While working to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, it’s important to acknowledge the people tasked with such an important initiative. Broadening awareness, implementing the tactics meant to improve the sense of belonging among colleagues, and demonstrating why ideas coupled with action can create lasting impacts – that’s why MIT’s Excellence Awards are important.
The MIT Excellence Awards and the Collier Medal acknowledge the extraordinary efforts made by members of our community toward fulfilling the goals, values, and mission of the Institute. The awards enlist the support of the MIT community in highlighting individual and team contributions meant to “advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world.”
MIT is honored to recognize Austin Ashe, Senior Associate Director, Belonging & Culture, Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, and Natalie Petit, Associate Director, Undergraduate Education, recipients of the Embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award.
Austin Ashe joined MIT in 2018. His work building relationships among faculty, staff, and students has included stints in the Institute’s Office of Student and Alumni Relations and the MIT Sloan School of Management. He was recognized, in part, because of his ongoing commitment to improving relationships among MIT Sloan faculty and staff, consistently building bridges between the ideas and actions necessary to effect change, and emphasizing the importance of creating spaces in which members of historically marginalized groups feel safe sharing ideas.
“This award reflects the work of many MIT staff (myself included) that, for years, have been committed to creating community, relationships, and resources for people who are exceptional despite being placed or made to feel at the margins,” Austin said when asked about the award’s value. “This award is proof of concept that, when working together, the people within MIT can make spaces of love where we all feel like we fit.”
Since beginning her MIT Sloan career in 2015, Natalie Petit has led and supported a variety of educational efforts on behalf of MIT Sloan’s Executive and Undergraduate Education programs. In receiving the award, Natalie was cited as a force for change, a woman for whom equity and inclusion are essential elements in the creation and sustenance of a high-performing workforce.
“We have to be the change, live the change, and do the change consistently so we can continuously see the impact of our efforts, especially with our staff,” Natalie said.
Her efforts to facilitate conversations among staff and leaders about the importance of DEI, to stage events celebrating Black and other employees of color, and to help shape how women’s voices are heard and understood mark her as a person of distinction, an award winner worthy of celebration and recognition.
“Receiving the MIT Excellence award in DEI is an honor and an opportunity to showcase the power and value of elevating Black women who are quite often unseen and unheard,” Natalie noted when asked what receiving the award meant to her. “The work I’ve done is tireless work and has made a lasting impact on the lives of so many people here at MIT.”
Congratulations to our MIT Excellence Awards winners!