Associate Professor and PhD Program Director Jana Diesner has been named a fellow in the second cohort of the IAspire Leadership Academy, a leadership program aimed at helping STEM faculty from underrepresented backgrounds ascend to leadership roles at colleges and universities. The IAspire Leadership Academy is part of Aspire Alliance's Institutional Change Initiative, led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the University of Georgia.
The academy is one pillar of diversity and inclusion work underway through the Aspire Alliance (formally known as the National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty). The National Science Foundation-backed alliance is working across post-secondary institutions to develop more inclusive institutional cultures supporting the access and success of all undergraduate STEM students, especially those from underrepresented groups. The academy is targeted at mid-career individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups interested in serving in college or university leadership roles in STEM fields. The twenty-four participating faculty and administrators were selected through a competitive, blind holistic review of their applications.
"The second cohort of IAspire Leadership Academy fellows represent a broad diversity of STEM fields and leadership experiences across higher education sectors," said Howard Gobstein, director of the Aspire Alliance and executive vice president at the APLU. "More inclusive college and university cultures require diversity in faculty and university leadership, and this academy helps to support the next generation of university faculty and leaders."
Diesner holds a PhD in computation, organizations and society from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research in human-centered data science and responsible computing combines the benefits of machine learning, AI, network analysis and natural language processing with the consideration of social science theories, social contexts, and ethical concerns. At the University of Illinois, recent recognition for her research expertise includes a Linowes Fellowship from the Cline Center for Advanced Social Research, an R.C. Evans Data Analytics Fellowship from the Deloitte Foundation Center for Business Analytics, and an appointment as the CIO Scholar for Information Research & Technology.
"It has been my long-term passion to strengthen the representation and voice of women in tech, to broaden the participation in computing, and to promote STEM research to a wide audience," said Diesner. "Working towards these goals requires not only individual efforts, but also institutional and societal action and change. I am excited about this opportunity to improve my skills in creating innovative, empowering and effective work environments that serve a diverse student body, and to collaborate with a broad set of partners at Illinois and beyond to support traditionally underrepresented groups in pursuing careers in tech."