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The School of Medicine Office of Graduate Education has launched the inaugural Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Leadership Fellows Program, under the leadership of Rebekah Layton, PhD, Director of Professional Development Programs.

The UNC School of Medicine Office of Graduate Education has announced the first cohort of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Leadership Fellows program, whose mission is to foster the development of emerging leaders in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. The JEDI Leadership Fellows Program was founded amidst the current climate of heightened awareness, which has highlighted the importance of training future leaders to develop inclusive and supportive communities. Fellows design and implement collaborative projects to create long-term sustainable change on campus and beyond. Each cohort will split into teams to develop collaborative projects and initiatives based on the selected cohort’s interests and proposed project ideas. Fellowship training program topics include broadly applicable skills in communication, leadership, and policy.

JEDI Leadership Fellows are competitively selected, motivated PhD candidates and postdocs looking to develop into Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) leaders. Selected candidates have demonstrated commitment to broaden impacts across, but not limited to, historically marginalized groups or other marginalized identities. Selected candidates comprise the inaugural JEDI Leadership Fellows Program cohort and begin the establishment of a JEDI Leadership Fellows alumni community to accelerate change across campus, locally, and nationally through an empowered network of leaders.

Program planning committee members, and co-founders of the JEDI Leadership Fellows, include senior graduate students Juanita Limas, Chad Lloyd, Anandita Pal, and Sarah Yannarrell. Cohort members span a range of biomedical scientific research career areas and stages, from first-year Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program graduate students, to senior graduate students, to experienced postdoctoral fellows. The program supports leadership development of life scientists across the university, with our current cohort spanning the UNC School of Medicine (Pharmacology, Microbiology & Immunology, Biomedical Engineering), UNC School of Dentistry (Oral Craniofacial Health), UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health (Nutritional Chemistry), and the UNC College of Arts & Sciences (Biology, Marine Sciences).

“I enjoy leadership activities and it was important for me to be a part of a group of like-minded individuals who also wanted to be leaders” shared Juanita Limas, one of the group’s co-founders and planning committee members. She continued, “Forming the JEDI cohort invigorates me because it allows me to exchange ideas and collaborate with other students who care just as much about JEDI issues as I do. Furthermore, they have the same “ganas” and passion that I do to start real change. And I Iove that!”

The current program cohort boasts ten selected JEDI Leadership Fellows to shepherd the new program into its first year. They are: Oscar Arroyo, Mark Geisler, CL Graves, Juanita Limas, Chad Lloyd, Anandita Pal, Anna Parker, Rachel Walmer, Danielle Williams, and Sarah Yannarrell.

“We are excited to see their proposed projects come to life,” said Rebekah Layton, PhD, director of professional Programs at the Office of Graduate Education. “The aims of these team-based, collaborative projects are to develop innovative initiatives to impact leadership or policy in a sustainable way with the potential for long-term impact in creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive campus community.”

JEDI Leadership Fellow Anna Parker said, “I’m excited to begin working with this motivated, talented group of trainees. Together, we will put in place policies and create resources to help us all work toward our goal of a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive university.”

Learn more about our JEDI Leadership Fellows here.

Contact Information: For more information, contact Rebekah Layton, Director of Professional Development Programs, SOM Office of Graduate Education.