Stanford honors Sedona Murphy, Peter Poullos, and Residential and Dining Enterprises with 2022 President’s Awards for Excellence Through Diversity
Stanford honored PhD candidate Sedona Murphy, clinical associate professor of radiology Peter Poullos, and Residential & Dining Enterprises with the 2022 President’s Awards for Excellence Through Diversity for their exceptional contributions to enhancing and supporting diversity within the university community.
Stanford University honored PhD candidate Sedona Murphy, clinical associate professor of radiology Peter Poullos, and Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) with 2022 President’s Awards for Excellence Through Diversity at a ceremony on Tuesday.
Stanford established the awards in 2009 to honor people and programs that have made exceptional contributions to enhancing and supporting diversity within the university community. Three awards may be conferred each year: one to a campus unit, one to a faculty or staff member, and one to a student or student organization.
The citations honoring Murphy, Poullos, and R&DE are posted on the website of the Office of Faculty Development, Diversity and Engagement.
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne presented the recipients with the awards, with Shirley Everett, senior associate vice provost for R&DE and senior advisor to the provost on equity and inclusion, receiving the award on behalf of R&DE.
Students Emma Kaeli, a graduate student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Riasoya Jodah, a graduate student in the School of Medicine, also received honorable mentions for their work.
Murphy, a fifth-year genetics PhD candidate, was honored “for her leadership in amplifying, improving, and integrating the experiences of students from under-represented backgrounds in the Genetics Department and in the School of Medicine as a whole,” and “for supporting the needs of students from under-represented backgrounds in her role as president of BioAIMS; and for founding the biosciences-wide DEI Group meetups to unite student groups and advocate for compensation for students involved in DEI work.”
The citation also commended Sedona “for co-founding The Genetics Advocacy Committee, which strives to address ethically contentious aspects of genetics research and create a more inclusive and supportive department culture, including through the ADVANCE Summer Institute for new students,” and “for serving as an interviewer on the genetics department admissions committee, during which time Stanford Genetics admitted the most diverse cohorts in the department’s history.”
“This work has been such a large and important part of my PhD experience, and I’ve often felt that it comes at somewhat of a professional cost, as it has taken time away from my research,” Murphy said. “Receiving this award was a very nice reminder that what I’m doing is important and valuable. I am so grateful for all of my peers who I learn from daily and who also tirelessly fight for change. Saying it is a group effort is an understatement.”
Murphy said she wouldn’t be pursuing a PhD if it weren’t for people in her life who gave her opportunities and helped her succeed.
“The values that guide my work are rooted in the knowledge that opportunities are not distributed equally and that we are missing a whole population of scientists because they never had that door opened for them,” she said. “I believe that it is imperative to increase representation and support for historically marginalized groups because diversity of ideas only enriches scientific discovery. It’s also simply the right thing to do.”
Poullos, a clinical associate professor of radiology, gastroenterology, and hepatology, was honored for “advocating for greater visibility of disability and improved accessibility, resources, and services as founder and leader of the Stanford Medicine Alliance for Disability Inclusion and Equity (SMADIE) and as board member of the Stanford Disability Initiative,” according to his citation.
Poullos was also commended “for ensuring that disability is incorporated into diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Stanford Medicine,” including advocating for its inclusion in the Stanford Medicine Diversity Cabinet, and “for fostering community for students, staff, and faculty with disabilities, including by creating the Disability in Medicine Mutual Mentorship Program and by partnering with Black affinity groups to form the intersectional discussion group Racism & Disability in Medicine.”
SMADIE’s core mission is “dismantling the system of ableism that prevents people from achieving their true potential,” Poullos said. “We are guided by narratives of those most impacted, which most frequently are people in lower positions of power such as students, residents, and staff, especially those with multiple marginalized identities.”
Poullos was also commended “for elevating and expanding the discourse around disability and medicine by conducting trainings, promoting assistive technology, and creating and hosting events, including the Annual Conference on Disability in Healthcare and Medicine.”
In 2003, Poullos sustained a cervical spinal cord injury in a bike accident. His experience taught him that he had much more to learn about disability, including the medical and social models of disability, as well as about ableism as a system of oppression.
Hearing other’s stories of discrimination was not only shocking but also “extremely motivating,” Poullos said. Collecting data about disability at Stanford Medicine provided SMADIE with a roadmap and helped to expand its work to include the Disabilities Patient Family Advisory Council to address health equity for patients with disabilities.
Residential and Dining Enterprises
R&DE is recognized for their dedicated work in developing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging goals and action plans in every division, identifying DEIB leaders, and creating learning opportunities for staff, especially those from underrepresented groups to learn, grow, and thrive. Examples include the Women’s Leadership Development Program and Stepping Stones to Success.
“I strongly believe that education, training, and staff development are the catalyst to creating an environment that allows all staff to learn, grow, and value and embrace staff from diverse cultures and backgrounds,” Everett said.
R&DE was also honored “for creating globally inspired menus that reflect the diverse cultures and identities within the Stanford community, and for tackling systemic inequities in the food system, including by leveraging institutional purchasing power to help reverse the disappearance of Black farms,” according to the citation.
Under Everett’s leadership, R&DE has actively integrated DEIB into its organizational culture through its core values, inclusive hiring practices, engaging learning programs, and regular celebrations of staff diversity.
Everett said she is “deeply honored” that R&DE was selected for the award and thanked her staff. “Our DEIB work would not be possible without their active engagement at all levels throughout R&DE, and I am deeply appreciative of their dedication and hard work toward realizing our goals,” she said.
Everett believes that it is important for leaders to set the tone by showing genuine support for all cultures, communities, and affinity groups within their organizations.
“My hope is that DEIB becomes the foundation on which we build an equitable ecosystem, one in which all staff can bring their whole, authentic selves to work and feel like they belong, where race will no longer be a factor in the access of merit or the distribution of opportunity so that everyone can reach their full potential and truly thrive,” Everett said. “Stanford has always prioritized excellence in education and innovation; it is my goal to assist the university in prioritizing this same level of excellence for advancing DEIB for the Stanford community.”