Inclusive Excellence Podcast

Co-hosts Erin Sember-Chase and Toral Patel

Join Erin Sember-Chase and Toral Patel from the Department of Inclusion and Belonging for a monthly podcast series where they unpack various topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at work. During each episode's interview, they provide a platform for campus colleagues in various roles to share their lived experiences, thoughts, and ideas around how we can create cultures of belonging, especially in our workplaces. You can listen to this podcast on your phone, at your desk, on your way to work, while you are taking a break, even while you get ready for bed! They also provide a great and free of charge professional development and DEI learning opportunity for people leaders and employees to engage with during team meetings and retreats! 


See below for the latest season of episodes and search our Podcast Library on the left for past episodes by overall topic. Do you have a topic you would like us to discuss on the podcast? Have someone we should highlight for their awesome work around campus? Feel free to send us an email at



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Season 6 Transcripts

For transcripts of previous episodes, please visit the Episode Archive page.

Episode 83: "Wherever I Go, I Want It to Matter That I Was There" with Cal Walker

In the season finale, Erin and Toral are joined by Cal Walker, retiree of Cornell and longstanding citizen of Ithaca for nearly 50 years. Cal shares his journey from Civil Rights-era Alabama to New York, recalling the moments that ignited his passion for activism and social justice. Tune in to hear how Cal has embodied the mantra "blossom where you are planted," enriching the Ithaca and Cornell communities and encouraging listeners to cultivate meaningful connections by sowing seeds of positive change wherever they can. 

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Episode 82: Recruitment Reimagined: Building Trust and Transparency

In this episode, Erin and Toral let listeners in on the evolving world of recruitment with Carolyn Chow (she/her/hers) and Brad Stock (he/him/his), colleagues and talent acquisition partners at Cornell. The pair share their unique journeys from applicants to recruiters at the university and how their experiences shape the way they engage with candidates today. Whether it's job seekers looking for employment opportunities or hiring managers pursuing prospective candidates, tune in to explore best practices when it comes to being intentional and inclusive during the hiring process.

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Episode 81: All While Working 9 to 5: On Single Parenthood, Divorce, and Advocating for Inclusion 

Join us in celebrating Women's History Month as we delve into this year's theme: "Appreciating women who advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion." In this episode, Erin and Toral are joined by Lauren Frederick (she/her/hers), colleague and administrative coordinator in Cornell's Department of Inclusion and Belonging. With honesty and vulnerability, Lauren takes listeners on a journey, sharing the challenges of navigating life as a first-generation professional, single mother, and being neurodivergent. From setbacks to triumphs, Lauren reveals how her life experiences have shaped and fueled her commitment to creating an equitable and inclusive world for all. 

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Episode 80: Conflict and Conversation: "The More You Sweat in Peace, the Less You Bleed in War"

In this episode, Erin and Toral are joined by Ati Alipour (she/her/hers), assistant ombuds in the Cornell University Ombuds Office. Ati shares her rich history in the field of conflict resolution and mediation as a practicing attorney and former consultant for the United Nations. From understanding power imbalances to embracing differing perspectives, hear how to best address and navigate conflicts in our everyday work and life.

For more information on the Cornell University Ombuds Office, visit

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Episode 79: What if Success Was Measured by Wellbeing?

Join Erin and Toral as they delve into the dynamic world of workplace mental health with Jasmine Jay (she/her/hers) and Wai-Kwong Wong (he/him/his) from Cornell’s Faculty & Staff Assistance Program (FSAP). Together, they explore the evolution of mental health awareness and share insights on fostering a supportive workplace culture. Tune in to hear the variety of services FSAP offers and inspiring perspectives on prioritizing mental health and wellbeing in the workplace as they stand by the message, “It’s okay not to be okay.”

For more information on FSAP, visit

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Episode 78: Destined for Cornell Despite a Nontraditional Path

According to Carl Cornell's (he/they) surname, one would think he was destined for the university. However, Carl's path to Cornell was anything but traditional. In this episode, Erin and Carl dive into his journey and how he's navigated his personal and professional lives with a unique intersection of identities. Now, as the assistant director of undergraduate advising at Cornell Bowers CIS, Carl has become a leader in many communities across Cornell while advocating for himself and others along the way. 

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Episode 77: What Makes Mentorships Meaningful?

In this episode, Erin and Toral talk with longtime Cornell colleagues Barbara Oh, Ph.D. '17 (she/her/hers) and Cate Thompson '83 (she/her/hers) about the important role both mentors and mentees play in enhancing personal and professional growth. The pair discuss how they met at the university and immediately forged a mutually fulfilling mentoring relationship. Tune in to hear them unravel the threads of their mentoring journey, sharing insights, anecdotes, and lessons learned along the way.

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Episode 76: Dialoguing through Differences

On this week's episode, Erin and Toral are joined by Rachel Sumner Ph.D. '15 and Stephen Kim MA, Ph.D. '20 colleagues with the Intergroup Dialogue Project (IDP) at Cornell. They share what IDP is all about and how it has influenced communication across differences for over a decade. Tune in to hear about their professional journeys, from students to lecturers, and their thoughts on what freedom of expression can look like and how to empower ourselves and others to engage in critical dialogue.

For more information on IDP, visit

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Episode 75: Goals to Gold with Olympian Adrian Durant

Erin and Toral are joined by Adrian Durant (he/him/his), the head coach of men's track and field at Cornell, for a conversation about his journey from the U.S. Virgin Islands to competing in college and the Olympics to becoming a head coach at an Ivy League institution. As one of the youngest track coaches in the country who has raced around the globe, Adrian offers up his playbook for goal-driven success and cultivating a winning team culture both on the field and in the workplace.

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Episode 74: A Librarian's Lens on Today's Library

Erin and Toral sit down with the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell for a conversation about the critical role that libraries play in preserving and authentically portraying the past. Elaine Westbrooks (she/her/hers) shares how libraries have evolved over time and with technology. From dusty bookshelves to the digital frontier, tune in to hear how libraries provide access to a rich tapestry of perspectives, help distinguish fact from fiction, and enhance inclusion and belonging.

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Episode 73: From Boom to Zoom: Navigating the Five Generations in the Workforce

On this week's episode of the podcast, two Gen Xs, a Baby Boomer, and a Millennial dive into today's multigenerational workforce and discuss the challenges and opportunities it presents. Erin and Toral talk with Dane Cruz (he/him/his) and Ari Mack (he/him/his), colleagues in Organizational Development and Effectiveness at Cornell. They help unpack the experiences and stereotypes of the different generations and how they show up in the workplace. Tune in to hear how five generations can work side-by-side in today's world of work.

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Episode 72: Finding Your Space in Fitness

C Lucas (they/them/theirs), wellness community programming specialist at Cornell, joins Erin and Toral to weigh the challenges and complexities of the fitness industry. C shares their thoughts on how fitness and wellness have evolved over time. especially in the workplace. Tune in to hear how C is breaking down barriers to help make fitness and wellness opportunities more inclusive and accessible to all identity populations. 

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Episode 71: From Student to Staff: A First-Gen Experience through Cornell

Erin and Toral kick off season six with Angela Herrera Canfield '03, MPA '08 (she/her/hers), director of undergraduate admissions for the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell. Angela shares her evolution at the university, beginning as an undergraduate student and transitioning to her role as a director. She also discusses her experience as a first-generation college student and how it informs her work, considering the range of challenges that historically excluded students and staff may face and the important role that mentorship plays.

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Episode 70: Launching Season 6, What to Look Forward To

Join Erin Sember-Chase, Toral Patel, and Bert Odom-Reed for the first episode of a brand-new season. Hear their hopes of continuing to elevate the voices and experiences of fellow employees while also diving deeper into the discomfort. They tease upcoming episodes that reflect topics and discussions circling the country and Cornell, including the university's theme of "freedom of expression." 

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