Merle McGee

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Administration

By appointment only

Merle McGee is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.  She is also the Chief Program Officer at the YWCA of the City of New York. Her portfolio includes education and youth services, workforce development, racial justice and gender equity initiatives. Ms. McGee brings to the YWCA extensive experience in nonprofit management, youth development, staff development, organizational change management and leadership. Prior to joining the YWCA of the City of New York, she served as Vice President of Programs for the Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF), an award winning college preparatory organization based in Upper Manhattan, responsible for providing strategic direction and oversight for all program operations. Previously, she was Program Officer at The After-School Corporation and Director at The Door and at Morningside Area Alliance. Ms. McGee has consulted on numerous educational and leadership development projects for nonprofit organizations including Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth, The After School Corporation, The CollegeBoard, Sports and Arts Foundation  and the Partnership for After School Education and is a frequent presenter on youth development, leadership and program design and development.

Merle received her B.F.A. from the Tisch School at New York University and holds a M.S. in Non-Profit Management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at New School University. She was named a Robert Bowne Research Fellow and selected for the Coro Leadership Program in New York. Ms. McGee has completed Executive Education Programs at Harvard University and Columbia Business School.  

This course brings together a wide range of thinking and scholarship about race and identity to encourage learning about what race is, why it matters, and racial dynamics in organizations and how best to address them. (In this description, “race” is used as a shorthand for the interconnected complex of race, ethnicity, culture and color, understanding that we will be careful to distinguish among them in the course itself.) While recognizing the importance of intersectionality and other markers of difference such as gender and class, the course focuses on race for two reasons: 1) it is generally the most charged dimension of diversity in the United States, the most difficult to discuss and, therefore, the topic we most often avoid, and 2) it has the greatest impact on life chances and opportunities: race is often the best predictor of income, wealth, education, health, employment and other important measures of well-being. Because the impact of race is highly contextual, we will focus on the United States, although our lens will broaden at different points. The course will roughly divide into two parts. The first part will address the phenomenon of race more broadly, while the second half will look more closely at organizations. It will begin with theoretical understandings of what race is and how it is distinguished from ethnicity, culture and color. Then we will explore the dynamics of racism, discrimination and stereotypes, followed by research on the impact of race on individuals and groups. The intricate connections to gender and class will be our next topics. In the second half, we will address how race influences, and is influenced by, organizational dynamics. This will include classes on discrimination and racism in organizations, traditional approaches to “managing” diversity, alternative approaches that emphasize self-awareness, learning and mutuality, and particular concerns related to public service contexts like health care and philanthropy.

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This course brings together a wide range of thinking and scholarship about race and identity to encourage learning about what race is, why it matters, and racial dynamics in organizations and how best to address them. (In this description, “race” is used as a shorthand for the interconnected complex of race, ethnicity, culture and color, understanding that we will be careful to distinguish among them in the course itself.) While recognizing the importance of intersectionality and other markers of difference such as gender and class, the course focuses on race for two reasons: 1) it is generally the most charged dimension of diversity in the United States, the most difficult to discuss and, therefore, the topic we most often avoid, and 2) it has the greatest impact on life chances and opportunities: race is often the best predictor of income, wealth, education, health, employment and other important measures of well-being. Because the impact of race is highly contextual, we will focus on the United States, although our lens will broaden at different points. The course will roughly divide into two parts. The first part will address the phenomenon of race more broadly, while the second half will look more closely at organizations. It will begin with theoretical understandings of what race is and how it is distinguished from ethnicity, culture and color. Then we will explore the dynamics of racism, discrimination and stereotypes, followed by research on the impact of race on individuals and groups. The intricate connections to gender and class will be our next topics. In the second half, we will address how race influences, and is influenced by, organizational dynamics. This will include classes on discrimination and racism in organizations, traditional approaches to “managing” diversity, alternative approaches that emphasize self-awareness, learning and mutuality, and particular concerns related to public service contexts like health care and philanthropy.

Download Syllabus

Couples with CAP-GP 3402.

As part of the core curriculum of the NYU Wagner Masters program, Capstone teams spend an academic year addressing challenges and identifying opportunities for a client organization. Wagner's Capstone program provides students with a centerpiece of their graduate experience whereby they are able to experience first-hand turning the theory of their studies into practice under the guidance of an experienced faculty member. Projects require students to get up-to-speed quickly on a specific content or issue area; enhance key process skills including project management and teamwork; and develop competency in gathering, analyzing, and reporting out on data. Capstone requires students to interweave their learning in all these areas, and to do so in real time, in an unpredictable, complex, real-world environment.

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