UNC Charlotte faculty members Brittany Anderson, Janaki Gooty, Tehia Starker Glass and John Tobias ’94 are among the top 100 “power players” helping to build a more diverse, inclusive Queen City. The Charlotte Business Journal named the four to its 2023 Power 100 list of the regions’ diversity, equity and inclusion leaders.
Anderson is an assistant professor of urban education in the Department of Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education in the Cato College of Education, and Glass is a professor of elementary education and educational psychology and assistant dean for inclusive excellence in the Cato College. Gooty is a professor of management and director of the MBA program in the Belk College of Business, and Tobias is an ESPN statistician and sports analytics professor in the School of Data Science.
Anderson: Working collaboratively to build trust
When contemplating diversity, Anderson considers who is and who is not included and why.
“Diversity is more than the surface conversation of race/ethnicity, gender, class, etc. When I define diversity, I consider the nuanced meanings of these categories that have been socially constructed, and who it benefits or oppresses,” stated Anderson, who received a National Science Foundation grant in 2022 to fund her pioneering research on gifted Black girls with science, technology, engineering and math talent in elementary schools across the country.
Anderson advocates for approaching inclusivity through community building. “I believe in taking a university-school-community model approach to engaging in DEI here in Charlotte. We work in collaboration — building trust, co-developing initiatives and putting our feet to the pavement — even when it’s uncomfortable or challenging. As an engaged scholar, I take the research, implement it based on local needs, and use that to inform best-practices not only here in Charlotte but nationwide.”
Glass: Building community by learning from one another
For Glass, diversity is the “beautiful tapestry of different backgrounds, experiences and ways of being that allow people to honor self and each other’s humanity to make our communities better by learning from one another.”
She noted education plays a role in building a more inclusive Charlotte business community. “When people can see the full humanity and uniqueness of themselves, it is a lot easier to see the humanity and uniqueness of others.”
A graduate of Bethune-Cookman University, Glass earned a master’s in educational technology from the University of Northern Iowa and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
In August 2022, she joined the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion as an inclusive excellence executive fellow for faculty development.
Malcolm Butler, dean of the Cato College of Education, stated, “Drs. Glass and Anderson are citizen-scholars who advocate for and promote diversity and inclusion in their work. Their contributions to the community are commendable, and they will continue to be leaders in helping us to create the beloved community that we desire. Being on this list is further proof of Drs. Glass and Anderson's commitments to that goal. Our Cato College is extremely proud of them, and we are honored to call them our colleagues.”
Gooty: Creating and preserving inclusive spaces
As co-director of the Center for Leadership Science, Gooty is part of a team building a new science of leadership, one that is driven by inclusivity, robust research methods and data-driven insights in developing a new generation of diverse leaders.
“UNC Charlotte and the Belk College of Business are this city’s research university and an affordable and accessible place where students with varied identities and experiences come together and find a full opportunity to thrive,” said Gooty. “At the core of everything we do as scientists and educators is our duty toward finding the best in each individual and helping them thrive.”
Diversity is a multifaceted construct that includes a range of visible and invisible differences in the same work unit or community. Gooty cited researcher Quinetta Roberson’s work in this area, which acknowledges the breadth (multiple categories) and depth (diversity is visible as well as invisible) of the construct.
“Janaki Gooty has long demonstrated that she is a leader in DEI as a scientist and as an educator,” said Dolly King, Belk College of Business interim dean. “She is a creator and co-director of Charlotte’s Center for Leadership Science, which is building the new science of leadership through research, data and inclusive practices. As director of our MBA program and as an educator in the classroom, Dr. Gooty is attuned to what each student needs to thrive. She is an example to us all.”
Tobias: Advocating awareness and access
Creating a level playing field for underrepresented groups is how Tobias defines diversity. He noted that in the sports analytics profession, fewer than 10% of those employed are minorities and women. Changing this involves increasing awareness.
“The more minority students who love how sports and math intersect and discover sports analytics careers actually exist, the more will apply,” Tobias stated.
During the summer, Tobias and the nonprofit organization Strength in Numbers, which he founded, hosts a free sports analytics camp for underrepresented high school students at UNC Charlotte. Minority students from around the country are eligible to attend, and representatives from Charlotte professional teams (Panthers, Hornets, FC) participate, providing campers real-world examples of how they use STEM daily in their jobs.
A TV statistician at ESPN since 2013, Tobias collaborates with broadcasters by providing them with advanced statistics throughout games. He also works closely with producers to explain the game's trends using advanced stats and analytics.
Doug Hague, executive director of the School of Data Science, said, “John's passion to bring students of diverse backgrounds to analytics through sport is evident to all those who interact with him. Whether he is teaching our students in the classroom or speaking to high schoolers at his camp, or hosting even younger students on campus visits, I always love to see the passion in all ages when he asks the students to use numbers and stats to defend why they think Michael Jordan or LeBron James is the GOAT.
Alumni and University-affiliated leaders recognized
UNC Charlotte alumni also are represented on the CBJ’s Power 100 list. They include Veronica Calderon ‘12 MBA, chief inclusion, equity and belonging officer, DeVry University; Miriam Espaillat ’13 MSW, director of community engagement and co-founder of Raydal Hospitality Group; Charlitta Hatch ’22 M.Ed., client partner with Slalom; Kevin Price ’03, chief inclusion and diversity officer with Forvis; and LeAnna Rice ’08 ’13, a consultant with Keeling and Associates.
Former student Christopher Dennis, founder and owner of E-Fix Development Corp also was on the list along with Malcomb Coley, Charlotte office managing partner and U.S.-Central EY private leader, Ernst & Young, and an honorary alumnus and member of the Belk College of Business Advisory Board; Omar Jorge Peña, CEO of Compare Foods Charlotte and member of the Belk College of Business Advisory Board; and Dionne Nelson, member of the Belk College’s Childress Klein Center for Real Estate board.