When Cherizza Lundy (MPM ‘22) applied to be a McCourt Leadership Fellow, she knew she would acquire skills applicable to her job at Google. But, she did not expect that it would be a catalyst for building an organization-wide effort to improve racial equity at the company.
In the events surrounding George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police, many people called for urgent action to address systemic racism across the country––including in the workplace. At Google, employees presented ideas and areas for improvement to the CEO and created a diversity taskforce to design and implement the ideas.
Lundy, a part-time student in the Master of Policy Management program and chief of staff for Google’s Chief Diversity Officer, was tapped to co-lead the taskforce working with employees from various departments with different lived experiences, expertise, and backgrounds.
At the time, she was also in the middle of her Leadership Fellow training at McCourt, a program designed to hone leadership skills focused on equity-centered policy work and community building while mentoring incoming students during new student orientation.
Catalyst for Action
Despite the taskforce’s eagerness to institute change, Lundy realized the group was stuck in the ideation phase and not in alignment with each other. To add to the complexities of advancing organization-wide changes, the taskforce committed to publicly sharing an update within 100 days.
This challenge was top of mind for Lundy when she logged into her Leadership Fellow training session focused on consensus building, group dynamics, and negotiation. Lundy took robust notes, and after class, she connected with the instructor, Rachel Milner Gillers.
Milner Gillers, adjunct professor and director of Georgetown’s Conflict Transformation Lab (which originated at the McCourt School) suggested a phone call. After about an hour-long conversation, Milner Gillers shared several pieces of advice, including a few suggestions on ways to divide up the work, build consensus, clearly define the taskforce’s mission, team roles, and expectations.