Living Equity and Diversity (LEAD)

Celebrating difference…Reflect, Learn, Communicate, Live

The LEAD Committee will soon be Mount Mercy's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee! Stay tuned for updates.


Mount Mercy University recognizes the importance of preparing students for a diverse, global society and creating a campus community that embodies a welcoming and inclusive environment for students, staff, and faculty, consistent with our Mercy heritage and values. The establishment of the LEAD (Living Equity And Diversity) Initiative was created to promote learning and action as embedded in the Sisters of Mercy Critical Concerns, the University’s mission and education goals, and the Core Curriculum.  A Diversity Task Force was convened by the Provost in 2012-13, and it has led to the current Diversity Steering Committee which includes staff, faculty, and students. They are focused on creating an environment of awareness and appreciation of differences, building skills for interacting across cultures, and taking action to address racial equity and social injustices.

Actions Taken

Dr. Heather Hackman, a nationally recognized consultant, visited campus several times to provide training to staff, faculty, and students. In addition to sessions for club and organization officers, resident assistants, and students representing varied athletic teams, three full days of racial equity training during Fall 2014 engaged nearly 50 staff and faculty members.  Diversity Steering Committee members participated and helped plan follow-up learning experiences, including a two-session LEAD Retreat that was held in Summer 2015 as the first of an annual event.

The President and Cabinet engage in weekly reading and discussion to learn more about diversity, equity, and their higher education implications, building efforts that began in Summer 2014, including a day-long retreat.

The Cultural Affairs Committee and other groups offered rich, diverse educational experiences including prominent Black poet Frank X Walker and several programs on world religions and cultures. This fall’s Barbara Knapp speaker, Audrey Boone Tillman, spoke to the campus about lessons learned as a Black female lawyer and executive. The Criminal Justice program organized two campus events related to police use of force and racial, cultural, and socioeconomic factors affecting families and communities. Faculty Development workshops providing LGBTQ information were held in Spring 2015, and the Diversity Steering Committee along with the Staff Development Committee organized a well-attended session led by Dr. Jennie Schmidt of the Education Department.

Graduate Assistants contributed in many ways to this year’s efforts and participated in the work of the Steering Committee. Multicultural Affairs Graduate Assistant Dumayi Gutierrez organized a number of successful social and educational programs for students and the campus community. In addition, Mission and Ministry’s Social Justice Graduate Assistant Mgehnleh Dorliae contributed to the ongoing effort to engage students and others in learning about justice and equity issues. To help reach out to prospective students and families from under-represented populations, Carlos Nelson now holds a new Graduate Assistant Multicultural Recruiter position, participating on the Steering Committee as well.

A Black Student Union and an LGBTQ Alliance group were approved this year by the Student Government Association and held several activities on campus. Two founding members of the Black Student Union joined the Diversity Steering Committee. 

In the Mission and Ministry area, a program on global solidarity with migrants got underway including a well-attended immersion trip to the Texas-Mexico border at El Paso right after Spring 2015. A popular spring activity supported by Mission and Ministry as well as International Programs, Student Government Association, and other groups was the Multicultural Fair, an afternoon of music, food, and sharing about the many countries represented by our international students.


Committee Members

For further information or to share ideas, please feel free to contact Provost Jan Handler (Steering Committee Chair), the Vice President in your area, or a member of the Diversity Steering Committee.

April Dirks, Assistant Professor of Social Work
Shawna Clemente, Coordinator of Student Success
Jennie Schmidt, Assistant Professor of Education
Jose Clemente, Assistant Professor of Art
Gabi Acosta, Student
Ashley Schmuecker, Area Coordinator
Diamonde Collier, Student
Isaiah Corbin, Project Connect Director
David Butts. Assistant Director of Diversity, Student Engagement
Phillip Platz, Assistant Director for Multimedia Marketing
Tom Doermann, Assistant Vice President for HR & Operations
Jan Handler, Provost
Jamie Jimison, Head Track and Field Coach

The LEAD initiative has been made possible thanks in part to funding from the West Midwest Sisters of Mercy Grant.