The EDGE Initiative Leaders and Project Management Team


Principal Investigator (PI): Yannis Yortsos, Ph.D is the dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Between 2013 and 2017 he served as chair of the ASEE Deans Diversity Committee, in which capacity he spearheaded the Dean’s Diversity Pledge. As PI, Yortsos will have primary responsibility for administrative and high-level coordinating functions related to managing the grant.  Formative feedback for initiative activities and engagement in EDGE Initiative Activities will be also coordinated with the ASEE Deans’ Diversity Committee and the Engineering Deans Council.




Co-PI: Norman Fortenberry, Sc.D. is ASEE Executive Director with previous management experience at the National Academy of Engineering and NSF. He will serve as liaison to the ASEE staff and ensure adequate logistical support to all phases of the project and ensure coordination with other ASEE activities and resources.




Co-PI and Project Director: Gretal Leibnitz, Ph.D., is founder and director of the ADVANCE Implementation Mentors (AIM) Network, a national community of practice for ADVANCE Change-Leaders. She is and has served as co-PI on several NSF-funded projects including an i-Corps-L, EEC (Transforming Engineering Culture to Advance Inclusive and Diversity), GSE (Engineering Inclusive Teaching: Faculty Professional Development Project), and ADVANCE IT grants. Leibnitz will lead development and daily operation of the EDGE Initiative, with particular emphasis on the Equity Action Steps Workshop organization and Deans’ Gender Equity Showcase Webinar Series.



Project Manager: Geraldine Gooding, ASEE Manager of Strategic Projects, leads various diversity initiatives at the Society including increasing the number of women and URMS that pursue careers in academia.  She will be engaged to coordinate logistics for workshops & meetings, assist with content development, and facilitate communications among ASEE leadership, the National Advisory Board, various consultants, and support personnel.





Lead Researcher: Professor Virginia Valian, Ph.D. is nationally and internationally renowned for her equity work and research.  Recently Abigail Stewart and she authored, An Inclusive Academy:  Achieving Diversity and Excellence, published by MIT Press. She will guide the project research effort, as well as oversee the adaptation of the Equity Survey, and development of the National Gender Equity Indicator Database.




External Evaluators: Elizabeth Litzler, Ph.D., Director of the University of Washington Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity (CERSE) and Emily Knaphus-Soran, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist at CERSE will lead the evaluation effort. Litzler and Knaphus-Soran have over 20 years of combined experience conducting research and evaluation of efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM.




National Advisory Board Members

 This group, all experienced in the leadership and oversight of faculty diversity efforts will provide guidance on how project activities can be conducted so as to encourage adaptation within (across disciplines) and across universities. They will also bring external knowledge and insights to the project, and inform the broader community of the progress made by the project.  Each has extensive experience in faculty equity development. The Board members are (from left to right):

  • Former president of the University of Saskatchewan and former provost of McMaster University, Ilene Busch-Vishniac (Board chair)
  • Former president of Wright State University and former chancellor of Missouri University of Science and Technology, Cheryl B. Schrader (Wright State University)
  • Provost Brian Blake (George Washington University),
  • Provost Scott Bass (American University), and
  • Vice President Orlando Taylor (Fielding University)