July 6, 2023

Dear GWSB Community,

I hope you are enjoying a happy and healthy summer.

You are receiving this month's Dean’s Diversity Council Update from me rather than Şenay Ağca, Ph.D., who will return as Chief Diversity Officer on January 1, after her sabbatical that started July 1, 2023. Upon request from Dean Mehrotra, I'll serve as the Interim CDO through the remainder of 2023.

Please join me in wishing Professor Ağca a productive sabbatical and thank her for her outstanding leadership in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion for the past 18 months. Much progress was made during this time, and going forward together we can contribute, each in our own way, to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.

The recent Supreme Court decisions may come with a level of uncertainty and disappointment, not only for our student population and students of color, but for many of us who care deeply about diversity and inclusiveness in education. Please find reactions from our GW community leaders in this article by GW Today which included the statement from GW President Granberg, and past President Wrighton as well as a statement from Dean Anuj Mehrotra, Ph.D.

Additionally, GW Today also shared an interview featuring Dwayne Kwaysee Wright, J.D., Ph.D. assistant professor for higher education administration and director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD). In it, he discusses the history of affirmative action and how the Supreme Court’s latest decision might affect minority enrollment in higher education. An interview with the dean of GW Law, Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew, J.D., Ph.D., provides a helpful analysis of the decision from a legal perspective. I hope you will find all of this content useful.

During LGBTQ Pride Month, featured content included an article with Professor Wright’s overview of enacted and proposed laws and rhetoric targeting the LGBTQ community. I also recommend reading about Yijia Gu (GWSB ‘24), a student in the information systems technology graduate program at GW Business, whose nonprofit organization YIMU is helping give voice to Chinese and Asian women members of the LGBTQ community.  
July is Disability Pride Month
Disability Pride Month flag. Contains five distinct colors against a black backdrop.
Source: Ann Magill, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Disability Pride Month is celebrated each July in recognition of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990. The National Archives calls the ADA " the world's first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities."

I have come to appreciate the intersectionality of each identity, the uniqueness of every individual person, and hope you will join me in providing everyone with the opportunity to be proud of who they are, as they are. Let's remain committed to advancing our work together to ensure that disability does not limit equity. Should you have questions or ideas as to how we can be more inclusive of all abilities in our community please reach out to me. I welcome a conversation on how we can advance our shared values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Some ways to learn more or get involved:

WeThe15 is an international organization that advocates for people with disabilities who make up 15% of the world's population. Their goal is, "To end discrimination and transform the lives of the world's 1.2 billion persons with disabilities so they can be visible and active members of an inclusive society." Here is a very brief campaign video for #WeThe15 portraying a contemporary perspective on disability.

12 Ways to Celebrate Diversity Pride Month

Diversity Pride Month: Celebrating Inclusivity

Visit a Bitty & Beau's Coffee Shop - they "create a path for people with disabilities to become more valued, accepted, and included in every community." The shop at 3207 M St. in Georgetown is temporarily closed, so for us in the D.C. area, the closest location is 124 Dock Street in Annapolis. And, if you are visiting any of these other 21 cities, please drop in. I promise you will have a great beverage and baked goods and leave with a smile on your face!

For more business perspective, feel free to revisit an episode from the former GWSB Proud Podcast series in which Dean Liesl Riddle in her prior role as associate dean for graduate programs at GWSB, spoke with Megan Lawrence, senior accessibility evangelist at Microsoft. Dean Riddle also interviewed Jenny Lay-Flurrie, chief accessibility officer at Microsoft, for a George Talks Business session on March 3, 2021. There was also an inspiring GW Today article from last year featuring John Samuel, M.B.A. ’14, founder of Ablr, which helps businesses and other entities become more inclusive and accessible.

Resources at GW:

GW Disability Support Services - Provides guidance for students, staff, and faculty about accommodations for students with disabilities.

Per GW's Disability Policy, to request information about reasonable accommodations or the protections against discrimination on the basis of disability, employees and other professional members of the university community should contact the Office of Equal Employment/Affirmative Action and Employee Relations at (202) 994-9656 or eeo@gwu.edu.

Finally, I’m sure that many of us have gained an understanding and empathy by knowing people with disabilities. I for one am thankful to my brother-in-law, Charlie, for opening my eyes to Down's Syndrome and disability more broadly. Happy Disability Pride Month!
Leo, written in cursive as the first name of Professor Leo Moersen.
Leo Moersen, JD, CPA (He/Him)
Interim Chief Diversity Officer
Associate Professor of Accountancy and Business Law
School of Business
George Washington University
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2201 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052 
Phone: (202) 994-1000
The George Washington University
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