The Color Bind: Talking (and not Talking) about Race at Work

The Color Bind: Talking (and not Talking) about Race at Work
Russell Sage Press

Foldy, Erica Gabrielle and Buckley, Tamara R.

Since the 1960s, the dominant model for fostering diversity and inclusion in the United States has been the “color blind” approach, which emphasizes similarity and assimilation and insists that people should be understood as individuals, not as members of racial or cultural groups. This approach is especially prevalent in the workplace, where discussions about race and ethnicity are considered taboo. Yet, as widespread as “color blindness” has become, many studies show that the practice has damaging repercussions, including reinforcing the existing racial hierarchy by ignoring the significance of racism and discrimination. In The Color Bind, workplace experts Erica Foldy and Tamara Buckley investigate race relations in office settings, looking at how both color blindness and what they call “color cognizance” have profound effects on the ways coworkers think and interact with each other.

Based on an intensive two-and-a-half-year study of employees at a child welfare agency, The Color Bind shows how color cognizance—the practice of recognizing the profound impact of race and ethnicity on life experiences while affirming the importance of racial diversity—can help workers move beyond silence on the issue of race toward more inclusive workplace practices. Drawing from existing psychological and sociological research that demonstrates the success of color-cognizant approaches in dyads, workgroups and organizations, Foldy and Buckley analyzed the behavior of work teams within a child protection agency. The behaviors of three teams in particular reveal the factors that enable color cognizance to flourish. While two of the teams largely avoided explicitly discussing race, one group, “Team North,” openly talked about race and ethnicity in team meetings. By acknowledging these differences when discussing how to work with their clients and with each other, the members of Team North were able to dig into challenges related to race and culture instead of avoiding them. The key to achieving color cognizance within the group was twofold: It required both the presence of at least a few members who were already color cognizant, as well as an environment in which all team members felt relatively safe and behaved in ways that strengthened learning, including productively resolving conflict and reflecting on their practice.

The Color Bind provides a useful lens for policy makers, researchers and practitioners pursuing in a wide variety of goals, from addressing racial disparities in health and education to creating diverse and inclusive organizations to providing culturally competent services to clients and customers By foregrounding open conversations about race and ethnicity, Foldy and Buckley show that institutions can transcend the color bind in order to better acknowledge and reflect the diverse populations they serve.

Economics, First Edition.

Economics, First Edition.

Karlan, Dean and Jonathan Morduch

Built from the ground up to focus on what matters to students in today’s high-tech, globalized world, Dean Karlan and Jonathan Morduch’s Economics represents a new generation of products, optimized for digital delivery and available with the best-in-class adaptive study resources in McGraw-Hill’s LearnSmart Advantage Suite. Engagement with real-world problems is built into the very fabric of the learning materials as students are encouraged to think about economics in efficient, innovative, and meaningful ways.

Drawing on the authors’ experiences as academic economists, teachers, and policy advisors, a familiar curriculum is combined with material from new research and applied areas such as finance, behavioral economics, and the political economy, to share with students how what they’re learning really matters. This modern approach is organized around learning objectives and matched with sound assessment tools aimed at enhancing students’ analytical and critical thinking competencies. Students and faculty will find content that breaks down barriers between what goes on in the classroom and what is going on in our nation and broader world.

By teaching the right questions to ask, Karlan and Morduch provide readers with a method for working through decisions they’ll face in life and ultimately show that economics is the common thread that enables us to understand, analyze, and solve problems in our local communities and around the world.

NYU Wagner Alumna Jennifer Jones Austin Speaks at 'March on Washington' Event

NYU Wagner Alumna Jennifer Jones Austin Speaks at 'March on Washington' Event

NYU Wagner alumna Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, gave a spirited speech at the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington, addressing economic inequity, upward mobility, and the work that remains to advance the causes of the most vulnerable in America.


ANHD/Morgan Stanley Fellowships Awarded to Five at NYU Wagner

ANHD/Morgan Stanley Fellowships Awarded to Five at NYU Wagner

Five NYU Wagner students have been awarded a generous fellowship from ANHD/Morgan Stanley to work with a community development corporation. The fellows receive $18,000 to work on a specific project with their organization. This year's placements are:

Brandie Moreno (with Los Sures)

Stephanie Sosa (with Fordham-Bedford)

Vrunda Vaghela (with Fifth Avenue Committee)

Joshua Sellers (with Cooper Square)

Raquel Vasquez (with WSFSSH).


Congratulations to all the recipients!

For more information about the fellowship, visit

NYU Wagner alumnus RuthAnne Visnauskas Appointed as HPD Commissioner for NYC

NYU Wagner alumnus RuthAnne Visnauskas Appointed as HPD Commissioner for NYC

NYU Wagner alumna RuthAnne Visnauskas has been appointed to serve as the next Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

Ms. Visnauskas has been serving as the deputy commissioner for development at the agency. She will replace the current Commissioner, Mathew M. Wambua, who is departing to take the position of President of RHR Funding LLC, part of The Richman Group of Companies’ mortgage lending business.

Commented Ms. Visnauskas, “I am grateful to the Mayor for putting his trust in me, and I am thrilled to take on this challenge.  In the nearly eight years since I came to HPD, we have experienced a national hosing book, weathered a recession, and are moving into a recovery. Through it all our commissioners and staff positioned the agency to exceed expectations and to better serve those most in need.”

Ms. Vinauskas received a Masters in Urban Planning from Wagner. Prior to joining HPD, she was the Diretor of Housing for Clinton Housing Development Companies. To read more about her appointment, click here.

Inaugural IGNITE Institute Convenes Women of Color in Social Sector

Inaugural IGNITE Institute Convenes Women of Color in Social Sector

All 31 members of the inaugural class of the IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color in the Social Sector ­– a leadership program for women of color at nonprofits, newly launched by NYU Wagner’s Research Center for Leadership  in Action (RCLA) -- gathered in New York City for a kick-off institute that stretched from August 1-6.

The IGNITE institute, organized by Toni Harris, Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations at Wagner, and Director of the IGNITE Fellowship, began with a welcome reception in the NYU President’s Penthouse in Washington Square. The evening included a lively and bracing discussion with Irshad Manji, director of the Moral Courage Project at NYU Wagner. Manji is the author of the international bestseller The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, creator of the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, Faith Without Fear, and she most recently authored Allah, Liberty & Love. Speaking to the IGNITE fellows, she shared  hard-won lessons on creating work-life balance for herself and her team –  a process she said was anchored in daily meditation, and propelled by the vitality and fulfillment that comes from working to turn a  vision into a reality.

The following day’s events took place at NYU Wagner and included an overview of findings from a decade of research on social change leadership delivered by RCLA Faculty Director Sonia Ospina, as well as a luncheon with a panel of women leading organizations across sectors in New York City.

 Speakers  included:

         - Analisa Leonor Balares, founder and CEO of Womensphere

         - Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation  

          - Arva Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League

          - Fatima A. Shama, Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

 NYU Wagner Assistant Dean of Fiscal Operations and Human Resources Trena Drayton, moderated the panel discussion.  The conversation traced the women’s leadership journeys, from when they first considered themselves leaders, to key moments that have influenced their leadership styles and directions, to leadership challenges they are each facing currently. Key themes included the important role leaders play in convening stakeholders to find solutions, recognizing moments of opportunity in moments of crisis, and the assets that leaders of color, in particular, gain from navigating cultures while remaining grounded in the affirmation of “home” relationships and communities.

 “The energy in the room crystallized the continued value of conversations like these,” said Drayton. “People of color, especially women, benefit greatly from candid, informed dialogue around matters that are often left unspoken.”

 Following the events at Wagner, the Fellows travelled to Old Greenwich, Connecticut, for four days of robust leadership and management sessions and a chance to build a strong network. In the coming nine months, the Fellows will continue to sharpen their leadership skills with the support of cohort members and Fellowship managers.

 Offered with support from the American Express Foundation, IGNITE is a nine-month program that offers a diverse group of mid-career women directing nonprofit programs and organizations across the United States exposure to best practices, processes for building personal and organizational leadership, and opportunities to build and strengthen core management capacities.

 The program is sponsored by RCLA’s People of Color Leadership Network, which strengthens communities of color by supporting leadership by and for people of color.

 Learn more about IGNITE:

 Learn more about RCLA’s People of Color Leadership Network:

President to Nominate Prof. Katherine O’Regan As HUD Asst. Sec. for Policy Dev.

President to Nominate Prof. Katherine O’Regan As HUD Asst. Sec. for Policy Dev.

Katherine O'Regan

President Barack Obama has announced his intention to nominate Katherine O’Regan, Associate Professor of Public Policy at NYU Wagner, as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research (PD&R) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Professor O’Regan has conducted research on a variety of topics related to housing and urban development for more than 20 years.  In her thirteen years as a professor at Wagner, she has held a range of administrative and leadership roles, including directing the Public and Nonprofit Masters Program since 2002 and serving as Associate Dean for Faculty from 2002 to 2004.   Professor O’Regan taught at the Yale School of Management for ten years prior to joining Wagner. She received a B.S. from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.

The Assistant Secretary for PD&R directs HUD’s independent research and policy arm. PD&R' s research activities are  designed to have immediate relevance to the policy issues facing the HUD Secretary, who is currently Shaun Donovan, and his principal staff.

“I am honored to be nominated by the president and look forward to serving in this role if confirmed by the Senate,”  said Professor O’Regan

The White House announcement can be read here.

How Microfinance Really Works

How Microfinance Really Works
The Milken Institute Review

Morduch, Jonathan

About half of the world’s adults lack bank accounts. Most of these “unbanked” are deemed too expensive to serve, or not worth the hassle created by banking regulations. But what may be good business from a banker’s perspective isn’t necessarily what’s best for society. The inequalities that persist in financial access reinforce broader inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth. This is the opening for microfinance and also its challenge. Microlending has been sold as a practical means to get capital into the hands of small-scale entrepreneurs who can then earn their way out of poverty. The idea appeals to our impulse to help people help themselves and to our conviction that bottom-up development depends on the embrace of the market. By eschewing governments and traditional charities, the sector promises to sidestep the bureaucracy and inertia that have hobbled other attempts to expand the opportunities of the poor.

Election Night Live! - 2012

Election Night Live! - 2012
- Watch returns and reactions live
- Enjoy hors d'oeuvres and libations
- Participate in activities sponsored by Wagner Student Organization
- Network with members of the Wagner community

Reflections & Perpectives...
Join members of the Wagner community to discuss the possible implications of this election for a set of critical issues. Wagner faculty will anchor each of the following topical conversations:

7:15PM to 7:45 PM:
Technology and Open Government (Beth Noveck)
Mulberry Conference Rooom

Healthcare (Brian Elbel)
Lafayette Conference Room

The Economy (Sewin Chan)
Jersey Conference Room

8:00PM to 8:30PM:
International Perspectives of the U.S. Presidential Election (Scott Fritzen)
Mulberry Conference Room

Participant's Choice - You decide the topic! (TBA)
Lafayette Conference Room

8:45PM to 9:15PM:
Social Policy (Shankar Prasad)
Mulberry Conference Room

Foreign Policy (TBA)
Lafayette Conference Room

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter: @nyuwager #ElectionNightLive; and on Facebook:

For more information: click here

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