Abdullah named director of diversity and inclusion in F&B

After years of commitment to the diversity efforts of Finance and Business while in the University Budget Office, Lydia Abdullah has been appointed F&B's first diversity and inclusion director. The creation of the position is in line with the infrastructure goals of the F&B Strategic Plan.

As the committee manager for the Fostering Diversity Key Initiative, Abdullah has focused much of her efforts on enhancing the diversity of the F&B workforce and building a welcoming and comfortable working environment for all. With her new position, she'll be able to tackle those objectives full time. One of the top priorities of the new unit will be to focus on establishing partnerships with units that have intersections with diversity, such as the Office of Human Resources, the Affirmative Action Office, the Educational Equity Office etc. Abdullah took over the new unit in April.

"In order to move forward with the diversity objectives that we have, we need to build infrastructure," Al Horvath, senior vice president for Finance & Business/treasurer, said. "Allowing Lydia to clear her desk of all her Budget Office responsibilities will help F&B build that infrastructure and achieve its goals."

With three decades of experience both with F&B and the diversity initiative, Abdullah was the best candidate. F&B Leadership felt the position was vital to the operationalizing of the key initiative, but, as Horvath likes to remind employees, there is still a lot of work to do by everyone.

The key initiative currently runs successful programs like the diversity internship and mentoring programs. It also oversees several subcommittees that focus on areas such as veterans recognition, retention of employees of color, disability concerns and LGBT efforts. It also supports F&B's Framework to Foster Diversity, which is a collaborative document with the University's framework.

Abdullah, who has worked at Penn State for 35 years, said she wanted to take on the challenge of starting something others will build upon. As the major employer in the region, Abdullah said the University is in a position to enhance the region's diversity as well.

"We can't function without being a part of the community," she said. "What we do here impacts the outside world. If we are not connected to the community, we won't have the retention results we want."

Last Updated April 15, 2011