Columbia University and Diversity Agenda Launch Construction Diversity Initiative (CDI)

Industry Roundtable focuses on research, policy and training initiatives for minority, women, veteran and related diversity stakeholders

From left to right: Dr. Renee Sacks, Publisher of Diversity Agenda – David Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Facilities and Operations, Columbia University – David Patterson, former NYS Governor – Dr. Jason Wingard, Dean of the School of Professional Studies, Columbia University – Francisco X. Pineda, Faculty & Program Director School of Professional Studies, Columbia University – Tanya Pope, Assistant Vice President for University Supplier Diversity, Columbia University Facilities and Operations

(New York, NY) – On August 6, 2019 the Columbia University School of Professional Studies, Columbia University Facilities & Operations and their media partner, Diversity Agenda, hosted an industry Roundtable to launch their Construction Diversity Initiative (CDI). The first of its kind, CDI is an inter-disciplinary research, policy, and training initiative within Columbia University to produce, deploy and transfer knowledge around minority, women, veteran, workforce and related diversity stakeholders in the building industries.

The roundtable discussion was hosted at Columbia University’s historic Low Library Rotunda, an impressive building modeled after the classic Parthenon that hosts the President’s office and student tours – setting a symbolic tone of the importance of the new initiative. Prior to the presentation, attendees networked during breakfast and the room was comprised of the construction industry’s key thought leaders on the issues related to diversity and inclusion.  Remarks were provided by former New York State Governor David Patterson and key Columbia University Leadership, including Dr. Jason Wingard, Dean of the School of Professional Studies and David Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Facilities and Operations.

“What we are trying to do is bring together City and State agencies, the regional educational institutions and the construction industry,” said Dr. Jason Wingard. “Through this initiative we are focusing on exposing education to a wider set of non-traditional students and we are tasked with helping MWBEs, veterans and diverse populations break through large scale construction projects – and it will take this ecosystem of working together to create change.”

“The University prides itself on our longstanding commitment in promoting diversity throughout the construction industry,” said David Greenberg. “This construction diversity initiative will contribute greatly to our ability to promote and advance diversity across all phases of development design and construction. CDI’s evidence-based approach will help Columbia, New York City and other institutions build on the successes we are already creating.”

Many people here today have been at the forefront of the diversity conversation, especially the professionals from Columbia University,” said Governor David Patterson. “Today, capital construction projects are larger and more complex than ever before, and we have to work together to give minority, women and veteran owned businesses the support and opportunities they need to grow their firms to scale. CDI is moving this dialogue forward and I thank Dr. Wingard and David Greenberg for including me in this important initiative.”

Following the opening remarks, a presentation of CDI, its mission and goals was provided by Francisco X. Pineda, Faculty & Program Director of Columbia’s School of Professional Studies and Tanya Pope, Columbia’s Assistant Vice President for University Supplier Diversity.

After attendees were able to learn more about CDI and what its partners are hoping to accomplish through research, policy and training, Dr. Renee Sacks, Publisher of Diversity Agenda moderated a conversation between the roundtable participants – with the goal of further understanding the current challenges that relate to the diversification of the construction industry.  Key decision makers from State and City agencies and authorities, as well as prime contractors and owners provided anecdotes on the difficulties, best practices and how CDI can support their shared mission of diversity and inclusion.

Following the roundtable, the CDI development team, including Francisco Pineda, Tanya Pope, and Dr. Renee Sacks will bring forth a broader action plan to engage a Leadership Council and an Operational Advisory Group.


About the Construction Diversity Initiative 

The Construction Diversity Initiative’s (CDI) mission is multi-faceted, yet concise: to promote and reinforce an economic development agenda in New York’s construction market through policy, pedagogy and best practices. More specifically, in the initial year, CDI will seek to build the foundations for a set of frameworks, research lines, a body of knowledge and curricula for training both contractors and workers to promote and advance diversity across all phases of construction in the building industries.

About Columbia University School of Professional Studies

The School of Professional Studies (SPS) at Columbia University (CU) spans the continuum from high school and precollege student through lifelong learners with innovative offerings at the highest levels of academic excellence. Our mission is to provide a rigorous education, informed by rapidly evolving global market needs that supports the academic and professional aspirations of our student community. Our vision is to become the premier destination for professional education by generating interdisciplinary thought leadership, developing innovative pedagogy and advancing globally competitive academic solutions for ambitious agents of change and impact.

About Columbia University Facilities and Operations

Columbia University Facilities and Operations supports the core educational and research mission of the University by maintaining a safe, beautiful and functional campus environment and providing services and spaces for campus life and activity outside the classroom. Facilities and Operations is responsible for

the safety, preservation and maintenance of Columbia’s real estate portfolio. It provides space planning; supplier diversity; oversight of new building design and construction; renovation, repair and restoration of existing spaces; operations and maintenance of buildings and grounds; and management of the

University apartment housing inventory and campus public safety. Within campus, Facilities and Operations also serves the community through the operation of its residential and retail dining program, student health services, event catering and venue management, undergraduate residence halls, student center and bookstore and sustainability engagement.

About Diversity Agenda

Diversity Agenda is a print and digital platform that creates meaningful conversations on diversity and inclusion across every industry. Our publications, newsletters, social media and videos feature key decision makers, new ideas and the breaking news that are important to our readers. Our special events and outreach programs build on industry trends and cutting-edge agendas to create robust conferences and forums.

For more information please contact Krista Gobins Wilson at or (845) 242-6797