at Summer LEAP, Head Elementary Special Olympics Track and Field Coach, and Activity and Aquatics Director for the Swim and Gym Program. Outside the classroom, she coordinates the Junior Eagles Extension Gymnastics Program for children with disabilities and regularly volunteers for the Rochester Rookies, a wheelchair track and field team.
Ms. Lane spends her life ensuring access to physical activity, sports, and the community for many individuals with disabilities on a day-to-day basis. She has gained a wealth of experience teaching, running programs, helping with research, presenting at conferences, and writing grants.