Columbia’s Erwin de Leon named among notable LGBTQ leaders

He is Chief Diversity Officer at Columba University’s School of Professional Studies.  Photo: Columbia SPS

Dr. Erwin de Leon, a Columbia University faculty member for the M.S. in Nonprofit Management, has been listed among Crain’s Notable LGBTQ leaders. The recognition came in time for his one-year celebration as the Chief Diversity Officer at the university’s School of Professional Studies. 

Crain’s New York Business’s Notable LGBTQ Leaders list recognizes top lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer executives that are making significant contributions to advancing equality and diversity within their workplaces.

“Hailing from disparate sectors and industries, they are united by their clarity of purpose and appreciation for the LGBTQ activism of prior generations,” writes Crains. The honorees are individuals who have made their accomplishments within the last 18 months. 

“Since accepting the newly created role…De Leon has evaluated existing policies, resources, and processes while developing new ones,” writes Crains. “An educator and author, he has produced written materials, convened talks on DEI topics, and served as a liaison for students.” 

De Leon is a research fellow at Knology, a think tank based in New York, and a member of the Empire State Bioethics Consortium. He has been part of many organizations championing equity. He has worked with Educators for Social Responsibility and the Human Rights Campaign, and was an executive committee member of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, the organization that led the effort to secure the Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino American WWII soldiers.

“Representation matters,” says De Leon. “As an immigrant and brown Asian, I am grateful to be included in this list.”

As Chief Diversity Officer, De Leon led the formation of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) committee at SPS. DEIA’s mission is to foster an environment where students, staff, faculty, and alumni feel included, seen, and heard. The committee was formed in June 2021 with more than 20 administrative staff and faculty. In January 2022, students and alumni representatives also joined the group.

In a personal essay he had written for The FilAm,  he lamented how only 37 states recognized same-sex marriages. And while he and his partner are embraced by family, friends and professional colleagues, “as a gay couple we remain at the margins not by choice, but by society’s anxieties and its laws.”

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