Virginia Tech®home

White Allies as Transformational Leaders

White Allies as Transformational Leaders is a strategic and responsive diversity education initiative that builds capacity for effective white allyship by emphasizing best practices for inclusive leadership.  Participants are typically academic department heads / chairs, full Professors, or in positions of influence in their areas. They agree to participate as a cohort for the academic year, and to take what they learned back to their departments.


There are three components to the experience:

  1. Stepping Up:  This includes doing the personal work to understand what authentic allyship is and the dispositions required to practice it and making the commitment to stick with the cohort for a year of reflection and study.

  2. Stepping Back:This includes listening and learning from both research and lived experience of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled people who have experienced marginalization in the academy.  This component involves a facilitated reading of An Inclusive Academy, as well as essays from Presumed Incompetent, and hearing from the Faculty Diversity Committee and Caucuses.

  3. Stepping Forward:  This includes succession planning--to actively promote the leadership of marginalized colleagues and to identify other White Allies ready to step up, step back, and step forward.


Meet our 2020-2021 cohort:

Betsky, Aaron Professor and Director School of Architecture + Design
Carlson, Kevin Associate Dean, Research and Faculty Affairs Pamplin College of Business
Clements, Terry Lynn Professor and Program Chair Architecture and Design
Cox, David Professor and Head Chemical Engineering
Ewing, Tom Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Foti, Roseanne Professor and Head Psychology
Gillaspy, Glenda Professor and Head Biochemistry
Goynes, Keith Associate Dean College of Natural Resources and Environment
Holbrook, W. Steven Professor and Head Geosciences
Holt, Matt Professor and Head Agriculture Economics
Lesko, Jack Professor Mechanical Engineering
Lester, Luke Professor and Head Electrical and Computer Engineering
McGehee, Nancy Professor and Head Hospitality and Tourism Management
Musick, David Senior Dean for Faculty Affairs School of Medicine
Ribbens, Calvin Professor and Head Computer Science
Snodgrass, Joel Professor and Head Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Sponenberg, Phillip Professor Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology