By Joe Garvey

Brett Cook-Snell, a STEM education and professional studies lecturer in the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies, was named the 2022 John R. Broderick Diversity Champion of Champions. He received the honor at Old Dominion University's annual Diversity Champion Awards Luncheon, which was held April 20 in the Big Blue Room at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Cook-Snell was one of 17 Diversity Champions honored at the event, which was hosted by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. More than 70 nominations, a record, were submitted for the recognition, which is designed to honor and celebrate individuals who encourage and advance the principles of equity and diversity to promote the positive impact diversity has on the University community.

"Today we are recognizing people who are distinguished as diversity giants - they are instrumental in centering the experiences of those most impacted, choosing curiosity over judgment and modeling authenticity and vulnerability," said Veleka Gatling, interim assistant vice president of equity and diversity in the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. "They hold key leadership positions in programs all over campus and in their communities. They serve as mentors, innovators, problem-solvers, thought leaders and true champions for diversity. These are the types of legacies that not only enrich our campus community but have broad impact that will span generations."

Cook-Snell earned his Ph.D. in instructional design and technology from ODU in 2015 and joined the faculty at the Darden College the same year.

Cook-Snell "promotes diversity, multicultural awareness, racial justice and human rights through education and leadership," said September Sanderlin, vice president for human resources. "With research interests in antiracist instructional design and technology, our Diversity Champion of Champions is forever striving to increase his own capacity, and thus moving us closer to an intentionally equitable campus."

Among Cook-Snell's contributions:

  • Since 2010, Cook-Snell has served as a Safe Space ally, a program designed to reduce homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism in the ODU community, and has been invited as a speaker to discuss issues relating to the LGBTQIA+ community by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.
  • As a member of the Darden College's Anti-Racist Leadership Learning Initiative for Equity and Deconstructing Racism & Oppression (TeamALLIED), Cook-Snell has been a champion of diversity, inclusion and equity through service as chair on the search sub-committee developing college guidelines for faculty and staff positions.
  • He founded a scholarship program designed for marginalized, underrepresented and underserved populations.
  • His efforts to advance equity and inclusion are reflected in a blog that provides resources on a plethora of topics related to antiracism and social justice.
  • Cook-Snell is working on several publications on revolutionary antiracist design strategies with Diversity Champion Kala Burrell-Craft and is pursuing an additional Master of Arts in Humanities to strengthen his knowledge about critical race theory, queer studies, African studies and other areas of social justice action and advocacy work.

Other 2022 Diversity Champions included:

  • Jenna Ashley, instructional technology specialist in the Center for Learning and Teaching.
  • Sierrah Chavis, educator and graduate of the Darden College.
  • Natalie Edirmanasinghe, assistant professor in counseling and human services.
  • J. Christopher Fleming, assistant vice president for enrollment and executive director of admissions.
  • Andrew Garber, coordinator for LGBTQIA+ programs and services.
  • Giovanna Genard, assistant vice president for public relations in University Communications.
  • Tyler Miller-Gordon, senior research associate in Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment.
  • Gabriela Igloria, a junior creative writing major in the College of Arts and Letters.
  • Mariah Johnson, a graduate student studying lifespan and digital communication.
  • Mason Kennedy, an undergraduate studying graphic design.
  • Adreishka Luciano, a graduate student studying criminal justice.
  • Tracie Ortiz, instructional designer in the Center for Learning and Teaching.
  • Jay O'Toole, assistant professor in the Strome College of Business.
  • Chanel Rodriguez, a graduate student studying speech language pathology.
  • Chrystal Trapani, instructional technology specialist in the Center for Learning and Teaching.
  • Kala Burrell-Craft, director for teacher residencies in the Darden College.

The Diversity Champion Award has been presented at ODU since the 1990s and in 2014 was renamed in honor of former President Broderick, one of its earliest recipients.

You can watch a video of the Diversity Champions Awards at this link.

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