Abington diversity leaders named to statewide LGBTQ Pride Power list

Penn State Abington diversity leadership wins award

Aneesah Smith and Boni Wozolek, leaders of diversity initiatives at Penn State Abington, were named influential figures in Pennsylvania's LBGTQ+ community.  

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — Two leaders of Penn State Abington’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, Aneesah Smith and Boni Wozolek, were named among the most influential figures in Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ+ community. The pair share the No. 66 ranking on the 2023 Pride Power 100 list by City & State Pennsylvania, a nonpartisan news organization.  

Wozolek is the founding director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusive Excellence, and Belonging (DEIB) at Abington, a cabinet-level position that reports directly to Chancellor Margo DelliCarpini. She is charged with enhancing an equitable environment for faculty and staff; bridging the academic and student experience; and supporting, strengthening and expanding DEIB initiatives related to faculty development, culturally relevant and equitable pedagogical practices, and curriculum.  

“Boni clearly recognizes that innovation and creativity become possible when we leverage the benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion,” DelliCarpini said. 

Wozolek retains her full-time faculty status as an associate professor of elementary and early childhood education. Her scholarly work considers questions of social justice, qualitative research and teaching practices that focus on the examination of race, sexual orientations and gender identities across educational contexts. 

Wozolek provides local and national professional development sessions that focus on minoritized people, with an emphasis on how professors across disciplines can resist and refuse cycles of violence. Earlier in her career, she founded gender and sexuality alliances at the high schools where she taught.

Read more about Wozolek here.

Equity and social justice are truly Aneesah Smith's love language.

—Gina Kaufman , director of Student Affairs

Smith, the director of diversity, equity and inclusion within Student Affairs, plays a critical role supporting students of color and first-generation and LGBTQ+-identifying undergraduates. She leads cultural celebrations, educational workshops and diversity trainings, and her office provides a haven for students experiencing challenges, as well as providing a joyful gathering space on a daily basis.   

“Aneesah is one of the smartest, most compassionate individuals I have had the privilege to work with. Equity and social justice are truly her love language. She consistently and kindly reminds us we must approach our work through the critical lens of equity and justice for all,” Gina Kaufman, director of Student Affairs. 

As the instructor for the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in the Workplace certificate program offered by the campus office of Continuing Education, Smith provides a unique perspective to support the development of inclusive work environments considering race, gender, sexual orientation, class and more.  

In addition to Smith and Wozolek, Lori Schreiber, the Montgomery County clerk of courts and an adjunct instructor in the rehabilitation and human services major at Abington, was named to the Pride Power 100 list, coming in at No. 41.  

Upon her election as clerk of courts in 2019, Schreiber became the first lesbian elected to a countywide, non-judicial position in Pennsylvania. She has served as an Abington Township commissioner since 2005, when she was the first openly LGBTQ+ person to win an election in Montgomery County. Schreiber spearheaded the passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Abington, and she and the board of commissioners passed a resolution that was sent to the state to ban conversion therapy.

Also representing Penn State on the list are Brian Patchcoski (No. 30), assistant vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion in Penn State Student Affairs, and Katharine Dalke (No. 59), a physician in the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education at Penn State College of Medicine. 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.