The National Diversity Council has named Cabrini University Chief Diversity Officer, José Rodriguez, a winner of its 2020 Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Leadership Awards. The awards are issued statewide each year to public and private sector leaders who foster understanding and awareness of the LGBTQ+ community through demonstrable LGBTQ+ advocacy efforts. Rodriguez will be honored Wednesday, Aug. 19 at the Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Virtual Unity Summit, where he will also serve as a moderator.
“The Cabrini community is stronger when all of our students, faculty, and staff feel comfortable as their true selves and José’s work has been essential to our ongoing mission to make this a reality,” said Cabrini President Donald B. Taylor, PhD. “In his short time at Cabrini, he has introduced diversity education programs for students, faculty, and staff that have sparked honest discussions about the issues facing our LGBTQ+ community and the actions we must take to remedy them.”
Rodriguez was promoted to Chief Diversity Officer before the Fall 2019 semester and has since conducted three Safe Zone trainings that included education in microaggression awareness and implicit bias, as well as the spectrum of sexuality and corresponding terminology.
“It is a huge honor to be have my work recognized by the National Diversity Council in this way,” Rodriguez said. “The work is incredibly rewarding, especially as faculty and students will come to tell me how they gained a new perspective on others and themselves.”
Shantelle Jenkins, EdD, an instructor of Educational Policy and Leadership, said she has greatly valued Rodriguez’s trainings and has become increasingly connected with the Cabrini community and its students through his leadership since she joined the faculty in 2018. A member of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Diversity Council herself, Jenkins nominated Rodriguez for the Leadership Award.
“José has been extremely inclusive and welcoming, and he wanted to make sure I was exposed to all of what Cabrini had to offer,” Jenkins said. “Through José, I have been able to work with the Inclusivity Council and Cabrini Votes, as well as the Black Student Union and Wolfington Center.”
While he makes plans for ongoing trainings and information sessions for Cabrini students, faculty and staff, Rodriguez maintains that in order to become an LGBTQ+ ally one must continually examine their own privileges and challenge their own families and social circles to become as welcoming as possible.
“I’m often reminded of the true importance of not just listening to a lecture, but taking it in and doing something with it,” Rodriguez said. “Too often in trainings, mandatory or not, people are there to say they went through it, and then they go back to their normal life. We can’t continue to do that.”
Rodriguez insists that however long the road to equality may seem, every person can use his or her voice to expose injustices.
“At times it’s going to be hard,” he said. “Are we okay with where society and our nation is? If you say no, then you can do something about it.”
For more information about the Pennsylvania Virtual LGBTQ+ Unity Summit, visit padiversitycouncil.org/events/2020-lgbtq-unity-summit. The event will be held Wednesday, Aug. 19, 8am–noon.