A Home for All

The Alumni Association’s DEIB efforts merit a 2024 Insight Into Diversity Alumni Association Inclusive Excellence Award. 

logo for Alumni Association Inclusive Excellence Award


As president of the Penn State African American Alumni Organization of Washington, D.C., Jeremy O’Mard ’13 Sci Behrend has seen firsthand the Alumni Association’s efforts to support underrepresented communities. So when he heard that Insight Into Diversity magazine was recognizing worthy alumni associations with a 2024 Inclusive Excellence Award, he encouraged his alma mater’s alumni association to apply—and was not all that surprised when it won.

“I believe the Penn State Alumni Association has made significant progress in creating a diverse and inclusive environment for students, alumni, and friends of Penn State,” O’Mard says. The Alumni Association is one of 32 organizations nationally to achieve the honor.

Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of Insight Into Diversity, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education, says she looked for associations that connect their diverse alumni to their institutions through targeted programming, and Penn State’s fit the bill: “They have several outreach programs for diverse alumni that we liked.”

Among those unique programs are the AAAO Alumni Interest Groups, like the one O’Mard heads up in D.C., which exist to build community among Black alumni and offer opportunities for alumni to support students of color. “The AAAOs have done an amazing job in providing a space for our membership base and have helped to promote and maintain the fellowships, welfare, and friendships of African American alumni,” says O’Mard. More AIGs exist to maintain similar networks of support for women, military members, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other diverse groups of Penn State alumni.

Other association efforts include the biennial Black Alumni Reunion; the FastStart mentorship program for first-year students from underrepresented populations; and the People of Penn State podcast’s many episodes focused on DEIB-related topics and experiences. Plus, Alumni Association staff are on-site at affinity graduation ceremonies to welcome new graduates of diverse backgrounds with their one-year gratis membership.

“DEIB is incorporated into much of the work we do,” says Marc Tuffy, associate director of affinity engagement and volunteer engagement for the Alumni Association. “This award means that we are moving in the right direction and that we are motivated to continue to do this work in a meaningful and intentional way.”