Candidate Profiles - Employee-Elected Trustee Special Election 2022


Hei Hei Depew
Financial Compliance Analyst
Personal Statement:
    What do you consider the top 3 priorities for the Board of Trustees to address?
  1. Staff Retention post COVID. I think the Great Resignation is something that will impact Cornell. A lot of staff members are feeling burnt out, and re-evaluating how they want to spend their time. I think Cornell needs to think about how to retain staff especially as daycare, eldercare become more difficult to obtain, portions of the staff population are set to retire in the upcoming years and the pool of candidates locally decreases. In addition, as more remote work is becoming available, Cornell isn't going to be the only employment option for many of our community members who live in and around Tompkins County.
  2. Inflation. What will Cornell do when inflation is estimated to reach nearly 8%, but SIP has traditionally hovered around 3%. How do we ensure that staff are being considered when the University makes decisions. If we can not provide SIP that is close to inflation, can we provide options for staff to work remotely more frequently to assist with the rising cost of gas? Can we provide cheaper parking options?
  3. Diversity/Equity. How do we make Cornell the kind of place where people from all backgrounds feel they are welcome and belong?
I have spent over 5 years on Employee Assembly advocating for the staff, using data and partnerships to help move issues forward. Having been on Employee Assembly and interacted with BOT members in the past, I feel comfortable in that space, providing a voice for the staff.
Relevant Experience:
I was first hired at Cornell to be a Financial Analyst for Engaged Cornell, overseeing a 50M gift from BOT trustee member David Einhorn. I've been on Employee Assembly in various roles for over 5 years. I've interacted with BOT members during EA BOT meetings. In addition, I've worked with BOT members like Eve DeRosa on Diversity initiatives and I've worked with EET Reginald White in Colleague Network Groups.
Community Involvement:
I was recently awarded the Tompkins County "Fab 5 Volunteer of the Year Award" for my work on Employee Assembly, Ithaca Asian American Association and the Advocacy Center. I live in Tompkins County, I am raising a family here, I am a member of various groups here, and I do my best to engage with others and build strong relationships in this community.
Special Interests:
I love cooking and spending time with family and friends. I enjoy sharing stories, engaging in conversations and building community. You can learn more about me from watching my Soup and Hope or listening to the Inclusive Excellence podcasts that I've participated in.

Adrian  Durant
Head Coach, Men's Track & Field
Personal Statement:
What do you consider the top 3 priorities for the Board of Trustees to address?
Cornell University's mission statement mentions its "founding commitment to diversity and inclusion".  We pride ourselves on being a place where "any person can find instruction".  But I believe there is a lack of understanding of what it takes for some individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and identities, to be successful at Cornell.  As a US Virgin Islands native and head coach of one of the largest teams and one of the most diverse groups on campus, I am able to hear directly from them about their disappointment in Cornell and their feelings of marginalization.  It is not enough to just get individuals in the door, they need to be taken care of and provided the resources necessary to be successful.  I believe that the Board of Trustees should focus on the following:
1.         How to better accommodate the diverse group of individuals that we bring to campus. 
2.         How to make Cornell more competitive in all aspects.
3.         Understanding the impact of the Great Resignation and getting ahead of the curve regarding employee satisfaction and retention.
I have had conversations with various Trustees, President Martha Pollack, and many others around campus. One thing that I always take away is that they often view my perspective as unique.  I believe that a unique perspective is valuable when looking for solutions to complex issues.  My addition as a Trustee will help add to the diversity of thought in the room so that we can work together to improve Cornell.
Relevant Experience:
As the head coach of a varsity team here at Cornell, I have an intimate understanding how decisions that are made at the highest levels impact those on the ground floor. Regarding experience in a similar capacity, I am the current chair of the Ivy League Track Coaches Association, on the executive board of the Cornell Men of Color colleague network group, and a current member of the Cornell Employee Assembly.
Community Involvement:
In my capacity as a coach, my team and I are regularly active in programs such as the Salvation Army's Adopt-a-Family.  I also organized the Power the USVI fundraiser through the United Way of Tompkins County.  The effort provided 20 generators to families devastated by hurricanes Maria and Irma in the US Virgin Islands.
Special Interests:
Coming from the Virgin Islands, having lived in many different places, and having visited over 40 countries, I understand that there is more that unites people that separates us.  I understand that our differences are often just a matter of perspective.  I am an advocate of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion because it helps organizations foster creativity and innovation.

Brandon Fortenberry
Senior Training and Development Manager
Personal Statement:
What do you consider the top 3 priorities for the Board of Trustees to address?
I believe that salary, wages and benefit are one of the most important topics for Cornell staff. Cornell has long been the premier employer in the region, and while Cornell remains an amazing employer, we need to stay competitive as a leader in higher education.
It is also important to strengthen our ability to attract, hire and retain staff at all levels to continue to execute our mission. Cornell University is in an exciting position to reevaluate what we have done in the past to address this topic, and think differently about it for the future.
Trustees would most directly interact with these topics of wages, hiring and retention in approval of the annual SIP. However I would ensure that this topic is addressed wherever possible and relevant, as they can be our greatest points of success or failure here at the University.
I also feel that there is a strong need for attention to deferred maintenance at the University. There are many buildings, walkways and areas of campus that are overdue for repairs and upgrades. It is important for the Trustees to focus on this subject and seek to approve processes that will prevent this issue from getting worse in the future, and address the current state of repairs.
If elected, I would engage with the Trustees on these topics, and continue to give University staff a voice to express how this large impact is felt in their work, as well as what can be done to improve these areas.
Relevant Experience:
I've been at Cornell University for over 16 years in Student and Campus Life. In that time, I have worked as Union staff, a manager, director, and currently as the Senior Training and Development manager for Cornell Dining. My experience in those roles has provided me with insight on topics that impact staff in many different positions.
I have had the honor of representing SCL as Employee Assembly representative for three years, as well as Chair of the University Assembly. My work in these roles has broadened my understanding of the University as well as the perspectives of staff's concerns that I represent to the best of my ability.
In my Catering roles I have worked with countless departments on campus in one way or another, which has provided me with a deep well of understanding the staff perspective on topics that the Trustees are addressing. I am very comfortable interacting with Trustees, and speaking up when necessary, which is key in this role to ensure our voice is heard.
Community Involvement:
I am an avid disc golfer, and have volunteered countless hours building and maintaining disc golf courses in the area. The outdoors is healing, and providing a space where people can get together with friends and family in a free and fun way is what drives my work with the DiscIthaca organization.
If you know me, you also know that I love to get behind a microphone, and not because I am a good singer, but because I love to emcee events. I work with the Cornell United Way to emcee events throughout the year to help raise money for the United Way, and participate in the payroll deduction for the United Way campaign every year.
I am most proud of my work with the Ithaca Public Education Initiative. I have been active with this non-profit for over 5 years now helping them primarily with their Adult Spelling bee, but also with other events and fundraisers. The work I do with IPEI directly impacts the community as the funds go to support schools, teachers, and most importantly to student
Special Interests:
I love the science and process of beer and cider making. I have been involved with the Ithaca Practitioners of Alemaking (IPA), and hosted beer making competitions, as well as events to help others learn how to brew beer. While I don't brew much anymore, I still love to try new beers and learn more about the process of beer making, and of course doing so while playing disc golf!
Lastly, being a husband and a father are so important to me. I grew up in a small and, at times, challenged household, and I love that I get to be here for my family. My career here has not only helped in providing for our household, but also helping me grow as a person, a father and a husband, and I am so fortunate to have such an amazing family at home and Cornell.

Victor Younger
Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Nolan School of Hotel Administration
Personal Statement:
What do you consider the top 3 priorities for the Board of Trustees to address?
A quick look at the higher education landscape beckons 3 key concerns: an unacceptable intensifying inequality regarding access/affordability; an ever-changing political and economic environment requiring better approaches to innovative, life-long learning and engagement; and increasingly diverse campus communities where the pernicious systemic dynamics of privilege, bias and the lack of culturally-informed worldviews can no longer be tolerated. This in mind, I consider the following as top 3 priorities for the Board of Trustees: (1) continue to cultivate a campus climate -including staff, faculty and students- with a healthy world-wide view of community engagement; (2) support the necessary competencies and infrastructure for teaching and nurturing students to be global leaders who carry forward the Cornell ethos "any person . . . any study" for the greatest good; and (3) energize the university's public engagement mission to enhance lives by expanding access and increasing socioeconomic diversity. Over the course of my career, I have played small and major roles to help guide organizational effectiveness with the utmost of care. If given the opportunity to serve as employee trustee, I will use the "it takes a village" approach to listen intently, encourage and share campus community perspectives respectfully, and collaborate with senior leadership appropriately and with the depth of commitment needed to address our university's most pressing issues and opportunities.
Relevant Experience:
My corporate management/leadership experience span 35 years in the healthcare, hospitality and higher education sectors. Arriving to Cornell University (2001), I served as General Manager/Cornell Dining Retail Services serving 22,000, managing $15M, and working with union staff, administration, faculty and students. I made a career shift (2008) to Student & Academic Services providing leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). This move afforded me the opportunity to influence critical university initiatives to improve campus climate and race relations, such as bias response reporting and programming to support the retention of African American males. Currently, I serve as Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the Nolan School of Hotel Administration, leading the charge for "Belonging at Cornell" I also serve as one of three DEI Directors providing education, coaching and professional development for the SCJ College of Business community.
Community Involvement:
As a 21-year Ithaca resident and Cornell community member, a sampling of my contributions includes: Since 2004 serving on the MLK, Jr. Annual University Commemorative Planning Committee; on the The Soup & Hope Committee since 2011; founding board member of the local Civic Ensemble theater company; member of the graduate chapter Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.; supporting Ithaca's historical Calvary Baptist Church as Board of Trustee Chair; and advisor for National Society of Minorities in Hospitality
Special Interests:
My interests include summer gardening with my wife, singing with my church choir, playing golf, traveling, and watching our son and new daughter-in-law grow as global citizens.

Jamie Duong
Network and Systems Services Administrator
SC Johnson College of Business
Personal Statement:
What do you consider the top 3 priorities for the Board of Trustees to address?
2022 marks my 16th year as a full-time employee of Cornell University and my 21st year as a Cornellian. As employee-elected trustee, I will ensure that Cornell's staff - their needs and views - are made known to the rest of the Trustees and Cornell's leadership, and I will advocate for the resources and tools we need to succeed in our critical roles.
From my first Fall in Ithaca 21 years ago, I have seen historic events that have rocked our campus, the state, the country, and the world. In those years we have weathered worse financial shocks than most of us had ever seen before. Staff were required to sacrifice to preserve jobs and protect the University's finances.
As we exit a pandemic that disrupted the delivery of education and the way many of us work, Cornell staff are keeping the University running. We have kept the buildings open, clean, and safe. We have kept our on-campus students, staff, and faculty fed. We have supported our faculty, students, and research endeavors. We have maintained and improved the infrastructure and tools that all our online meetings and instruction rely on. In short, we continue to support the University and make possible all the activities of this world-class institution. Serious investments in Cornell's staff are needed now more than ever to address what should be the Board's greatest priorities:
  • Cornell's academic excellence
  • Cornell's  financial strength
  • Cornell's faithfulness to its motto "any person any study"
Relevant Experience:
Since November of 2019 I have been an Employee Assembly representative, first for the Nolan School of Hotel Administration, and now for the SC Johnson College of Business. During my time on the EA I was honored to be elected Vice Chair for Operations for the 2020-2021 term. Being on the Executive Committee was an incredibly rewarding experience in such a challenging time. The work we did to try to keep the staff community informed about Covid-19, and the new measures and actions being taken to keep the University operating during that tumultuous first year of the pandemic was a profound trial-by-fire.
Community Involvement:
Volunteering and networking with Tompkins Connect Young Professionals Group, and I have worked with the Tompkins County Democratic Committee and chaired the Ithaca City Democratic Committee from 2014-2015.
Special Interests:
Overturning unfair voting restrictions in Canada

Jackie Creque
Assistant to the Department Chair
College of Veterinary Medicine
Personal Statement:
What do you consider the top 3 priorities for the Board of Trustees to address?
I currently participate in many groups that focus on supporting staff.  I would love to use the experience and insight I've gained to bring ideas and concerns to the attention of the Board of Trustees.  My top 3 are: remote/hybrid work options, decreasing workload with process improvement, and facilitating staff education and development. 
If elected as trustee, I would advocate for the inclusion of staff in the "To Do the Greatest Good" campaign.  I'd like to see unnecessary barriers to accessing education benefits removed and more support given to those who want to take advantage of them.
I'd also like to see valuable tools and software programs for streamlining processes shared across the university.  The unique circumstances presented by the pandemic have brought to light how much we would benefit from reducing paperwork and taking advantage of tools and software programs already being used at Cornell.
Relevant Experience:
I am the Vet College (CVM) Rep on the Employee Assembly (EA), the EA Rep on the Faculty Senate, and an Admin Rep on CVM's Staff Council.  I participate in many committees including those focused on Education and Development, Welfare, Communication, Onboarding, Wellness/Wellbeing, and the CVM Ambassador Program.
I recently had the chance to participate in the Empathy, Assistance and Referral Service (EARS) Beginning Training led by undergrads.  The in-person, class-like setting gave me firsthand experience with the challenges and opportunities presented in the learning environment by COVID.
I came to Cornell as a grad student and recently graduated with an MS.  I've worked as an admin at Cornell for over 10 years supporting faculty, leadership, academic programs and events.  My work experience along with participation in staff groups has helped me to better understand how to communicate with leadership and within groups.
Community Involvement:
Although I'm relatively new to shared governance, I've always tried to be an active and engaged member of the Cornell community.  I have volunteered to support university events and I attend forums, town halls, and staff events as much as I can, especially at CVM.  I've also helped put together programming open to all.  I've run multiple fundraisers such as an escape room, Star Wars themed contest, and a bake off to benefit causes such as the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes and wildlife rescue for the Australia wildfires that occurred just before the pandemic hit us.  I am the co-chair of a staff group called CU Women Lead and helped coordinate their daylong conference for staff as well as some of their other programming.
Pre-COVID, I was a regular patron of local music and karaoke, restaurants, events and festivals.  I have participated in programing such as the Downtown Ithaca Alliance Event Planning Workshop and the Ithaca Police Citizen's Academy. 
Special Interests:
I am passionate about education and development for staff and process improvement.  I see both of these as instrumental in building a better working environment for staff at Cornell and helping Cornell be more productive.
I would also like to increase awareness of neurodiversity and inclusion of diverse ways of thinking.  I believe that lack of familiarity and comfort with different ways of thinking limits our potential as individuals and a community.  Expanding our awareness of other perspectives and being comfortable with what often makes people uncomfortable would make us more empathetic towards ourselves and others and make our community stronger and more successful.