Building Allyship Series

Initiated by the GPSA Diversity and International Students Committee, the Building Allyship Series is a collaboration of the Graduate and Professional Student Diversity Council and the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement (OISE).

This series provides an opportunity for members of the Cornell community to engage in productive dialogue focused on fostering a greater understanding of the many aspects of allyship and how we can better support one another through active, informed, and critical allyship.

Each event seeks to create a safe space for critical dialogue where we can bridge gaps in knowledge, learn from each other, and create understanding without fear of judgment.

View Understanding the Fundamentals of Allyship with Luca Maurer, founding Director of the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach, and Services at Ithaca College.

2020-21 Building Allyship Series

October 2020: The Dangers of Performative Allyship – Understanding Intent versus Impact

This session focused on developing an understanding of performative allyship and its dangerous impacts. The featured speaker and panelists provided insights on their experiences with performative allyship and share strategies for demonstrating critical allyship.

  • Featured Speaker and Moderator: Chelsea Stephens, Ph.D. Student, Biomedical Engineering
  • Panelist: Tiffany Agard, M.P.A. Student, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs
  • Panelist: Elvisha Dhamala, Ph.D. Candidate, Neuroscience
  • Panelist: Jesse Goldberg, Ph.D. ‘18, African American Literature, Visiting Research Fellow, Auburn University 
  • Panelist: Kelly Zamudio, Ph.D., Goldwin Smith Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Faculty Curator of Herpetology, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates

View a recording of the October session.

November 2020: Combating Anti-Blackness: A Virtual “Fireside Chat” with Cornell Bouchet Scholars

November 12, 2020 | 12:00 to 1:30 pm ET

This session focused on developing an understanding of Anti-Blackness and the many forms in which it can manifest. It also centered on sharing strategies on how those seeking to serve as allies can actively help combat Anti-Blackness.

  • Moderator: Brianna Tate, Ph.D. Student, Animal Science; President of the Black Graduate & Professional Student Association
  • Discussant: Danielle Fuentes Morgan, ‘16 Ph.D., Cornell Bouchet Scholar, Assistant Professor of English, Santa Clara University
  • Discussant: Monet Roberts, ’17 M.S., ’19 Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering, Cornell Bouchet Scholar, Postdoctoral Associate, Virginia Tech University

View a recording of the November session

February 2021: Coming Out for Allyship with the LGBTQ+ Community

February 24, 2021 | 12:00 to 1:30 pm ET

This session provided us with an opportunity to understand the experiences of LGBTQ+ community members as they navigate academic spaces that often do not validate their identities. Through this session featuring student and faculty panelists, we explored what it means to be an ally to members of our LGBTQ+ community, how to validate their experiences and critical contributions to the academy, and what allies can do to help create more inclusive learning, research, and social environments.

Ally Resources

View a recording of the February session.

March 2021: Existing and Acting at the Crossroads: Understanding Intersectionality to be Better Allies

March 17, 2021 | 12:00 to 1:30 pm ET

This session focused on developing an understanding of intersectionality within and beyond the Latina/o/x community and included a talk by Sofia Villenas, Associate Professor of Anthropology followed by a facilitated panel discussion. Latina/o/x identity is often discussed as a cohesive group with similar interests and considerations– However, the Latina/o/x community is a vibrant and diverse group of people from different countries, ethnicities, languages, races, religions, classes, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, citizen status, among other traits. The development of an intersectional lens enables critical allyship and advances social justice by broadening a historically unidimensional framework. 

Speaker: Sofia Villenas, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Moderator: Marguerite Pacheco, Ph.D. Student, Biomedical Engineering
Panelist: Angie Torres-Beltran, Ph.D. Student, Government
Panelist: Renny John, MPH ’20, Academic Program Coordinator, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Panelist: Luis Melecio-Zambrano, Ph.D. Candidate, Chemistry

View a recording of the March session. 

Congratulations to the Building Allyship Series Committee and Graduate & Professional Student Diversity Council for being recognized with an honorable mention for the 2021 Perkins Prize for Interracial and Intercultural Peace and Harmony!


We strive to make our events accessible to all community members.  Individuals who would like to request accessibility accommodations should contact  We ask that requests be made at least one week in advance to help ensure they can be met.