ODI’s History and Impact


In 2019, Johnson’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) celebrated 20 years since its official founding in 1999 as the Office for Women and Minorities in Business. Johnson was one of the first top-tier business schools to create a diversity office and integrate diversity and inclusion programming into the student experience.


A timeline of diversity and inclusion at Johnson

1948

Black and white photo of the class of 1948
The Cornell MBA Class of 1948

Jane Stevens ’45, MBA ’48, is the first woman to earn a Cornell MBA

Jane Stevens ’45, MBA ’48, the only woman in the inaugural class of 41 students in the Graduate School of Business and Public Administration (Johnson’s predecessor), graduates as the first woman to earn a Cornell MBA. Stevens created many opportunities to blend her management expertise, her commitment to volunteerism, and her dedication to Cornell. She served as president of the Cornell Women’s Club of Rochester and on the Cornell Council, and was a founding member of the Johnson School Alumni Executive Council (now the Johnson Advisory Council).


1950

Black and white photo of Wilbur Parker
Wilbur Parker in 1949

Wilbur Parker ’50, MBA ’50, graduates as the first African American to earn a Cornell MBA

Throughout his career, Parker worked to make a difference by combating racial injustice and helping others. A World War II veteran, he was one of the U.S. Army Air Force’s famed Tuskegee Airmen. In 1954, he became the first black CPA in the state of New Jersey and went on from there to break new ground in his hometown of Newark as the city’s first African-American budget director in 1962. In 1970, he became the first African-American secretary of Newark’s Board of Education.


1980

The Black and Hispanic Graduate Business Students Association is launched

Initially, the Black and Hispanic Graduate Business Students Association focused on ensuring members’ academic and social well-being and providing networking for job seekers. In 1987, the club expanded its mission to actively work to increase recruitment of minority students.


1984

The Cornell Business Women’s Association is founded

By 1990, the Cornell Business Women’s Association is renamed the Women’s Management Council. The club’s focus is to increase the enrollment of women at Johnson, promote and support women in business, provide a structure for connecting with current and future women leaders, and support the professional and personal aspirations of women within the Johnson community.


1994

Johnson partners with the Toigo Foundation

Johnson joins the Robert Toigo Foundation’s MBA program for underrepresented minorities who plan to pursue a career in finance and who are enrolled in a two-year MBA program.


1999

Johnson launches the Office for Women and Minorities in Business (OWMB)

Johnson launches the Office for Women and Minorities in Business (OWMB), now known as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), with Angela Noble-Grange, MBA ’94, as founding director. Noble-Grange proposed the new office to increase programming designed to attract and retain diverse students, enrich the pipeline of women and underrepresented minority leaders into corporate America, and foster a greater understanding of what constitutes an inclusive environment among all Johnson students, faculty, and staff.


2000

JMB participants take a selfie in the atrium
Guests and MBA admissions representatives at Johnson Means Business in 2016

Johnson hosts JMB for the first time

Johnson hosts its first Johnson Means Business event, a fall recruiting weekend designed to bring prospective underrepresented minority and LGBTQ applicants to campus and connect them with current students and faculty.

The Black Graduate Student Association is created

Johnson’s Black Graduate Student Association is created under the leadership of Marmeline Petion-Midy ’95, MBA ’00, who was honored with the 2019 Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award.


2001

Two women talk and smile
The Women’s Power Lunch at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the President’s Council of Cornell Women

The Women’s Power Lunch series begins

The Women’s Power Lunch series begins, offering a forum for current students to network with each other, female faculty, and prominent alumnae. The lunches are held in partnership with Johnson’s Women’s Management Council and other professional graduate programs.


2003

Wilbur Parker in the atrium
Wilbur Parker in 2004

Presentation of the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award

The Black Graduate Business Association honors Wilbur Parker ’50, MBA ’50, Cornell’s first African American MBA Graduate, with the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award. The award, which was subsequently named in his honor, recognizes African-American alumni who demonstrate outstanding professional achievement and commitment to their community, and who embody Johnson’s shared values of mutual respect, collaboration, integrity and trust, pride and accountability, professionalism, and investment in self.

The Hispanic American Business Leaders Association is founded

The Hispanic American Business Leaders Association (HABLA) is founded to serve the needs of Hispanic American students born in the United States under the leadership of Marcella Ayala, MBA ’04. The club focuses on providing programs and resources for members, Cornell, and local Ithaca communities with programs and resources that help foster growth as individuals, professionals, and scholars, and share the Hispanic-American culture and experience by leading events, holding regular meetings, and curating information resources.

Out for Business is founded

The Out for Business (O4B) club for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) Cornell Johnson students, their partners, and active allies, is founded.

Johnson partners with Management Leadership for Tomorrow

Partnership begins with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a nonprofit focused on ensuring that high-achieving women and men from underrepresented communities reach their full leadership potential.


2004

Four people pose for a photo in the atrium
Left to right: Laura Wilkinson, MBA ’85, JD ’86; Wilbur Parker; Angela Noble-Grange, MBA ’94; and John Rodney Clark Sr. in 2004

John Rodney Clark Sr., MBA ’72, is honored with the Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award

John Rodney Clark Sr., MBA ’72, is honored with the Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award at the Black Graduate Business Association’s Professional Development Symposium on Oct. 15, 2004. Wilkinson and Noble-Grange were named awardees in 2006 and 2011, respectively.

Johnson partners with Forté

Partnership begins with the Forté, a consortium of major corporations, top business schools, and influential nonprofits, whose mission is to “launch women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, professional development, and a community of successful women.”

A large group of women with a sign that says Let's Power Up
Johnson women at the 2018 Forté conference

2005

The Women’s Management Council is founded

The Women’s Management Council is founded to increase the enrollment of women at Johnson, promote and support women in business, provide a structure for connecting with current and future women leaders, and support the professional and personal aspirations of women within the Johnson community.

OWMB becomes ODI

The Office for Women and Minorities in Business is renamed the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

A new director is named

Deniqua Crichlow is named director of ODI; Angela Noble-Grange joins Johnson’s faculty but remains actively involved with ODI.


2008

A new director is named

Irma Almirall-Padamsee is named director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.


2009

A new director is named

Nsombi Ricketts is named director of ODI (December).

A large group of students poses for a photo
The Johnson Consortium group’s annual family photo from 2017

Johnson joins The Consortium

Johnson joins the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, an elite nonprofit comprised of top business schools that promotes diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership through admissions, recruitment, networking, and career development activities. In the photo below, the Johnson Consortium group poses for its annual “family photo” in 2017.


2010

Johnson’s first annual Diversity Symposium

Johnson hosts its first annual Diversity Symposium, a student-led collaboration between the Black Graduate Business Association, the Latino Business Students Association (now the Latin American Business Association), and Cornell’s undergraduate Minority Business Students Association.

Ken Gurrola
Ken Gurrola, MBA ’95

The inaugural Distinguished Latino Alumni Award is presented

Ken Gurrola, MBA ’95, is honored with the inaugural Distinguished Latino Alumni Award, created to recognize alumni for exceptional achievements and significant contributions to their professions, community, and society as a whole, for their demonstrated commitment to Johnson, and for promoting the advancement of Latinos in the business world.

Three women in Cornell red pose for a photo
Left to right: Keba Rogers, associate director of ODI; Risa Mish ’85, JD ’88, professor of practice of management; and Nsombi Ricketts, director of ODI, at Johnson Women in Business 2013

Johnson hosts JWiB for the first time

Johnson holds its first annual Johnson Women in Business (JWiB) hosting weekend, an opportunity to welcome prospective woman students to campus so they can experience what life at Johnson is like through class visits, seminars, and opportunities to network with current students, faculty, and staff, and learn about the support they can expect from ODI and the entire Johnson community.

Lakshmi and a student talking
Lakshmi Bhojraj at the WIN Conference with a participant in 2016

The first annual MBA Women in Investing Conference takes place

Johnson holds its first annual MBA Women in Investing Conference, founded by Lakshmi Bhojraj ’95, MBA ’01, Breazzano Family Executive Director of the Parker Center for Investment Research.


2012

Johnson MBAs win The Consortium T.E.A.M. trophy

Johnson MBAs win The Consortium T.E.A.M. (together, everyone achieves more) trophy in recognition of their commitment to enhance diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership. In 2018 and 2019, Johnson residential MBA classes go on to win the Consortium trophy two years in a row.

A large group stands on a stage with their trophy
Johnson’s 2018 Consortium members pose with their T.E.A.M. trophy
Wilbur and Angela stand with the award
Wilbur Parker and Angela Noble-Grange at the Johnson Diversity Symposium in 2012

Angela Noble-Grange, ODI founder, is honored

Angela Noble-Grange, MBA ’94, founder of ODI, is honored with the Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award—presented to her by Wilbur Parker himself.


2013

The first annual Johnson Women in Tech conference takes place

Co-founders Melissa Carr Adeyanju and Sarah Markels Maynard, both MBA ’14, launch the first annual Johnson Women in Tech conference to engage, connect, and inspire women to pursue their passion in technology.


2014

Carlos Quintanilla
Carlos Quintanilla, MBA ’80

The Distinguished Latino Alumni Award is renamed

The Distinguished Latino Alumni Award is renamed the Carlos R. Quintanilla Distinguished Latino Alumni Award in honor of Carlos R. Quintanilla, MBA ’80, who was honored with the award himself in 2011, in recognition of his championing the school’s efforts in Latin America and his philanthropy in developing student scholarship opportunities.

A new director is named

Tyi McCray is named director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.


2015

Students receive ROMBA LGBTQ Fellowships

Johnson partners with Reaching Out MBA to award select students ROMBA LGBTQ Fellowships. Johnson students and ODI staff are shown at the 2019 Reaching Out MBA Conference.

A large group poses with a Cornell rainbow flag
Johnson students at the 2019 Reaching Out MBA Conference

2016

A new director is named

Jamie Joshua is named the director of ODI.


2017

Fiery Topics series launches

Fiery Topics discussion series launches to provide a forum for students, faculty, and staff to confront headlines of the day, think about the unconscious biases any community members might be facing, and have open conversations focused on ensuring that everyone is treated equally, respectfully, and fairly.

Sandwiches and Sage Advice launches

Sandwiches and Sage Advice is founded by Johnson woman faculty members as a way to connect informally with woman students.


2018

Johnson students found the Diversity Council

The Diversity Council is founded to bring student leaders of various affinity groups into important conversations about administrative decisions and initiatives.

Johnson Allies for Women student group launches

Johnson Allies for Women (JAWS) launches to engage male allies in productive, action-oriented conversations about gender equity through programming, social activities, and support for Women’s Management Council initiatives.

Women of Johnson Wednesdays begins

ODI launches Women of Johnson Wednesdays to celebrate Johnson’s progress in advancing female leadership in business, bring the Johnson community together to generate awareness about issues facing women in the workplace, and celebrate women in business through guest speakers, lunch and learns, workshops, and social events.


2019

ODI turns 20 years old

Students, alumni, and friends join faculty and staff to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, both at the Diversity Awards Dinner on campus on November 2 and at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City on December 9.

Programming is expanded

ODI expands its reach to include and engage with Johnson Cornell Tech MBA students in New York City. During 2018–2019, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted or interacted with 67 events.

Access Johnson is founded

Access Johnson, a business club for self-identified neurodiverse and disabled students and their advocates, is founded to increase support and awareness of disability and neurodiversity.


2020

Introducing the Johnson Inclusion Summit

The Johnson Diversity Symposium is renamed the Johnson Inclusion Summit with the intent of broadening the reach, impact and alignment across all Johnson programs, the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and Cornell University.