Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Heller Award Winners: Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

The Heller School presents an award for equity, inclusion and diversity each spring as part of the Heller Awards. Community members nominate students, faculty, researchers, and staff and a committee of past awardees, students, and recent alumni determine the winners. The award honors those who lead efforts to develop a climate supportive of all students, staff, faculty, and researchers, enhance the success of students and faculty of diverse backgrounds, and more. 



Robert Dunigan, PhD'04, Senior Research Associate at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy, has gone above and beyond his roles as a researcher and teacher to promote the key values of equity, inclusion, and diversity at Heller. He has led the MPP Student of Color Gatherings for many years, helping to foster a sense of belonging for students, and is an  inaugural member of the Anti-Racism Group within the Institute for Behavioral Health. Early work of this group focused on recruiting more students from diverse backgrounds into the NIAAA training program within the PhD program. While EID is a serious subject, at the same time, one nominator wrote, “I appreciate the honesty and sense of humor Robert brings to the work.”


  • Vianny Rodriguez, MPP’23, received the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity (EID) Award for her many contributions to the Heller-wide EID efforts as an EID graduate assistant helping to plan and execute events, and spearheading the book group for Julie F. Kay’s Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now to Save Reproductive Freedom. She has taken every opportunity to bring an EID lens to other parts of her Heller experience and her larger community through class conversation, feedback to faculty and staff and as an active Segal Fellow. Committee members recognized her for her “boldness” and “bravery” to challenge the administration in an effort to provoke transformative action that led to meaningful positive changes in the student experience.


  • Tynika Booth, Heller’s EID administrator, received this year’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Award for her work to create a climate that is supportive and creates a space for collaboration, respect and trust. Several nominators noted her tireless work ethic and her impressive capacity to be integrally involved with so many aspects of EID work at the Heller School. As one nominator put it, “I know no one else who does as much and cares as much about connecting with students, supporting us and making Heller a welcoming community to diverse students.”


  • The Equity, Inclusion and Diversity award was given to Finn Gardiner, MPP’18, communications specialist for the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy. Gardiner was honored for his work combining disability advocacy, policy analysis, and visual and written communication to help advance the rights of people with disabilities and those at the intersections of disability, race, gender, sexuality, and other statuses. “Finn’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident through everything he does,” said one nominator. Gardiner was also recently inducted into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition and Partners for Youth with Disabilities.


  • Sandy Ho, a research associate at the Lurie Institute, received the Equity, Inclusion and Diversity award for her work both on- and off-campus. At Brandeis, she has planned and moderated talks with prominent disability advocates and policymakers, collaborated with the Heller Disability Working Group and worked with Chief Diversity Officer Mark Brimhall-Vargas to address students concerns on campus. She is also the founder of the Disability and Intersectionality Summit, a biennial national conference. Ho shows that “being both a policy researcher and an activist is possible,” said one nominator.


  • Bria Price, MPP’19, who was described as “encouraging, forward-thinking and holistic” by her nominators, received the first Equity, Inclusion and Diversity award. Over her two years at Heller, she has called out inequities, built bridges and worked on a number of DEI events, including Sankofa Community Conversations