Employee Council Enhances Equity and Inclusion within Facilities and Operations

July 24, 2023

In alignment with the University's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Columbia University Facilities and Operations (CUFO) established an Equity and Inclusion (E&I) Council in 2022, comprised of 19 members and seven advisors from various departments within the organization.

The Council’s goal is to create an organizational culture in which all individuals are valued, have a sense of belonging and connection with one another and the organization, and feel empowered to do their best work. During its inaugural year, the Council integrated diversity, equity and inclusion into CUFO’s mission and vision statements, sponsored and participated in several important cultural celebrations, and began working on a long-term strategic plan. 
To commemorate its one-year anniversary, the Council hosted meet and greet sessions on July 13 that featured two breakfast events in Morningside and Manhattanville for overnight staff along with an ice cream social in the afternoon. At the events, CUFO employees were able to learn more about the Council’s goals and its plans for future events and resources such as the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), while connecting with colleagues across the organization. At the anniversary events, the E&I Council also launched the “How do you work with CUFO P.R.I.D.E.” contest to spotlight how staff throughout the organization embody CUFO’s shared values.  

In the year leading to the E&I Council’s formation, Facilities and Operations held individual and group listening sessions – including dozens of staff who submitted anonymous feedback – in an attempt to assess the work climate pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion within the organization. The listening sessions identified opportunities areas in training, pathways for growth, data transparency, clarity in communications, and creating connections within the organization. The creation of the E&I Council was one of the recommendations stemming from the findings of the internal listening sessions. 

“I am grateful to the CUFO employees who have taken on this important volunteer role in addition to their day-to-day responsibilities and for the progress they have made thus far as part of the Equity and Inclusion Council,” said David M. Greenberg, executive vice president of Columbia Facilities and Operations. “Together with our other organization-wide initiatives, the Council’s focus and efforts will help nurture an environment where every employee feels valued, respected, and empowered to thrive. I am looking forward to what the next year will bring.” 

E&I Council Members: 

  • Christina Apollonio, Campus Services 
  • Henry Clemente, Operations 
  • Scharlene de la Cruz, Construction Business Initiatives 
  • Jorge Farina, Public Safety, Member
  • Denise Ferris, Manhattanville Development Group 
  • Keith George, Capital Project Management 
  • Kristina Hernandez, Strategic Communication 
  • Besmira Ismailgeci, Residential 
  • Howell Jordan, Operations 
  • Sunny Kim, Capital Project Management 
  • Sanjay Mahajan, Campus Services 
  • Glen Moore, Campus Services 
  • José Morel, Manhattanville Development 
  • Karmen Naidoo, Finance and Administration 
  • Patrick Oakley, Public Safety
  • Lamaka Opa, Finance and Administration 
  • Leilani Reynolds, Residential 
  • Anna Maria Ronquillo, Real Estate 
  • Contina Walter, Finance and Administration 

Advisory Members: 

  • Kellie Brown, Executive Director, Human Resources 
  • Cedric Gaddy, AVP, Finance and Administration 
  • Dan Held, AVP, Strategic Communications 
  • Annette Lopes, AVP, Human Resources 
  • John Murolo, Director, Public Safety 
  • Tanya Pope, AVP Construction Business Initiatives 
  • Eugene Villalobos, AVP, Planning and Capital Projects 


  • La-Verna Fountain, (retired VP Strategic Communications and Construction Business Initiatives) President, Meaningful Communications Matter, LLC