Archive for SIPA Diversity Committee


This post is co-authored by George-Ann Ryan and Nabila Hassan, both of whom were members of RISE’s steering committee

Are you a potential SIPA student who wants to know what student organizations are available to satisfy your interest in social justice, inequality, and similar topics? At SIPA there are many organizations that cater to students who want to know how to apply their coursework and experience to issues of social and economic equity, one of which is RISE.

But first, who is RISE? 

RISE is the student working group on Race, Inequality, Solidarity and Economics (RISE) whose mission is to create a safe environment for students to work towards solutions to problems of social inequality, such as wealth and income inequality, poverty, and racial, economic and gender disparities.

How will RISE achieve this? 

  1. Knowledge sharing: Bringing together students, scholars and activists who are researching and working on all dimensions of inequality. RISE frequently partners with other student organizations and committees to explore multiple dimensions of inequalities
  2. Inclusivity advocacy: Advocate for greater inclusion of income disparity, poverty, racial divides and other dimensions of inequality in public policy curriculum
  3. Community building: Promote and enhance organizational efforts for social, economic and racial justice through active partnership with other student organizations
  4. Civic and political engagement: By connecting SIPA students to relevant volunteer and activism opportunities across New York City

Our main avenue to achieving our goals is through events where we invite practitioners, academics, artists, activists, and social entrepreneurs to educate and share with us about how their work has improved conditions for the communities they serve. 

Flagship event: Inequality of Rights Workshop

Last April, RISE held our inaugural Inequality of Rights Workshop, analyzing inequality through an intersectional lens. All of our privileges lie at the intersections of all our identities. Whether it be gender, race, economic status, or migration, our multifaceted identities provide insight into how we approach policy problems. RISE, along with other students groups, wanted to analyze how our intersecting identities impact how we are impacted by public policy decisions and start a conversation about what it really means to create policy that positively impacts everyone. Speakers were a combination of practitioners and academics including Dr. Suresh Naidu (Columbia SIPA), Ravi Ragbir (New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City), Eddie Taveras (, and Helen Ho (Biking Public Project).

At the Workshop, Suresh Naidu gave an overview of the role of economic rights in the fight for equity through economic research and policy as well as all the ways in which our present policy framework denies us our economic rights. Ravi Ragbir shared his battle with and the importance of knowing your rights when navigating the migration process.

Why did you join RISE? 

George-Ann: My background in economics and public policy, especially as it relates to economic inequality and the ways in which racial and gender identities exacerbate it, meant that when I came to SIPA and saw the group’s name I was hooked from the get go. Making equitable policy begins with being able to see and propose remedies for the equalities present in our society

Nabila: I am interested in racial inequality and that was a huge motivator for me to pursue graduate school. RISE was a perfect fit that expanded on my interest and taught me that inequality exists across broad dimensions and often times multiple dimensions are intersecting with one another making the problem of inequality intertwined and complex 

Why is RISE an important dimension to the conversations at SIPA? 

RISE is a great way for those of us whose course load does not have the room to directly explore issues of equity in depth to discuss how we can apply our learned skill set to these issues, meet a diverse pool of like-minded students, and share resources and materials.

How does RISE engage with the broader SIPA community?

RISE also engages with the broader SIPA community through having representation on the Diversity Committee where a member of RISE’s Steering Committee, alongside chosen Steering Committee members of whom many are also representatives of student organizations,  acts as a student voice to the administration in reflecting our sentiments in how the school manages issues facing students from marginalized communities, driving diversity initiatives, and letting them know how students feel about the campus climate to that effect. RISE also collaborates with faculty and other student groups on events and programs to further the conversation beyond our membership and, sometimes, beyond SIPA’s doors!

Interested in what SIPA students are doing to further diversity? Check out this article, ‘The Quest to Build a More Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive SIPA’ here.

Want to learn more about RISE and what we’re up to? Like and follow our Facebook page!

Navigating SIPA one event at a time

Thanks to Theotis Sharpe MPA-DP ’20 for this post.

At SIPA, you will spend a lot of time on the 4th floor of the International Affairs Building catching up with friends in between classes and getting some free food. In those short conversations, it is difficult to understand and appreciate who people are and the why behind their passions.

Early last month, I organized the first-ever SIPA Story Slam in collaboration with the SIPA Diversity Committee and Taylor Light, SIPA Student Association Student Life Chair, on the theme “Lost in Translation.” In attendance were over 100+ students listening to 5 minutes stories from students and faculty storytellers.

We all have different perspectives, we have different backgrounds; the way we actually express those identities of ourselves, is different. So, the Story Slam was a great event to showcase that.

I would like to provide a glimpse into what it takes to plan a successful event at SIPA:

Partner with another student, or another student organization, to combine resources, expertise, and to reach the widest audience possible.

If you are part of a student organization, apply for SIPASA funding at the beginning of the semester, or apply for funding through the Diversity Committee event grant. You can also reach out to other departments/institutes on campus whose mission aligns with that of your organization or event. For example, earlier this semester, the SIPA Pan African Network (SPAN) partnered with the Institute of African Studies and the MPA-Development Practice office to organize a lecture on Digital Democracy in Kenya.

Plan early – book a room through the room reservation portal, print and post event flyer on the 4th floor, 6th floor, and stairways. Utilize WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to advertise…. Oh, and remember “Free food” is one of the best incentives to get people to your event!

Sometime last year, I sat in my office in downtown Phoenix, reflecting on where I wanted to take my career. I came to the realization that I wanted to work on the African continent focusing on financial inclusion and building financial infrastructure. I had other offers to pursue my graduate studies but, in the end, I chose SIPA because it provided me with a formidable opportunity to build my network and learn the skills to be able to create the greatest impact on the African continent.

At SIPA, I have had the opportunity to do just that. I have been fortunate to travel to three different countries and work on a business development platform that champions the formalization and growth of informal businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to the aforementioned project, I have been able to get involved in various ways. Currently I am a member of the SIPA Diversity Committee and serve as the President of SIPA Pan African Network (SPAN).

All in all, there are many opportunities to learn and get engaged at SIPA. One of the greatest value SIPA has to offer is providing you with a platform to explore your interests outside of the classroom. Pursue your passion, challenge yourself, and most importantly, have fun!

Theotis Sharpe
MPA-DP 2020
SIPA Pan African Network – President


"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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